Sport

Accrington Stanley 6 Radcliffe 3

Lancashire FA Marsden Cup Semi-Final

A HAT-TRICK against any side is not to be sniffed at and Lutel James made sure he claimed his as Stanley reached the final of the Lancashire FA Marsden Trophy.

IT’S IN... Lutel James finds the back of the net.

Lancashire FA Marsden Cup Semi-Final

A HAT-TRICK against any side is not to be sniffed at and Lutel James made sure he claimed his as Stanley reached the final of the Lancashire FA Marsden Trophy.

There was an element of doubt about Stanley's fifth goal against UniBond Premier side Radcliffe Borough with James and Rory Prendergast racing in on the line to convert Dean Calcutt's cross.

Both celebrated - but at the end Prendergast was only too pleased to give it to the striker who said it was his all along.

"It was about two yards over the line so it was definitely Lutel's," said winger Prendergast. "I did celebrate though just in case I could claim it but it was Lutel's!"

Prendergast did have two goals of his own though and it was a milestone for him in his Stanley career as he has never scored a brace in a game.

"It was great to score two and it would have been nice to score a hat-trick - although I would prefer it in the league. I haven't scored enough goals in the league so hopefully I can start doing it now."

Saying that, the left winger has fed Paul Mullin and James and is the provider of the most crosses in the Conference.

And another milestone Prendergast hopes to reach with the Reds is to pick up a Lancashire Cup winners' medal.

"I have won the Sheffield Amateur Cup and the West Riding Cup so I want to add the Lancashire Cup to it," added Prendergast.

But Radcliffe - who had former Reds Simon Carden and Gary Sampson among their number - did give Stanley an early scare on Tuesday night with a 17th minute goal which Josh Mitton bundled home at the second attempt.

And there was another nervy moment when the tall Mitton raced through on 30 minutes but hit the upright from a tight angle.

However, on 33 minutes, Andy Gouck rifled home a James cross at the far post to get the Reds back on level terms.

And, four minutes later, Paul Mullin sent James through and he set up Prendergast for number two. Mitton still forced a good save out of Jamie Speare before Gouck walloped a shot just over the bar.

But James scored a crucial goal on the stroke of half time when he got the better of Boro defender Steve Spencer and finished superbly to make it 3-1.

Within ten minutes of the restart Mullin flicked the ball onto James and once again, in a one-on-one, he found the back of the net.

John Durnin missed an open goal before Boro defender Simon Kelly tried his luck with an overhead kick - and it found the bottom corner of the net on 80 minutes.

However two minutes later and came the controversy but the goal went to James to make it 5-2.

Speare then had to keep out Karl Marginson's stunning free kick which was heading into the top corner of the net.

But Boro made it 5-3 on 90 minutes when Paul Wheatcroft's shot was blocked on the line by Lee McEvilly but Kelly pounced for his second.

Then, in the third minute of injury time, Prendergast raced through and scored a superb solo goal.

"We were a bit sloppy in the second half but inventive going forward," said boss John Coleman. "We have tried to encourage more players to get involved with shooting and Rory did well."

"As we haven't won for a while when they took the lead I thought "here we go again" but the lads bounced back. It was a bit too open for my liking but it is good to get into a final. Now I hope we give a good account of ourselves in the final."