St John Fisher 1
(AET - Birkenshaw won 5-4 on pens)
By Richard Pickering
BIRKENSHAW upset the formbook to clinch a league and cup double as they lifted the Heavy Woollen Challenge Cup after a penalty-shoot-out at Ossett Albion last Thursday.
It was a great effort from Championship Division winners Birkenshaw, who played 23 minutes of the second half plus extra-time with just 10 men, to deny Premier champions Fisher what they hoped would be the first leg of a treble.
Birkenshaw converted all five spot-kicks before goalkeeper Lewis Sykes made the crucial save with a foot to deny Dominic Riordan and seal the double.
With Rob Bordman, Dominc Riordan and Rob Hiscox driving them on, Fisher started brightly in the first half and led after 12 minutes. Referee Paul Holroyd ruled handball against Mikey Smith in the area before Rob Bordman sent Sykes the wrong way as his penalty found the bottom right corner.
Craig Firth turned a Hiscox shot behind while a Rob Bordman strike was tipped over by Sykes before Birkenshaw drew level with a 19th minute penalty.
Lee Brook fed Marc Trapps who was fouled in the area and Joel Farrar confidently fired home from the spot.
With strong running by Trapps and Andrew Wood, Birkenshaw came more into the game and Farrar miskicked with Fisher goalkeeper Michael Smith way off his line before Smith redeemed himself with a fine claim just ahead of Farrar from a teasing Trapps cross.
Fisher responded as Noel Whittaker miskicked in the area when well placed while Hiscox drilled a shot across the face of goal before neat Birkenshaw play saw a Stuart Kiltie thunderbolt blocked in the area.
Fisher were out early for the second half and showed neat play without an end product. Birkenshaw were well in touch until the 68th minute when Farrar was sent off for a late tackle on Andrew Riordan.
Fisher’s Irfane Khan saw a low shot well saved but Birkenshaw finished the stronger as Trapps and Mikey Smith saw shots flash across goal while a Kiltie free-kick was headed just wide by Lee Brook.
Fisher turned up the pressure in extra-time and Sykes made three terrific saves to deny James Riordan twice and Dominic Riordan. Fisher’s Michael Smith was alert to block a Birkenshaw raid before Sykes proved to be a shoot-out star.
St John Fisher: Michael Smith, A Riordan, Heseldin, J Riordan, Gott, Whittaker, Khan, D Bordman, D Riordan, Hiscox, R Bordman. Subs: Simpson, Doran, Shafi, P Riordan, Henry, Burke.
Birkenshaw: Sykes, Phillips, Haley, Ormondroyd, Firth, Kiltie, Trapps, Mikey Smith, Farrar, Wood, Brook. Subs: S Smith, Bell, Moore, Gibson, Barker, C Smith.
Referee: Paul Holroyd. Assistant referees: Umar Ahmed, Steve Lynch. Fourth official: Brian Hamilton.