Undefeated Rovers walkers claim trophy
Blackburn Rovers’ Over 60s Walking Football team finished as runners-up in the Martin Dawson Memorial Trophy at Heywood Sports Village on Sunday, writes Sam Jones.
Rovers topped their six-team division following wins over Blackpool, Rochdale and Manchester City. Two draws against Sheffield Steelers and Fleetwood Flyers made it 11 points from a possible 15. That saw Blackburn into the semi finals, having only conceded one goal in five games and scored eight - the most in their division.
However, the relentless rain put paid to any chance of playing the latter stages of the competition. The memorial tournament was turned into a league; with both divisions put together and Rovers were in second place out of the 12 teams. Wakefield Wanderers Orange took the main prize after winning four and drawing one of their five matches.
Below are short match reports from each game.
2-0 win vs Blackpool
Blackburn’s walkers kicked off the tournament with a morale boosting victory over Blackpool, thanks to goals from Tony Jones and Ian McCann.
Jones broke the deadlock inside the first two minutes, firing one into the top corner after winning the ball in midfield and striding forward unmarked.
Blackpool almost equalised straight away, but Bill Holt was on hand to dive down low and prevent a leveller.
Back at the other end, Malcolm Harkness had a one-on-one chance but his shot was saved, as was McCann’s effort a minute later.
Jones almost bagged a brace from a tight angle when his shot hit the post, while McCann tried his luck from far out - only to see the Tangerines stopper parry the ball away.
Rovers got their second goal late on when McCann had time and space to pick his spot and put the ball into the corner.
Jimmy King tried to add further gloss to the scoreline with a shot that went wide, but Rovers were happy to settle for a 2-0 win.
2-0 win vs Rochdale
The second game was another dominant 2-0 win, this time over Rochdale. Rovers were on the front foot from the off as McCann’s shot was tipped round the post after a good passing move started by Duncan Evans.
McCann was in the thick of the action again when he was played through on goal but failed to find the target.
The chances continued to flow as Jones started a quick one-two move before blazing his shot over the bar.
Frank Flynn finally opened the scoring after five minutes, with a fine bottom corner finish after McCann cut the ball back to him from the right.
Rovers pushed for a second as Jones’ curling shot hit the far post and McCann saw his effort saved before Harkness put the rebound wide.
McCann finally got on the scoresheet himself late on when he hit the ball low into the corner to seal another three points for Rovers.
0-0 vs Sheffield Steelers
Resolute defending from Rovers’ backline of Evans, King and Flynn ensured they came away with a draw against a strong Sheffield Steelers side, in what was a top of the division battle.
There was little goalmouth action throughout and neither side were able to gain any momentum going forward, as a series of free-kicks made it a stop-start game.
However, Holt was forced into a smart save to deny Sheffield a top corner finish, while the Steelers also put a free kick wide late on to maintain Rovers’ unbeaten run.
1-1 vs Fleetwood Flyers
Rovers’ fourth game in row without a rest was a frustrating 1-1 draw versus Fleetwood Flyers.
McCann set the tone for the game with a shot inside the first minute which sailed over the bar. A succession of chances followed – Jones had a one-on-one opportunity saved before his second effort was palmed away.
The Fleetwood stopper was kept busy as Flynn’s low shot had to be parried to safety, while a long range drive from King went just over the bar.
Fleetwood wasted their best opportunity of the game with a shot that sailed high and wide past Holt in the Rovers net.
But Blackburn had controlled the game and deservedly went ahead via a superb solo goal from Harkness. The striker turned his man on the left before walking towards goal and hitting a bottom corner finish.
McCann then shot wide and Harkness had a chance to double his tally for the game, but his weak effort did not trouble Fleetwood’s ‘keeper.
A late spell of Fleetwood pressure followed as Holt was forced into a fine save and Flynn had to make a terrific last ditch tackle to deny what would have been a certain goal.
Nevertheless, Rovers should have been further ahead when a late mistake allowed Fleetwood to slot the ball into an empty net and level the game with the last kick.
3-0 win vs Manchester City
The final game of the group stage saw Rovers win by their biggest margin of the tournament. It was a tight match with little to choose between the two sides until Jones came on as a substitute at the halfway point.
His corner found McCann, whose shot was heading for the top corner before a fine save from the City ‘keeper. The game changed when a City player received a sin bin for a sliding tackle from behind on Jones.
Rovers made their extra man count almost immediately as Jones smashed one into the top corner from long range. And Blackburn doubled their advantage soon after as McCann played through Jones, who coolly finished for his second of the game.
Captain Jones completed his hat trick at the death with a left footed effort that sealed victory and secured second place for Rovers.
Team: Bill Holt (GK), Jimmy King, Frank Flynn, Duncan Evans, Tony Jones (C), Ian McCann, Malcolm Harkness. Coaches - Tony Hartley and Gordon Arkwright