Rylands win the First Division Champions Cup

Tue 30th April 2019 | Match Reviews
By Ian Templeman

Rylands became the first ever winners of the First Division Champions Cup after a 3-0 win over Longridge Town at AFC Darwen's WEC Anchor Ground.

Rylands had built a two goal lead inside the opening 24 minutes with goals from Stephen Wolhuter and Stuart Wellstead, and after Tom McNamara added a third goal 17 minutes from time, there was no way back for Longridge.

The first clear cut chance of the game produced the opening goal in the tenth minute.

Rylands right back Steven Boothman pinched the ball in a challenge with Town's George Thomason wide on the right, advanced forward and cut back a pass into the path of Stephen Wolhuter, who buries a cracking 20 yard into the corner of the net.

The First Division South champions doubled their lead on 24 minutes, and this time Wolhuter was the creator, deftly playing a ball through the centre of the Longridge defence to Stuart Wellstead, who had time to take a touch, turn and shoot high into the net.

Longridge had presented little in the way of an attacking treat up to that point, but as the half wore on they did manage to create a couple of half chances.

A glancing header from Conor Linighan that was blocked in the six yard box and a cross-cum-shot from Jay Hart that almost got a touch from Paul Turner gave them hope, and they finished the half on the front foot when a Wolhuter header was well pushed away for a corner by Rylands keeper Graeme McCall.

Town manager Lee Ashcroft opted for a change in personnel at half time, replacing full back George Thomason with a striker in Alex Wood, and there was a bit more purpose about them in the early minutes of the second half.

Six minutes in, Jay Hart won a free kick on the edge of the box, but Bradley Wicks curled the resulting kick over the crossbar.

But although Longridge enjoyed their share of possession, they struggled to break down a resilient and well organised Rylands side, who struck a decisive blow with a third goal 17 minutes from time.

The ball was swept wide to left back Tom Freeman, and when his pass found Tom McNamara, the Rylands man rifled in a shot that Longridge keeper Lee Dovey got a hand to, but couldn't keep out.

Rylands substitute Jamie White could have added to his side's tally late on, twice being denied by good saves from Dovey, and at the other end Rylands keeper Graeme McCall preserved his clean sheet with a fine blocking save from Jay Hart in stoppage time.

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