A LATE Danny Mahoney wonder goal capped a remarkable second-half performance as Clitheroe inflicted defeat on much-fancied New Mills.
Mahoney’s moment of magic was the forward’s second goal of the afternoon after earlier stroking home a penalty to cancel out Luke Horrocks’ opener.
This late winner was just reward for Paul Moore’s high-flyers after a sensational performance throughout the second period, which was in complete contrast to the majority of the first half.
New Mills were by far the better side in the opening stages of the game and could quite easily have been two or three goals up early on.
The hosts signalled their intentions immediately as David Fitzpatrick picked out Carlos Meakin at the back post only for his volley to be turned behind by Hakan Burton.
Jack Higgins came to Clitheroe’s rescue in the 10th minute as he cleared David Chadwick’s close range shot off the line after the centre-half was picked out by Leon Grandison.
Two minutes later the Millers’ early pressure paid dividends as James Hampson played in Horrocks whose shot bounced over the line despite Burton initially getting a foot to the ball.
New Mills continued to dominate and missed a golden opportunity to double their lead on 18 minutes as Meakin cleared the bar with a free header from point-blank range.
The home side’s attackers were lively throughout the opening period and Hampson forced Burton into a one-handed save before the visitors rallied towards the end of the half.
Clitheroe equalised from the penalty spot on 42 minutes as debutant Chris Mason was brought down by keeper Adam Halton after the former Guiseley striker had latched onto Mahoney’s pass.
Mahoney dispatched from the spot-kick low to Halton’s left for his third goal in as many games as the Blues reached the break on the level terms.
The second period could not have differed more to the first and had Clitheroe left Church Lane without three points there would have been a degree of disappointment.
After completely nullifying the threat posed by New Mills, the visitors pressed their opponents and created a catalogue of chances in the final 25 minutes of the match.
The defence, led by Lee Pugh who was playing with a suspected fractured rib, was solid while Will James and Simon Nangle bossed the midfield battle.
After 73 minutes Danny Bell received the ball from Chris Dykes wide on the left before cutting inside and curling an effort inches wide of the far post.
Moments later, Pugh’s clearance was flicked into the path of Daley Woods by Bell and his instinctive volley narrowly cleared the bar with Halton rooted to the spot.
By this stage Woods was playing as a central striker after the withdrawal of Mason and proved a real handful for the hosts’ backline with his pace.
The Clitheroe tide was unrelenting and Halton twice prevented the Blues from taking the lead in a matter of seconds.
The New Mills keeper first produced a smart low save to deny Woods before tipping Nangle’s swerving shot onto the bar.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Higgins headed Mahoney’s cross wide of the post before Woods again brought the best out of Halton.
With four minutes remaining, Mahoney won the game for Clitheroe, launching a spectacular shot from the halfway line which sailed over the stranded Halton.
This strike, by a player who has made a real impression since joining the club last month, is already a strong contender for goal of the season.
This result could well prove a significant one as the season progresses with New Mills currently in the play-off places and tipped to be in the promotion shake-up come April.
Clitheroe: Burton, Smalley, Pugh (c), Bodie, Higgins, James, Nangle, Woods (Smith 90), Mahoney, Buchan (Bell 30), Mason (Dykes 60). Subs not used: McDonald, Calvert