HomeSTATSMatch ReportsSeason 2009/10Clitheroe 2-3 Chorley 18/08/2009

Clitheroe 2-3 Chorley 18/08/2009

Tuesday August 18th, 7.45pm

Form is temporary, class is permanent. If said argument needed any further backing, the Clitheroe-Chorley clash at Shawbridge certainly provided the ammunition. It’s said that managers and fans learn the most about their team and its character in the face of adversity; uphill battles – no pun intended – separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff.

Travelling to play local rivals and twice letting a lead slip – having enjoyed the better of the game – is hardly a dream scenario, particularly when your hosts are beginning to apply the pressure. Mentality and expectations change football matches, and so it proved. With 92 minutes on the clock, and the scores uneasily poised at 2-2, Terry Fearns could have shepherded the ball out of play for a corner, and gambled on percentages, hoping on the off-chance that the Magpies could snatch an unlikely winner.

But when you have ability head and shoulders above the other 21 players you’re sharing a pitch with, ambition and class gives that extra edge of potency, and confidence to make the seemingly impossible become possible. So instead of shepherding the ball out of play, Terry stopped at the dead ball line, shifted his balance, and smashed the ball through the most acute of corridors to beat the goalkeeper at his near post and win the game. As you do.

Bear in mind, moreover, that Chorley approached the game after a goalless draw with Wakefield, Clitheroe looking to follow up a 1-0 win at Warrington. With Wayne Maden injured, Chris Smalley tucked inside to centre-half with Luke Charnley playing at right-back, with Ryan Kenyon and Jamie Holme replacing Michael Owens and Danny Nolan, with debutant striker Chris Amadi, newly signed from Southport, getting the nod ahead of Josh Kenworthy.

Various parts of the Shawbridge pitch may be so elevated that the use of oxygen masks is advised, but this took nothing away from a brilliant battle of two Lancashire teams desperate for a successful season. Credit should, without doubt, go to Peter Smith and his side after an epic encounter, but the plaudits Steve Waywell’s team will receive are all the more deserved for a performance brimming with perseverance and character.

The Magpies began well, Terry Fearns forcing Jonathon Forbes into a hurried clearance and breaking clear on Danny Hanford’s goal, before an offside flag prevented the talented forward from stretching his legs further. Chris Amadi put himself about to announce his arrival, latching on to a weighted ball from Karl Brown and finishing with real class, with the linesman patiently waiting for the ball to have spent 20 seconds in the back of the Clitheroe net before erroneously signalling for offside – Fearns had strayed beyond the Blues’ back four, but didn’t interfere, and consequently Amadi was left frustrated.

The next decision that prompted various members of the Chorley contingent to inquire as to referee McGill’s heritage came about when Fearns twisted and turned on the right flank, and, with his back to goal on the edge of the six yard box, the striker was seemingly hauled down by Connor Kavanagh, with nothing doing, according to the aggrieved man in the middle.

Alex Brees wasn’t as involved as he would probably have hoped to have been, but quick thinking as the No.10 came deep and claimed the ball from a throw in led to a low shot, which was hurriedly palmed around the post by Zac Hibbert. With the majority of the disputes between the travelling fans and the officialdom, there was a near breakout of mutiny, with mixed signals from both the referee and his assistant. Fearns was fouled on the edge of the area, and instinctively Mr McGill seemed to point for a free kick to the Magpies, while an assistant placed his flag across his chest to signal a penalty.

By hook or by crook, the penalty was awarded, Karl Brown stepping up and stroking the ball home with the panache of a deadly assassin, with Chorley getting their noses ahead shortly before the break – the scoreline was a fair reflection of the balance of play in the first half. Switching off momentarily causes problems at all levels of the game however, and when a long throw reached the hosts’ captain Jason Jones, his low volley crept into the back of the net. Hibbert might have done better, but ultimately it was a lapse in concentration on the part of the whole defence.

The Magpies emerged for the second half in the same controlled and self-assured manner as they began the first half, but Clitheroe weren’t done, and while their threat wasn’t an actively noticeable one, Alan Coar almost extended his scoring start to the campaign with a shimmy to outwit Tom Spearritt, before a grounded effort that Hibbert had covered as it flew wide. 

It didn’t take Chorley too long to get back in front though. After a wave of pressure on the Blues’ goal, the ball deflected out to the left flank to be crossed back into the danger area by Chris Smalley. But the defender’s cross was on a plate for Hanford, who inexplicably spilled the cross. Ryan Fisher cleared the ball but Jamie Holme immediately blasted the ball back into the box, where Fearns’ control settled the path of the ball, for the born finisher to turn and place a cool finish past Hanford.

Substitute Dave Dempsey had almost had Hibbert worried with a cross aimed for Coar that drifted and landed on the roof of the net, while Amadi looked particularly lively as the link-up player on the break, on one occasion gathering the ball and making a trademark long-striding run, the eventual shot blazed high and wide.

The irony that stunned most of those inside Shawbridge was the fact that Clitheroe looked at their least threatening throughout the night in the minutes preceding their second equaliser. Perhaps the home side’s outstanding player, Zach Clarke, cut in from his right-wing berth to terrorise James Mullineux and fire a terrific drive across Hibbert and into the far corner. Chorley backed off and sometimes gave the impression that they would, perhaps, settle for a point.

Coar had a speculative attempt deflected behind for a corner, while Luke Charnley put hearts in Chorley mouths with a slightly rash challenge inside the area as he and Coar chased a loose ball. Jones swung a free kick wide of the mark as Clitheroe had their chances, but the best chance of the last few minutes of normal time fell to Fearns, who burst through with pace, but, perhaps influenced by fatigue, sliced his shot over the bar.

The match seemed to peter out thereon, until, that is, the game turned on its head in the second minute of time added on. With the ball going out for a corner to Chorley, Fearns somehow called upon energy reserves to chase the ball down, pause at the goal line, and fire a magnificent winner past a stunned Hanford at the near post.

The bullet that roared into the roof of the net sent the visiting supporters into delirium along with their side, securing a valuable first win of the campaign in style, moving belief and confidence levels up several notches in the process.

Starting XI: Zac Hibbert, Luke Charnley, James Mullineux, Tom Spearritt, Chris Smalley, Karl Brown, Ryan Kenyon, Mark Rogers, Terry Fearns, Chris Amadi, Jamie Holme. 

Subs: Chris Mason (Kenyon), Nolan (Amandi), Michael Owens, Josh Kenworthy, Martin Clark.

Attendance: 250

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