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Match Preview: Clitheroe (A)

Andrew’s Match Preview

Clitheroe v Colne


NPL West

Monday 10th April - 15:00

Colne travel 13 miles West to take on fellow Lancastrian’s Clitheroe at Shawbridge for a Bank Holiday Derby in the NPL West league.

Clitheroe, nicknamed the Blues, play their home games at Shawbridge and their average attendance this season is 631. Last season they finished in 6th place, after a successful late run left them just 3 points short of the play-offs. In the head to head with the Reds, a 5-1 home thrashing in the last game of 2021 proved to be Nathan Rooney’s last game in charge at Holt House, as he tended his resignation days later. Goals from Cummings (2), Lonsdale, Priestley and Cane secured the points with Anthony “Willo” Williams replying for Colne in front of a bumper 1679 crowd. The return in April turned out to be much closer, when a Dean Ing penalty cancelled out a Billy Priestley opener, to give each side a point in a 1-1 draw watched by 714 at Holt House. The two clubs have met twice already this season with the Blues coming out on top last August, 2-0 at home in the FA Cup thanks to goals from Ross Dent and Max Cane. In the corresponding league fixture on Boxing Day, the Reds gained their revenge with a 2-1 victory at Holt House with Tom Hoyle and Craig Carney getting on the scoresheet for Colne and Cameron Lancaster replying for the visitors.

This season the Blues have won 17, drawn 7 and lost 11, which gives them 58 points from 35 games, as they sit 4th in a play-off spot. They have won at home 10 times, beating Ramsbottom United 2-0, Newcastle Town 7-1, City of Liverpool 3-2, Glossop North End 3-2, Hanley Town 4-3, Witton Albion 4-1, Bootle 4-0, Widnes 4-2, Mossley 2-1 and Leek Town 1-0. In the FA Cup, the Blues had a great run beating Colne 2-0 at home, winning 2-1 at Heaton Stannington in a replay, overcoming National league North side Spennymoor Town at home 2-0, before bowing out away to Bury AFC in a replay 0-2. In the FA Trophy, Clitheroe made it to the 3rd qualifying round by knocking out 1874 Northwich 2-0 at home and Ramsbottom 4-1 away, but were then beaten on penalties at home to Marske United after it finished 2-2 in 90 minutes. Last time out, Clitheroe won 2-1 away at 1874 Northwich, with Billy Priestley coming off the bench to score the winner in injury time after Ross Dent had cancelled out a Harry Bower opener. In their last home game they beat 2nd placed Leek Town 1-0, thanks to a second half Danny Wilkins goal in front of 1047 spectators.

Clitheroe players to watch - Sefton Gonzales is a 6 foot 4 striker in his second period at Shawbridge. He has also has two stints at Holt House scoring 9 goals in 21 games in 19/20 before moving to South Shields. He returned to Clitheroe in July of ‘21 from Ramsbottom and has scored 19 times in 40 appearances this season in all competitions.

24 year old striker Reece Webb-Foster has had three spells at Holt House since leaving Bradford City five years ago. Reece netted 5 goals in 6 games in his first season before being snapped up by Lancaster City in October 2018. He returned 5 months later but not for long before he moved on to Ossett United. After further unsuccessful stints at Droylsden and Buxton, Reece returned to Colne in the summer of 2020, where he scored 23 goals in 43 games. He left for higher league Matlock Town in February of last year, but after failing to make an impact at that level, he signed for Clitheroe pre season and he has scored 15 times in 41 appearances.

Former Colne skipper Lee Pugh began his career at Clitheroe before joining Chester in 2013. After a couple of seasons at Ramsbottom United, the roving left back signed for the Reds in the summer of 2016 and stayed for 6 years until moving back to Clitheroe last February. Lee has represented the Blues on 31 occasions this term and his long throws are legendary.

Clitheroe centre-half Billy Priestley is a born and bred Colner and played for the Reds twice. After being released from Accrington Stanley, Billy captained Colne before moving up the road to Barnoldswick Town in 2012. Due to a misunderstanding in a loan transfer form, the centre half then moved to Ramsbottom United, impressing enough to get a move to step 2 side Bradford Park Avenue. He later played at National league North level with Salford City, Southport and FC United before re-joining the Reds on loan from Southport for the ‘18/19 season. Billy joined Clitheroe in the summer of 2020 and took over as joint player manager with Gary Stopforth 12 months later. Kyle Hall moved up from a coaching role to joint manager in the summer of this year, but stepped down in November to leave Billy as sole player manager. Billy then made the decision to concentrate on his on-field performances and gave up his place on the management team.

Defensive midfielder Richard Baker played 10 times for the Reds in 2019. The 35 year old began as a youth at Old Trafford before moving to PNE. He has EFL experience with Bury (107 appearances) and Oxford United (6 appearances) before playing in the Conference for Barrow, Tamworth and Stockport County. Richard joined the Blues from Ramsbottom United at the beginning of last season and he has 40 appearances for them this term.

Another former Red, goalkeeper Chris Thompson was the Blues’ player of the season last year and he is in his 3rd stint at the club. Chris once saved 2 penalties for Colne back in 2014 against Alsager Town. He joined the Reds from Burscough after previously coming through the youth at PNE. Chris has also played for Kendal Town and Droylsden.

