SKIPPER Dan Ferguson celebrated his birthday in style as Kendal County beat Ambleside United at Parkside Road to lift the Senior Challenge Cup for a second successive year.
After a goalless first half, Jordan Knowles broke the deadlock shortly after the re-start as Joe Baker scored from the spot and substitute Pete Carradus added gloss to the scoreline.
And while the season has a whole has not fully lived up to expectations, Ferguson – who turned 27 on the day of the game – insists silverware represents a strong tonic.
“It was a long wait on my birthday to celebrate but we were delighted to lift the trophy for the second year running,” he said.
“The first half was like a game of chess but in the second we managed to up the tempo and in the end put the game to bed with about half an hour to go.
“It’s been a bit disappointing not to have a better league season. Promotion was the main aim of the campaign but the Senior Challenge Cup is always one you want to win.
“It terms of the league, we started really well and won eight of our first nine but then had a bad spell.
“Injuries at the wrong times have cost us but looking beyond that, to retain the cup is a great feeling.”
There were very few clear-cut chances in the first half, with Kendal County’s best chance falling to Chris Vincent whose glancing header was turned behind by Ambleside keeper Ben Wilson.
Shortly before the break, Ambleside had a great chance to take the lead as Tom Routledge fired into the side-netting from close range after Jake Miles’ initial effort was blocked.
Ten minutes after the restart, Kendal County took the lead as Jordan Knowles forced the ball home as Baker’s shot was cleared off the line.
Neil Hayton’s side extended their lead midway through the second period, Baker converting from the spot after a foul in the box by Jack Bradley.
After Jake Miles was dismissed for a foul on Ferguson, Kendal County made sure of victory in the final ten minutes as Carradus rifled home from the edge of the box.
Despite being deflated by defeat, Ambleside United boss George Gudgeon has issued a rallying call for the remainder of season as his side bid to confirm their West Lancashire Football League Division One status.
“We were very disappointed,” he said. “The first-half was very even but second half Kendal took their chances and we panicked a little bit – and after the sending off it was game over.
“Games are won by taking chances and unfortunately we didn’t take ours just on half-time whereas Kendal County took theirs just after the re-start.
“But for a group of young lads they have done fantastically well. At the start of the season if you’d have said they would be in a cup final we would have taken that.
“Staying in Division One was and remains the main aim and we have seven games left. The cup final was a bonus and the young lads will learn from it.”
Kendal County: Jordan Davis, Darren Nightingale, James Williams, Dan Ferguson, Jason Jones, Jordan Knowles, Chris Clough, Lloyd Trippitt, Joe Baker, Chris Vincent, Brody Wallace-Moffatt. Subs: Pete Carradus, Rylen Knowles, Shane Lambert
Ambleside United: Ben Wilson, Aaron Davidson, Sam Benson, Jack Bradley, Dan Fox, Chris Mills, Tom Routledge, Jake Routledge, Kyle Gudgeon, Jake Miles, Tom Higgs. Subs: Steve Sewell, Harry Routledge, Dan Nevinson