Stamford 1 Cleethorpes Town 0
FINAL DAY DEFEAT FOR OWLS
The last game of the season saw Clee travel to Stamford with nothing to play for but pride. It was a different story for the Daniels, who required at least a draw to extend their campaign into the play-offs.
Manager Marcus Newell drafted in Loz McKay, Liam Dickens, Danny North and Jon Oglesby in a 4-5-1 formation. Tim Lowe moved into the centre of defence alongside Matt Bloomer with North operating solo up front. Oglesby and Curtis Bateson were instructed to get well forward down the flanks to provide support.
It was more like November than the end of April as the teams came out. They were met by drizzle and a distinct chill in the air but there was a large crowd, with a colourful and boisterous following from North East Lincolnshire.
There were clearly some nerves amongst the Stamford players, as Clee started strongly. Captain Alex Flett ran with his trademark strength through midfield and then, with 6 minutes gone, North fired over after a great move involving Oglesby and Bateson.
The encounter gradually became more even, with Jordan Smith a couple of yards wide in the 18th minute with the home side’s first shot. Rob Morgan was similarly off-target moments later, as the Daniels got some joy down their left.
Bateson was a real livewire and was orchestrating many of the Owls’ best moments. Clee forced a couple of corners but, as we passed 35 minutes on the watch, neither goalkeeper had been seriously tested.
Jack Richardson was alert to break up a home attack and Bloomer was his usual alert self to win an important header. The final action of the half saw Flett booked for a shirt pull and the break was reached with no score.
HT Stamford 0 Cleethorpes Town 0
The Owls missed a golden chance to gain the initiative in the 51st minute, after enjoying their best spell of the game.
Wave after wave of pressure ended with Flett crashing to the turf in the box. The referee waved away strong appeals but, within 60 seconds, a hard cross was handled by Jake Duffy. This time the official did point to the spot. North stepped up to take but Danny Haystead dived to his left to make the save and also managed to beat away the follow-up.
This proved to be a massive turning point because, within 4 minutes, Stamford were ahead. A corner from the right was met by Clee’s old nemesis Kieran Wells. The striker, who had come on as a substitute moments earlier, headed in from 6 yards with his first touch of the ball.
A setback for the visitors but they were still playing their passing football and also introduced three attacking subs in an attempt to end the season on a high. Brody Robertson, Marc Cooper and Liam Davis all came on, as the Owls went for broke. Robertson was immediately involved, when he appeared to be impeded in the area, but no foul was given.
Unsurprisingly, having been asked to play 8 times in 12 days, Clee began to look a bit tired as we entered the final 10 minutes of the season. Wells almost made the game safe but his 20-yard drive was excellently tipped over the crossbar and the dangerous striker again went close shortly afterwards, when his effort was well saved.
As the game drifted towards its conclusion, the Owls just could not grab the equaliser that would been a fair reflection on the afternoon’s entertainment. At the final whistle, Clee’s travelling supporters gave a long and deserved standing ovation to the players and management.
FT Stamford 1 (Wells 55) Cleethorpes Town 0 Attendance: 442
An undeserved defeat for us I thought but we certainly gave a good account of ourselves!
We should all be proud of the debut season in the Evostik. Tenth place is not bad by any means but it is obviously tinged with an element of what might have been. After winning the opening 7 games, it looked like we might surge to back-to-back promotions – if only life was that easy!! This season has been a (steep) learning curve for everyone at the Club.
A few candidates for the player of the year I think. Having witnessed 52 of our 54 matches in all competitions, my own “Reporter’s Award”(!!!) would go to Tim Lowe.
For me, as well as solid defensive displays and the occasional memorable goal, he epitomises a lot of what is good about the Club. Always reliable on the pitch, he has also represented the Owls with distinction off it, gaining deserved recognition by making the divisional “team of the year” – well played Tim!
Finally, I hope you have all enjoyed both my match reports and twitter ramblings. I always try to be fair in my coverage – “say what you see”… as someone once said! Also, well done to Dave Patterson (and Andy Aisthorpe) for getting some live commentaries up and running for the final few games. Not easy by any stretch of the imagination, as I found out when acting as “expert(!!)” summariser at Carlton.
Have a great Summer break!
UP THE OWLS!