Former Stockport County and Lancaster City midfielder Charlie Russell is in his third spell at Clitheroe. He first played for the Blues from 2016-18, then returned for the 2019/20 season, captaining the side before moving to Holt House for two seasons, then returning to Shawbridge in October last year.

Right wing-back Waqas Azam began his career at Burnley before joining Nelson in 2015. After an 18 month spell at Chorley he joined the Reds at Christmas 2017. He spent 4 seasons with Colne, then joined NPL Premier league side Ashton United in May of ‘21. Waqas signed for the Blues in the summer and featured 9 times this term, but he is currently recovering from surgery.

Local centre-half Cameron “Lanny” Lancaster has featured 41 times for the Blues this season and scored 8 times. The 23 year old former Fulledge Colt joined Clitheroe from Nelson having previously played for Padiham and Burnley Belvedere. Cam has a GCSE ‘B’ grade in drama, which has helped him win many a free-kick for his side.

Tough tackling midfielder Ross Dent is another in his 3rd spell at the club. Ross spent 2016 at Holt House, coming from the Blues then returning to them. He then spent 2 seasons at Stalybridge Celtic before returning to the club 3 years ago.

At the end of last month the Blues brought in former Premier league midfielder Marc Pugh. The 36 year old, who began his career at Burnley, played at the highest domestic level with Bournemouth and also represented the Cherries, QPR and Hull City in the Championship.

Former Widnes manager Dave Dempsey joined the Blues initially as assistant manager to Billy Priestley in November, but stepped up to become permanent first team boss last month.

Last time out for the Reds - 18th placed Widnes were the visitors to Holt House on Saturday for a foot of the table 6 pointer. Alex Doyle returned to the first eleven in place of Luke Stowe as the Reds lined up 433 in a bid to take the game to their opponents. However, it was the visitors who struck early, when a long ball into the Colne last third after just 3 minutes wasn’t dealt with and Sean Miller nipped in to volley home what proved to be the only goal of the game. A poor first half from the Reds kicking downhill, and even though the new formation clearly wasn’t working, changes weren’t made until 15 minutes from time, when Lucas Weaver replaced Eddie Elewa-Ikpakwu and Cuan Bradley took over from Danny Kyobe for injury time. Paul Weller’s young side never managed an effort on target all game, and but for Hakan Burton in goal the scoreline could have been much worse. Matty Kardacz was one of the few to come out of the game with any credit, and his desire, drive and commitment earned him Colne’s man of the match. A bitterly disappointing 16th loss of the season means the Reds drop to 18th place, with 37 points from 35 games, 3 points from safety.

Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Ben Anderson will miss out once again with a niggling groin strain which hasn’t settled down and he’ll struggle to return before the end of the season.

Jack Doherty is recovering from surgery on his ACL injury and will begin his rehabilitation when ready, under the watchful eye of Accrington Stanley. This injury has ruled him out for the season.

Team selection - No new injuries from Saturday so Paul Weller should have more or less a full squad to choose from. Changes are likely, with strikers Lucas Weaver and Cuan Bradley surely getting their chance at some stage. Luke Stowe could return after missing out at the weekend.

Clitheroe have won their last 3 and need only 5 points to claim a play-off place as they sit 4th in the table. They won their last home game beating 2nd placed Leek Town 1-0, and on Saturday came from behind to outlast 1874 Northwich 2-1 away from home. They have 10 wins at Shawbridge this season and they are hitting form at the right time with just 3 games remaining. The Blues have strengthened impressively as the season has progressed and they are the league’s third highest scorers with 63 goals, with former Red strikers Sefton Gonzales and Reece Webb-Foster claiming 27 between them. The Blues have experience all over the park and have their best shot at gaining promotion to the NPL Premier league via the play-offs.

The Reds need to get over their lack-lustre performance on Saturday pretty quickly. With only 3 away wins all season, they will take heart from the fact that they won their last away game at Bootle 2-1, where the better pitch helped their game and meant they could pass and play more effectively. Remarkably, considering their league positions, Clitheroe have conceded just 3 less goals than the Reds this season and that will be where Paul Weller will try to exploit. He’ll be expecting more vocal encouragement and leadership on the pitch than he saw on Saturday, as the chances are running out for this young side to stand up and be counted. The travelling Red army will be vocal as always and will be hoping for a front foot performance, as witnessed on occasion this season against Hyde United, Warrington Rylands and today’s opponents at Holt House on Boxing Day. It’s now or never for Weller’s men!

Admission Prices are:

Adults : £9

Concessions : £6

14-17 yr olds : £4

Under 14's: Free

Clitheroe Football Club


Shawbridge Street




Upcoming games

Sat 15th April - Colne v Leek Town - 15:00 NPL West

Sat 22nd April - Workington v Colne - 15:00 NPL West

Easter Monday’s other NPL West fixtures - 15:00

City of Liverpool v Runcorn Linnets

Hanley Town v Macclesfield

Kidsgrove Athletic v Workington

Leek Town v Newcastle Town

Mossley v Glossop North End

Prescot Cables v Bootle

Trafford v Ramsbottom United

Widnes v Skelmersdale United

Witton Albion v 1874 Northwich


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