Clee hit overdrive on Tuesday evening to stun Lincoln United 5-0 in the first home fixture of the BetVictor Northern Premier League campaign. It was a fine performance, with five different scorers and, as an added bonus, another clean sheet to boost the defensive statistics.
Dave Smith decided to begin the Lincolnshire derby with the XI that finished the goalless draw at Ilkeston, meaning starts for Lewis Collins and Brandon Buckley. Jack Richardson and Josh Batty were on the bench on this occasion, along with an appearance from veteran Matt Bloomer.
The manager went with a 4-3-3 and the side lined up as follows:
Goal: Theo Richardson
Defence: Tim Lowe, Ben Clappison, Oli Donald, Jon Oglesby
Midfield: Ben Davies, Alex Flett (c), Lewis Collins
Attack: Brody Robertson, Scott Vernon, Brandon Buckley
Subs: Jack Richardson, Josh Batty, Adam Millson, Jack Fixter, Matt Bloomer
Before the action got underway, there was an impeccably observed silence in memory of loyal supporter Colin Byatt, who sadly passed away recently.
After a scare inside the first 60 seconds when Lincoln pulled wide a clear chance, the Owls soon settled into their rhythm and got the all-important opener in the 10th minute.
Loanee Buckley received the ball with his back to goal and, as he quickly turned, a clumsy challenge felled the youngster. No hesitation from the referee in awarding the penalty and reliable spot-kick taker Scott Vernon easily dispatched the gift.
The visitors had a couple of half-chances in the next phase, but it was Clee who remained largely in the ascendancy.
Collins was desperately unlucky to see a dipping drive cannon to safety off the upright after 21 minutes and, shortly afterwards, Buckley showed his potential with a surging run through midfield. The Grimsby Town player pinpointed Robertson with a precise pass, but the striker was denied by another Mariners’ young professional, keeper Battersby.
As the interval approached, the defence was easily coping with Lincoln’s occasional forays forward. The Owls were controlling the tempo of the clash by keeping possession well and, when it looked like the Whites would escape to the sanctuary of their dressing room only one adrift, Ben Clappison pounced to add a second.
The big defender, very impressive since joining in the Summer, picked up the pieces from close range, after the visitors had failed to adequately deal with a corner from the left.
HT Cleethorpes Town 2 (Vernon 10 pen, Clappison 45) Lincoln United 0
The large crowd had barely settled back into position, when the Owls virtually sealed the points. Brody Robertson, who had tormented Lincoln all evening, slightly scuffed his shot from the edge of the area, but it had sufficient power and accuracy to nestle in the corner of Battersby’s net.
There was a carnival atmosphere amongst the faithful, with the fans enjoying some exuberant football from Clee. Slightly beyond the hour, Brandon Buckley rose to power a firm header home to further delight the vast proportion of the 376 inside the ground. This was a deserved reward for a fine show from the 18-year old.
It was now time, perhaps with one eye on the weekend’s important FA Cup tie, for the management team to use all 3 substitutes in close proximity. Josh Batty, Jack Richardson and Adam Millson were introduced to replace Brody Robertson, Ben Davies and Scott Vernon respectively.
The changes did nothing to detract from the Owls’ stranglehold and Lincoln must have feared going the same way as Stamford, who suffered a 6-0 reverse in the last NPL clash at Linden. To their credit, they continued to battle for a consolation. However, when they did have a shooting chance in the 84th minute, stopper Richardson was on hand to preserve the shut-out with a parried save.
Just when it seemed that we had seen the last of the action, up stepped Lewis Collins to score the best of the hugely enjoyable night. The midfielder cut in from the right and his bullet shot rifled into the top corner to complete the scoring.
At the end, there was a standing ovation for the players. As well as going goal crazy, Clee had claimed back-to-back competitive clean sheets for the first time since September 2017.
FT Cleethorpes Town 5 (Vernon 10 pen, Clappison 45, Robertson 47, Buckley 61, Collins 88) Lincoln United 0 Attendance: 376
We have lift-off! A great display I thought and, after the settler of an early goal, there was only ever going to be one winner. Difficult to know the relative strength of the opposition measured against the rest of the division. However, results like this build confidence and put down a real marker.
No surprise that the sponsors gave the man-of-the-match to Brody Robertson, which I agree with. Nevertheless, there would have been no arguments if either Brandon Buckley or Lewis Collins had collected the beer!
So, three clean sheets on the bounce if you include the friendly at Gainsborough. For those readers keen to know (and I realise you are on the edge of your seats!!) the games involved back in 2017 of our last successive competitive shut-outs – they were against Romulus (6-0 at home) and Leek Town (0-0 on the road).
We go to Melton Town on Saturday for a tricky test in the FA Cup. I know for certain that we will not be treating the underdogs lightly, especially after their shock win over Worksop Town. Places are still available on the executive coach for ONLY £10 – leaving Linden at half 11. Join the fun (tin-foil Cup cut-outs optional!) and you may even get on the tele, with BT Sport filming the tie for a highlights’ package!
Saturday 24th August – 3pm
Melton Town – FA Cup Preliminary Round
SignRight Park, Burton Road, Melton Mowbray, LE13 1DN
Adults £7, Concessions £5, Under 10s free
UP THE OWLS!