Harrogate RA 3 Clitheroe 2
Unlucky Blues go home empty handed
A vastly improved performance from the previous weekend saw Clitheroe unlucky not to leave Harrogate with a point. Four new debutants continued Simon Garner’s recent policy of blooding new players in the team, with 18 year old Cial Callagher starting at centre back, 17 year old Bryn Potter on the right wing, and 28 year olds Paul Coote and Matt McNamara spearheading the attack.
The game roared into life right from the kick off. An early break down the left wing by the home side after 2 minutes, saw a snap shot across the face of goal amazingly hit both posts before bouncing to safety. One minute later, Simon Garner was beaten for pace and the onrushing forward’s deflected shot nicked the outside of the post. And yet, in the fourth minute, three of the Clitheroe new boys combined to help the Blues take the lead. A flick on by Potter on the right wing saw McNamara drive towards the bye line before firing a shot across the goal for Coote to stab home. With Bailey operating on the left wing, Clitheroe had two genuine wingers for the first time in weeks, and the movement unsettled the home side. On 18 minutes McNamara gathered the ball on the right, moved 20 yards infield and leathered the ball from distance against the bar, for what would have been goal of the season. Coote just failed to follow up the rebound. A great deep cross from Bailey on 21 minutes just failed to find a Clitheroe attacker and three minutes later, an overlap by Keith Wedge set up another chance for the dangerous McNamara. Ben Proctor was called into action on 38 minutes when a burst down the Harrogate right was followed up with a powerful shot. However, two minutes later following a similar move down the right, Proctor came out to save the ball, but the rebounded ball left him in no man’s land on the edge of his box and although he tried to stand tall, the Harrogate player curled the ball past him into the net.
Half time saw Ross Dent come on for Bailey, and also saw the home side come more into the game. The highly rated Nathan Cartman burst through the Clitheroe defence on 51 minutes, only for a fine covering tackle by the Clitheroe rearguard. The ball was not dead and Proctor made another fine save before a ridiculously soft penalty was given as a Harrogate player folded himself round the legs of Simon Garner for a penalty, which was converted. Coote had a good snap shot whip by on 53 minutes, but as the ball pinged to the other end of the pitch, it was almost calamity as a disastrous Clitheroe throw presented a home attacker with the chance to make it three, only to be foiled by Proctor. With half an hour to go there was a ten minute delay as a Harrogate player was stretchered off as he seemingly wrenched his knee when tangling with McNamara in a fair challenge. On 68 minutes, Harrogate chased a lost cause ball deep into the Clitheroe half and only a scuffed shot from the resultant cross stopped the lead being increased. McNamara was still causing the home defence problems, but on 74 minutes, Proctor hesitated to come for a high ball and as the ball bounced clear with the defence at sixes and sevens, a sweet left foot volley gave Harrogate a two gaol cushion. Still Clitheroe pushed themselves forward showing good spirit and on 91 minutes, Ross Dent headed home a fine left foot free kick from James Walker. There was little chance for a grandstand finish, but Clitheroe had not let themselves down. Man of the match was comfortably Matt McNamara, whose muscular forward play caused real problems throughout the game.
Team: Ben Proctor, Keith Wedge, James Walker, Cial Callacher, Simon Garner, Scott Byrom, Bryn Potter, Danny Wilkins, Paul Coote, Matt McNamara, Chris Bailey. Subs: Jake Shawcross, Charlie Collinge, Ross Dent, Will James, Paddy Fury.