Heroic performance unrewarded
Reduced to 10 men for three quarters of the game, Clitheroe held the advantage until the last 10 minutes of the game when they conceded two late, late goals.
Refreshed from their two week lay off, Clitheroe made their first visit to Newcastle in 15 years. Nothing much had changed in terms of infrastructure, but the welcome was warm, if not the weather. After some last minute snow the previous night, the pitch was taking a stud and playing as well as could be expected. Clitheroe had the better of the early exchanges. On 8 minutes, Hyuga Tanner won the ball and advanced on goal, slipping through Jacob Gregory on the overlap, who saw his firm shot well saved and turned for a corner. Jordyn Fitton was also showing a desire to overlap down the left and his 12th minute burst saw a deep cross fail to find a Clitheroe head.
Newcastle were looking for a long ball to split the defence and on 20 minutes had a firm shot from the left skim across the face of goal. The game changed on 26 minutes when with every spectator following the ball, play was suddenly halted by the referee with the linesman flagging wildly. He reported seeing George West kicking hard at his defensive shadow, leaving him writhing conveniently on the ground. The referee had no choice but to dismiss him, albeit the victim of the piece was soon sprinting around unhindered. Clitheroe adapted well to the man disadvantage and indeed came closest to scoring on 42 minutes when Andreas Bianga slalomed through the defence but could only produce a weak shot, which was comfortably saved.
At half time, the manager brought on Harry Pratt to bolster the forward line and progressively went to three at the back. On 48 minutes, Gregory was released down the right and after doing the hard work to round a defender, he had to do better with his shot. Play swung to the other end and Newcastle saw a volley whistle over, before on 54 minutes Pratt cushioned the ball and laid it on for Max Hazeldine, whose 20-yard run and shot were well saved. However, two minutes later, the same combination paid dividends as Hazeldine made room down the centre of the pitch and passed to Pratt, who dragged the ball to his left foot before whipping in an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the goal. It was no more than Clitheroe deserved.
Newcastle were coming slightly more into the game, but it was the visitors who almost extended their lead on 72 minutes as from a quick free kick, Tanner lobbed the ball to Pratt whose header was clawed from behind him by the keeper, even then smothering the follow up. As legs tired, on 82 minutes a Newcastle forward had time to shape himself from 30 yards out and to rifle a shot into the goal. Clitheroe’s misery was then compounded as one minute later, a deep hopeful cross was controlled and dispatched from virtually the penalty spot. There still time for Bianga to be sent off for needlessly pulling a player back as he ran on goal, but Clitheroe will be hoping their luck changes, and soon.
Team : Cameron Terry, Jacob Gregory (c), Jordyn Fitton (Antoine Recizac), Michael Wilson, Josh Snowden, Oliver Muir, Hyuga Tanner (Josh Gregory), Lewis Sugden (Harry Pratt), George West, Max Hazeldine, Andreas Bianga. Subs - Harry Pratt, Josh Gregory, Antoine Recizac. Not used - James Sloane, Harry Cannon-Noren.