There is probably an obscure law of physics, which explains how one team can be so far off the pace in the first half of a game only to click into gear in the second and for everyone on the ground to know that they are going to win because the force is with them. Whether it was a change of tactics, a change in personnel or a rocket at half time, either way Clitheroe were that team today.
A shockingly disjointed first half saw the previously dependable back unit playing like they’d been barely introduced, whilst the midfield and lone striker, Wainwright, seemed at sixes and sevens. Clitheroe leaked the first goal on 6 minutes, when the ball was moved neatly across the Clitheroe back four before being driven in. On 11 minutes, Burscough burst down the left flank and flashed a shot across the face of goal, but they were not to be denied and on 15 minutes, last ditch defending and diving blocks by the Blues’ defence could not stop the ball being lashed home from 6 yards. On 21 minutes, James slipped in his own half, leaving Burscough with two men against one, and only a last minute tackle by Cartwright saved another certain goal. Ten minutes later Burscough crossed dangerously from the right, and on this occasion Ollerenshaw smothered it well. The pattern for the targeting of Bakkor had been set early in the game and he was literally kicked five feet in the air to earn a home player the first of three yellows for fouls on Bakkor. One minute later, Burscough forced another great save from Ollerenshaw, and the half time whistle could not come soon enough for the Blues.
A change of personnel at half time saw Dean on for Dykes and Clitheroe to play with two up front, but it was almost academic after 30 seconds when Ollerenshaw was chipped from distance but the ball veered wide. Slowly, however, Clitheroe started to play into their new formation and Dent was at the heart of the energy and drive in the middle of the park. On 52 minutes, Bellew launched a free kick into the Burscough box but none of the three Clitheroe players queuing up could apply a finish, On 58 minutes, Dean pulled the ball back invitingly for Bakkor who mishit a perfectly bouncing opportunity. Bakkor was hammered again on 61 minutes earning the second yellow for a Burscough player before Danny Smith came on for Wainwright. Suddenly, the game made sense to the Clitheroe players. Two minutes later a melee saw a gilt edged chance for both Dean and Smith to score. On 74 minutes, Smith hauled the Blues back into the game with an expertly taken free kick from 25 yards, which left the home keeper rooted to the spot. Bakkor almost equalised one minute later but scuffed his shot. Three minutes later, Dean slalomed past three players in quick succession but his shot went just wide. On 86 minutes, the Clitheroe pressure told when Wedge drove yet again to the byeline and thundered a great cross over for Bakkor to head home from 5 yards out. Justice was done for the young striker. With the game in stoppage time, Smith played Dean through and he kept his composure as he drew the defence and keeper before slotting home and prompting joyous scenes on and off the pitch. There was still more in the game and one minute later, a fingertip save from Ollerenshaw ensured the points travelled up the M6.
For the first 50 minutes, it was impossible to think who might be man of the match. Thereafter, anyone could have got the nod, but for his all action, fearless play, Ross Dent gets the nod.
Team: Josh Ollerenshaw, Keith Wedge, Warren Bellew, Will James, Ben Cartwright, Scott Byrom, Daniel Wilkins, Ross Dent, Aden Wainwright, Scott Bakkor, Chris Dykes Subs: Simon Garner, George Wysocki, Danny Smith, Lloyd Dean, Charlie Collinge