Cleethorpes Town 3 Tadcaster Albion 2
LATE COMEBACK SETS UP SHIELDS REMATCH
Old rivals Tadcaster Albion arrived at Bradley for this Integro (League) Cup tie trying to achieve a first ever victory over the Owls. Some exciting matches between the clubs over recent years, with the last one being a memorable 3-2 win for Clee to lift the Northern Counties East Cup in May 2016.
Albion enjoyed a good 3-1 away triumph last time out and sat mid-table in the Evostik North. The Owls were held to a draw at Stocksbridge, despite largely dominating proceedings, and were unbeaten in six. Tonight’s winners would host South Shields in the last 16.
Manager Marcus Newell, no doubt with one eye on some upcoming vital league games, made several changes from Saturday’s team. In came Jacob Norburn, Liam Dickens, Matt Bloomer, Luke Aldrich and Marc Cooper to replace Tim Lowe, Jack Richardson, Mark Gray, Danny North and Jon Oglesby respectively.
Having survived an afternoon inspection, conditions were cold but dry as proceedings got underway. The Owls started well and an early foul on Liam Davis resulted in an Alex Flett free-kick hitting the wall. Shortly afterwards, Brody Robertson almost got clear but was flagged marginally offside.
In the 9th minute there was a miscued clearance from away keeper Young which fell to Robertson. However, the striker could not direct his shot on-target. Then Josh Lacey, who was looking extremely confident at right-back on his home debut, sent a searching ball over the defence but it ran to safety on the greasy surface.
Albion were struggling at this stage and the best they could muster in the opening 20 minutes was a looping header, which was comfortably held by Richard Walton. Clee responded with nice movement from Aldrich, who found Lacey in an advanced position but he sliced over.
Tadcaster were starting to knock the ball around with more confidence as the half progressed and the Owls were left to rue their early dominance when the visitors opened the scoring on 35 minutes. A fine run and cross from Fraser Hansen found Joe Pugh, who confidently finished past Walton.
There was further misery for the home fans seven minutes later when Albion doubled their advantage. Another cross, this time from the right flank, pinpointed an unmarked Jack Reynolds, who deftly flicked a volley into the corner of the goal.
A shell-shocked Clee went into the interval with a mountain to climb to maintain an interest in the competition.
HT Cleethorpes Town 0 Tadcaster Albion 2 (Pugh 35, Reynolds 42)
The Owls were desperate for an early lifeline and Robertson had a stinging effort tipped over. Then the striker found the net but it was ruled out for offside. Immediately afterwards, Aldrich burst through after a good ball from Cooper. Once again, however, the youngster fell foul of the assistant’s flag.
Frustration was growing amongst the faithful as Tadcaster were stringing together some excellent passing and comfortably holding onto their lead as the clock went past the hour mark. Clee made three quick changes in an effort to alter the shape of the game. On to the field came Richardson, Oglesby and North in favour of Aldrich, Norburn and Cooper respectively.
Man-of-the-match Lacey was trying to inspire his new team-mates but Clee could not create a clear chance.
As the tie moved towards its conclusion, the away team continued to defend stoutly and it appeared as though there was no way back for the Owls. However, there was a glimmer of hope in the 78th minute when Robertson halved the deficit. The striker finished well from inside the area to record his second goal since his return from Alfreton.
Clee now had the wind in their sails and Dickens blasted over from 20 yards. Tadcaster were being pushed further back and Davis was blocked by the massed away defence. The equaliser arrived with four minutes of normal time remaining. A corner was not cleared and when the ball was returned into the six-yard box, central defender Oli Donald was on hand to stab the ball home through a ruck of players.
It now seemed a certainty that the game would be decided by penalties but the Owls had other ideas. As the second minute of added time was reached, another cross was glanced home by North to complete a dramatic turnaround.
Tadcaster were left stunned by Clee’s resolution and they could not gather themselves for another attack before the referee blew the final whistle.
FT Cleethorpes Town 3 (Robertson 78, Donald 86, North 90+2) Tadcaster Albion 2 (Pugh 35, Reynolds 42) Attendance: 106
The “Clee curse” continues for Taddy but that did not seem very likely with 12 minutes left to play! Regular supporters will know that the Owls are never beaten until the final whistle and this match can be added to the growing list of last minute winners.
It certainly breeds confidence to win these kind of games when not necessarily at your best and the unbeaten run now extends to seven.
An intriguing home rematch against South Shields now awaits in the next round. It is unclear when this tie will take place as both clubs have a crowded midweek programme. My best guess for a date is Wednesday 28th February. However, it is possible that administration will re-schedule league games to accommodate the fixture – I will keep you posted!
Two massive Evostik South encounters coming up as we edge towards the business end of the season. On Saturday (20th – 3pm), there is a real “six-pointer” against second placed Bedworth United. The Owls suffered a last-minute 2-1 defeat in Warwickshire in November and will be keen to gain revenge. A victory would see us leap-frog the visitors.
No let-up to the pace the following weekend (27th – 3pm) when a long-trip to Worcestershire to face high-flying Alvechurch is to be undertaken. 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 arrangements will be announced shortly – keep your eye on social media for the details.
Facebook: Cleethorpes Town (official) / Twitter: @CleeTownFC
UP THE OWLS!