Cliffe Reserves gave an excellent display against the league leaders before key incidents midway through the second half changed the course of the game.
Gary Wilson writes…
The first half was an even affair, with both sides creating chances without converting them. The only goal of the half coming from a Richard Milner 40-yard free-kick which evaded all players assembled in the box and went in the bottom right hand corner.
Church Fenton started the second half strongly with the big centre-forward at the hub of all their moves. Church Fenton also had a long-throw specialist, and it was from one of these throws that Church Fenton equalised with a flick header.
Mid-way through the second half came the incidents which changed the course of the game. A Cliffe player was assaulted by a Church Fenton player in full view of all in attendance, but the referee decided to only show him a yellow card. Shortly after this Captain Nathan Horner was given his marching orders for swearing at the referee. This, coupled with a shoulder injury to Marc Brown left the defence in array.
Church Fenton then took the lead in the second controversial incident of the game when a goal-bound shot was diverted into the goal by a forward who was standing almost on the goal line, clearly in an off-side position. To the amazement of all in attendance the referee allowed the goal to stand.
With only 10 men, a re-shuffled defence, a goal behind to the league leaders and a poor referee, Cliffe’s heads dropped, and Church Fenton scored another 4 goals in the last 10 minutes to show a scoreline which didn’t reflect how well Cliffe had played. The Church Fenton management team commenting that for the first 60 minutes of the game, Cliffe had been their toughest opponents of the season so far. Man of the match was Richard Milner.
Team: Wilson, Brown, Horner, Parish, Hebson, Milner, White, Lonsdale, Ellwood, Lambert, Lees. Subs: Hullah, Fisher, Jackson.