Sponsorship update with Clifton Rangers Athletic
Since the beginning of the year, and the start of the sponsorship with yboo, things have really picked up in terms of results and performances for Clifton Rangers Athletic.
The team started the year with a visit to Battyeford and put in a very professional performance by winning the game 2-0 and earning their first clean sheet of the season. It was a sign of better things to come for the team as goals from Jack Hewitt and Brad Main ensured the team marked the first weekend of the year with victory.
Next up was a home tie against fellow club rivals Clifton Rangers Reserves. It was quite clear that this game was important, not only for bragging rights, but due to recent struggles for the Reserves side this season, having not won in the league all season and sat bottom of the table, Athletic were determined to ensure the agony went on.
The game itself couldn’t have started much worse for Athletic as they found themselves 1-0 down after 10 minutes due to a mix-up at the back allowing the Reserves to nip in and slot the ball into an empty net. However, the team rallied in the second-half and an equaliser was found in the first couple of minutes, Brad Main with a sweet left-footed strike in off the post. This set the tone for the rest of the game as Athletic dominated from then on and went on to secure a 3-1 win courtesy of another goal from Brad Main and Luke Briggs.
Following on from the Clifton derby win, Clifton Rangers Athletic quickly made it 3 wins from 3 in 2019, sweeping aside St Ignatius beating them 3-0 at home. Nathan Wood getting his first goal of the campaign by lobbing the keeper from 35-yards capping off a great weekend for the team. Leading goalscorer Martin Wagstaff got the ball rolling before the spectacular effort went in. Brad Main got in on the act again making it 4 games in a row he had scored in.
27thJanuary saw the side visit Ravenswharfe, who were sitting nicely positioned higher in the table and a side who the much improved team could properly gauge their improvements against. Again, a sloppy start from Athletic gave the hosts the lead as both teams hustled for control of the game. Vinny O’Shea burst the visitors into life earning them their first spot-kick of the year. Keelan Town on duty who calmly slotted the ball past the keeper, game on.
The movement from the frontline of Athletic was causing all sorts of problems and once again another foul on Vinny O’Shea in the box saw the referee award another penalty. Same taker, same corner, same result. At this stage the visitors were in complete control and Martin Wagstaff made it 3-1. Not only was the leading goalscorer continuing his impressive work in front of goal but he was also back clearing the ball off the line in acrobatic style to prevent the home side getting any glimmer of hope of a result.
A third foul in the box gave Keelan Town the chance to bag his first hat-trick for the club. Change of plan this time going the opposite way but the keeper gets his hands to it and he is denied. With time running out and the hosts behind on the score space was opening up for Athletic on the break with Chris Rouse rattling the post from distance. Finally, with minutes to go, Luke Briggs has a pop from distance with the ball going between the keepers hands it was game, set and match.
The first signs that the squad was coming together nicely, putting aside a well-established team such as Ravenswharfe, but harder tests to come.
The following weekend the weather got the beater of things as the home tie against Overthorpe got postponed.
With the team full of confidence and eager to maintain their perfect start to the year, Inter Batley were the next visitors to Leeds Road on 10thFebruary. You could see the confidence in the team from the off as goals from Martin Wagstaff and Nathan Wood put the hosts 2-0 up. However, the first signs of complacency kicked in and two quick fire goals from the visitors saw the game locked at 2-2 midway through the first-half. Goals from captain Kieran Gallagher and leading scorer Martin Wagstaff ensured Athletic got to half-time leading 4-2.
A comfortable start to the second-half and the confidence was plain to see again as further goals from Brad Main and Liam Bushby put Athletic 6-2 ahead and in complete control. But once again, with the game coming to a close, complacency kicked in again. Another quickfire double from the visitors in the last 5 minutes reduced the deficit to 6-4 and a few nerves kicked in.
It was almost as though the squad had an international break as it would then be another 3 weeks before they would get to travel to St Ignatius, who they had previously beat quite comfortably at home in recent weeks. However, those signs on complacency against Inter Batley in the previous game were to appear again in the open 45 minutes of this tie. The hosts broke quickly with their fast paced striker breaking the line and placing a nicely struck shot past stand in goalkeeper Ben Wilson.
Athletic responded quickly with captain Kieran Gallagher lobbing the keeper to level the scores, 1-1. However, two sloppy goals would prove costly. Firstly, a bouncing ball in the box would bobble around and then fall to the feet of the hosts who’s shot on goal would squeeze under the keeper to give them the advantage. This was then followed by a corner, right before half-time, that initially was well cleared but the return cross into the box would be heading straight for the keeper and a badly timed catch meant the ball slipped through his hands and the hosts found themselves 3-1 up at the break.
Tactical change for Athletic at the break saw them switch to 4-3-3 and very much an attacking approach with two substitutions to go with it.
Josh Main would prove to be very influencing in his attacks down the left wing and it was he who was fouled midway through the second-half to give the visitors a lifeline back into the game. Up stepped Keelan Town who calmly sent the keeper the wrong way. Many more chances would fall to Athletic, but nothing was going in. The hosts were reduced to 10-men with the clock ticking down and it looked like they were going to see it through. With 5 minutes remaining centre-back Kieran Gallagher was sent upfront to try and help the side get that important equaliser.
