Radcliffe Borough 2-1 Clitheroe
Semi final heartbreak for the Blues. By Chris Musson
There was heartbreak for Clitheroe in the semi final of the Lancashire Trophy, as they let slip the lead and went out to an impressive Radcliffe side.
The early warning signs were there from the athletic opposition as they hared down the left and sent in a wicked cross which was sliced for a corner. It took ten minutes for the Bleus to settle down, but when they did, the pressure went up a notch. On 15 minutes, Kurt Willoughby received the ball and passed to Louis Myers, whose instant cross wrong footed the defence but couldn’t find a forward. One minute later, Willoughby found himself in the box and his lay off to Charlie Russell saw him shoot goalwards, only to have it deflected. On 17 minutes, Joe Mitchell had a snap volley which whistled past the post, and two minutes later Russell’s volley was parried by the keeper. On 25 minutes, another Russell run saw Gareth Roberts flash an instant cross into the box and Brad Carroll saw his header well saved. Three minutes later, a huge Chris Thompson goal kick bounced clear of the Radcliffe defence and Myers’s shot was well saved. However, the keeper could do nothing to foil Willoughby’s swivel volley as the ball came free from a corner and he took it from over his shoulder. On 41 minutes Danny Brady’s header was glanced just wide.
The second half started in similar fashion. On 50 minutes, a melee in the Radcliffe box could easily have produced a goal. One minute later, Willoughby went down the right and as Carroll passed the ball to Russell, fans were wondering how his curling shot didn’t bulge the net. However, on 57 minutes a Radcliffe attack from nowhere saw a speculative shot deflected by a huge margin leaving Thompson with no chance. At this point the game changed irretrievably. Three minutes later, a smart Radcliffe move saw a deep cross and with the Blues appealing for offside, the ball was sweetly swept home. This heralded a period of sustained pressure from Radcliffe which barely let up until the final manic minutes. Radcliffe hit the base of the post on 72 minutes and continuously pulled the Clitheroe defence out of shape with their pace and width.
A second trip in three years to Bolton for the final was not to be, but Clitheroe will be rueing a host of missed chances which should have put the game beyond reach.
Team : Chris Thompson, Robbie Bromley, Gareth Roberts, Ryan Ellison, Danny Brady (c), Ian Rowlands (Dimitri Tuanzebe), Joe Mitchell, Brad Carroll, Kurt Willoughby, Lou Myers (Alex Newby), Charlie Russell. Subs - Alex Newby, Dimitri Tuanzebe. Not used - Ryan Cattermole, Jacob Davies, Wes Benjamin.