Blues bounce back in cup

Clitheroe FC manager Simon Garner
Clitheroe FC manager Simon Garner

Clitheroe FC boss Simon Garner was pleased to return to winning ways following two heavy defeats in the league.

The Blues conceded 11 goals in Evo-Stik First Division North fixtures against Farsley Celtic and Ossett Albion, but responded with a 2-1 triumph over Bacup Borough in the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy at Shawbridge.

An exquisite free-kick from full back Brandon Barski gave the hosts the advantage at the interval, before Adrian Bellamy’s header levelled matters in the 67th minute. However, another exceptional left-footed strike from Barski in the 79th minute booked the Blues a tie with National League North Chorley in the quarter-final of the competition – a replay of last season’s final.

“It was important to get a response,” said Garner. “It has been a bad week for us in terms of results so it was nice to get back to winning ways.

“We did well, even though we didn’t create too many clear cut chances. We had 22 corners and produced 20-odd crosses from open play but nothing fell.

“In the end they had three really good chances to win it even though they were never in the game. They played for the draw to give themselves an opportunity to win it on penalties, and it almost paid off for them.”

He added: “They were two great strikes from our left back Brandon Barski. His goals got us through in the end and they were befitting of winning any game. It’s great for him and it was always going to take something special for us to win the game.”

Last year’s finalists meet again in the next round as the Blues travel to Victory Park to take on champions Chorley.

And Garner is expecting another tough test against the club he left almost three years ago: “The next round is a repeat of last year’s final so we’ll try and reverse that result,” said Garner, whose side lost 3-0 against the Magpies at the Macron Stadium.

“We’ve been in good form but they’re a very good side from two leagues above us so it’s a massive test. They’re a massive clubs with lots of potential.

“It’ll be really tough for us going to their place but it’s a good test for us and a chance for our lads to challenge themselves at that level.

“They are really strong but we’ve got to believe that we can go there and get something.”

He added: “They are the defending champions and one of the highest ranked clubs left in the competition. But the aim is to get to the final and win it so we know we’ll have to beat some big teams at some point.

“It should be a good game and a competitive local derby.The whole experience, minus the result, has made us hungry to get there again.

“The whole night, the set up, the stadium, that pitch and the crowd was great. You don’t get that many opportunities to experience something like that at this level.”

The tie is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, December 8th with kick-off at 7-45 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Blues return to league action on Saturday as they host Witton Albion (kick off 3 p.m.).