Clitheroe boss Garner hails cup heroes

Perfect start: Sefton Gonzales celebrates giving Clitheroe a first-minute lead in the LFA Challenge Trophy quarter-final at Bamber Bridge on Tuesday night
Perfect start: Sefton Gonzales celebrates giving Clitheroe a first-minute lead in the LFA Challenge Trophy quarter-final at Bamber Bridge on Tuesday night

Clitheroe player-boss Simon Garner hailed a “fantastic night” as his players beat Bamber Bridge to reach the semi-finals of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy on Tuesday night.

The Blues won 2-1 at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, and can now look forward to Monday’s draw, when they will be in the hat with Chorley and North West Counties First Division sides Holker Old Boys and Atherton Collieries, with the ties to be played at the County headquarters in Leyland in the new year.

Bamber Bridge FC v Clitheroe FC.  James Walker for Clitheroe.

Bamber Bridge FC v Clitheroe FC. James Walker for Clitheroe.

Two goals in the first three minutes from Sefton Gonzales and Alex Ralph set up the victory, and Garner said: “It was a fantastic night. We scored two top-drawer early goals, and in the conditions, playing away against a good side, it was a great result.

“They had chances, but we could have killed the tie off at 2-0 as well, and considering we were down to 11 senior players - with three youth lads and a resrve keeper on the bench - and they had a full side, it was even better.

“We had lost three times against them in my time in charge, which was frustrating, so it was great to finally put one over on them.”

Chorley are big favourites to win the competition, as they push for promotion to the Conference, but Garner isn’t concerned who Clitheroe get in the draw: “Obviously you’d want to avoid Chorley, they are two leagues above us and doing well, but it is what it is - it would be a local derby and something to look forward to.

“But we have to focus on the league now and finishing as high as we can.”

Garner has added former Blue Louis Mayers, from Padiham, and former Burnley youngster Ross Wilson, who had been with Workington, to the squad ahead of Saturday’s home game with Farsley, and he anticipates a tough test: “Farsley have been doing well of late. They are in the top five, but we seem to raise our game against the top teams.”