Blues leave it late but Mellish is off the mark

Clitheroe celebrate their late winner at Harrison Park''''''Pictures: Peter Ryan
Clitheroe celebrate their late winner at Harrison Park''''''Pictures: Peter Ryan
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Stuart Mellish will feel as though a weight has been lifted off his shoulders after the Clitheroe boss registered the first victory of his tenure.

The Blues had conceded 11 goals in three defeats in the Evo-Stik West Division, heading into the game against Leek Town at Harrison Park, as well as shipping six in the FA Cup tie against Sunderland RCA.

And they had to do it the hard way in Staffordshire, netting twice late on after being reduced to 10 men to stun the hosts and climb off the foot of the table.

Zeph Thomas headed over for Town in the 18th minute but went one better when gifted an opportunity from the spot nine minutes later.

Niall Green burst into the box and, the winger was tripped by Joe Mitchell.

Thomas kept his cool from 12 yards out, dispatching the ball down the middle as Ed Wilczynski dived to his left.

There was a let-off for Town just before the break when Hazeldine shinned Andreas Bianga’s delivery against the inside of the post with Roberts beaten but the hosts preserved their advantage at the interval.

It was over to Wilczynski to play a starring role in the second half and kick start Clitheroe’s season.

Before the hour he kept out Thomas in astonishing fashion, keeping his drive out with a strong, trailing right hand.

The Blues stopper then stood his ground to keep out a second Thomas penalty after Derek Ubah floored Robert Stevenson.

Both sides were then reduced to 10 men in the space of three minutes as Bianga was shown a second yellow card for a late tackle on Niall Maguire while Green saw red for a reckless lunge.

Clitheroe coach and former Liverpool midfielder Dave Mannix, who was an England youth international, was introduced with 10 minutes remaining and completely changed the course of the game.

The former Accrington Stanley man dropped a corner onto the head of skipper Jason Jeffries to level, before Ubah powered a header home with just seconds remaining from another Mannix set-piece.

l Clitheroe twice came from behind to win their FA Cup preliminary round replay at Sunderland RCA on Tuesday night, with a goal from Ben Matthews and two from Antoine Recizac.