Cowens header ends Hollins’ long wait for glory

Spring-heeled: Hollins scorer Joe Fielding watches a rival head the ball
Spring-heeled: Hollins scorer Joe Fielding watches a rival head the ball

Hollins Holme won the first major trophy of their 46-year existence with a dramatic success in the Eddie Hebblethwaite Halifax FA Sunday Cup final.

The Calder Valley side, one of the founder members of the Halifax Sunday League, were 3-2 winners against division-higher Halifax Hammers under the Brighouse Town floodlights last Wednesday.

Joel Booth’s side were sitting pretty after 20 minutes thanks to goals from Spencer Harris and substitute Joe Fielding.

However, Hammers got one back through Martin Coldwell with the last kick of the first half and their second half dominance of possession was rewarded with a 90th minute equaliser from Waleed Raja.

Hollins’ strong resistance looked broken, but they grabbed an unlikely winner straight from the restart through another substitute, James Cowens, to prompt wild celebrations in their ranks.

There was a marked contrast in style between the teams. Hollins’ big, strong side relied on a direct approach whereas a young, quick Hammers side looked very comfortable on the ball.

Ben Clayton shot just wide early on and a Tom Booth cross narrowly eluded two teammates as Hollins threatened.

The opening goal came on nine minutes, Ryan Stansfield’s long throw being flicked goalwards by Harris and going in off a defender’s boot.

Hollins, already without one prolific striker in George Bamford, lost another when Booth injured his foot making a tackle near the touchline.

But that didn’t stop them doubling their lead, fortuitously, when Stansfield won the ball in midfield and Fielding’s cross from wide on Midgley’s left beat ‘keeper Hussain Farooq and the ball finished in the net.

Hammers’ Terriq Pervez had already seen an effort blocked by the rock-solid Steve Butterworth in the Hollins goal and Mohammed Ozair’s shot was not far away.

Farooq made a good save low to his left to deny Andrew Butterworth but Hammers were in the ascendancy and scored just before half time thanks to Coldwell’s low shot from the edge of the area.

It was mainly one-way traffic in the second half but there wasn’t much to worry Steve Butterworth, apart from an Ahsan Farooq effort which dipped wickedly.

Hollins, having failed to take advantage of a string of free kicks, were tiring but holding out against an increasingly desperate Hammers side.

However, Booth’s defenders were indecisive for the first time following a free kick from wide out and Raja touched the ball home at the back post.

Hammers looked certain to go on and win in extra time but they didn’t get the chance, hard-working Garbutt launching a deep, hanging cross into the six-yard box where Cowens beat a defender and the ‘keeper to the ball and headed home.

Hollins Holme: S.Butterworth, Ryan Stansfield, H.West, Rob Stansfield, J.Gibson, A.Butterworth, S.Harris, C.Garbutt, T.Booth, B.Clayton, J.Chadwick. Subs: J.Cowens, J.Fielding, M.Thompson, J.Western