A last-gasp Danny Gregson own-goal gave Clitheroe a vital three points on Easter Monday, as their pursuit of the the Evo-Stik League Divison One North play-offs continues.
A game of few clear-cut chances looked as though it was drifting towards stalemate until Gregson headed through his own net to gift Paul Moore’s side a crucial win.
Moore made one change from Saturday’s defeat at Warrington, with Chris Dykes replacing the unavailable Dean Canning.
The home side shaded the opening period, and after quarter of an hour Chris Mason found himself in the clear, but was denied by former Blues keeper Danny McDonald.
Midway through the half, Mason’s flick from a Lee Pugh throw in was met with a ferocious Simon Nangle volley which narrowly cleared the bar, with McDonald beaten.
Lancaster’s best chance of the half came on 36 minutes as Hakan Burton stood tall to deny Ryan Winder after he was played in by Simon Wills.
Clitheroe came close to opening the scoring five minutes later as Danny Mahoney rattled McDonald’s left-hand post with a powerful drive from outside the penalty area.
After the break, neither side managed to build any momentum or exert any pressure in a lacklustre second-half.
Dykes fired wide 10 minutes after the restart as a battling Mahoney won the ball on the edge of the penalty area.
With 20 minutes remaining, the Dolly Blues struck a post through Gregson following Darren Green’s corner, with Dykes clearing Rory Winters’ rebound effort off the line.
This was the visitors’ final chance as Clitheroe limited Lancaster to few goalscoring opportunities, ultimately keeping their 10th clean sheet in the league this season.
With time ebbing away, it was looking as though both sides would have to settle for a point, which may not have been enough in the Blues’ quest for a play-off spot.
However, as the game entered stoppage time, Clitheroe snatched victory as Gregson headed a Mahoney cross past McDonald.
Next up for Clitheroe are league leaders Skelmersdale United on Saturday (kick-off 3 p.m).
Clitheroe: Burton, Smalley, Pugh (c), James, Higgins, Birchall, Nangle, Mahoney, Dykes (Kusaloka 87), Mason (Dent 68), Woods (Smith 90).
Final Score: Clitheroe 1, Lancaster City 0
ON Saturday, Clitheroe created plenty of chances but were guilty of not making the most of these opportunities as Paul Moore’s side lost ground in the hunt for a play-off place.
Andy Fowler gave Warrington a first-half lead, added to late on by substitute Ashley Ruane, before Lee Pugh halved the arrears with an injury-time consolation.
On his return to Cantilver Park, former Warrington manager Moore named an unchanged line-up with the same players who beat Cammell Laird a fortnight ago on duty again.
The visitors started positively and Chris Mason was denied in the fourth minute when keeper Christian Dibble did enough to divert the ball agonisingly wide of the post.
From Simon Nangle’s resulting corner, Chris Smalley powered a free header over the bar.
As the Blues continued to dominate proceedings, Mason glanced Pugh’s enticing cross wide while Dean Canning tried his luck from range but was off-target.
Clitheroe’s best opportunity came midway through the half when the lively Canning found himself in the clear but failed to hit the target with only Dibble to beat.
Danny Mahoney was next to go close, only for the former Bamber Bridge forward to head wide with Pugh again the provider.
The visitors were punished for not taking their chances as Warrington opened the scoring in the 32nd minute completely against the run of play.
A David Mannix corner eventually found its way to Fowler at the far post whose shot across goal was deflected home.
The goal gave Warrington a foothold in the match and Hakan Burton was required to tip Fowler’s low snapshot from the edge of the area around the post in first-half stoppage time.
The second period followed a similar pattern to the first with Clitheroe in the ascendency for large periods but unable to put the ball in the net when opportunities came.
Five minutes after the restart, Dibble again denied Mason after the former Guiseley striker had chased a forward ball and out-muscled the Warrington defence.
Shortly after the hour mark, Dibble somehow kept out Mason’s powerful downward header from a Nangle corner to maintain Warrington’s lead.
The Blues defence coped well with anything the hosts had to offer although Burton was required to tip a Mannix free-kick over the bar in the 78th minute.
With four minutes remaining, the Wire sealed victory as Ruane - who had replaced Jon Newby - produced an exquisite volley from distance which gave Burton no chance.
Clitheroe rallied and reduced the deficit in stoppage time as Pugh raced onto Woods’ pass and lifted the ball over the advancing Dibble for his third goal of the campaign.
There was still time for Pugh and Co to almost snatch an unlikely point as Burton’s free-kick found its way to the full-back whose header was grasped by Dibble.
Clitheroe: Burton, Smalley, Pugh (c), James, Higgins, Birchall, Nangle, Mahoney, Canning (Kusaloka 60), Mason, Woods. Subs not used: Dent, Dykes, Smith
Final Score: Warrington Town 2, Clitheroe 1