Clitheroe 2 Ramsbottom United 4
Ramsbottom ultimately prove too strong
With the game in doubt up until 2pm due to a thunderclap shortly after lunch, both teams served up a cracking encounter in front of a bumper crowd swelled by football fans denied their usual fix elsewhere. Ramsbottom were the form side and Clitheroe had been scratching for points latterly, but until the final third of the game, it was not easy to differentiate between the two.
Ramsbottom were first out of the traps and threatened to take the lead on 5 minutes when Will James’s outstretched leg just failed to make contact with the ball and the dangerous Lee Gaskell burst through only to screw his shot wide. Two minutes later the away team floated in a cross with the resultant header hitting the post. However, Clitheroe were always in the game and on 10 minutes, James Walker burst down the left after a great Ross Dent lay off and his cross just failed to find the head of the dangerous Paul Coote. Three minutes later, Clitheroe took the lead. Danny Wilkins drifted inside from the right, and his pass to Coote was laid off to Matt McNamara whose clinical finish was a great way to mark his home debut. The lead only lasted one minute as Ramsbottom were awarded a free kick on their right flank near the byeline, and the free kick squirted out of a melee only to be thumped in by Denham. Chances were few and far between for the rest of the half as the play concentrated in the middle of the pitch and the team went in level at half time.
Three minutes into the second half, the Blues took the lead again, and this time it was Paul Coote marking his home debut with a goal after running on to a sublime through ball. Again the lead did not last long, and after the ball had been scrambled off the line, Denham once again was on hand to thump it home. Slowly but surely, Ramsbottom were turning up the temperature. Last ditch Clitheroe tackles became more frequent, and yet McNamara and Coote were a constant threat for the home team and on 78 minutes McNamara laid the ball through to Coote who was narrowly beaten to the ball by the goalkeeper with the goal gaping. However, on 83 minutes after another goal line clearance, this time Priestley put the away team in front, even though three Ramsbottom players looked in offside positions. In the first minute of extra time Simon Garner bundled over a United forward for a clear penalty, which Spencer dispatched, to put a gloss on the score line, which probably reflected their second half superiority.
Clitheroe more than matched their high flying opponents for long periods of the game, always looking to play football to work the ball to the flanks and to the forwards. Danny Wilkins was influential throughout the game as was McNamara, but Ben Proctor nicks it for easily his best game since coming back to Clitheroe.
Team: Ben Proctor, Keith Wedge, James Walker, Will James, Danny Morton, Ross Dent, Bryn Potter, Danny Wilkins, Paul Coote, Matt McNamara, Simon Garner. Subs: Scott Byrom, Chris Bailey, Charlie Collinge, Paddy Furey, Sam Heap