Clitheroe 3 Northwich Victoria 1
First home league win for Blues - Match report by Roy Fearnhead.
Clitheroe made several player and positional changes from last Tuesday's game and a much improved performance led to the first home win in the league. James Walker and Roberto Bonaminio replaced Seydou Bamba and Adam Freeland in defence with Simon Garner filling Bonaminio's place in midfield. Zach Clark returned to his more usual right wing position with Danny Wilkins switching back into the centre of midfield. Alex Ralph started on the left side of midfield after rejoining the club and Liam Hutchinson took a more central role as striker.
Northwich Victoria created the first effort on goal in the 4th minute when Stuart Cook cut in from the left but his wayward strike sailed well wide of goal. Clitheroe's first attempt came in the 5th minute but Liam Hutchinson's shot cleared the crossbar.
The visitors took the lead in the 18th minute when a cross from their left wing was diverted into his own goal by defender Danny Brady.
In the 32nd minute Clitheroe made a rare goalkeeper substitution when Andrew Dawber was replaced between the sticks by Alex Palffy. Just a minute later the Blues had a great chance to equalise, a freekick from the left wing found Zach Clark unmarked 6 yards from goal but his sweetly struck volley whistled across goal and just the wrong side of the far post. They did draw level in the 35th minute though when another ball from the left into a crowded penalty area was controlled by David Lynch and drilled home from 10 yards.
Simon Garner struck a 30 yard freekick into the hands of the Northwich keeper before his blocked tackle at the other end saved an attempt on goal from the edge of the box but left him injured and unable to start the second half.
Richard Burns replaced Simon Garner after the interval and was soon involved in a move that led to Clitheroe taking the lead in the 46th minute. Liam Hutchinson played the ball out wide on the left to Richard Burns who then set the ball up for James Walker to fire a high cross into the box and Zach Clark headed the ball back across the keeper and into the net from a narrow angle near the far post.
In the 57th minute Zach Clark moved down the right wing before flashing the ball across for Alex Ralph to sidefoot it goalwards, Richard Burns nipped in to divert it before the keeper claimed it but his effort went narrowly wide. A minute later Blues keeper Alex Palffy made a good save to deny Northwich and then a header from the subsequent corner was off target.
A piece of fortune in the 60th minute saw David Lynch able to run through midfield with the ball and his pass found Alex Ralph just inside the left corner of the penalty box. He made space to fire in a cross but ex-Blue Chris Smalley's arm was in the way and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Danny Wilkins stepped up to make no mistake from 12 yards.
Richard Burns was released through on goal in the 72nd minute and he played the ball across to Liam Hutchinson, his initial shot was blocked but he recovered to have another attempt, this time firing wide. A couple of minutes later, a freekick on the right was headed out by the Northwich defence and David Lynch latched onto the loose ball on the edge of the box but his screamer struck the bar and bounced down before being cleared.
In the 85th minute Roberto Bonaminio was booked for a foul on the left outside the box and the resulting freekick was driven into the box and headed goalwards but a diving Alex Palffy made a smart save to push it round the post for a corner.
The last chance of this much improved performance came in added time when a good break from defence saw Alex Ralph's pass to substitute Seydou Bamba superbly flicked around his defender on the halfway line to leave him with a clear run in on goal. Unfortunately his run ended with a drilled shot-cum-cross that didn't trouble the keeper at all and was just too far in front of Zach Clark as he attempted to get up in support.