Leek Town 1-2 Clitheroe 01-09-2018
By Peter Ryan
By Chris Musson
First points of the season
With Clitheroe searching for their first points of the season, a two hour trip to Leek and a forward line reduced by holidays and injury was probably not the ideal preparation. However, with only one addition to the squad, the excellent Stanley loanee Zehn Mohammed at centre back, Stuart Mellish shuffled the pack and the lads rolled up their sleeves.
There was a nervy moment straight from kick off when skipper Jason Jeffries gifted the ball to an opposing forward, but Mohammed spared his blushes with some muscular play. Max Hazeldine was ploughing a lone furrow up front, but on 8 minutes he ran and shot, testing the keeper in the process. Five minutes later, the visitors came close to scoring after pinball in the Leek area.
However, it was Leek who took the lead after a free kick was softly given away on the edge of the box. It was quickly taken and from the panic which ensued a penalty was conceded and converted. On 32 minutes, Leek looked ominous as Ed Wilczynski make a great short range save, but in the pinball which followed, the ball somehow stayed out.
However, Clitheroe were not just here for the ride and on 40 minutes, Andreas Bianga lashed a cross towards goal and it was met on the full by player unknown as it thudded into the post in the blink of an eye. Bianga then picked up a soft yellow for dissent, before the half ended with Derek Ubah just putting a Josh Gregory free kick wide.
Jeffries started the second half brightly for the Blues as he burst into the Box for Josh Gregory to hit his shot into the keeper’s midriff. Then it was over to Wilczynski to play a starring role and kick start Clitheroe’s season. On 57 minutes from a flowing move down the left, a Leek forward let fly and with the keeper showing to go to his left, he put a strong trailing right hand out to deflect the shot in astonishing fashion. Then on 61 minutes, Ubah tripped a forward he was shadowing to give a second penalty, only for Wilczynski to save the spot kick comfortably.
The odds on the visitors got worse as a sloppy tackle by Bianga saw him shown a second yellow. Three minutes later, the odds were evened up when a Leek player was shown a straight red for a lunging tackle. Clitheroe had been going about their business and there was still confidence in the crowd.
At this point, Clitheroe coach and former Liverpool starlet, Dave Mannix was introduced, and he treated everyone to 20 minutes of vision and passing ability to transform the game. On 80 minutes, he dropped a corner on to Jeffries’ head who buried it with glee. Then as the clock ticked down, big Derek Ubah was next up for heading practice as he powered another Mannix corner home.
The relief and pleasure at the end of the game was deserved and heartfelt. A weight has been lifted and we look forward to the squad starting to go through its paces in coming games.
Team : Ed Wilczynski, Jason Jefferies (c), James-McLean Oppong, Joe Mitchell (David Mannix), Derek Ubah, Zehn Mohammed, Jacob Gregory, Josh Gregory, Max Hazeldine, Andreas Bianga, Antoine Recizac. Sub - David Mannix. Not used - Harry Cannon-Noren, Ollie Wood, Jonah Gosling, Kyle Trennery.