Hollins Holme won the first major trophy of their 46-year existence with a dramatic success in last night’s 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.
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.
It was a devastating outcome for Hammers, one of the league’s emerging forces after only being formed eight years ago.
They haven’t always earned the most favourable of headlines but they have the capacity to win plenty of friends - and trophies - if they concentrate on developing their attractive style of play.
There was a marked contrast in style between the teams. Hollins are something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing - a middle-section team packed with players who compete in the top division of the Halifax Saturday league.
Their big, strong side relied on a direct approach whereas a young, quick Hammers side were suited by a bigger, better pitch than they are used to and 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 the top of a defender’s boot.
Hollins, already without one prolific striker in George Bamford, lost another when Booth injured his ankle making a tackle near the top 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 after a smart turn was not far away.
Farooq made a good save low to his left to deny Andrew Butterworth but Hammers were in the ascendancy and got a timely goal just before Steve Berry’s half time whistle through Coldwell’s low shot from the edge of the area.
It was mainly one-way traffic in the second half but Hammers lacked composure around their opponents’ penalty area and there wasn’t much to worry Steve Butterworth, apart from an Ahsan Farooq effort which dipped wickedly in front of him.
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 chance, the 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.