Crown Paints 3-0 Eleven Sports Media
Crown Paints may well go on to win the unprecedented ‘quadruple’ this season - but this was the one they really wanted.
The Blackburn Sunday League champions - who have two ‘domestic’ cup finals to come - were crowned county champions two years after a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat at the same stage.
A semi final loss last season only heightened the Darwen side’s desire to be Sunday best and they blew ESM away with a wonderful first half attacking display - then were rock solid in defence as the Preston side fought back after the break.
First half goals from Danny Pilkington, Luke McKenna and Danny Taylor put Crown Paints in control. It was a lead they fought hard to protect after the break with Karl Brown outstanding in goal.
In the semi final against Acregate Lane - which they eventually won 6-0 - Crown got off to a flying start when Pilkington curled home a stunning free kick.
And it was so nearly a copy cat start at LFA headquarters in Leyland when, from virtually the same spot, Pilkington whipped a free kick over the wall only this time it crashed against the crossbar.
In showed Crown’s early attacking intentions and they didn’t have to wait too long to make that pressure count.
After Matt Allen went close with a clever flick that was hooked off the line, Crown took the lead with the next foray in to the ESM area. Jamie Edwards raced on to a through ball and was bundled over by Lewis Cook and Pilkington coolly converted the resulting penalty.
Crown kept on pushing and were denied a second when Ryan Steele’s excellent curling effort hit the far post.
But they had to be alert at the other end and Allen cleared off the goal line before Brown did brilliantly to punch clear Daniel Green’s vicious in-swinging free kick - the first of several such clearances from the unflappable Crown keeper.
Brown then saved an Aaron Fleming free kick after David Cram was tripped on the edge of the area by Callum Hector.
But it was Crown who were the more dangerous on the attack and Edwards threaded an excellent pass to Taylor who square the ball to Pilkington whose initial effort was saved by Jamie Cook while his follow up sailed over the bar.
Steele then fired wide when well place before a second Crown goal arrived. McKenna picked the ball up in a central position, dropped a shoulder and surged in to the area before showing great composure to finish.
A crucial third goal arrived just before the break. Pilkington produced a sublime touch to flick the ball around his marker and feed Steele who played in Taylor to fire home from just inside the penalty area.
ESM showed real intent after the break and looked to have pulled a goal back when Fleming’s curling effort was bound for the back of the net only for Brown to fling himself across goal to palm the shot away.
Crown threw themselves in to every challenge to keep their rivals at bay with Chris Lynch and Joe Barnes superb in the heart of the defence.
But they had chances to score on the break with Steele wasting the best opportunity when he raced clear from the half way line only for Cook to save at his feet.
In the closing stages, Brown produced another fine save to deny Luke Smith.
It proved to be ESM’s last chance to get back in the game and for Crown Paints, two years on from the penalty shoot-out agony, they finally got their hands on the LFA Sunday Trophy.