Jason Yates thunderbolt ends the Reds losing run
Ossett Town 2 Clitheroe F.C. 2
Ossett Town welcomed Clitheroe FC to Ingfield with the Reds hoping to end their run of 10 losses from the last 11 fixtures.
New manager Lee Ashforth was looking to reverse the teams recent form in his third game in charge since the departure of Grant Black.
In their previous game, the Reds had put in a sterling away performance against high flying Bamber Bridge coming out as 3-2 losers in a game where Ossett matched the hosts and in the last 20 minutes held total possession of the game and truly deserved at least a point from their performance.
This was never going to be an easy fixture for the Reds with Clitheroe on a superb run of form winning 9 of their previous 11 matches and sitting just 4 points off the play off positions.
Lee Ashforth announced the same starting eleven that had competed so strongly at Bamber Bridge with new signings Craig Nelthorpe and Nicky Boshell making their home debuts. The Reds squad was heavily depleted with key players Leigh Overton, Sam Wright and Alex Peterson injured and striker Kai Hancock suspended.
If the Reds were going to get anything out of this game they would have to contain two of the leagues most prolific goalscorers in Kurt Willoughby and Alexander Newby who between them have scored 33 of the 51 goals the blues have scored this season with Willoughby joint 1st with ex-pro Michael Coulson of Scarborough and Newby 2nd in the leagues top goalscorers chart for this season.
As the game kicked off on a heavy pitch in front of a crowd of 174, Ossett started the game well pressing the visitors from the start.
The first 20 minutes saw the best chances falling to the Reds who could have easily been 2-0 up within 15 minutes but for the heroics of Blues Keeper Chris Thompson who kept Clitheroe in the game with saves from Nicky Boshell and Martin Pemberton
In the 24th minute the deadlock was broken as Anthony Mackie broke from defence straight from a Clitheroe corner and fired into the feet of Nicky Boshell who held the ball up well under pressure before laying off to Jason St Juste who drove through the midfield towards the box before passing out wide to Craig Nelthorpe who from 25 yards out showed great composure with a superlative chip over the advancing keeper to score his first goal on his home debut putting the Reds into a well deserved 1-0 lead after a passage of top quality play.
Ossett then had a nervy ten minutes with the impressive Willoughby looking strong and dangerous every time he got on the ball, the visitors pressurised the Reds and with some good defending and a bit of luck the home side managed to hold onto the lead.
That all changed in the 30th minute when Newby made a surging run into the box and Issac Assennso left a trailing leg to trip the Blues striker in the box and a penalty was awarded. Newby who won the penalty took it and fired it into the corner to bring the scoreline level at 1-1.
The goal gave the visitors new impetus and they could have taken the lead in the 38th minute as Dimitri Tuanzebe capitalised on the referees decision to play advantage after Willoughby was up-ended on the half way line and Ross Dent passed to Tuanzebe who rounded Leon Wigglesworth in goal but saw his shot hit the side netting.
With half time looming it looked as though the sides would go into the dressing rooms on level pegging, however that changed in the 43rd minute when the visitors won a hotly disputed free kick on the half way line. Whilst Ossett Town players continued arguing with the Referee they naively switched off and were punished for their lack of concentration and professionalism as a long free kick caught out the back four with Newby getting behind the Reds defence before smashing the ball past Leon Wigglesworth to take a 2-1 lead into half time.
The 1st half ended in an even affair where both teams played some good passing football and the scoreline could easily have been 3-3 with the chances both teams created.
The 2nd half was more of a cagey affair for the first 20 minutes with neither side creating any scoring opportunities.
The game changed when an altercation broke out between the two teams which resulted in Ross Dent for Clitheroe being shown a red card for raising his hands to Corey Gregory leaving the visitors down to ten men with 30 minutes remaining. The Referee also saw fit to book 3 players in the same incident.
Lee Ashworth changed the formation from 4-4-2 to a 3-4-3 set up with Mackie moving into a more forward wide right position.
The Reds took advantage of the extra man and started to put pressure on the Blues defence and looked capable of finding that all important equaliser.
Jason St Juste was substituted with Jake Ellam replacing him in wide midfield.
The pressure almost paid off as the impressive Nicky Boshell fired in a long cross which beat all the visitors defence and was met by Anthony Mackie who fired in a fierce volley but was denied by a superb save from Thompson.who turned the ball round for a corner.
The Reds made two more substitutions with Fabian Bailey and Seon Ripley replacing Anthony Mackie and Ashley Jackson in the 80th minute.
The Clitheroe defence was defiant as the Reds pressed for an equaliser and after sustained pressure the equaliser came in the 88th minute as a loose ball dropped to Jason Yates who struck a swerving thunderbolt of a half volley from 25yards which bullited into the net past the helpless Thompson to level the score at 2-2.
As 90 minutes approached the referee indicated a minimum of 6 minutes added time and Lee Ashforth changed the formation going with only two at the back in an attempt to win the game. The way the second half had played out you always felt that the Reds would create more opportunities to win the game in the final minutes.
In the 93rd minute Pembleton found himself with a half chance just outside the box but his shot flew just over the bar.
One minute later, what would turn out be the last chance of the game came after a long cross in from the left had the supporters hearts in their mouths as Seon Ripley out jumped the visitors defence to send a powerful header from 10 yards out heading straight for the top corner and looking like a goal all the way, however it was'nt to be as the ball hit the post with the keeper well beaten and Clitheroe were first to the rebound to clear the ball to safety with pretty much the last kick of the match.
Final score: Ossett Town 2 Clitheroe FC 2
A solid effort from the Reds who ended their losing streak and will take heart from this performance although they will be disappointed not to have secured all 3 points. The new signings have provided added quality and experience which showed as the Reds played some attractive passing football today.
The Reds next fixture is at home against Skelmersdale United on Tuesday 23rd January, kick off 7-45pm.
Lee Ashforth will be looking to reverse the 3-0 loss away at Skelmersdale earlier in the season and will be demanding his players take all 3 points against a side who have not had a win as well as conceding 23 goals in their last 8 fixtures. Skelmersdale have only two clean sheets to their name this season against 10 for Ossett Town.