Blues denied all three points by last-gasp Newcastle equaliser

Clitheroe celebrate Max Hazeldine's opener at Shawbridge
Clitheroe celebrate Max Hazeldine's opener at Shawbridge
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Ten man Clitheroe were denied a third win in four games across the board as George Shaw’s late strike salvaged a point for Newcastle Town at Shawbridge.

The visitors struck with three minutes of normal time remaining to cancel out Max Hazeldine’s second half opener in the Evo-Stik West Division fixture.

But the stalemate means the Blues have now lost just once under boss Lee Ashforth in eight games in all competitions.

The home side dominated for large parts, carrying on from where they’d left off against Pontefract Collieries in the FA Trophy, but couldn’t make their advantage safe enough.

Hazeldine ballooned a shot over the bar after just six minutes while returning skipper Jacob Gregory forced a smart save at full length from goalkeeper Matt Johnson.

The Blues captain then scuffed his shot when well-placed with five minutes of the half remaining while Jay Jeffries almost broke the frame of the goal when his thumping header crashed against the crossbar from a corner.

Johnson repelled Antoine Recizac’s powerful effort early in the second half after the French midfielder had been slipped in by Gregory.

The skipper then slammed the ball against the bar as the Blues went agonisingly close to getting their noses in front again before a second attempt shaved the woodwork.

It looked as though luck was against the hosts until, on 68 minutes, Hazeldine ran on to a bouncing ball and rifled it past Johnson to make it 1-0.

Clitheroe had their lead but the complexion of the game changed when Ben Matthews was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

The visitors capitalised, cranking up the pressure, and Shaw eventually prodded the ball over the line from a long throw, denying the Blues their first home win of the season.

Blues boss Ashforth admitted that he thought the game was done and dusted when Max Hazeldine broke the deadlock for the home side:

The striker’s opener seemed like it would cap a dominant display from the home side.

“When we were 1-0 up I thought the game was ours. We’d hit the bar twice and we’d had numerous chances.

“We didn’t look like conceding at all and when we went 1-0 up I thought it was game over.

“I thought we put in a very good performance up until the sending off. It’s just disappointing not to get the three points.”

However, Ben Matthews’ dismissal changed the pattern of the game.

The youngster received a second booking for kicking the ball away in the second half.

“The sending off has changed the game. Ben has had a good game up to then and his inexperience showed through.

“There are going to be times when we make mistakes because we’re such a young team. He’ll bounce back.

“It was a silly thing for him to do and I’m sure he’ll learn from that. We were then hanging on for the last 10 minutes, which wasn’t really in the context of the game.”