Clitheroe 3 New Mills 2
McLean leads the way
It’s amazing the difference 72 hours can make. Clitheroe put in a tremendous performance of blood, sweat and not a little skill, as they rode their luck but emerged worthy winners in this cracking encounter. And as debuts go, this was about as good as it gets for Ollie McLean, whose two goals and man of the match award had him speechless with joy.
Clitheroe could not wait to get at the visitors and as early as the third minute, McLean burst through and pulled the ball back for a retreating defender to smash wide, when in truth the ball could have gone anywhere. A minute later, Danny Morton flicked a corner on to Alex Ralph who buried the ball in the back of the net. On seven minutes, Keith Wedge expertly released Morton who raced in on goal but shot tamely at the keeper. The attacks kept coming and on ten minutes, Danny Wilkins cut in from the right wing and with his left foot sent in a rasping shot which the keeper only just dealt with. On 17 minutes, a great floated lob by Simon Nangle picked out Ralph, who could not get the ball from beneath his feet to loose off a shot. The home team were not to be denied though and a short corner on the left from Wilkins to Ralph saw a pinpoint cross powered home by McLean to extend the Clitheroe lead. Barely had the applause stopped than New Mills in their first attack of the game saw a marauding defender crumple theatrically under a tackle and a penalty was given and converted. Heads did not drop and Nangle, Ralph and James Walker had chances before half time to extend the lead again.
New Mills brought ex Blue Peter Collinge off the bench in the second half to replace their injured keeper, but it took all of eight minutes to see him picking the ball out of the back of the net when a sublime through ball from Nangle saw McLean run with the ball and then thump it home, before collapsing to the turf in celebration. There followed a period of tremendous football from the Blues with Wilkins and Mclean grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. On 67 minutes Proctor made two good saves from rare New Mills attacks and on 74 minutes, the away team hit the underside of the bar from a goalmouth scramble. Clitheroe shuffled the pack to refresh the forwards who had run themselves into the ground, but on 86 minutes it was New Mills who got themselves back into the game when Proctor misjudged a cross horribly, and from nothing the away team scored. Deep into injury time, home hearts were in mouths as a deep free kick from New Mills saw a shot loosed against the bar.
An equaliser would have been an unjust end to the game and McLean’s man of the match performance deserved to be accompanied by three points.
Team: Proctor, Wedge, Walker, Collinge, Barrett, Nangle, Dent, Wilkins, Morton, McLean, Ralph. Subs: Coote, McNamara, Byrom, Mort, Bailey.