Cleethorpes Town 2 Basford United 3
HITMAN DOUBLE SINKS BRAVE OWLS
The final home match for the Owls at the Bradley Stadium was fittingly against this year’s divisional winners, Nottingham-based Basford United. The visitors, who narrowly missed out on the play-offs last term due to a points deduction, have made no mistake this campaign and easily justified their tags as pre-season favourites.
Due to the recent glut of games, the management continued to utilise the whole squad and the team lined-up as follows:
Goalkeeper – David Birch
Defence – Tim Lowe, Kieran Wressell, Matt Bloomer, Josh Lacey
Midfield – Luke Aldrich, Jack Richardson, Alex Flett (c), Curtis Bateson
Attack – Brody Robertson, Marc Cooper
With only pride to play for, it was very much an end-of-season party atmosphere as the Champions made their way out through the Owls’ “guard of honour”.
Not surprisingly, Basford were full of confidence and retained the ball well in the early stages, without creating any clear openings. All this changed in the 18th minute when the prolific Liam Hearn finished from close range to give the away side the advantage.
Clee were battling hard, with Robertson in particular looking lively, but the visitors remained with the lion’s share of possession. The second goal arrived in the 33rd minute and once again it was Hearn on target. Courey Grantham surged into the area before cutting the ball back, where the big striker was waiting to double the lead.
The Owls came really close to reducing the arrears shortly afterwards, with a fierce Cooper effort blocked and then Robertson drove a yard the wrong side of the upright. Clee now enjoyed a good spell but could not find the net and, with the last play of the half, Basford struck again.
A right-wing corner was delivered with pace by Matt Thornhill and was met with a ferocious header from Deon Meikle. There may have been a suspicion of a foul but the referee saw nothing wrong and the goal stood.
HT Cleethorpes Town 0 Basford United 3 (Hearn 18, 33, Meikle 45+2)
Rather than give up the ghost, the Owls came out with all guns blazing in a tremendous show of spirit. A nice run from Lacey found captain Flett, who was just off target. However, the pressure did yield a lifeline for the home side in the 58th minute.
The ever-reliable Lowe, who was later voted man of the match by sponsors B&S Transport and Simon Smith & family, picked up the ball on the right around 25 yards out. Sensing an opportunity to shoot, the full-back let fly. It rocketed past the Basford keeper to record one of the best goals seen at Bradley this season.
Buoyed by this, Clee continued to press and, with the faithful in full cry, the deficit was further reduced 12 minutes later. Aldrich was replaced by Jon Oglesby and with his first touch, the substitute was given too much space on the inside left. The winger did not hesitate and he confidently found the net.
Danny North came on for Robertson, as the Owls tried to complete a sensational comeback. With 5 minutes of normal time to play, Richardson was inches away from delivering but was agonisingly just wide.
This was the closest Clee came to forcing an equaliser and Basford saw out the remaining time to break the 100 point barrier. The fans, who seemed to have sung and chanted for the whole of the second-half, gave both teams a deserved standing ovation at the end, as the sun set on the Owls’ tenure at Bradley.
FT Cleethorpes Town 2 (Lowe 58, Oglesby 70) Basford United 3 (Hearn 18, 33, Meikle 45+2) Attendance: 197
Very much mixed emotions for me (and I’m sure many more supporters) at the final whistle. It is great to be heading home to Linden but the time at Bradley has been the most successful in the Club’s history. There have been some fantastic occasions! I am certain though that there will be many more great memories to be made in the coming seasons.
As for the match itself, it was certainly a superb display by us in the second 45! Not that bothered by the result, just delighted that we had the spirit and quality to show the Champions what we are all about. The fans were superb too!
One final fixture on Saturday (3pm), which is a Lincolnshire derby at Stamford (postcode: PE9 1US). The Daniels need a point to secure their play-off position, whilst it should be a good day out for all associated with the Owls. A time to celebrate a highly satisfactory debut season in the Evostik I think!
UP THE OWLS!