Unbeaten Lancaster are held at Shawbridge

Simon Nangle scored from the spot for the Blues
Simon Nangle scored from the spot for the Blues

Unbeaten Lancaster are held at Shawbridge

Lancaster came to town boasting one of only two unbeaten records in the league, and the general fluency of their attacking play and the pressing style of football employed made it quite clear that this was no accident.

However, Clitheroe are made of sterner stuff than at the start of the season and had a real cutting edge, with Scott Bakkor being joined up front by full home debutants Lloyd Dean and Aaron Fleming.

Neither defence could afford to switch off during the 90 minutes.

Lancaster attacked from the off, and most of their attacks were being channelled through Tom Kilifin on the left wing or through playmaker and former Blue Mark Jackson, whose explosive pace might have gone, but whose footballing brain is as sharp as ever.

Lancaster took the lead on 11 minutes when, following a foul on the edge of the home box, courtesy of a last-ditch sliding tackle, the resultant free kick was saved by Richie Mottram, but he could not hold the ball at the first time of asking.

He grabbed for the ball and there was a suspicion that it was levered out of his hands by an onrushing attacker before Jackson stabbed the ball home from a yard.

Four minutes later, Clitheroe were on level terms.

Three smart passes saw the ball dragged across the face of the penalty area, with Ashley Mihell striking the ball cleanly home.

Both sides pressed forward, but with Clitheroe’s best efforts restricted to several Simon Nangle thunderbolts from distance, none of which were too far away.

Danny Mahoney, on his return to Shawbridge, forced Higgins to make a desperate sliding tackle after 25 minutes as he shaped for goal, and Kilifin was giving Will James a good tussle on the flank throughout the first half.

Indeed, it was Kilifin on 42 minutes whose tantalising cross could not find a Lancaster head, before play swung to the other end and Nangle screamed another shot narrowly over the bar.

The second half continued in a similar vein, with Clitheroe, if anything, seeing more of possession and having more of a goal threat.

On 60 minutes, Lancaster took the lead again, when another flowing attack saw the ball rolled across the box for an expert drive to elude the despairing Mottram.

Three minutes later, honours were even again when a fine dummy on the edge of the box by Birchall wrong footed the away defence and Dean was unceremoniously tugged back and a penalty was given.

The home fans were baying for a red card, but the referee decided a caution sufficed. Nangle slammed home the penalty.

The tempo was maintained right to the end, and it was Clitheroe who looked most likely to score in the last ten minutes.

Bakkor engineered the best chance when he burst down the right flank and lashed the ball tantalisingly across the face of the goal.

However, a draw was a fair result.

On Saturday, the Blues are at Kendal Town, before hosting Harrogate Railway Athletic on Tuesday night.