A late Jason Hart goal secured a vital point for Simon Garner’s men at home to Burscough on Saturday.
Fresh from a disappointing draw at New Mills last weekend, Clitheroe were looking to bounce back in their fight for a top 10 place in the Evo-Stik First Division North.
The signings of Joseph Mullen from AFC Flyde and return of Peter Collinge to Shawbridge signalled their intent ahead of the game, while the return of attack-minded Cory Bent added to the promise of a good result.
There were starts for both Bent and Collinge, and the game’s first major chance was a result of Bent’s hard work in the 11th minute, cutting inside Phil Quirk to get his shot away, which was parried by keeper Calvin Hare into the path of Sefton Gonzales, who fired just wide.
Clitheroe were dominating play, creating all the chances, and Bent made another impressive dribble through the defence only to have his strike blocked.
Left wing back Seydou Bamba’s impressive running added to the Blues’ attacking threat, his driven crosses calling the team in green’s defence into action.
However, it was Burscough who broke the deadlock, as Eddie Toner found the back of Collinge’s goal in the 41st minute following questionable Blues defending.
Two minutes later Bent gave way for Mullen, but Burscough bossed the start of the second half.
Looking like a side transformed, they spent the first 10 minutes holding possession with confidence, dominating in midfield and threatening at every opportunity.
Collinge made a series of impressive saves to keep the Shawbridge side in the game.
The tension in this entertaining game heightened as Garner’s full blooded challenge enraged the visitors’ players and coaching staff, and a scuffle ensued, with both sets of players exchanging pushes and shoves.
Seven minutes of tranquillity and deliberation later, referee Mark Powell and his assistants decided that both Garner and Toner’s names were required in his little black book.
Normal high tempo play resuming, it was Hare’s impressive goalkeeping efforts, which kept his side’s dream of a first win in 2015 alive, denying both Mullen and Gonzales 20 minutes from time.
Though to no avail, as Hart’s magnificent first touch in the 87th minute steered the ball past the approaching Hare, who could only watch as Clitheroe’s number 11 scored the equaliser.
The home team could have won it, and Shawbridge new boy Mullen was desperately unlucky to see his strike from seven yards brush by the wrong side of visitors’ goal.
The late goal saw the Blues end the day as the started in 11th, on 37 points with Kendal Town behind only on goal difference.
Clitheroe: Collinge, Morton, Bamba, Bonaminio, Brady, Garner, Bent, Dent, Gonzales, Mayers, Hart. Subs: Burns, Walker, Esdaille, Mullen, Palffy.