Match tie played @ Thorpe
With so much focus on the league title race, Cliffe welcomed the distraction of the cup first round against division A Huntington, but unfortunately fell at the first hurdle.
Steve Wilcockson writes…
In came Bennett, Hebson, Milner and Rawson as manager Wilson was returned to something akin to a full squad, the only exception being the lack of a recognised goalkeeper, which forced last week’s goal scorer Jackson to deputise between the sticks.
Like so many times over the last few weeks, Cliffe continued their habit of allowing the opposition into the game from the start and Huntington were rewarded after only eight minutes when a sliced shot from the edge of the area found its way past the wrong-footed Jackson into the net.
Chances for Cliffe were few and far between as they battled both the Huntington defence and the elements in their quest to equalise. Only the outstretched hand of the ‘keeper stopped Rawson from equalising after Lonsdale had been excellently played through by the ever-impressive Bennett.
Inside thirty-five minutes, Huntington were two up as an in-swinging corner was caught by the strong wind and looped towards the far post where the combination of bounce and spin contrived to wrong-foot Leach and nestle in the bottom corner.
Slightly against the run of play at this time, Lees’ determination found him beyond the last defender following one of any number of long balls during the first half. The usually reliable captain however, pulled his shot agonisingly wide of the on rushing keeper, meaning Cliffe headed in for the break two down.
Half time came and went with no changes made and the home side soon started to take advantage of the breeze by restricting Huntington to defending their box and mounting the occasional counter-attack. Evenly poised by this time with several chances falling to, amongst others, Collins, Milner and Bennett, the next goal was clearly going to be crucial in deciding the game. Kindly for Huntington, the goal went their way, a counter attack forcing a corner which was headed home to just short of eighty minutes to effectively end the tie as a contest.
In response, Wilson changed the side to a 3-4-3 to try resurrecting the tie, but unfortunately nothing seemed to be working and only half chances were created as Huntington manned a very resolute defensive position that very much reflected their status as a top division side.
Now all that remains for Cliffe is the league title which is very much in their own hands and they continue their quest next week with a double-header at home to Huby.
Games like this, although disappointing in terms of the result, continue to show how far Cliffe have come over the course of this season and they certainly did not look out of place against a very solid division A side.
This week’s special mention must go to Danny “Lance” Beach (Tree Surgery) who put in an excellent shift at centre half alongside the returning Hebson.
Cliffe FC : Jackson D, Leach (Collins), Beach, Hebson, Wilcockson, Lonsdale, Parker (Lambert), Bennett, Milner, Lees (Capt.), Rawson.