Clitheroe 4 - 3 Ramsbottom United
Clitheroe recovered from a two goal deficit to eventually win 4-3 in a tense Lancashire derby at Shawbridge.
Manager Simon Haworth rang the changes in terms of personnel and formation and whilst the Clitheroe machine spluttered in the first half, it was purring by the end of the game.
The first 30 minutes were all Ramsbottom and with their FC United reunion trio up front, the new look Clitheroe defence was being pulled around the pitch.
It was a bad start from the home side who were behind after just nine minutes after Ramsbottom's Gregg Daniels latched on to a long ball forward and powered a heavily deflected shot past Chris Thompson.
Simon Haworth must have thought it was going to be another night to forget just eight minutes later when Ramsbottom doubled their lead thanks to some fantastic work by winger Jerome Wright.
The pressure was relentless and Clitheroe were barely clearing their lines at times, and Ramsbottom’s right back almost got in on the act after he thudded a shot against the post.
Clitheroe managed to up the tempo as the first half went on however and was rewarded with their efforts when top scorer Kurt Willoughy pounced on to a long ball, got in behind the derfence and finished beautifully past Martin Fearon in the Rams net.
It was still an uphill task for the Blues who had to continuously work as the half went on with Ramsbottom still looking the more threatening. United should have extended the lead on 37 minutes when from a deep cross their centre forward powered his header over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Daniel Byrnes was introduced in the second half to make his debut, with Ellison dropping back into defence. His trickery and pace helped redefine the game.
As the second half progressed you could see the frustration on the touchline with things just not going their own way for Simon Haworth's men. But on 71 minutes, debutant right back Jacob Gregory drove towards the box and having been foiled with his first shot, gathered the ball again and slipped Newby in for a neat finish.
Five minutes later the Blues were in front when Kurt Willoughby fired home a free kick to snatch a brace.
The visitors came straight back and in an astonishing passage of play Thompson made two stupendous point blank saves to preserve the lead. Still the tempo was high, and on 86 minutes Byrnes was flattened in the box and Willoughby scored from the spot to secure his hat-trick to make it 4-2.
Clitheroe must have thought they had the three points nailed before Sam Heathcote headed the visitors back in to the game to take us in to some last minute drama and make it 4-3. After some desperate defending and corner after corner the final whistle was music to their ears to end a three game winless run.
A tremendous game all round, Ramsbottom clearly could not believe their misfortune, but Clitheroe might just have rediscovered their mojo.
Team : Chris Thompson, Jacob Gregory, Stephen Rigby, Ian Rowlands (c), Thomas Smyth, Michael Samson (Danny Byrnes), Joe Mitchell, Brad Carroll (Brad Knox), Kurt Willoughby, Alex Newby, Ryan Ellison. Subs - Danny Byrnes, Brad Knox. Not used - Robbie Bromley, Charlie Russell, Oliver Crankshaw.