Put to the sword
By Chris Musson
Clitheroe 0-7 Radcliffe FC
In freezing conditions, Clitheroe were swept aside by an impressive Radcliffe side, with livewire forward, Tunde Owolabi as executioner in chief. The weakened home side simply had no answer to his pace as he rattled in a 30-minute hat-trick which could easily have been more. As early as the fourth minute he had latched on to a through ball, rounded Cameron Terry and found the back of the net. Clitheroe almost equalised shortly afterwards, when from an inswinging corner, Josh Snowdon steered a header towards goal and in the ensuing melee all that was missing was a home boot to pop it home.
Harry Pratt, on his return to the club, had a good chance on 13 minutes as he used his strength to shield the ball and then whistled a firm drive over as he turned and shot. Two minutes later, left back Jack Fleming pulled up sharply with a hamstring injury, necessitating a reshuffle of an already reshuffled back four. Within three minutes, Owolabi was back on the scoresheet as he leant into a cross from the right and scored neatly and with minimal effort. Radcliffe were flying by now and a desperate Clitheroe block shortly afterwards was followed by another scudding cross along the face of the Clitheroe goal line.
It was no surprise then that when Macauley Harewood dwelt too long on the ball on 28 minutes, Owolabi robbed him and ran on to score. Four minutes later, another cross from the right freed Owolabi and only smart work by Cameron Terry kept him at bay. Clitheroe manufactured a couple of half chances through Pratt and Hyuga Tanner, but it was Radcliffe who scored again before the break from a driven cross, although a minute before, Harewood had had to hurl himself at Owolabi to stop another goal.
Young Michael Itela came on for the second half and had a great start as he twisted and turned before letting off a good shot. Andreas Bianga then hit the post before the Radcliffe onslaught started again. On 53 minutes, Terry made a great save from a free kick before he was beaten two minutes later from a firm shot from distance.
On 82 minutes, a hopeful long punt by the visiting keeper was flicked on and the run and successful shot was all simply too easy. Substitute James Sloane then succeeded in arriving on the pitch, getting booked, spoken to and then sent off in five minutes, before on 90 minutes a lame, looping cross saw Harewood beaten by a forward who simply wanted it more.
In short, this was a very poor display by a weakened Clitheroe side, against a team which will be up there at the end of the season. How they respond to this humiliation in the next few games will be crucial.
Team : Cameron Terry, Jacob Gregory (c), Jack Fleming (Macauley Harewood), Derek Ubah, Josh Snowden, Lewis Sugden, Harry Cannon-Noren (Michael Itela), Andreas Bianga, Harry Pratt, Harry Blackburn (James Sloane), Hyuga Tanner. Subs - Macauley Harewood, Michael Itela, James Sloane. Not used - Jonah Gosling, Max Hazeldine.