United lifted the Lancashire Senior Cup, for the 14th time, following this resounding victory against Accrington Stanley at the Lancashire County Ground, Leyland.
The scoreline suggests a one-sided contest, but Stanley contributed greatly throughout and, but for great work from Sam Johnstone in United’s goal, they could have made it considerably more difficult for the Reds.
Both sides were taken to a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final before booking their place in the final. United defeated Blackpool 5-4, on penalties, after drawing 0-0 at Moss Lane. The Reds overcame Blackburn Rovers 4-0 in the quarter-final after receiving a bye in the first round. Accrington enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win against Oldham Athletic in the quarter-final before ousting Wigan Athletic in the last four, 6-5 on penalties following a 1-1 draw. Stanley were also handed a bye in the first round of the competition.
There was little to choose between the teams in the early stages and it’s probably true to say that Johnstone was the busier of the two goalkeepers. Johnstone was kept active by the Lancashire side and he was called upon to make several important saves including a brilliant block from striker Padraig Amond three minutes before the break.
United had been limited in attack with Tom Lawrence, a 23rd minute substitute for the injured Luke Giverin, going agonisingly close with a curling drive. Accrington appeared to have negotiated the first half on level terms with their illustrious opponents, but just before the referee blew for the interval, Lawrence struck to put United into the lead. Accrington keeper Ian Dunbavin did well to block Lawrence’s first shot, but the United player followed up to find the net at the second attempt.
United looked as though they were going to take complete control of the game early in the second half, particularly after Larnell Cole had rounded Dunbavin to put United two-up, but Stanley came back strongly as the half progressed. Johnstone came to United’s aid again during the second spell as Stanley went looking for a goal.
The game, and the destination of the trophy, was effectively put beyond their grasp, with nine minutes remaining, when Cole grabbed his secod of the night following smart work from Joshua King. Norwegian striker King had the last word when he cracked home United fourth goal, from Marnick Vermijl’s