Blues hold their nerve to reach the cup final

Clitheroe keeper Chris Thompson, right, made a vital save in the penalty shootout
Clitheroe keeper Chris Thompson, right, made a vital save in the penalty shootout
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Simon Haworth was thrilled to see the Blues go one better after seeing off Charnock Richard to reach the final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy at the Macron Stadium.

Clitheroe fell just short last season, losing 2-1 against Radcliffe Borough in the last four at the County Ground in Leyland.

And they had to rely on the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to advance to the home of Bolton Wanderers this time around, after a goalless draw with Hallmark Security NWCFL Premier Division Charnock.

The Ribble Valley outfit will be the underdogs whoever they go up against in the showpiece, with Chorley and Lancaster City jousting for the final place, but Haworth is pleased that the club finally have something to show for all their efforts.

“We came short in the semi-final last year so we’re just thrilled to go on and have the chance to play in the final,” said the Welshman.

“It’s important for the lads and we’re just going to see who we get and enjoy it.

“We’ll be going in as the underdogs either way as they’re both a higher level than us, but you know the shackles will come off and we’ll have a right go at them.”

He added: “I thought we could have played better than we did but I thought we did enough overall.

“We had enough of the play, possession and chances to have won it in normal time but credit to the lads, we went and got a bit of luck in the penalty shoot out.

“We were hoping to win in the 90. We had an idea who our penalty takers were, and to be honest you just hope that the lads step up and don’t get too nervous about scoring. Credit to Chris Thompson for saving them.”

Genuine openings were at a premium in the first half, as Adam Halton collected George Hughes’s speculative drive from distance while Villagers’ skipper Carl Grimshaw headed over from a set-piece.

Clitheroe’s leading scorer Kurt Willoughby had a goal ruled out for off-side while Halton made another routine stop to deny Shrewsbury Town loanee Hughes.

After the break, Grimshaw cleared the bar again, this time with his boot, from Spencer Bibby’s cross.

Just after the hour, Grimshaw threatened again when his attempt headed for the bottom corner but Thompson got down well to save. The captain’s next involvement saw his effort flash just past the far post.

Clitheroe’s final chance to avoid penalties came through George West, but the substitute’s strike was gathered by Halton.

Charnock Richard’s Nathan Fairhurst was the only player to miss in the shootout, stepping up second for his side, only for Thompson to guess correctly and save low to his left.

Carroll, Willoughby, West and Dimitri Tuanzebe all converted from 12 yards for the Blues, with the decisive spot kick netted by Stephen Rigby.