Radcliffe Borough 0 - 1 Clitheroe
Blues graft out three points
With the manager ringing the changes to freshen up some tired legs, to bring back some of the walking wounded and to cope with a suspension, the Blues started this LFA Trophy semi final dress rehearsal in bright fashion.
Mitch Bryant and Stanley loanee Luke Wall were at the heart of the early action. On 3 minutes, George West slipped Bryant through, only for his scuffed shot to be turned for a corner. On 14 minutes, Bryant cushioned a ball with his back to goal, spun round and fired in a smart shot which was well saved.
On 19 minutes, Wall caused mayhem in the home defence and after desperate pinball in the box, a penalty was awarded after a prone player was deemed to have handled the ball. Brant stepped up and hit the deadball firmly but the keeper saved well.
The shivering travelling fans did not have to wait too long for a goal as one minute later Bryant made amends as drove into the box and then as he went to ground squirted the ball through to West who converted unchallenged.
To this point Radcliffe had been invisible, but the goal spurred them into life. One minute later, Chris Thompson was called upon to make a point blank save before the ball came back thirty seconds later and this time a shot flashed across the face of the goal.
Other chances came Radcliffe's way with another good near post save by Thompson and a second shot flashing across the goal.
However, back Clitheroe came and should have put the game to bed before half time. On 43 minutes, Wall burst into the box and lofted a shot on to the bar, before Bryant's follow up shot was well saved. Finally as the extra time ticked down, Danny Brady headed a deep corner back into the box, and with the ball bouncing dangerously near the goal line, it was finally hacked away to safety.
The second half was more clearly in favour of the home team, as Clitheroe ran out of ideas up front, but in Brady and Ryan Ellison had two players at the top of their game and in full control. Radcliffe were full of attacking intent, but their enthusiasm was not matched by any shooting ability.
They were even awarded a soft penalty after a forward crumpled under attention from Robbie Bromley, but the resultant spot kick was so weak, Thompson had time to dive both ways before the ball even reached him. Slowly but surely the game petered out, but with no further upsets for the visitors.
The game was not a thing of beauty, but three points away from home are always to be cherished. Into the play off places we go.
Team: Thompson, Benjamin, Roberts, Ellison, Brady, Russell, Mitchell, Churchman, Bryant, West, Wall
Subs (used): Bromley, Willoughby, Newby
Subs (not used): Davis, Cattermole