Clitheroe 2-1 Mossley
Blues win but not a classic- By Chris Musson
There have been times this season that the Clitheroe team has purred like a finely tuned engine. This was not one of them. After an even first half, Clitheroe rode their luck and kept their play off push firmly on track.
In wonderful spring conditions, it was the big, awkward Mossley side which showed first and on eight minutes, after scooping a ball from the right touch line just before it went out, the right winger went on a short sprint down the line and fired a dangerous cross into the box, with former Blue Mitchell Bryant sliding the ball home. The lead did not last long and four minutes later, a Charlie Russell free kick on the right hand edge of the box, arrowed towards the head of Danny Brady who was wholly unmarked in the box as he powered the ball home.
One minute later, on his home debut, Aidan Kirby hit a bouncing ball sweetly and it thumped on to the bar. On 24 minutes, Kurt Willoughby screamed a shot over the bar and one minute later, Brad Carroll knocked back a deep cross for Kirby to go close again. On 31 minutes, Alex Newby lifted a great cross tantalisingly over the defender and as the ball fell to Carroll, he could not trouble the keeper, but as a warning of the half yet to come, Mossley raced instantly to the other end and Bryant flashed a shot across the face of the goal.
The second half was virtually incident free for 20 minutes before Chris Thompson made a solid full length save from a clean strike from the edge of the box. On 76 minutes, the Mossley fans were open mouthed as the ball first the inside of one post, only for it fall to another player who took it upon himself to hit the inside of the other post, with Thompson helpless as the action unfolded.
And then as if pre-ordained, Willoughby effected a perfect smash and grab as he turned on the edge of the box in a rare Clitheroe attack and buried the ball in the back of the net. Three minutes later, substitute Wes Benjamin climbed all over an attacker and the penalty was awarded. Thompson guessed right and firmly pushed the shot away. There was even a chance for the Blues to extend their lead in extra time as Carroll aimed to line up a curling shot, but it went harmlessly past the post.
With six more games to go, the Blues will take the points any way they come. With no midweek game, they will have time to catch breath and then gird themselves for two games a week mayhem in April.
Team : Chris Thompson, Robbie Bromley (Wes Benjamin), Gareth Roberts, Ian Rowlands, Danny Brady (c), Charlie Russell, Joe Mitchell, Brad Carroll, Kurt Willoughby, Alex Newby (Chris Churchman), Aidan Kirby (Adam Bolton). Subs - Wes Benjamin, Chris Churchman, Adam Bolton. Not used - Ryan Cattermole, Jacob Davies.