Hurst Green 1 v 3 Clitheroe (Pre-Season Friendly)
Hurst Green Football Club welcomed back supporters for the first time in four months following the coronavirus, local rivals Clitheroe Football Club were the visitors for the Ribble Valley Rumble pre-season fixture. The visitors, are under new management in former Clarets youth team player David Lynch as they look to win promotion from the Northern Premier League Division One (North West).
The visitors started stronger of the two sides and were understandably too strong for their West Lancashire League opponents in the first forty-five minutes. The Blues started with three of their new signings on show as well as a trialist alongside Priestley at centre-half.
Conor Gaul and Terry Cummings created a number of chances in the opening ten minutes with several outstanding crosses from either flank. Clitheroe striker Craig Hobson got onto the end of a couple of crosses in the opening ten minutes as the home defence struggled to contain the powerful centre forward who headed over in the opening minutes.
On twelve minutes, the visitors took the lead as Terry Cummings found Kiaran Feeney at the edge of the Hurst Green area and the striker claimly shot passed Mahon in the home goal to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Clitheroe continued to put pressure on the Hurst Green defence as Conor Gaul beat the full-back before running down the left-wing and sending an excellent cross into the six yard box for Danny O’Neil, however the midfielder miss timed his header and the ball went over the crossbar without troubling Mahon in the home goal.
The visitors should have extended their lead shortly after as Kiaran Feeney ran with the ball into the Hurst Green area, before shoting from a tight angle on the corner of the six yard box. Mahon made an excellent save low down to his left hand post, but the ball came back off his hand and hit a defenders leg before going just wide of the post for a corner.
On the half an hour mark, Clitheroe again went close as a cross from Danny O’Neil finds Craig Hobson in the area but his header was well saved by Mahon in the Hurst Green goal. Hobson was a real handful for the two Hurst Green centre-back during the first half and would have got on the scoresheet had he not been taken off at half-time.
Clitheroe extended their lead on thirty-six minutes, when Terry Cimmings went down the right-wing before whipping a ball low into the near post for Kiaran Feeney to guide a first time shot passed Mahon into the roof of the net making it 2-0 to the visitors.
Clitheroe added a third goal in the final minute of the half, as Danny O’Neil who impressed alongside Ross Dent in the middle of the pitch was allowed to run at the Hurst Green back line. The former Preston North End youngster picked his spot and sent a curling low shot passed Mahon low into the bottom corner to make the half-time score 3-0.
The visitors made wholesale changes at the break replacing ten of the eleven starting line-up with only Billy Priestley playing the full ninety minutes. The changes made it a classic game of two halves with the home side on top in the second half as the visitors struggled to show their authority.
Hurst Green were given an excellent chance to pull a goal back on fifty-five minutes, as a shot from inside the Clitheroe penalty area struck a hand and the referee pointed to the spot. Former Blues player Ryan Cattermole stepped up to take the kick and fired it hard and low down the middle of the goal, but trialist goalkeeper Harry O’Brien took centre stage as he got down well to save.
On sixty-five minutes, with limited chances for the visitors in the second half Danny Gray went close to adding a fourth goal, but his effort was well saved by Calum Mahon in the Hurst Green goal.
A minute later, Harry O’Brien rushed off his line after a long ball was played over the Clitheroe defence into the area. However, the Hurst Green striker got to the ball first and O’Brien brought him down leaving the referee no option but to award a second spot kick. The home side made no mistake the second time around as Zak Foley slotted the ball passed Harry O’Brien to make 3-1.
Hurst Green continued to keep the ball in the final twenty minutes of the match, playing some excellent football in the centre of the park as well as some long balls over the top of the Clitheroe defence which had the two blues centre-back under pressure facing their own goal, as the home side went in search of a second goal.
The visitors did a a few efforts at goal as the home side pushed for another goal, but with no-one able to get on the end of the moves, the nearest their came to adding to their tally were efforts from Danny Gray and U21 striker Max Cane.
Speaking after the match Clitheroe boss David Lynch said, “There were a lot of positives certainly in the first half. The second half wasn’t as good and there’s a lot to work on which is what pre-season is all about. It’s been a good exercise and I’d like to thank Hurst Green Football Club for putting everything on.
I’m happy to have won the game but I am always looking for perfection, you don’t always get it but there’s a lot there to work with and I was really impressed with a lot of the lads. A few of the players were disappointed with the result, which is good and we have to address those issues. But it’s all positive and we look forward to Tuesday against Bamber Bridge.”
Hurst Green – Mahon, Barnes, Dewhurst, Burgess, Brooks, Enefer, James, Cattermole, Stead, Rawcliffe, Bolton (Subs) Foley, Hayes, Mort, Whittaker, Rhodes
Clitheroe – Thompson, Foulds Trialist, Priestley, Muir, Cummings, Dent, O’Neil, Gaul, Hobson, Feeney (Subs) O’Brien, Gray, Howson, Ahmed, Tanner, Scott, Wilkins, Connelly, Cane, Lynch
Goals – (Hurst Green) Foley (p) (Clitheroe) Feeney (2), O’Neil