Waiters Arms ensured they went out on a high, foiling FC Panda’s bid for a unique four-timer with a 2-1 success in the Mel Owens Invitational Cup final.
Lee Wood’s late penalty gave them victory at Old Earth, Elland in a game sponsored by Carpets Direct Brighouse. They were avenging a 5-0 defeat in the Senior Cup final a week earlier.
The script for the last game of the Halifax Sunday League season couldn’t have been much better.
The match was the last for Waiters, run so well by Adam Fenton for well over a decade but calling it a day after the encounter, whilst Panda were looking to cap a brilliant season in which they had already won the Premier Division title, Senior Cup and Halifax FA Sunday Cup.
The first half was a cagey affair, with both sides passing and probing but with little to separate them.
Lee Wood was the stand-out player of the half, the Waiters captain and front man always looking a danger.
As the second half wore on more gaps started to appear and chances were created.
Waleed Raja, in the Panda goal in place of injury-hit talisman Yasar Mohammad, was proving a more than able deputy; he got a strong arm to a Lee Wood shot and then kept out a header from the same player.
Panda saw a penalty shout waved away after a typically slick move before the deadlock was finally broken.
A Ryan Wood curler towards the Panda goal deflected over Raja off the head of Lee Wood to make it advantage Waiters.
The champions had a reshuffle after a long stoppage following an injury to a defender with Mohammad coming off the bench, despite injury, and Raja moving into the outfield.
The disruption enabled Waiters to enjoy a strong spell but the Panda rear-guard were putting bodies on the line and Ikhlaq Ahmed and Raees Ahmed made crucial challenges in the penalty area.
Panda carved out a few swift breaks of their own but with time running out it looked like they wouldn’t muster the one big chance they needed.
Khurram Shazad saw a shot blocked after a good passing move before Waiters keeper Ethan Daly tipped over the bar from a stinging effort.
From the resulting corner the ball broke to Awais Khan and he dispatched it with aplomb before being mobbed by team-mates.
With the clock deep into injury time there was one last twist. Waiters’ David Chappell drew a foul in the penalty area and a spot kick was awarded.
Mohammad had already made a couple of brave stops but couldn’t keep out man of the match Lee Wood’s penalty which decided the tie and gave Fenton and his charges a winning send off.