Some terrific finishing from the in-form Brody Robertson fired the Owls into the next round of the FA Trophy on a very windy afternoon in Greater Manchester. The striker’s hat-trick took his recent goal tally to eight in as many matches.
Dave Smith was in charge of team affairs for the Preliminary Round tie and, mindful of a busy time ahead in the league, there were a few changes. Clee lined-up in the following 4-4-2 formation:
Goal: Dylan Parkin
Defence: Sam Topliss, Tim Lowe, Matt Bloomer (captain), Loz McKay
Midfield: Lewis Collins, Jack Richardson, Craig Disley, Josh Batty
Attack: Danny North, Brody Robertson
Subs: Scott Vernon, Paul Walker, Alex Flett, Jon Oglesby
Playing against the wind and up a significant slope, the visitors got the perfect start in the 2nd minute.
North controlled the ball well in midfield and threaded it through to his strike partner. The covering defender looked favourite but, not for the first time, Brody Robertson’s persistence proved fruitful. The Boro man slightly misjudged it and the prolific forward needed no second invitation, nipping in to prod home through the keeper’s legs.
The lead did not last too long however, as Radcliffe drew level after 12 minutes. Good work on the left allowed the winger to provide a dangerous cross into the box. In the ensuing scramble, it eventually fell to Wharton who bundled home from just a yard out.
As the half progressed, flowing football was not helped by the weather conditions and proceedings became increasingly scrappy. The hosts were now carrying the greater threat though and stopper Parkin continued his good recent form with a couple of decent stops.
After Lowe was harshly cautioned on 33 minutes, Bloomer produced a brave block. Home appeals that the ball had struck the captain’s hand were waved away by the referee, who signalled a corner.
The Owls were defending resolutely and nearly caught Boro on the break just before the interval. Collins surged forward and his cross looked set to be tapped in by Batty. However, keeper Martin did well to make an important claim.
HT Radcliffe 1 (Wharton 12) Cleethorpes Town 1 (Robertson 2)
It was a different game after half-time, as it was now Clee’s turn to be in the ascendency. The hard-working North was using all his craft and his partnership with Robertson began to look increasingly threatening.
After Batty had stung the keeper’s hands, Robertson went agonisingly close in the 51st minute. With his back to goal, he quickly turned his marker and beat Martin from 18 yards. Unfortunately, the ball crashed into the upright and away to safety.
Not too much longer to wait however before Brody Robertson seized the initiative. Latching on to a deft midfield flick by Richardson, the forward accelerated smoothly past a defender and then rounded the keeper. With the goal at his mercy, the ball was rolled in from a narrow angle to the delight of the travelling Owl army.
It that was good, the best was yet to come on 69 minutes as the striker completed his hat-trick. A period of sustained pressure saw the ball reach Collins on the edge of the box. The midfielder considered a shot but saw his teammate unmarked and shifted it to his left. Brody Robertson curled a quite superb curling right-footer into the top corner.
All three subs were introduced during this phase, with Flett, Vernon and Oglesby coming on for Richardson, North and Batty respectively.
Clee were looking extremely comfortable but, to their credit, Boro produced a very strong finish to the encounter, which came close to forcing a draw.
They were awarded a penalty with 8 to play, after McKay was penalised for handball. No real arguments as the left-back’s hand was raised to block a hard cross. Wharton stepped up to send Parkin the wrong way and halve his side’s deficit.
Radcliffe forced around 7 corners in the closing minutes, as away fans nerves became frayed. However, a mixture of stout defending, athletic goalkeeping by Parkin and a spot of good fortune ensured that the equaliser did not come.
After a full 5 minutes of added time, the whistle sounded and everyone connected with the Owls could reflect that, after a bruising encounter, they would be in the hat for the next round of the Trophy.
FT Radcliffe 2 (Wharton 12, 82 pen) Cleethorpes Town 3 (Robertson 2, 63, 69) Attendance: 248
I thought the scoreline was just about fair! Radcliffe certainly had the better of it in the first period but we dominated the second, apart from the final few minutes.
Fantastic to see Brody Robertson play so well and what marvellous finishing. Danny North also caught my eye and worked tirelessly to the benefit of his partner. It will be very interesting to see who plays up front in the forthcoming Evostik East matches. Suffice to say, it will not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that Brody would always be in my team – then again I am not the manager!!
A word also for some dogged defending and fine glovework. After a difficult match against AFC Mansfield, to my eyes Dylan Parkin has been outstanding in our three recent knock-out ties. The young man seems to be rapidly gaining confidence and surely has a bright future in the game.
Back to the league now and two home fixtures to enjoy this week at New Linden. Both look certain to be tough but, with our home support, there is every reason to approach them with confidence.
Tuesday 16th October – 7.45pm
Saturday 20th October – 3pm
Adults £8, Concessions (over 65s and 16-18) £4, Under 16s £2
UP THE OWLS!