IT was far from a classic but Meltham probably deserved their 2-1 Barlow Cup win over Heywood Irish Centre.
Their young side got better as the game went on but it was late into a Galpharm Stadium eve that the crowd had anything to warm their hands on a bitterly-cold night.
All three goals came in extra time as players on both sides tired, after a match in which there were few clear-cut chances.
Meltham’s heroes on the night which began with a minute’s silence for Hillsborough were goalscorers Jack Ellis-Pownall and Mark Rowlands, but credit too to central defenders Will Hinchliffe and Mark Philips, along with goalkeeper Sam Philpott.
They played well against Heywoods’ strikeforce of man of the match Matt Tattersley and lively Darren Henighan.
Heywoods – playing in the first of five finals this season – started brightly enough but without a good opening.
Meltham struggled to hold their shape but they did come close on 40 minutes when a Nicky Whiteley effort was blocked.
The second half was much the same, with neither side able to dominate.
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Philpott was the busier of the two keepers, saving well from Powis and Henighan.
Cue extra-time and it took a mix-up to bring the first goal.
Kevin Ashe failed to hold onto a shot and Heywoods’ defence was left flat-footed as Ellis-Pownall swept the ball home from six yards.
That came in the 101st minute but just six minutes later, Heywoods were level.
Tattersley and Henighan linked up well and the latter’s low cross was met sweetly by Billy Callaghan.
Gaps appeared in both defences and Meltham took advantage.
Whiteley danced clear on the left in the 113th minute and his deft cross was headed firmly home by Rowlands.
Town director and secretary Ann Hough presented the trophies.
Heywood Irish Centre –Ashe, Maher, Sanderson (Smith 113), Turner, Williams, Callaghan, Tattersley, McAllister (Waller 97), Henighan, Powis (Purcell 85), Jaggar. Subs (not used) Keady, Madigan.
Meltham Ath – Philpott, Royle, Dixon (Rowlands 75), Holmes (Abbott 84), Hinchliffe, Philips, Tindall (Jacobs 56), Flint, Ellis-Pownall, Gant, Whiteley. Subs (not used): Woodhead, Beswick.
Referee – Neil Pickles.
Assistants – Brian Whitaker, Michael Robertson, Vic Murray.
Attendance – 299.