Clitheroe 3-3 Harrogate Railway Athletic
Skipper to the rescue in late penalty drama
A late Ollie Devenney penalty salvaged a point for Clitheroe in an entertaining first home game of the season.
Marcus Calvert replaced Alex Johnson in the sole change to Saturday’s starting eleven.
Clitheroe made a dream start to the evening, taking the lead inside two minutes as Calvert drilled a shot past Harrogate keeper Lee Ashworth from the edge of the penalty area.
For the remainder of the half there was little to choose between the two teams with neither keeper being seriously called upon despite some neat approach play from both sides. Simon Nangle was influencing the game in Clitheroe’s midfield with James Gardner and Lee Pugh carrying a threat on the flanks. The closest the hosts came to extending their lead was on 33 minutes as Gardner flashed an effort wide after being found by Devenney.
At the other end, whilst Colin Hunter, Phil Myles and Jerome White all had attempts at goal they never overly troubled Hakan Burton. The visitors’ best chance fell to Patrick McGuire, albeit from a tight angle, on the stroke of half-time only for him to be foiled by the Clitheroe keeper.
The game burst into life after the break with both teams playing out an enthralling, end-to-end second period.
The first blow of the half was struck by Harrogate as they drew level on 55 minutes through Nathan Cartman. McGuire’s short corner found Hunter who in turn picked out Cartman and his overhead kick restored parity.
It was a frenetic start to the half and Rob Flint’s high ball forward was nodded into the path of Calvert by Jack Higgins with only a superb save from Ashworth denying the forward his second goal of the night.
Moments later the visitos had the lead. Cartman played in Greg Kidd down the Harrogate left and his cross was fired home from within the 6 yard box by substitute Daniel Hull.
Clitheroe went in search of an equaliser with Devenney forcing Ashworth into a smart save before the referee turned away penalty appeals for handball despite his assistant flagging for an infringement. This mattered little, however, as a minute later Lee Pugh’s cross from the left was headed home by Connor Smith.
Two minutes later, Calvert played in Saturday’s goalscoring hero Jordan Williams who found the net only to be penalised for a foul on the keeper.
With fifteen minutes remaining Harrogate regained the lead, Hunter producing a superb finish from a free-kick which left Burton rooted to the spot.
As the game entered the final ten minutes Burton pulled off an excellent save to deny the impressive Hull, who caused problems throughout the second half.
Three minutes from time Clitheroe were given the opportunity to rescue a draw as a penalty was awarded for a nudge on substitute Danny Bell as he contested Devenney’s corner. Devenney despatched the spot-kick with characteristic authority to secure a point for his side.
The drama was not quite over as Higgins met Devenney’s free-kick in stoppage time only for his header across goal to fall agonisingly the wrong side of the post.
On the one hand there will be undoubted frustration in the Clitheroe ranks that this game was not won, but on the other Paul Moore will surely be pleased with the character and spirit his side showed to drag themselves level and get something from a game which was looking lost.
Four points from a possible six represents as good a start to a season as Clitheroe have had for six years as the league now takes a break, until Bank Holiday Monday that is, with Radcliffe Borough making the trip to Shawbridge on Saturday for an FA Cup Preliminary Round tie.
Clitheroe: Hakan Burton, Rob Flint (Chris Smalley 77), Lee Pugh, Jack Higgins, Louis Edwards, Connor Smith, Simon Nangle (Danny Bell 77), Ollie Devenney (c), Jordan Williams, Marcus Calvert (Andy Naylor 89), James Gardner. Subs not used: Will James, Ross Dent
Harrogate Railway Athletic: Lee Ashworth, Simon Wood, Jerome White, Daniel Thirkell, Dave Lawlor, Jonathon Maloney, Phil Myles (Daniel Hull 46), Patrick McGuire, Nathan Cartman, Colin Hunter (Simon Parkes 78), Greg Kidd (David Ward 62). Subs not used: /
Bookings: Cartman, Wood