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Carnforth Rangers manager hails team as they retain West Lancashire League Challenge Cup

Carnforth Rangers retained the West Lancashire League Challenge Cup

Carnforth Rangers FC retained the West Lancashire League Challenge Cup with a dramatic win against Chipping.

Last season, the West Lancs Division One side secured the trophy with a 3-1 victory against Dalton United at Charnock Richard’s Mossie Park stadium. 

This season, they beat Chipping in the final thanks to a 95th minute winner from captain Stan Rich at Longridge Town to secure the cup once again.

Their success was overseen by manager Ian Hughes, who took over from Dan Parkinson - who had guided the side to the 2022/23 cup win - in October.

He spoke to Beyond Radio about the journey, right from the first round to the final whistle at Longridge.

“It’s been great taking over,” said Hughes. 

“I’ve known Dan for some time and I’ve coached him.

“It’s not been easy, it’s been a transitional season but the lads are great.”

The cup campaign started with a penalty shootout win over Astley and Buckshaw in the first round after a 1-1 draw at full time.

“Astley and Buckshaw was a tense game, they play in the league below and we scraped through but things did improve from there.

“In the quarter final we played Walney Island. That was a great game.

“Walney came at us in the second half and we were hanging on, they’re a good side.”

Carnforth came out 2-1 winners away from home there.

After that round, the games begin to be contested at neutral grounds and so the semi final was at Caton Sports Field.

They took on Freckleton and went a goal behind, but showed “great resilience” to come back and alleviate Hughes’ concerns. 

“Freckleton were a great side and I was worried the occasion had got the better of us," said Hughes.

“However, the lads showed a lot of resilience in the second half to get the result and in the end it was well deserved.”

The final against Chipping took place at Longridge Town’s Recycling Lives Ground on April 30.

Chipping hadn’t had the easiest of routes to the final either, they were made to work to progress - especially in the quarter final  against Eagley, where they won 6-5 on penalties.

Dan Mardell opened the scoring for Carnforth Rangers, before Joe Melling levelled things up - both those goals coming in the second half.

The game looked set to go to penalties - even the managers had chosen their five spot kick takers - but on the 95th minute, club captain Stan Rich became the cup final hero and headed home from a cross into the area.

Hughes reflected on the memorable evening.

“We played a really good side in Chipping and there was a great following from both sides - we brought down a coach load. 

“The game was really tense and there was not much at all between the two teams. 

“Our first goal down the left hand side was really well worked but a great player in Joe Melling got the equaliser. 

“Stan Rich got the winner, the celebrations were brilliant. I did think we’d be going to penalties and I’d named my 5 players for them!

“The players deservedly spent the rest of the night celebrating.”

Carnforth Rangers have four senior men’s teams.

The first team finished 12th in Division One of the West Lancashire League, while the seconds (reserves) finished sixth in the WLFL Division Two Reserves.

The third team - Carnforth Rangers A Team - got the best league table finish out of the four teams this season, fourth place in Division Three of the Westmorland Football League, whereas the fourths (Carnforth Rangers Youth) finished seventh in Division Four of the same league setup.

The club have an extensive youth setup too, with nearly 30 junior teams, ranging from under 5s to under 16s, including four girls’ teams.

They had six teams representing the club in the Lancaster and Morecambe Service to Youth League Challenge Cup Finals Day last weekend.

One of those girls’ teams were successful in recent weeks: their Under 12s Girls Blues team won their league after a great season.

Hughes said: “This is my third stint at Carnforth, it’s a very well run club by Casey Bragg (secretary) and Julie Davey (chairperson).

“The youth teams are great, it’s so good for the club to see so many young players involved. 

“The management teams for the senior sides are very successful and they’ve all got top coaching qualifications.”

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