Afternoon to forget for Clitheroe at Darlington

Lloyd Dean, who ploughed a lonely furrow up front, had Clitheroe's best chances on a miserable afternoon
Lloyd Dean, who ploughed a lonely furrow up front, had Clitheroe's best chances on a miserable afternoon

Clitheroe were comprehensively put to the sword by high-flying Darlington, whose muscular brand of football coped more easily with the heavy conditions.

There was a debut for returning keeper Ben Proctor, and he will be hoping for quieter days in his Clitheroe career.

The tone was set in the opening minutes as Darlington had a couple of good chances. On five minutes, the home side took the lead as prolific striker Steven Thompson gathered a short pass, moved across the defence and slotted home.

Four minutes later the lead could have been extended when Proctor misjudged his punch and the ball settled in the mud on the goal line before it was smothered.

On 16 minutes, Darlington made it two when a regulation clearance was popped over the defence and David Dowson slipped it under the keeper.

Darlington were playing at a high tempo, not giving the Blues a second on the ball, and that work rate didn’t drop all game. A wickedly dipping free kick on 24 minutes almost took the home side further in front, but they only had to wait another minute when an inswinging free kick from the left was met unchallenged by a sweet, glancing header from Amar Purewal.

Further good chances fell Darlington’s way, and it was not until the 37th minute when a Sean Miller free kick was fumbled, that Clitheroe registered their first chance.

Just before half time, Lloyd Dean, ploughing a lonely furrow down the middle, wriggled free of the defence and fired at goal.

The second half followed a similar pattern. Proctor made a great save with his legs after another chip over the defence, before Ross Dent’s smart shot required attention from the home keeper.

On the hour, Darlington chased a lost cause, the ball was centred and fired in by Thompson.

Two minutes later, James Walker lost his footing as a skied clearance came towards him, the ball ricocheting off his heels to send Purewal through to make it 5-0.

Further Darlington chances came and went before, on 83 minutes, the goal of the game came from a surging run down the left, pulled back at pace and slammed home by Nathan Fisher.

Two more goals could have come in the dying minutes when a goal line block and a post came to the rescue.

There was no disgrace losing to a side of this pedigree, but Clitheroe’s woeful away form will need to be addressed.

Clitheroe: Proctor, Wedge, Walker, James, Cartwright, Dent, Lee, Wilkins, Dean, Miller, Garner. Subs: Byrom, Freeland, Johnstone, Heap, Parr.