Clitheroe 0-2 Bridge Bridge
Report by Chris Musson
Clitheroe 0 Bamber Bridge 2
The stage was set for a great afternoon’s football. The Shawbridge surface has surely never looked as good with its Wembley esque stripes and the 290 fans were looking to be entertained in the bright sunlight. Unfortunately, the home team simply didn’t show up.
Clitheroe had been first to show at the start of the game, but little did the home fans know that the Adam Birchall header from a Keith Wedge cross after 2 minutes was the nearest Clitheroe would get to goal all afternoon. Wedge and Kris King were using the flanks intelligently and taking the fight to the opposition, but were ultimately let down by the final ball. However, as the first half progressed, it was Bamber Bridge and their two big bustling centre forwards who were dictating the shape of the game. Extra defensive cover was needed to keep them quiet, releasing space on the wings for the visitors to attack, and both of them had half efforts go wide in the first half. On 18 minutes, the Brig right full back had a mazy 40 yard run briefly threaten a goal, but his scuffed shot went tamely wide. However, the tone was set. Clitheroe’s best chance of the half came on 22 minutes, when Chris Dykes burst down the right flank and pulled the ball back a fraction too far for the onrushing Simon Nangle who could not get a clean strike. Play continued in a generally scrappy vein until the 37th minute, when the Brig winger had time and space on the right wing to steady himself before crossing for the number 9, Johnstone, to head unchallenged into the goal. The home response was half hearted when it came, and a Scott Bakkor run fizzled out when he realised there was no one to cross to, but it was Brig who could have doubled the lead just before half time, when another cross saw the dangerous Number 11, get the ball at his feet, twist and turn, only for his shot to be blocked by a defensive lunge.
The second half continued in the second vein, with Richie Mottram pulling off a smart save on 50 minutes. On 55 minutes, the game was effectively over as a contest, when Will James, urged on by the home fans, looked to carry the ball deep into Brig territory, but was dispossessed. Several smart passes later, the Brig player advanced on to the home goal from the right wing and lashed a shot in that took a deflection from Higgins on the way in. Still the temperature of the game did not rise, although the introduction of Danny Bell at least saw some pace to worry the Brig defence, and Brig almost rubbed the Clitheroe noses in it, when a bit of training ground show boating saw a Brig player 25 yards from goal, without a Blue player within 10 yards of him, jiggle the ball, flick it over the static defence for a team mate to volley narrowly over.
This was a very poor day at the office for Clitheroe and thin fare for the home fans, who will hope that they do not have to suffer many more like this.
Team: Richie Mottram, Keith Wedge, Kris King, John Hoylet, Will James, Jack Higgins (c), Adam Birchall, Simon Nangle, Conor Smith (Danny Bell), Scott Bakkor, Andy Griffiths, Chris Dykes (Rob Bodie). Subs - Danny Bell, Rob Bodie, John Hoylet. Not used - Mason Ryan, Declan Gordon.