Cleethorpes Town 2 Hednesford Town 1
OWLS TRIUMPH IN TROPHY THRILLER
After Saturday’s battling 1-1 draw at Keys Park, the Owls welcomed the Pitmen to Bradley for this FA Trophy replay. The winners tonight would earn £4,000 in prize money and face Spennymoor Town from the National League North at home on Saturday 25th November in the 3rd Qualifying Round.
There were two changes for Clee from the first match, with Marcus Newell opting to bring in Liam Dickens in central midfield and Adam Drury on the left flank in place of Liam Davis and Paul Beesley respectively. Jon Oglesby was to start the game on the right wing with the versatile Luke Mascall up front, where he had played so well in the last round victory at Buxton.
The Owls started the game strongly as they strived for an early breakthrough. Trickery from Drury on the left allowed him to find Mascall, who forced the keeper to turn the ball behind for a corner. This was followed by a great move through midfield, which resulted in Oglesby delivering a dangerous cross. Mascall attempted to control but the alert James Wren came off his line smartly to collect.
Mascall was involved again in the 10th minute when a shot from the edge of the box was well saved by the away stopper. As Clee continued to press, Danny North fed in the lively Drury, who shot from 20 yards. Once again, the hard-worked Wren was forced into blocking the effort.
The Pitmen had weathered the early storm and took the lead in the 21st minute via Saturday’s scorer Joey Butlin. A cross from the right was met by the big striker around 12 yards out. He found a fine looping header into the far corner of the net, giving home keeper Richard Walton no chance. This was greeted with delight by Hednesford’s hardy band of followers, who had made the long midweek journey from the Midlands.
A shock to the system for the home team and it seemed to boost Hednesford’s confidence. The visitors enjoyed a good spell as they attempted to impose their higher league status. On 29 minutes, a long throw from the left caused confusion in the home defence before being deflected for a corner.
Just after the half hour mark, good play from Oglesby set-up North but the bustling forward could not hook his foot around the ball and his shot flew well wide.
As the break approached, Hednesford were seeing a lot of the ball as they flooded the midfield. However, they could not create a clear chance as the disciplined home defence held firm. A couple of minutes before half-time, Clee went in search of an equaliser but their best effort, a free-kick from just over 20 yards out, was fired straight at the wall.
At the midway point, it was a repeat of the weekend with Butlin’s goal proving the difference. However, it had been a vastly different encounter with the Owls very unlucky to be behind.
HT Cleethorpes Town 0 Hednesford Town 1 (Butlin 21)
Hednesford were the first to threaten in the second half. Butlin found a bit of space on the edge of the box but Walton tipped the ball away.
Shortly afterwards, there was great play from the all action Mascall. He cut through two trailing defenders and his curling shot was a yard wide. The home team were now building a head of steam and the equaliser arrived in the 53rd minute. Oglesby picked up the ball on the left wing and his teasing right-footed cross evaded a mass of bodies in the penalty area to nestle in the net.
Clee now had the wind in their sails and the home fans played their part, providing great vocal support as they urged the Owls forward.
Another cross by the dangerous Oglesby caused alarm in the Pitmen’s defence but the pressure was relieved when the assistant flagged for offside.
It had become a thrilling cup-tie and Walton made a good save on the hour mark to deny the visitors. With just over 20 minutes to go, there was good interplay on the right wing from Tim Lowe. He found Mascall, who shot narrowly over.
In the next attack, the Owls were within inches of taking the lead when a fierce shot from Jack Richardson cannoned back off the crossbar. Drury then had a good run ended by Darren Campion, who received a yellow card. From the resulting free-kick, Mascall’s effort was somehow scooped away by the impressive Wren.
Clee were dominant and they made their first substitution with 12 minutes left as the prospect of extra-time loomed. Drury, who had played well and has already become a favourite of the home fans, was replaced by Davis.
The visitors still carried a threat and a cross from the left by James Lawrie went just wide. After this, North was almost through but an away defender read the danger well. A break on the right by Richardson nearly found the decisive goal but his cross was blocked with men over in the middle.
The Owls were piling on the pressure and they were rewarded with around 3 minutes left on the clock. Mascall, who once again had played superbly, jinked his way past a defender on the right edge of the penalty area. His pinpoint ball found North, who showed his higher league experience to find some space in the box. He arrived at the near post to smash the ball home past the despairing dive of Wren from six yards.
The home support was now in full cry as they scented another famous win. As the game moved in to 6 minutes of added time, tensions boiled over on the half-way line with pushing and shoving from a number of players. This resulted in Campion being dismissed.
Luke Aldrich came on to replace Mascall as Clee looked to see out the additional period. Hednesford had no more to give as the Owls comfortably ran down the clock.
The referee’s whistle brought to an end a tremendous encounter. Over the two matches Clee were deserving of their triumph, as the Pitmen were left to reflect that they could not fully translate their first half dominance on Saturday.
FT Cleethorpes Town 2 (Oglesby 53, North 87) Hednesford Town 1 (Butlin 21) Attendance: 225
A breathless night at a rocking Bradley! A superb performance from the Owls as they claimed their second higher league scalp of the Trophy campaign. We now move on to the mouth-watering prospect of welcoming high-flying National North Spennymoor Town in the next round.
Before then, Clee return to league action on Saturday (18th – 3pm) with an away fixture at Corby Town. The Steelmen have been on a good run in the Evostik South after a slow start, following successive relegations. However, they suffered a 3-0 reverse at Frickley Athletic on their last outing. They currently sit sixth in the table – two points behind the Owls, who also have a couple of games in hand.
It is sure to be another tough test and all support is, as always, welcomed. For those making the journey to Northamptonshire by car, the postcode of Steel Park is NN17 2FB.
UP THE OWLS!