Cleethorpes Town 3 Bedworth United 1
EIGHT UNBEATEN AS OWLS SOAR TO THIRD
Bedworth United were the guests at Bradley for an important Evostik South match. There was certainly a lot at stake as the battle for the second automatic promotion spot heats up. A win for the Owls would see them leap-frog the visitors with Clee also enjoying three games in hand.
Both sides were in great form with the home team unbeaten in seven whilst the Greenbacks last tasted defeat in November. The reverse fixture saw Bedworth triumph 2-1 on their artificial turf courtesy of a late brace from Khaellem Bailey-Nicholls.
After Wednesday’s comeback, manager Marcus Newell made five changes to his starting eleven. In came Tim Lowe, Jack Richardson, Mark Gray, Danny North and Jon Oglesby to replace Jacob Norburn, Liam Dickens, Matt Bloomer, Luke Aldrich and Marc Cooper respectively.
The game started at a high tempo despite the heavy pitch and central defender Gray blocked superbly as Bedworth had an early moment of danger.
However, the Owls got the boost of taking the lead in the 7th minute. A mazy run down the left-wing by Oglesby was matched by his cross, which located North six yards out. The striker showed no hesitation as he swept the ball into the net to record his 21st goal of the campaign in all competitions.
Clee dominated the next phase with some quality passing football. A free-kick from captain Alex Flett very nearly found the head of Brody Robertson and, from the resulting corner, the away keeper missed the ball before it was eventually hacked away. Then Flett was involved again, this time teeing-up Oglesby, who fired too high.
The lively Oglesby and Robertson combined cleverly in the 25th minute when the former went close to doubling the Owls’ advantage.
Bedworth’s attacks had been limited so far but they suddenly burst into life just after the half-hour when a fast break produced the equaliser. A long ball over the top through the inside right channel was hit low across the face of goal and Levi Rowley was in the right place to hammer home.
A shock for the home team and the Greenbacks now enjoyed their best spell of the afternoon to show the crowd their promotion credentials. Richard Walton saved smartly in the 37th minute and Lowe flung himself at a goal-bound shot to block, as the visitors threatened a turnaround.
The half ended with a couple of corners from Bedworth, which were headed clear by Donald, and a chance for Oglesby, but he decided to pass when a shot may have paid greater dividends. The final action nearly saw Clee re-take the lead but North was denied.
HT Cleethorpes Town 1 (North 7) Bedworth United 1 (Rowley 31)
The Owls got just the start they were looking for in the second period when they re-gained the initiative within 90 seconds. A fine passing move was eventually palmed out by the keeper to Liam Davis. The midfielder made no mistake from around 10 yards out as he calmly found the target with a powerful drive.
Clee were once again dominating as they sensed a chance to put the game out of reach. Robertson was agonisingly close to finishing a Flett cross and North was proving to be a constant menace with his movement in and around the box.
The first couple of changes of the afternoon occurred around the hour. Donald and goalscorer Davis were withdrawn with Bloomer and Dickens entering the action.
Bedworth’s attacks were becoming more sporadic but Clee needed the cushion of a third goal to make the points safe. It almost arrived on 70 minutes when there was a melee in the box, which first saw a North chance charged down and then an effort from substitute Dickens was bravely blocked.
The home team made their final substitution with 15 minutes left when Cooper came on to replace Robertson.
It required a well-timed interception from Bloomer to snuff out an away offensive as the game entered the latter stages and a very late flag from the assistant stopped North in his tracks as he bore down on goal. A couple of minutes afterwards, more good play from sponsors’ man-of-the match Oglesby, whose wing-play had been a thorn in the side of Bedworth, very nearly led to the decisive third.
Any nerves amongst the home faithful were finally settled in the 85th minute when Gray, who had yet again been excellent in defence, popped up at the other end of the pitch. Loanee Josh Lacey charged down the right-flank before crossing. The ball was gleefully smashed home by the imposing defender to register his first goal for the Owls.
No way back for the visitors and, after five added minutes, the referee’s whistle sounded to signal a very important win, which moved Clee above Bedworth and into third place in the table.
FT Cleethorpes Town 3 (North 7, Davis 47, Gray 85) Bedworth United 1 (Rowley 31) Attendance: 267
A massive three points and a good team display. Apart from a spell when Bedworth equalised, Clee were the better side and extended the unbeaten run. Still a long way to go before the end of the season but everyone can look forward to an exciting conclusion! The battle for second looks likely to go to the wire with ourselves, Alvechurch and Frickley currently the principal contenders.
Assistant manager Dave Smith offered the following thoughts:
“We started the game very brightly - took a deserved early lead and could have scored more in the opening 25 minutes. Bedworth’s counter-attack tactics worked for a time and being level at the break was pretty fair.
We told the lads at half-time to keep concentration and look to isolate their centre-backs. The team did this very well and deservedly scored two good goals. It could have been more and we showed what a strong squad we have, as I thought our substitutions influenced the game and secured the win.
Another massive test next week but one we are all really looking forward to”.
A big thanks to Dave for taking the time to provide those detailed insights from the management team – I know it is appreciated by the fans!
No midweek game and a welcome chance for everyone to re-charge their batteries before next weekend.
One of the longest trips of the season on Saturday (27th – 3pm) when the Owls travel to Worcestershire to face high-flying Alvechurch in another crucial game. We have not yet met this campaign but fans will recall a nail-biting 2-1 win against Church in the FA Vase a couple of seasons ago in our only previous meeting.
Travel is available and bookable through the usual methods. The away following this season has been quite superb and it would be nice to see another bumper turnout. For those travelling by car, the postcode of Lye Meadow is B48 7RS.
UP THE OWLS!