A late winner from Glodi Kuba-Kuba secured victory for Clitheroe against play-off chasing Lancaster City and in the process ensured Evo-Stik League football will be played at Shawbridge next season.
There was one change to the team which started on Saturday as Matty Fearon replaced Nat Taylor on the right of midfield. Alex Johnson lined up against his former club while ex-Clitheroe goalkeeper Martin Fearon started for the visitors. Zach Clark was also in the travelling party and made an appearance from the bench in the second half.
Lancaster were the better side in the opening stages and Zack Hibbert had to turn behind a deflected cross in only the 2nd minute after Simon Wills and Tom Kilifin had combined to good effect. After 15 minutes Kilifin sent Max Rothwell flying down the left flank only for his cutback to be blazed high and wide by Rhys Turner. The move typified Lancaster’s start to the match as they linked well and played with plenty of ambition.
The Dolly Blues took the lead in the 24th minute when Turner’s right-wing cross was headed home at the far post by Rothwell. Thereafter, Lancaster seemed to take their foot off the gas as Clitheroe worked their way back into the game, although until the equaliser very few goalscoring opportunities were created. Oliver Devenney’s free-kick, similar in origin to the one which found the net against Warrington, landed on the roof of the goal while Sam Christensen headed over a corner. As on Saturday though, the midfield three of Connor Smith, Joe Roberts and Devenney showed composure on the ball and played some attractive football at times.
Clitheroe levelled matters on the stroke of half-time as Roberts took the ball in his stride on the edge of the penalty area and fired a sweet rising shot past Fearon who was rooted to the spot. This was Roberts’ second goal in as many games following his superb strike at Garforth. The goal emanated from a right-wing cross and Clitheroe looked productive down that flank throughout the first period with Chris Smalley and Matty Fearon linking particularly well.
Hibbert was the busier of the two keepers in the second half although the remainder of the game was a largely even affair on the whole. Clitheroe did, however, have to endure periods of pressure and defend well as a team in order to keep the visitors at bay. Kevin Brown and Christensen were solid in central defence while Smalley and Lee Pugh did well to shackle Lancaster’s tricky wingers. At the other end, Ross Dent
fired in an effort which was never really troubling Fearon and Andrew Naylor shot wide from outside the box as the home side continued to be neat in possession.
A point would have been a decent enough result but all three were earned as the clock ticked past the 90th minute mark. Nat Taylor’s clipped pass released fellow substitute Glodi Kuba-Kuba who finished with aplomb, crashing a shot across Fearon from inside the corner of the penalty area to send the Shawbridge faithful into rapture.
The cohesion and team spirit which has been developing was clear for all to see in the celebration of the winning goal and at the final whistle. This was a result of some magnitude for Clitheroe who, having completed the league double over Lancaster for the second season running, jump a place to 18th. Wakefield, Harrogate Railway, Prescot Cables and Cammell Laird all lost so the Blues are now nine points and three places above the relegation zone. All of the aforementioned teams have three games remaining to Clitheroe’s two. However, with Harrogate Railway entertaining Wakefield in one of those it means the Blues cannot lose their grip on safety and fall into the abyss.
Clitheroe face another home game on Saturday against old sparring partners Woodley Sports. After a difficult season this provides an opportunity for the Shawbridge outfit to mark the last home fixture of the 2011/12 campaign with a similarly plucky performance.
Zack Hibbert, Chris Smalley, Lee Pugh (c), Kevin Brown, Sam Christensen, Connor Smith, Matty Fearon (Nat Taylor 78), Oliver Devenney (Andrew Naylor 72), Alex Johnson (Glodi Kuba-Kuba 85), Joe Roberts, Ross Dent
. Subs not used: Marcus Calvert, Jack Higgins
Martin Fearon, Rob Henry, Ryan Elderton, Sam Edgerton-Wilson, Neil Marshall, Alex Kenyon (c), Rhys Turner (Danny Gregson 88), Simon Wills, Tom Kilifin (Joe Bunney 64), Alex Meaney (Zach Clark 64), Max Rothwell. Subs not used: Jack Cook
Bookings: Neil Marshall