Blackburn Rovers Walking football Over-50s just miss out on silverware!
Earlier this month, Rovers Over-50s walking football team made the long journey to Lincolnshire to compete in a veterans tournament at the home of Grantham Town, finishing in second place.
It was two-and-a-half hours of league and knockout competition in the fast-paced format of the game in which they conceded only four goals. Claiming the runners-up trophy, they narrowly missed out on being crowned as winners after being pipped 2-1 by Norwich City in a close-fought final.
In what proved to be a warm-up for the final, the first league game of the afternoon was against Norwich. It was a tight encounter and despite creating some good chances the score finished 0-0. That result and the 0-0 draw in the second game against Leicester were built on a solid defensive foundation.
Craig Bagley and Russ Brady shared the duties at the back, assisted by Gareth Parry and Mick Crump in front of them in midfield. This provided a barrier that the opposition forwards found difficult to penetrate. When they did create chances Baz Gavahan showed why he is the England WF 50s No. 1 with a string of outstanding saves across the afternoon.
Grantham were the opposition for the third league game and Rovers came out 3-1 winners. With Adrian Dugdale and Gordon Arkwright providing the offensive push from midfield, goal scoring opportunities were being created. Forwards Russ Marsden and Damian Wild (making his Over 50s debut for Rovers) both capitalised on chances and grabbed a goal each with Gareth Parry adding the third.
The opponents for the fourth league game were Sleaford. The momentum of the win against Grantham was maintained as the Blues battled to a hard-fought 2-1 victory. Marsden grabbed the goals with the deserved winner coming just before the final whistle.
The win was enough to take Rovers to a semi-final place against much fancied Forest Vets. Player-manager Tony Jones had made balanced changes to the team all afternoon to utilise the ten-man squad, but by the time of this game there were only seven fit players available.
His own afternoon had been cut short by a bad tackle in an earlier game. Marsden and Brady had both played through injuries, but both were unable to continue to the knockout stages.
Rovers carried the game to Forest and worked tirelessly to close the opposition when not in possession. The only goal came from centre-forward Wild, who got just reward for his movement and hold-up play when he hit the back of the net with a shot that the keeper could do nothing about.
Norwich were the opposition for the final in a re-run of the first league game of the day. The same seven players took to the field and again matched Norwich toe to toe until the East Coast side took a 1-0 lead.
However, heads didn’t drop and as Rovers continued to create chances Parry was able to capitalise on one to bring the scores level at 1-1. With not many minutes remaining a Norwich shot from a tight angle hit both posts before crossing the line to put the Canaries 2-1 and ensure they won the match.