Acrobatic Lee helps Borough to penalties success

Star show: Lee McGrath
Star show: Lee McGrath

Goalkeeper Lee McGrath was the hero as Todmorden Borough beat visitors Kendal County on penalties in the West Lancashire League’s Division Two Challenge Cup.

Borough went into the game as underdogs. They had four players suspended as a result of the abandoned home game with Leyland United on December 14 and Kendal were five places above them in the table.

However, McGrath backed up some athletic stops during the 90 minutes, which finished 1-1, with three penalty saves as Borough went through 3-2 on spot kicks.

Boss John Gilford said McGrath had excellent shot-stopping skills.

“His agility is beyond comprehension - he should be an acrobat in a circus!” he said.

Borough will now be away to the winners of this Saturday’s game between Leyland and Milnthorpe on Saturday, February 22.

On a day when most local matches were postponed, Bellholme was in excellent condition. However, with the fading light likely to be an issue should the game be level after 90 minutes,it was agreed beforehand that there would be no attempt to play extra time.

Fitness was also a issue after the Christmas break with Gilford explaining: “There was some good football and it was end-to-end, particularly after 55 minutes when everyone’s legs were starting to give up.”

Gilford’s son Elliott plugged a gap in centre of the back four while Chris Kay and Jim Hardman filled key roles in the engine room and Marco Romaro and Ben Whittam led the line.

Borough’s re-jigged team took time to settle and Kendal would have scored twice in the first quarter but for saves from McGrath.

Whittam fired straight at the visiting keeper as Borough started to get their act together but County took the lead when the home side surrendered possession up front, Kendal broke away down the flank and a speedy visitor smashed the ball under McGrath at the near post.

Tod were under the cosh for a spell but restricted County’s chances and then came out strongly in the second half.

They won a couple of corners and from one of them Whittam volleyed home at the back post.

That lifted the home side and Dave Patrick, on for the injured Terry Lowe, forced a save from the visiting ‘keeper.

McGrath made a couple of fine saves - tipping one effort onto the bar - and Romaro hit a post at the other end with five minutes to go.

Borough were first to take their penalties and Lee Earnshaw, Patrick and Kay were successful from the spot. McGrath made three excellent saves, closing out the tie with his last effort from Kendal’s fifth penalty taker.

Borough are due to travel to title contenders GSK Ulverston Rangers on Saturday for a game which has already been called off once due to a boggy pitch.

Harry Whitehead and Jack Dungworth are back in contention after one-match bans while Tod will check on Lowe (back).

Gaz Lawrence struck twice and Simon Milne got the other goal as Borough’s reserves lost 5-3 at Slyne With Hest Reserves last Saturday.

It was the second string’s first game in more than a month and boss Craig Milne will not have been too disappointed with the result against a club whose first team were out of action.

The reserves host Turton Reserves, who are four places above them in ninth, on Saturday.