Burnley Miners lift the cup!

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BURNLEY Miners won the Umbro National Veterans Over 40s Final in glorious sunshine at Rushden and Diamonds’ Nene Park on Sunday.

Playing in Claret and Blue, Miners started the brighter and could have been ahead as early as the fourth minute when Jonathan Irvine found space in the area but found the angle too tight as he shot into the side netting.

Mark Grogan changed the tone of the game, as, within the space of 90 seconds, the Burnley full back earned the first caution with three successive fouls - underlining the locals were more up for the fight.

Burnley thought they had taken the lead on 16 minutes as good work by Darren Whittaker and Chris Ridge created space for Kiko Rodriguez, and the burly forward unleashed a screamer from fully 35 yards that hit the underside of the bar and bounced down behind the keeper.

However, it was deemed not to have crossed the line.

With Burnley’s midfield of Keith Gilbert, Darren Whittaker, Gary Evans and Paul Richards enjoying the majority of possession, the Southerners were restricted to long range efforts which were easily dealt with by John Lister in goal.

However, against the run of play Spurs took the lead on 17 minutes in controversial fashion, their striker, looking a good two yards off-side, raced clear and rounded Lister before slotting into an empty net.

Burnley quickly regained their composure and laid siege to the Spurs goal as Whittaker had an effort that clipped the post and then Irvine finished superbly but was judge to have strayed off-side.

This spurred on the locals and it was no surprise when they levelled matters on 28 minutes when Irvine rounded the keeper and finished off a wonderful move involving, Evans, Gilbert and Richards.

With Burnley now in control, they took the lead. Whittaker collected the ball from Evans, his pass evaded the outstretched leg of the centre half, and Rodriguez left the keeper grasping thin air as he planted the ball into the corner of the net.

Just before the break, the Spurs striker found room in the area, but Lister held his shot low to his left.

With the heat taking its toll, Burnley made a couple of changes at the interval with Gary Cole replacing Grogan and Shaun Smith coming on for Richards.

But after the restart Burnley were caught napping.

Whittaker was caught in possession just inside his own half, and Evans gave away a free kick.

A quick take found the number 10 on the edge of the box, and his mis-hit effort wrong-footed Lister and squeezed in off the foot of the post.

This gave Tottenham impetus, and they now enjoyed their best spell of the game.

Lister was again called into action when he had to be alert to tip the ball round the post, and Aidy Wilson, who had an outstanding game along with his defensive partner Jamie Edmondson, made a wonderful tackle to stop the Spurs striker making it 3-2.

Miners settled back into their stride, and Gilbert, whose batteries never seem to run low, was everywhere, hurrying the opposition, getting in tackles, running with the ball and powering in shots at every opportunity.

On 60 minutes Burnley thought they had regained the lead when again Irvine had the ball in the net but was once again ruled offside.

But Spurs finally cracked on 68 minutes as they conceded a corner on the right and Whittaker’s cross found the head of Rodriguez, whose header looked to have crossed the line, with Wilson making sure.

With just 12 minutes remaining, Miners could be forgiven for thinking this was a winning goal but Spurs had other ideas.

They rallied for one last effort and laid siege to the Burnley goal.

They thought they’d grabbed an equaliser when the ball fell kindly to their number seven and he hit it first time through a sea of bodies. Lister got down to save but it squirmed from his grasp, with the centre forward racing in, but he somehow managed to get both hands on the ball just as it looked like he would score.

Moments later a ferocious strike looking to be heading for the bottom corner, but Lister flung himself to his right and saved at the foot of the post.

Burnley sealed their win within 90 seconds as Gilbert was fouled on the edged of the box, and Whittaker who curled a delightful effort around the wall and in off the post.

It was no more than the locals deserved. After facing an early morning start and travelling twice as far as their opponents, it was a fitting end to a wonderful season.

Rodriguez collected the trophy from the tournament sponsors Umbro, and the celebration began.

The team are looking for new sponsorship for next season, and if anyone is interested they can contact John Lister on 075976523403.

The team would like to express their sincere thanks to Paul Richards and CWR Scaffolds for their sponsorship this season.

Final Score: Burnley Miners 4, May & Baker (Tottenham) 2