VMI Trophy

ACCRINGTON Stanley were the penalty cup kings last season but this time it was Great Harwood's turn to be spot heroes.

The North West Counties Division One side lifted the VMI Trophy in the annual pre-season battle after a goalless 90 minutes but won 3-0 on penalties after Conference side Stanley had all theirs saved.

"There's only one team in Hyndburn" sung the Harwood players who were delighted to get one over their neighbours.

"I was impressed with our lads," said Showground assistant manager Dave Sharples.

"No matter what, it is good to get a trophy. At the start of the game, we thought it would be a case of damage limitation but after the kick off we kept our shape and Bobby Harris, in goal, was brilliant."

"We restricted them to long range chances and it is a good boost going into the new season."

Stanley manager John Coleman saw his strong side hit the wookwork three times and waste countless opportunities in front of goal - a worry after not scoring against Southport on Saturday either.

"I was disappointed we didn't score but it was a false game. We had so much possession and so many chances but Bobby Harris was inspired and made some great saves."

"We could have won 10/11-0 and everyone goes home happy but it didn't happen. Hopefully we will have had our bad luck now."

"I probably would have played a different team but after Saturday, I decided to play the same team to give the lads some confidence but instead if could have been confidence-sapping."

"We have scored 15 consecutive penalties and then missed all three."

Peter Cavanagh's effort was saved by former Stanley keeper Harris as was Damien Hindle's and then Paul Cook's was a combination of Harris and the post.

Meanwhile Paul Smith, Jon Eastham and Mark Taylor slotted home Harwood's spot kicks.

In truth, Stanley could have walked it but Harwood's strong defensive display bodes well for their new season.

Lee McEvilly and Ian Craney both had early chances before Paul Mullin headed a Cavanagh corner against the crossbar. Craney continued to shoot from long range while McEvilly got a kick in a bad tackle from James Coonan who was booked.

Harwood's first shot on target came in the 32nd minute when Coonan struck the ball straight into Jon Kennedy's arms.

McEvilly blasted over as Paul Howarth, playing on the right wing, shot straight at Harris as Stanley kept trying their luck.

Mullin had a couple more opportunites while the striker then turned provider and set up Craney who cracked an effort which rattled the crossbar.

Cavanagh's low shot was deflected wide, Hindle's effort was blocked and trailist Eddie O'Neill saw his 30-yard free kick palmed away by Harris. Paul Carvill then made space for himself and hit the top of the bar with one minute left while Danny Alcock pushed over a James Dean effort in the final minute.

Harwood's penalties were all well taken as they grabbed a morale boosting win and took the silverware from their neighbours.


STANLEY: Kennedy, Cavanagh, Bimson, Williams, Halford, Brannan, Jagielka, Craney, Howarth, Mullin, McEvilly. Subs: Cook, Anderson, Naughton, Hindle, Hollis, O'Neill, Carvill, Allock, Flitcroft, Howson.

HARWOOD: Harrid, Coonan, Steele, Green, Goulthorpe, Hill, Rodgers, Dean, Mashiter, Eastham, Pope. Subs: Holt, Heslop, Smith, Taylor.