April 2, 2013 by Elliott Tunstall
Greenalls got their hands on the 2012/2013 Guardian Cup in determined fashion after overcoming a resilient Runcorn Albion side 2-1 on Easter Monday’s final at Cantilever Park.
In a tentative match, both sides started edgy and neither team could get a stranglehold on proceedings – Runcorn starting slightly more positively than GPSO but without creating any real opportunities. Straight from the off it was evident that Runcorn, who are ranked below the Greens in the Warrington amateur league system, were looking to negate the passing ability of Dave Bush’s side and were being encouraged to make the contest a physical one.
It wasn’t until just shy of the half hour mark when the first golden chance of the game arrived – Runcorn’s Tony Hodnett firing straight at Craig Clare in the Greenalls goal when played through one-on-one. GPSO centre-back Paul Dobson had to receive treatment following his brave clearance from the rebound.
As half-time approached, Runcorn continued to press as Greenalls struggled to maintain possession for any significant period of time. Albion lacked efficiency in front of goal, however, and GPSO made them pay just before the whistle. Captain Mark Hughes played in Guardian Cup final specialist Robbie Hanley who, with the second bite of the cherry, slotted low, left-footed, past Runcorn ‘keeper James Sefton to open the scoring.
The second half began much the same as the first had with both sides again unwilling to over commit. Tackles started to fly and tempers flared as Greenalls frustrated their opponents time and time again. Not least so when Jon Shakeshaft heroically produced the tackle of the match – coming from behind to take the ball cleanly as the Runcorn forward bared down on goal.
Just moments later, Runcorn defender David Crane matched Shakeshaft’s brilliance with a moment of defensive excellence. Craig Hoyland, who had just replaced Lee Hughes for PSO, had the goal at his mercy only for Crane to dive at his feet, head first, and block the shot with the ‘keeper stranded.
Despite that miss, it didn’t take long for Greenalls to eventually double their lead in what was the move of the match. The ball was played forward to Hoyland down the left and his cross was expertly cushioned back across goal by Danny Topping for Robbie Hanley to head into the empty net. That goal, which turned out to be the winner, was Hanley’s eighth goal in four Guardian Cup finals.
The game looked over; however, Runcorn had other ideas as they pressed for a route back into the match. It arrived after the ball was poked home following a scramble from a corner to set up a nervous final few minutes for all in green.
Runcorn peppered the Greenalls goal for five excruciating minutes but could not put the finishing touches to any of their attacks as GPSO held on for a second Guardian Cup trophy in three years as Cantilever Park was plunged into a state of green ecstasy.