Clitheroe denied a point
By Chris Musson
Runcorn Linnets 2-1 Clitheroe 17-11-18
Clitheroe made their first trip to Runcorn and never fully recovered from a slow first half, although their second half display almost paid dividends, despite the best efforts at time wasting from the opposition.
In a first half of few chances, the first 20 minutes were pretty even. Andreas Bianga came closest on 18 minutes when from a burst behind the defence, the shot against the advancing keeper almost came straight back to him, but the attack fizzled out. Shortly afterwards, a whipped in cross from the Runcorn right was narrowly headed wide from a stooping attacker, and on 23 minutes, in a carbon copy attack, another whipped in cross saw it headed home by an attacker virtually on his knees, as he steered it just inside the post.
Runcorn very much favoured the long ball and half chances were beginning to emerge for the home side. On 32 minutes, Jonah Gosling, only just back from a lay off, was the victim of an horrendous tackle. The referee thought about a red card but only gave a yellow, before Gosling was replaced, as his ankle ballooned. On 38 minutes, Runcorn glanced a header from a corner on to the post, but the complexion of the game changed when Cameron Terry raced after a hopeful long punt forward towards the corner of his box and fouled a forward who was running diagonally away from goal.
A clear foul, but many near the action were convinced that the contact had been made comfortably outside the box. The penalty was converted, but there was still time for Bianga to go close as he volleyed a Lewis Sugden free kick over the bar.
Lee Ashforth shuffled the side around at half time, bringing Macauley Harewood on and sending Jacob Gregory higher up the pitch. It worked like a dream and within two minutes, substitute Harry Cannon-Noren hurdled three tackles and buried the ball in the net. Chances were still at a premium, and on 73 minutes, Antoine Recizac unpicked the defence and as he laid the ball across the face of the goal, there was no forward to tap it home.
There was a fracas between the two benches as Clitheroe frustration at the inability to get a replacement ball on to the pitch finally bubbled over. As Clitheroe went searching for an equaliser, Runcorn tried to put the game beyond the Blues with their counter attacking football, but apart from a smart save by Terry, little of note was created by the home side.
When the whistle went, it felt like a point lost after the Clitheroe dominance in the second half. Man of the match was new left back Jack Fleming, whose solid play and willingness to go forward made a real impression on the travelling fans.
Team : Cameron Terry, Jacob Gregory (c) (James Sloane), Jack Fleming, Derek Ubah, Josh Snowden, Lewis Sugden (Macauley Harewood), Antoine Recizac, Andreas Bianga, Jonah Gosling (Harry Cannon-Noren), Max Hazeldine, Josh Gregory. Subs - Harry Cannon-Noren, Macauley Harewood, James Sloane. Not used - Hyuga Tanner, Viktor Cella.