Skelmersdale United 3-0 Clitheroe
By Ross McLean
Whilst a defeat away to champions elect Skelmersdale was no disgrace, the Blues’ inability to pose an attacking threat to their hosts was of more concern. After the drubbing at Shawbridge earlier in the season, it was essential that Clitheroe drew the sting from Tommy Lawson’s men, but a deep cross from the right after two minutes eluded all the Clitheroe defenders and a clean header from Dale Wright handed the advantage to the home side. It was a territorial and goal advantage Skelmersdale never looked like surrendering. Clitheroe were defending very deeply and Clitheroe’s back line had to be on their mettle, with Lee Pugh and Will James shining brightly all game, whilst Skelmersdale poured over Clitheroe. Skelmersdale’s right winger Hughes was causing problems down the right wing throughout the game but on 17 minutes it was Clitheroe’s long time nemesis, Adam Morning, who crossed from the left, with Josh Hine then stepping over, leaving Burton to dive brightly at the feet of another Skelmersdale attacker to foil a certain goal. Clitheroe’s first attempt came on 26 minutes, when Dean Canning wriggled free down the right wing, but his cross only produced an air shot from Chris Mason. The rest of the half was all Skelmersdale. On 36 minutes Morning burst free down the left wing again and Burton had to dive bravely at the feet of Hine to snuff out the danger. The home side almost extended their lead on 36 minutes when Hine burst through the defence in trademark fashion and Burton looked to cut out the pass, but fumbled the ball which then spilled out of the area and it took a smart piece of work from Chris Smalley to make things safe.
The second half followed the same pattern, with Hine going close with a one on one after a couple of minutes of the restart. On 47 minutes, Mason directed a header towards the home team’s goal but it was devoid of power. The game was over as a contest on 49 minutes when neat Skelmersdale interplay saw Morning receive the ball on the left wing on the overlap and simply lash it home from distance with an angled drive. On 65 minutes, Mahoney found himself in sight of goal, but his shot went tamely wide. The remainder of the game saw Skelmersdale camped in the Clitheroe half, and increasing chances came as the Clitheroe defence began to tire. Chances fell to Clitheroe old boys Hine and Mark Jackson and it was no surprise when Jackson controlled the ball on the edge of the Clitheroe area, and laid the ball off to Skelmersdale substitute, Burnett, who finished well into the bottom corner.
The long season seems to be telling on Clitheroe’s tight squad, but they will need to find the energy and attacking threat in the next five games, starting on Tuesday at Radcliffe, if the hope of a play-off spot is to be realised for the first time in the club’s history.
Clitheroe – Burton, Smalley, Pugh, James, Higgins, Nangle, Birchall, Mahoney, Dykes, Mason, Canning Subs – Woods, Kusaloka, Smith