Blues close in on play-off places after away win

Clitheroe clear their lines at Radcliffe					Picture: Peter Ryan
Clitheroe clear their lines at Radcliffe Picture: Peter Ryan

Clitheroe recovered a 1-0 deficit at half-time to claim a fourth-successive win at the NeuVue Stadium on Saturday.

And the three points lifted Simon Haworth’s side to eighth in the table, two points off a play-off slot, ahead of Tuesday night’s LFA Challenge Trophy clash at home to the same opponents.

The game got off to an entertaining start, as struggling Radcliffe, belying their lowly league status, pushed forward, while Clitheroe crafted a number of openings.

Ross Dent headed a corner over for the Blues, before Ian Rowlands had an effort hacked off the line from another flag kick.

Alex Newby then chanced his luck from distance, but home keeper Kyle Haslam was equal to the shot, turning it behind for a corner.

The league’s top-scorer Kurt Willoughby thought he had added to his tally midway through the first half, but Haslam again produced a fine stop,

It wasn’t all one-way traffic, however, and Radcliffe winger James Hooper caught the eye, having a deflected shot kept out by the quick reflexes of keeper Chris Thompson, bhefore the wide man forced the former Colne man to tip over a dipping effort.

Clitheroe skipper Danny Brady was busy at the back, heading the ball away time and again as the Blues played up the slight slope, but the hosts retained their threat, and went into the break a goal to the good after fullback Isaac Ward got on to the end of a superb cross by Hooper and headed into the far corner.

Clitheroe had a job on their hands, and the second half descended into a rather scrappy affair.

But the Blues began to gain the upper hand, and they were level when Newby latched on to a ball which was squared across the six-yard box, and he produced a composed finish to beat Haslam.

But the equaliser didn’t dampen Radcliffe’s enthusiasm, and they added a further threat when substitute Nyle Ellis for Radcliffe gave them more pace going forward.

Ellis went clear on goal, but he choked his shot, which was comfortably saved by Thompson.

And Haworth made a switch of his own, bringing on Ryan Ellison and Danny Byrnes, and the change would prove to have a big say.

Willoughby again thought he had scored when he climbed to meet a Newby cross, but he sent his header inches wide with eight minutes remaining.

But three minutes later Clitheroe got the goal they craved.

Centre back Ellison showed great footwork to skip through the home defence, and he managed to deliver the finishing touch as well, firing past Haslam to claim what could be a crucial three points, and maintain the Blues’ forward momentum.

The Blues host 20th-place Brighouse Town at Shawbridge on Saturday, with kick-off a t 3p.m.

Clitheroe: Thompson, Gregory, Rigby, Brady (Ellison), Rowlands, Russell (Carroll), Mitchell, Dent, Willoughby, Newby, West (Byrnes). Substitute not used: Bromley.