Clitheroe without a win in 10 in Evo-Stik League
Clitheroe are beginning to learn just how cruel football can be after Newcastle Town left it late to condemn the Blues to a 10th game without a win.
The visitors were forced to play just over an hour with 10 men when George West was given his marching orders for an off-the-ball incident involving Ben Fraser and they finished the game with nine as Andreas Bianga was dismissed late on.
The Blues had led through Harry Pratt’s second half strike but, just as they had been against Kendal Town and Market Drayton Town, they were pegged back as the game neared its conclusion at the Lyme Valley Stadium.
Scott Harries had rescued a point for the Mintcakes at Parkside Road in the 89th minute earlier in the month and William Wells left it until the 88th minute to deny Clitheroe a share of the spoils against the Gingerbread Men at Shawbridge in December.
This time it was Kyle Stubbs and Christopher Smith who did the damage in Staffordshire, netting twice in as many minutes to steal the points for Town as time was running out.
Mike Conlon had gone close on a couple of occasions for the home side and Jordan Cole also threatened but the game was goalless at the interval.
Clitheroe had the numerical disadvantage by this point, owing to West’s moment of madness in the 26th minute, but they had their noses in front.
Max Hazeldine was foiled by Matt Johnson when one-on-one with the goalkeeper just before the opener but it was substitute Pratt, who had returned from Chadderton, that made sure.
The forward collected the ball just inside the penalty area before picking out the top corner to make it 1-0.
Pratt almost doubled the lead when Johnson just did enough to keep out his header but it was the home side who would go on to find the net.
Stubbs turned on a sixpence inside the penalty area to fire in to the top corner in the 84th minute and then Smith finished off a sweeping move in the 86th minute.
Clitheroe were then struck with another blow when Bianga saw red when earning a second yellow card for denying James Steele a clear run at goal.
“We spoke to Harry after the game,” said boss Lee Ashforth. “We said to him at half-time it wasn’t the right thing to do.
“He’s kicked out at a player, though I think the lad has made a meal of it.
“Fair enough, Harry’s kicked out, he’s been stupid and he’s got to learn from that because he’s let us down.
“We decided to go for it and we got ourselves in front with a great strike. He (Harry Pratt) did really well when he came on.
“We sent him out and he’s had three games for Chadderton. He’s done really well while he’s been away.
“We put him on at half-time today because we thought with Max Hazeldine up front on his own it wasn’t going to stick enough.
“We just couldn’t hold on for that last seven or eight minutes when our legs had gone. Playing with 10 men for such a long period of time was always going to be difficult.
“We knew they were dangerous from set-pieces. We knew that before we came, we’d had a report on them, and we said that if the ball dropped for somebody in the box then they’d finish and that’s what they did.
“We’re disappointed but being down to 10 men we were lucky to stay in the game for as long as we did.”