Clitheroe 2-1 Radcliffe Borough
AUTHOR : James White
Louis Mayers strike seals sixth win in seven for the Blues.
With the chance to move a step closer to the play off places, Clitheroe’s intentions to pick up all three points this afternoon were made clear right from kick off.
The Blues made the brighter start out of the two sides and almost took advantage after just 5 minutes, as Boro keeper Chris Cheetham was forced to rush out of his box to deny Sefton Gonzales the chance to open the scoring.
The visitors offered very little in the opening exchanges and were punished on 10 minutes as Clitheroe talisman Sefton Gonzales was allowed to weave his way into the box, before dispatching a cool finish into the back of the net to give the home side the lead.
Radcliffe Borough refused to be disheartened by the opening goal though and managed to conjure 2 opportunities in quick succession to try and put themselves back on level terms. First, Matthew Davies tried a volley from a tight angle which was smartly saved by Benjamin Woodhead, before Sam McMahon found Jody Banim on the edge of the box, but the Boro forward couldn’t keep his shot down.
These chances created by the visitors however would only come as a wake up call for Clitheroe and the hosts quickly regained control of the game.
On 22 minutes, Brandon Barski slipped a gilt-edged pass into the path of Gonzales to present him with a golden opportunity to double Clitheroe’s lead, but the target man’s effort was weak and Cheetham was able to make a comfortable save.
The Blues were determined to make it 2-0 before the interval and were starting to create a number of great chances. With 26 minutes on the clock, Mayers dashed down the right wing to cut a pass inside to David Lynch, whose first time effort flew inches wide of the post. Then, just three minutes later, Gonzales drilled an accurate ball to the edge of the box where Scott Harries could only curl his right footed effort over the bar.
Play was interrupted just past the half hour mark as Radcliffe’s Sam Crook went down with a head injury and had to receive treatment for several minutes before being replaced by debutant, Dominic Smith.
However, this stoppage in play did not hinder Clitheroe’s momentum and they continued to dominate possession whilst also threatening Boro’s goal. Seven minutes before the break Simon Garner whipped an out-swinging, left footed cross onto the head of Wesley Benjamin, who could only crash his effort against the post before it bounced away to safety.
The most clear cut opportunity however fell to James Walker. Some intricate passing and impressive teamwork down the left flank led to a goal mouth scramble in Boro’s box, and when the ball fell to Walker he could only nod his header over the bar from just six yards out.
At half time the score was Clitheroe 1-0 Radcliffe Borough.
Having struggled for large parts of the first half, the visitors looked revitalised after the interval and came flying out of the blocks. Just two minutes after the break debutant Dominic Smith was able to calmly control the ball inside the Clitheroe penalty area before powerfully blasting it home to equalise for Radcliffe and punish the Blues for their missed chances. Clitheroe 1-1 Radcliffe Borough.
Following the equaliser, Boro grew in confidence and only two minutes later, Smith burst into the box to produce an excellent double save from Benjamin Woodhead, who heroically kept the hosts on level terms.
The threat of falling behind was a rude awakening for the Blues and they responded brilliantly showing great desire to put themselves in contention for the play offs. On 52 minutes, Gonzales showed outstanding composure to beat his man and work the room for a shot, but could only blaze his strike over the bar. Just four minutes later, Scott Harries latched onto a neat through ball from Barski but failed to hit the target from close quarters.
With just over 25 minutes remaining, the hosts decided to bring on Kurt Willoughby in pursuit of a second goal. Six minutes later, Clitheroe finally made the breakthrough. Boro failed to clear a Sefton Gonzales cross and Louis Mayers took full advantage, bending his effort into the far corner of the net to restore the Blues’ lead. With 20 minutes to go it was Clitheroe 2-1 Radcliffe Borough.
From this point onwards, Clitheroe were able to slow down the tempo of the game and dominate possession in order to limit any threat from the visitors. However, deep into stoppage time a cross from the left hand side caused a huge scramble in Clitheroe’s goal mouth before the hosts could bundle the ball away to safety and breathe a sigh of relief.
The Blues hung on to secure their sixth win in seven matches and keep their play off hopes alive.
Final Score: Clitheroe 2-1 Radcliffe Borough
Man of the Match: Louis Mayers
AUTHOR : James White