Clitheroe look good despite FA Trophy exit

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AFTER taking Northwich Victoria to a replay, Clitheroe bowed out of the FA Trophy after a 3-0 defeat at Shawbridge on Tuesday night.

Both attacks looked capable of causing problems in the first half, with Matt Walwyn looking particularly threatening for the visitors.

Ritchie Mottram continued his fine form in goal, denying Walwyn on a couple of occasions, and also saving well from John Hardiker after a corner was only

half-cleared and sat up nicely for the defender to volley from outside the area.

At the other end, Clitheroe created some presentable chances in the opening half an hour, with Jack Higgins heading over from a Lee Pugh corner.

Daley Woods and Alex Johnson also had efforts saved by keeper Ryan Robinson.

The closest Clitheroe came to taking the lead followed a sweeping move which emanated from Mottram punching clear a Northwich corner.

Jordan Williams drove up the pitch with Woods’ cross being cleared behind. From his initially cleared corner, Pugh received the ball back from Connor Smith on the right of the area and fired a shot towards goal which struck

the far post with Robinson beaten.

Moments later, Northwich opened the scoring through Tom Murray, who drilled home a rebound after Walwyn had been denied by Mottram.

The second half belonged to the visitors, who extended their lead in the 56th minute.

A ball over the top released substitute Chris Luby, who produced a confident finish to double the Vics’ advantage.

Andy Mutch’s well-drilled side were assured of victory just after the hour mark, counter-attacking at pace, with Luby finding the net for a second time via a cruel deflection off Jack Higgins which wrong-footed Mottram.

The home side continued to battle until the final whistle, but could not muster a consolation.

Chris Smalley rattled the inside of a post and Ross Dent came close with a curling effort as the clocked ticked past the 90th-minute mark.

Exiting a second FA competition at an early stage will obviously be of huge disappointment and frustration for manager Paul Moore, but there is little time to dwell on it with the Blues returning to league action on Saturday when they entertain Wakefield at Shawbridge.

On Saturday, stand-in skipper Jack Higgins headed a late equaliser to earn the replay.

Mottram, deputising for the injured Hakan Burton, was required to save well from Joe Guest and Connor Roberts, before saving at the feet of Lee Dodgson, before Williams dragged a shot wide at the other end.

In the latter stages of the half with Marcus Calvert firing over, before a neat touch by Danny Bell allowed Smalley time to pick out Williams, whose volley narrowly cleared the bar.

A minute later. Smalley crossed for Andy Naylor, whose shot drifted wide of the near post.

On the stroke of half-time, Northwich took the lead when Dodgson found Rigoglioso, who beat Mottram to find the bottom corner of the net.

Clitheroe mounted a spirited second half response, and after early Northwich penalty appeals for a foul on Murray had been turned down, Williams headed a cross from Will James over the bar.

Northwich remained a persistent danger in the final third, although only really created half-chances at best.

It was looking as though a lack of conviction in front of goal may cost the Shawbridge outfit until a foul on substitute James Gardner in the 89th minute gave Clitheroe an opportunity to launch the ball into the Northwich penalty box.

Bell’s free-kick was met by Higgins, whose towering header beat Robinson to earn a replay.

• DAVE Hughes has taken over as assistant manager to Paul Moore.

Last week, Moore officially offered the position to Hughes, who has been with the club since Moore was appointed.

The change has come about due to the ongoing work commitments of Andy Lee.

Moore has not shut the door on Lee coming back to the club in a coaching capacity.

But the level of commitment required at this level dictates the need for the number two to be very flexible.

Hughes has shown this in abundance, and his enthusiasm has shone through during the fantastic start to the season the team has made.