Clitheroe’s disappointing run of form on the road continued in a forgettable encounter over the water in Birkenhead.
The game had started very brightly for the Blues and as early as the first minute, Simon Garner slipped Lloyd Dean through one on one on goal, only to see the home keeper save well at his feet.
On seven minutes Dean took the ball past the keeper to the byline only for the chance to fizzle out. Three minutes later, Sean Miller met an in-swinging corner from Garner and headed the ball powerfully against the bar. Despite these chances, Lairds were playing their usual brand of pass and move football and always looked like unpicking the defence.
There was almost an own goal when Ben Cartwright sliced the ball over the bar from a saved shot from distance. One minute later, Will James was dispossessed when he dwelt on the ball too long, and was lucky only to concede a corner. From the resultant corner, Keith Wedge cleared the ball off the line. Home pressure continued to build and it was unfortunate when Garner had to come off with an injury after 20 minutes to be replaced by Charlie Collinge, who saw yellow within 30 seconds, albeit settling down to put in a solid performance thereafter. Reid made a series of good saves as the Clitheroe defence started to creak under the pressure, culminating in a great save with his legs on 31 minutes after Lairds had sprung the offside trap. However, it was the Blues who should have taken the lead on 37 minutes, when a sublime chip over the defence by Tom Berwick, saw the onrushing Miller loft the bouncing ball over the keeper but over the bar as well.
Clitheroe kicked into a moderate wind in the second half, but had the first chance on 47 minutes, when Wilkins and Miller combined to free Dean, whose subsequent shot was smothered. On 55 minutes, the complexion of the game was changed by two key incidents. Firstly, a hotly contested free kick was awarded to the home side well inside their own half. The resultant free kick was belted towards the Clitheroe goal, and without a defender touching it, the ball bounced once and was nestling in the back of the net after a sharp shot.
One minute later, things took a turn for the worse as Danny Morton was harshly adjudged to have gone in on an opposing player with a straight leg, and the red card was instantaneous. The Clitheroe formation was reshuffled and it was a surprise to see that the loss of a man made Clitheroe play more fluently. A number of half chances fell Clitheroe’s way, but in the end they did not do enough to get a point to end their Lairds hoodoo.