Ramsbottom United 3 - 4 Clitheroe
Singing in the rain for the Blues
The monsoons had subsided before kick off and whilst the rain curtains returned for the last 20 minutes, this was a massively entertaining game, which tapped into every non league fan's desire for a mud and thunder game. This one had it all.
Clitheroe were slow to settle on the greasy surface and to work out how best to use the pace of the ball. On 4 minutes, they conceded a customary early goal. A deep free kick on the right caused panic and a scruffy header squirted its way past Chris Thompson.
Little of note happened for some time, but from the half an hour mark, it was non stop. On 32 minutes, Kurt Willoughby twisted and turned on the edge of the box before squaring to Luke Wall who finished smartly.
The Blues had the ball in the net again on 37 minutes, but Wall and Willoughby were ruled offside after a piece of Dimitri Tuanzebe magic on the right. On 41 minutes, Ryan Ellison was judged to have fouled a home player in the box. It looked a soft decision, but honour was restored when the spot kick was steered well wide.
On 44 minutes, man of the match Charlie Russell was dropped near the Ramsbottom goal and Willoughby drove his free kick narrowly wide. It was just a sighter. Still the half was not finished, and United sliced open the Blues's defence down the left and from a scudding cross, the finish was poor, when the goal was gaping.
The second half exploded with Clitheroe action, and it was a surprise they only added two goals in early exchanges. On 55 minutes, the referee played a superb advantage as Willoughby gathered the ball on the left bye line, tacked across the box and leathered it home without Fearon moving.
Three minutes later, Russell jinked 20 yards before chipping the ball forward to Tuanzebe who laid it off to Wall, who nipped inside and smashed the ball past the hapless Fearon.
On 60 minutes, the travelling fans were convinced Clitheroe had scored as Willoughby's shot was deflected agonisingly wide of the post. And then things changed.
On 64 minutes, an outswinging Ramsbottom corner was barely cleared and it was smartly fired beyond Thompson. Thompson was then called into action to save bravely after another corner and it was no surprise on 73 minutes when ex Blue Darryl Mason burst down the right and laid a superb pass to Seddon who finished in the blink of an eye.
As the rain increased, so did the Blue's tempo. On 76 minutes, a Chris Churchman header from a corner bulleted just wide, before five minutes later, Russell was dropped on the edge of the box, earning his opponent a red card and Willoughby another crack at goal. This time he did not disappoint.
Breathless stuff, but the league writes off this Clitheroe side at their peril.
Team : Chris Thompson, Ryan Ellison (Jacob Davies), Gareth Roberts, Ian Rowlands, Danny Brady (c), Charlie Russell, Joe Mitchell, Brad Carroll (Alex Newby), Dimitri Tuanzebe (Chris Churchman), Kurt Willoughby, Luke Wall. Subs - Jacob Davies, Chris Churchman, Alex Newby. Not used - Robbie Bromley, Ryan Cattermole.