Ashton Athletic 0-3 Clitheroe 14-11-2017
By Chris Musson
Clitheroe put out the Lancashire Trophy holders at the second time of asking in an entertaining game, in which the hosts showed how they took Chorley all the way in the FA Cup. However, once Clitheroe had drawn the sting from Ashton, which mainly involved a rangy winger on the left flank, the visitors never let go their stranglehold on the game.
After an even first 10 minutes, Ashton were awarded a dubious penalty after Chris Thompson had tipped a through ball away from the onrushing attacker, but whose collision then led the referee to give the penalty. The subsequent spot kick was blazed against the post, and natural justice was restored. Clitheroe’s front three and Brad Carroll were working well together, and Ross Dent, starting in midfield for the first time since his return, was ferocious in his persistent tackling and harrying.
On 11 minutes, Carroll passed to Kurt Willoughby, but his shot shaved the post. Two minutes later, the Ashton left winger pinged a cross across the face of the goal and Clitheroe were lucky that the box was empty. One minute later, Thompson had to make a great stop after Ryan Ellison was muscled off the ball and could not recover as the striker advanced. That was the high point of the home team’s efforts. On 20 minutes, Alex Newby went close at the near post and George West had a great chance on 38 minutes as he twisted and turned in the box, but his shot went wide. Clitheroe went ahead after Joe Mitchell foraged high up the pitch and he was flattened in the box. Willoughby thumped the ball home.
The second half was more of a procession. Willoughby was fouled right on the edge of the box on 50 minutes and his free kick skimmed narrowly over. 8 minutes later, Willoughby was upended in the box and this time Newby applied the finishing touch. Clitheroe’s attacks were coming in waves as the home team lost their shape, and indeed lost their heads after Alex Newby was hacked to the ground when the ball had long disappeared, and the home forward went for an early bath. On 80 minutes, a deep Clitheroe corner was only cleared as far as George West, who lofted his volley over the keeper.
In the end, this was a regulation victory against a team which has regularly punched above its weight. Radcliffe now await in the next round.
Team : Chris Thompson, Jacob Gregory, Robbie Bromley, Ryan Ellison, Ian Rowlands (c), Ross Dent (Leighton Egan), Joe Mitchell (Charlie Russell), Brad Carroll, Kurt Willoughby, Alex Newby (Stephen Rigby), George West. Subs - Leighton Egan, Charlie Russell, Stephen Rigby. Not used - Tom Smyth.