Clitheroe polish off Prescot

Chris Smalley takes a throw for Clitheroe.
Chris Smalley takes a throw for Clitheroe.

A polished performance saw Clitheroe brush aside 10-man Prescot Cables to return to winning ways and get their play-off push back on track.

Second-half goals from Chris Smalley and Chris Mason secured victory for the Blues as Joe Evans saw red for the hosts.

Paul Moore made one change to the side which lost at Ramsbottom United with Dean Canning replacing Ross Dent, while Danny Bell was named among the substitutes.

On an extremely muddy surface, clear-cut opportunities were few and far between in the first half although Clitheroe spent the majority of the opening period in the ascendancy.

After 13 minutes Will James released Mason, who managed to round Prescot keeper Adam Reid only for his cross to be cleared by covering defenders.

Canning proved a constant threat down the flanks and a minute later the former GAP Connah’s Quay forward teed-up Chris Dykes who dragged his effort wide.

Just after the half-hour mark it was Canning again who latched onto another James pass before finding Smalley whose shot from inside the penalty area was blocked.

The second-half continued in a similar vein to the first and within five minutes of the restart Simon Nangle combined with Canning before firing narrowly wide.

Danny Mahoney was the next to go close with a shot from the edge of the box after Smalley’s header from a Lee Pugh corner was only partially cleared.

The Blues were playing some neat and patient football and took the lead on the hour mark as Pugh’s perfectly delivered free kick was glanced home by Smalley.

Clitheroe continued to attack and came close to adding a second five minutes later as Nangle’s low shot was saved by the legs of Reid.

Prescot created very little all afternoon and their chances of mounting a comeback lengthened as Evans received his marching orders on 67 minutes.

After fouling Pugh, the former Atherton Collieries midfielder aimed a headbutt in the direction of the Clitheroe skipper, with inevitable consequences.

The visitors sealed victory – an eighth away win of the campaign – on 72 minutes through Mason’s fifth goal for the club.

The ex-Guiseley striker exchanged a one-two with Adam Birchall before curling an exquisite right-footed effort into the top corner of the net.

This was just reward for Mason who has led the line tirelessly in recent weeks after regaining his place in Moore’s starting line-up.

Prescot’s one and only shot on target during the course of the match came 10 minutes later with Burton turning away a Jack Webb effort with his legs.

This save secured a fourth clean sheet in five games for Burton and his defenders and as the game entered stoppage time the visitors had opportunities to extend their lead.

Substitute Isaac Kusaloka was the first to be denied by Reid after being released by the impressive Canning.

And within the space of a minute, Reid turned over a powerful Bell header before palming away Smalley’s header from the resulting corner.

This victory sees Clitheroe maintain third place in Evo-Stik League Division One (North), with fellow play-off hopefuls Cammell Laird next at Shawbridge on Saturday (kick-off 3 p.m.).

Clitheroe: Burton, Smalley, Pugh (c), James, Higgins, Birchall, Nangle, Mahoney (Kusaloka 85), Canning, Mason (Dent 90), Dykes (Bell 69).

Attendance: 127