FT: 2-1 W
Cliffe FC were on their first competitive travels of the season when they had to make the long trek to the Hull region to an unwelcoming venue to face Cross Keys who won their last game 6-0 whilst Cliffe FC drew 5-5 on their last outing.
Cliffe FC this week were without their manager on the sidelines and had to act upon prior instructions before they travelled.
The game begun slightly rushed, but in the whole was lack-lustre with both team’s build up play leading to easy collection for the ‘keepers or goal kicks. Cliffe FC began by sending a lot of play down the right flank leading to not a lot of clear chances, their first chances were created when play was switched to the left flank of Chris Walker, himself having two chances, one of them the best chance of the half which he maybe should of finished by instead putting it over the bar. The hosts themselves had a chance to go ahead when a cross shot rolled past the post of Cliffe ‘keeper Ally Harris. The half had very few possibilities of dead-ball goal with the only opportunity coming from an on-target free kick from Kevin Simpson after Aaron Tiplady was fouled on the edge of the box. After a niggley 45 minutes the half was brought to a close at 0-0.
Without Keith Tiplady, the half time team talk was a collective effort from the whole Cliffe FC team and went out to the second half in upbeat moods. Cliffe FC had Cross Keys unsettled clearly indicated by the hosts as they seemed to dispute every single decision including ones in their favour. Cliffe FC applied the pressure utilising their top two of A. Tiplady and Tom Hogg, and this pressure soon paid off when some nice build up play lead to Aaron Tiplady heading into the top corner of the net to make it 1-0 to Cliffe FC. Cross Keys feathers were clearly ruffled when they began to squabble with each-other as the midfield of Kevin Taylor, Andy Kirkam, Scott Birch and Chris Walker got the better of the hosts in the middle of the park.
The hosts went further behind when Matt Birch got forward from his right-back position to provide a cross into the path of Chris Walker for him to finish and make it two-nil to Cliffe FC. With a 2-0 lead Cliffe FC seem to settle but the hosts still made a change at the back to sure things up and this change in personnel meant that Hogg and A.Tiplady hardly got a sniff when a long high ball was played up top. Hogg though was the prime example of defending from the front by closing down the host ‘keeper at every opportunity all game. Cross Keys began to carve out a few chance, many that they should of finished, many of them coming from long dribbles by the host players being saved by last ditch tackles, of the high quality from centre-half Andy Moughan. Cross Keys should have scored when a cross beat ‘keeper, Harris, and three Cross Keys players missed the ball by small margins leaving the ball to go out for a goal kick. Cross Keys seem to waste their possession and chances they had. Cliffe FC scored a third when S.Birch sqaured the ball from the right for Hogg to finish off easily only for it to be adjudged offside. As the clock ticked down, Cliffe FC’s clean sheet was lost with a run with the ball from the centre circle tracked fully by David Evans all the way and he won the ball twice in the penalty area but failed to get up quick enough and the Cross Keys forward finished at the third time of trying and nicely put it into the roof of the net to make it 2-1. This goal came too late to have any real impact being in the 89th minute and soon the final whistle was blown.
This game wasn’t Cliffe FC’s best performance ever but this type of “smash-and-grab” performance will be crucial. The best teams are the one’s that pick up 3 points when not playing their best.
Cliffe FC next week face Brandesburton at home in the Harold Robinson Cup Round 1.
Many Thanks goes to Cliffe FC sponsors The Bread Bin and Pure-Silk.
A. Harris, M. Birch, K. Simpson, A. Moughan, D. Evans (Happy Birthday!), K. Taylor, S. Birch, A. Kirkham, C. Walker, A. Tiplady, T. Hogg