Well Deserved Victory
By Chris Musson
Skelmersdale United 1-4 Clitheroe 12-02-2019
There was a good Clitheroe following at the strangely empty stadium in Prescot, but it was a nervy affair given what was riding on the game, and it was not until the second half that the fans could enjoy a solid display by the Blues.
The home side clearly favoured the long ball to launch attacks, but it was Clitheroe who had the first real chance on 5 minutes, when Josh Gregory exchanged passes with Max Hazeldine and then lashed a shot narrowly across the face of goal. Against the run of play, the home side took the lead on 11 minutes, when from a quick break down the left, a scuffed cross was swept home. Clitheroe did not panic and turned up the pressure. On 17 minutes, Jacob Gregory moved in from the right and had a solid shot well blocked. Two minutes later, Hazeldine muscled his way down the right, and from his firm cross, Harry Blackburn slotted home to bring the scores level. The pressure increased and on 26 minutes, Blackburn played in Jacob Gregory whose shot was smothered. Two minutes later, Pratt was upended in the box and he dusted himself down to convert from the spot. In a hugely contentious moment, Blackburn was slipped through on 38 minutes and as he rounded the keeper, his legs were clearly taken as he was felled. Astonishingly, the referee awarded a corner. With the half time clock approaching, there was more controversy as Hazeldine appeared to run the line to get behind the defence and to slot home, but a narrow offside was given.
There was no let up in the second half and Clitheroe had the ball in the net again from a header from a Josh Gregory corner after 49 minutes, but again it was ruled out for offside. Three minutes later, Pratt shielded the ball well and sent Hazeldine haring after a bouncing ball, which he walloped home on the full from 15 yards. Josh Gregory had a great chance to score after a mazy 40-yard run on 73 minutes, before Jacob Gregory was foiled four minutes later by a world class save after he headed goalwards from an Antoine Recizac cross. Skem were reduced to 10 men after the referee showed a straight red card for dissent, and it was no surprise when Blackburn got his second of the night deep into injury time after having three bites of the cherry to force the ball home.
Team : Cameron Terry, Jacob Gregory (c), Jordyn Fitton, Michael Wilson, Josh Snowden, Jason Jeffries, Harry Blackburn, Josh Gregory (Ryan Botell), Harry Pratt (James Sloane), Max Hazeldine (Antoine Recizac), Hyuga Tanner. Subs - Antoine Recizac, Ryan Botell, James Sloane. Not used - n/a.