Ossett Town 2, Clitheroe 0

DEBUT: Nat Taylor made his bow on Saturday
DEBUT: Nat Taylor made his bow on Saturday
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IT’S four defeats in six now for Clitheroe and 17 in total for the season.

The first of two games in 48 hours saw the Blues return to the scene of their last league outing, taking on the landlords of Stade France, but they left West Yorkshire empty-handed having been beaten 2-0 by an industrious Ossett Town side.

Clitheroe started brightly and could have taken the lead inside two minutes. A corner from Lee Pugh was flicked on by Andrew Naylor at the front post, but neither Kev Brown nor Jerrome Matthews could force the ball home.

The Blues continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession but found themselves behind against the run of play in the 16th minute when a through ball from Shane Kelsey found Neil Towler, and his cross was side-footed into the net by Martyn Scully.

The visitors largely remained in the ascendancy throughout the first half but failed to create many clear cut chances. Ash Parillon fired wide after being found by Naylor, and the pair combined again before Parillon attempted to lift the ball over Ossett keeper Ashley Connor, only for the effort to be turned behind.

Clitheroe’s best chance fell to Matthews moments before the break as he ran onto a superb pass from Naylor, rounded the keeper, but failed to keep his shot down.

After the interval Clitheroe continued to have territorial advantage and, after forcing a number of early corners, came close to equalising on 53 minutes when Chris Smalley drilled a shot narrowly wide.

As in the first half, Ossett barely threatened the visitor’s goal yet doubled their advantage on 61 minutes when Ryan Laight met Scully’s corner to power a header past Zack Hibbert.

Moments later it could have been worse for the Blues as Hibbert was forced into a smart save to deny Towler.

Clitheroe continued to press as in the final quarter of an hour but Connor bundled an effort from Lee Pugh behind for a corner and the lively Duncan Watmore, who replaced Matthews, saw an effort rebound off the post.

Unfortunately, with these opportunities went Clitheroe’s hopes of salvaging anything.

Carl Garner’s next task was to pick his players up for a trip to the Tameside Stadium to face title-chasing Curzon Ashton who were unbeaten at home all season.

The Blues took the lead in the second minute, but not before Curzon wasted a glorious opportunity in the opening seconds as Hibbert’s clearance went straight to Lee Blackshaw, who bore down on goal but saw his flick clear the crossbar.

Moments later excellent control by Duncan Watmore allowed him to arc a through ball into the path of debutant Ben Waddington, who beat the off-side trap and produced an assured finish - scoring the Blues’ 500th league goal at this level of football.

Waddington and Watmore linked again after 18 minutes with a sharp one-two that saw strong penalty appeals waved away by the referee after Graham Kay appeared to trip Waddington.

However, after 38 minutes Curzon equalised. Blackshaw cut inside and found Matthew Kay on the edge of the box who fired a shot over Hibbert into the net.

Clitheroe refused to be rocked by this and were on the front foot again before the half was over. A driven free-kick by Pugh was flicked on by Watmore for Dent at the far post, but his effort was blocked.

The visitors were immediately in the ascendancy at the start of the second period as Parillon surged forward and found Watmore. His shot was saved by Joshua Ollerenshaw, and the rebound refused to fall for Parillon or Waddington.

While the Blues had to withstand a flurry of corners, delivered with precision by Samuel Walker, they continued to look dangerous.

Hibbert’s clearance was flicked forward by Dent for Waddington and Watmore to combine and release Roberts, whose driven effort narrowly cleared the angle.

But Curzon scored what proved to be the winner after 69 minutes.

For once Clitheroe failed to deal with a long clearance, and Chris McDonagh cut inside and angled a shot across Hibbert into the corner of the net for his 20th goal of the season.

John Flanagan’s side started to gain the upper hand from this point and Watson thumped a header from a Kay corner against the bar in the 72nd minute.

Roberts was only inches from restoring parity as he fizzed an effort through a crowd of players as the game entered the final 10 minutes., but from another Walker corner, Purcell found McDonagh whose header looped onto the crossbar and was cleared.

The Blues now entertain Durham City on Saturday and will look for some home comforts as they return to Shawbridge for the first time in a month.