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Clitheroe 3-0 Kendal Town
DANNY SMITH dealt a knockout blow as a first-half Clitheroe blitz floored Kendal with the Parkside Road club once again missing the opportunity to hit the league’s top spot.
Smith scored twice and was joined on the scoresheet by skipper Jack Higgins as the Blues defied the formbook to inflict a second successive away defeat on the Mintcakes.
Kendal were unable to take advantage of Darlington 1883’s draw with Prescot Cables and Curzon Ashton’s FA Cup commitments, while also failing to score for the first time this season.
Without the services of Warren Beattie, Steve Edmondson recalled Zach Clark and reverted to a back four, with Martin Grundy partnering Danny Coid in central midfield.
Clitheroe have endured a difficult start to the season and have not replicated the results of the previous campaign after losing nine players in the summer and suffering a catalogue of injuries.
And a pre-match meeting determined that manager Paul Moore together with assistant Dave Hughes would vacate the Shawbridge hotseat by mutual consent at the conclusion of this fixture.
However, fielding their strongest side since August, the home side looked a different proposition than in recent games with Kendal offering little resistance to the Clitheroe onslaught.
The visitors were not helped by an early injury to the influential Ricky Mercer, forced off after only four minutes with a calf problem and replaced by Adam Freeland.
Clitheroe took a 14th minute lead as Scott Bakkor picked out the run of Smith who finished calmly past Craig Dootson for his third goal of the season.
The away side responded with leading scorer Danny Mitchley firing over after combining with Rob Wilson before Zach Clark, back on his old stomping ground, shot straight at keeper Richie Mottram.
With half and hour on the clock, another former Clitheroe player came close to equalising as Darren Green’s 30-yard free-kick rebounded off the woodwork with Mottram at full-stretch.
Kendal were enjoying a period of pressure and Niall Cowperthwaite headed Wilson’s corner straight at the Shawbridge stopper before the hosts struck with a quick-fire double strike.
Bakkor once again pierced the Kendal backline with a clever pass as Smith applied a neat clipped finish over the advancing Dootson on 39 minutes.
This was Smith’s first appearance for two months after regaining full fitness following an injury lay-off and he was having a major influence on proceedings.
The former Atherton LR forward turned creator two minutes later, his corner from the right met by Higgins who powerfully headed past Dootson to effectively end the match as a contest.
Staring at their heaviest defeat of the season, Kendal failed to start the second-half positively with Clitheroe having a glorious opportunity to extend their lead moments after the re-start.
A long clearance by Mottram was allowed to bounce in the visitors’ penalty area only for Bakkor’s looping header over a stranded Dootson to drift wide of the post.
Edmondson threw on Maison McGeechan early in the second period, shifting Wilson more centrally, in a bid to attack Clitheroe down the flanks.
And it was the ex-Bolton Wanderers winger who linked with Mitchley just after the hour mark, setting up Green whose curling effort was claimed by Mottram.
Kendal were unable to penetrate a resolute Clitheroe backline as the clocked ticked down, Clark only finding the side-netting after cutting inside from the left wing.
With ten minutes remaining Mitchley and Cowperthwaite both had shots blocked while the final chance of the afternoon fell to McGeechan who sliced wide a deep cross from the left.
Clitheroe: Richie Mottram, Keith Wedge, Warren Bellew, Rob Bodie, Jack Higgins (c), Adam Birchall, Simon Nangle, Ross Dent, Danny Smith (Jamie Campbell 68), Scott Bakkor (Lee Barrett 78), Chris Dykes (Lloyd Dean 46). Subs not used: Paul Carney, Tom Fletcher
Kendal Town: Craig Dootson, Danny McGahon, Jack Smith (Mike Rushton 77), Martin Grundy (Maison McGeechan 57), Ricky Mercer (Adam Freeland 4) , Niall Cowperthwaite, Rob Wilson, Danny Coid (c), Danny Mitchley, Darren Green, Zach Clark. Subs not used: Ross Lloyd, Colin Watson
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