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Match Preview: Clitheroe (H)

Colne v Clitheroe

NPL Weat

Holt House

Monday 26th December - 15:00

Colne welcome fellow Lancastrian’s Clitheroe to Holt House for a Boxing Day Derby in the NPL West league.

Clitheroe, nicknamed the Blues, play their home games at Shawbridge and 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.

This season the Blues have won 9, drawn 3 and lost 6, which gives them 30 points from 18 games, as they sit 5th in the last play-off spot. At home they have beaten Ramsbottom 2-0, Newcastle Town 7-1, City of Liverpool 3-2, Glossop 3-2 and Hanley Town 4-3. They have also won away at Skelmersdale United 1-0, Workington 1-0, Bootle 4-0 and Prescot Cables 2-0. 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 were held 1-1 at Witton Albion with a goal from Reece Webb-Foster and a performance which on chances created, should have yielded the full 3 points.

Clitheroe players to watch - Let’s start with the ex Reds!

24 year old striker Reece Webb-Foster has had three spells at Holt House since leaving Bradford City four 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 this year, but after failing to make an impact at that level, he signed for Clitheroe pre season and he has scored 9 times in 25 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 in February.

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 12 times in 23 appearances this season in all competitions.

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 has featured 14 times so far this term.

Clitheroe player manager 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 PA. 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.

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 this year.

One player who hasn’t worn the Red of Colne, is young hotshot goal scorer Max Cane, who returned to Clitheroe for the second half of last season having gained first team experience at Nelson. He scored 16 times in 21 appearances in 21/22 and has notched 10 goals this season in 27 games.

Last time out for the Reds - On Tuesday, December the 6th, 11th placed Witton Albion were the visitors to Holt House as the Reds caught up with one of their games in hand. Glenn Steel was injured and was replaced by Harry Winstanley in what was the only change from Saturday’s home game with leaders Macclesfield. Jake Wallace moved over to play on the right hand side of midfield and Oli Roberts played a more defensive role on the left. Witton kicking downhill from the off, were quickly on the front foot and their pressure paid off after only 9 minutes when young striker Joe Duckworth headed the Albs in front. Colne hit back and after a few half chances, a through ball from Roberts on 25 minutes found Lusiama and his shot hit the keeper’s trailing leg and bounced goalwards. Albion’s left back Taylor Kennerley chased back and looked like he’d hooked the ball away just in time, but the linesman and referee decided the ball had crossed the line and the Reds had their equaliser. Both sides had good chances as the action swung from end to end for the rest of the 1st 45 and continued into the 2nd half. Albion’s midfielder and former Red Prince Haywood, who’d been booked earlier for a silly dive, received a second yellow for a late challenge 15 minutes from the end and was dismissed. Tom McCann then entered the frame replacing Jake Wallace, as the Reds pressed on trying to take advantage of the extra man. But the Witton defence held firm and the 1-1 draw gave Colne a point to move them up 2 places to 16th and out of the relegation play off places. Oli Roberts, who grew into the game at left wing back, had an excellent, influential second half, which tipped the balance in his favour for man of the match.

Colne’s other three December games, away at 1874 Northwich and Kidsgrove Athletic, and at home to Workington were unfortunately postponed due to the frozen weather.

Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Glenn Steel trained on Wednesday, but still has a rib issue which could keep him out.

Luke Stowe has missed some of his hamstring rehab through illness, so he’ll not be ready for a couple of weeks.

Aaron Turner is still awaiting a scan, concerning his meniscus knee issue.

Jack Doherty is still awaiting surgery for his ACL injury, that has ruled him out for the season.

Hakan Burton is well ahead with his rehabilitation, which could see him return in 6-8 weeks. The Colne keeper is back training fitness wise, but not yet shot stopping.

Team news - Tom Hoyle has extended his loan deal so he’s likely to continue his partnership with Harry Winstanley in the centre of defence in the likely absence of Glenn Steel. Tom Fagan is expected to play on the right with the choice of Paul Dugdale and new signing Ben Williams available for the left back spot. The midfield and attack are likely to be unchanged from the Witton game with Owen Watkinson fully recovered from a hamstring issue. Striker Danny Kyobe has recovered from his collar bone injury and should make the bench, along with Tom McCann, Ellis Wallbank and Matty Kardacz. Jake Wallace’s loan deal has ended and he has returned to Fleetwood Town, and it may well be Andre Mendes’ last game for the Reds as his loan deal finishes at the end of the year.

Local rivals Clitheroe arrive at Holt House in form, after winning 3 of their last 4, and scoring 11 goals. The Blues have played 10 league games away this season winning 4 and drawing 3; however a 2-0 win at Prescot Cables in October is their only away win in 6. Since losing at home to Skelmersdale in October, the Reds have only lost once, unluckily away to second place Leek Town and they have drawn their last three at home 1-1, including a draw with league leaders Macclesfield. Coincidently both sides’ last fixture was against Witton Albion and both games finished 1-1, with Clitheroe squandering a host of chances before settling for a draw and Colne coming from behind to secure a point to take them out of the bottom 4. The Blues play an open game and create plenty of chances, and it’s clear that they have one of the most formidable strike forces in the league. Target man Sefton Gonzales is backed up by Reece Webb-Foster and Max Cane, and between them they have scored 21 league goals already this season. They have also just signed former Manchester United academy, attacking midfielder Pharrell Brown, on loan from Fleetwood Town. Colne’s success in front of goal pales in comparison. Lucas Weaver has 4, Enock Lusiama has 3 and both Owen Watkinson and midfielder Craig Carney have 2 each. It’s pretty clear to see why the two clubs are at opposite ends of the table. The two teams met earlier in the season in the FA Cup at Shawbridge, and the Blues ran out 2-0 winners with goals from Ross Dent and Max Cane, but the Reds gave a good account of themselves that day and they have clearly improved as the season has progressed. Colne will be keen to keep a certain young attacker from Haworth quiet - a player who has scored many times at Holt House and knows it’s “vertiginous” slope as well as most. But Phil Brown’s Lions are becoming a very difficult side to beat and with Clitheroe’s other two strikers more prolific at home than away, the Reds should be able to match the Blues and collect at least a Boxing Day point on a festive Derby afternoon.

Admission Prices are:

Adults : £9

Concessions : £6

Under 16’s : £1

Under 12’s: Free

EPL/EFL ST holders: £5

Upcoming games

Mon 2nd January - Hanley Town v Colne- 15:00 NPL West

Sat 7th January - Colne v Trafford - 15:00 NPL West

Sat 14th January - Mossley v Colne - 15:00 NPL West

Today’s NPL West games - 15:00

1874 Northwich v Witton Albion

Bootle v Prescot Cables

Glossop North End v Mossley

Macclesfield v Hanley

Newcastle Town v Leek Town

Ramsbottom United v Trafford

Runcorn Linnets v City of Liverpool

Skelmersdale United v Widnes

Workington v Kidsgrove Athletic


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