Almost immediately it worked! Chris Wdowczyk played a beautifully floated pass over the top where the captain brought it down 1-on-1 with the keeper but unselfishly played it across goal for Martin Wagstaff to slot home into an empty net and the recovery was complete. With only a few minutes to go, Athletic were on the attack again trying to use the extra man advantage and steal the win. However, a mix-up between teammates gave St Ignatius the ball in the final minute of injury-time, with the visitors making the error of leaving themselves short at the back, the ball was played long with the striker 1-on-1 with the defender in a sprint with the ball, the hosts striker coolly slotted the ball up and over the keeper to end the run.
The visitors were beaten for the first time in 2019 but in what was an off weekend, they should still have been unbeaten.
Overthorpe were next up for Clifton Rangers Athletic as they tried to put the disappointment of St Ignatius behind them and once again prove that they are a side on the up. The visitors were sat 4thin the table having pulled off some impressive wins against Snowdon and Wire Works, not to forget they had just smashed Battyeford for 6 the weekend before.
The game started brightly from both teams and it was the visitors who were slowly gaining the upper hand. However, it was the hosts who took the lead on the break through Martin Wagstaff. With the visitors chasing the game they still had the upper hand. That was however, until a malicious tackle on the goalkeeper from their winger left Danny Waddington in goal slightly limping with bloody pouring from his knee. Needless to say, he was given his marching orders and the game went on against 10-men. They still looked dangerous on the break though and Overthorpe were rewarded just before half-time when a well struck shot from outside the box found its way to the bottom corner.
The second-half started off fairly quiet, that was until Josh Main was fouled in the box to give Athletic a penalty. Foul language was apparently spoken to the referee from the visitors who now found themselves down to 9-men. Keelan Town slotted the penalty home to restore the hosts lead and this aggravated the Overthorpe manager to exchange words with the referee. Again, the official was not happy with what was said to him and the visitors manager was given his marching orders.
Behind on the scoreline and without a manager on the side the visitors decided to just go for it and were putting the hosts on the back foot as they struggled to make use of their extra men. A long ball over the top was headed clear by the defence but the bouncing ball fell to Overthorpe outside the area and again another great strike saw the ball go flying into the net. Athletic pushed on and some quick work by Vinny O’Shea saw a lofted ball over the top slotted home by Martin Wagstaff to make it 3-2 to Athletic.
This would be the end of the goals in the game but not the end of the incidents! Messing around with the ball at his feet whilst the visitors are trying to take a throw-in saw Vinny O’Shea up ended and sent flying to the deck. He got up and shoved the Overthorpe player earning a booking, but the visiting player was giving his marching orders for the lashing out. During this, captain Kieran Gallagher retaliated also and due to him receiving a booking earlier in the game he was sent off. It was now 10-men against 8-men.
As the game entered the final minutes it was Vinny O’Shea once again at the heart of things as he was clipped round the back of the head off the ball from an Overthorpe player who was sent off for his actions. Due to reacting again he was given his second yellow card and Vinny O’Shea joined the captain in being dismissed. The game ended at this point and another win on the board for 2019.
The next weekend was due to be a home tie against Birstall CC but once again due to a waterlogged pitch the game was postponed.
With league fixture for 3 weeks, a home friendly was arranged against Inter Batley as the team tried to keep active before their final two league games. The visitors started more energetic and took a deserved lead in the 6thminute with a scramble in the box creeping its way into the bottom corner.
Athletic struggled to gain a foothold in the game and when Joel Ashwell struck the crossbar with a wonderfully struck half-volley it seemed like it could be one of those days. In fact, it wasn’t until the 25thminute when Josh Main was flattened in the box and Keelan Town slotted home the penalty that the hosts started to look comfortable. They quickly turned it round as Josh Main found himself through on goal in the 36thminute before calmly passing it past the keeper and into the goal. Athletic would go on to lead 2-1 at half-time.
After the break the game continued with the hosts carving out half chances but nothing clear-cut. As the game entered the final quarter, Joel Ashwell found himself on the edge of the box and slotted home to put Athletic 3-1 up and a more relaxed feeling all-round. The visitors threw caution to the wind and clawed a consolation back in the 93rdminute from a scrappy tap-in, which on another day would be given as offside. None the less it was another win for Clifton Rangers Athletic and that made it 7 wins from 8 games in 2019 and an impressive run of results.
The final away game of the season would see Athletic go up against league champions Mount Pleasant, who were unbeaten at home going into the tie. As expected, the hosts dominated possession and always looked dangerous going forward but the defence stood strong. In fact, it was the visitors who created the first big opportunity, long throw-in from alongside the box was met by the head of Martin Wagstaff who found his shot clipping the crossbar.
Chances would come for the home side with Luke Briggs making some good saves in goal for Athletic, whilst the visitors were restricted to longer range efforts and looked lively down the right on the counter with Josh Main. However, in the 34thminute the deadlock was broken with a scramble at the back trying to cover an attack on the break by Mount Pleasant saw the ball go across goal and a player stood all alone at the back post able to take a touch to set himself and then finish into and almost empty net. The hosts would quickly double their lead 6 minutes later as a long ball from the back was missed by both the striker and centre-back but a lapse in concentration from Keelan Town allowed the winger to run through 1-on-1 with the keeper before slotting it past to make it 2-0 at the break.
Tempers flared in the early stages of the second-half as striker Brad Main went in late on the defender earning himself a 5thyellow card for the season. The goalkeeper for Mount Pleasant was also booked for retaliating. The hosts very nearly made it 3-0 as they broke down the right wing and lobbed the keeper only to see their effort come back off the post.
Athletic had chances to reduce the score with free-kick attempts from Jack Hewitt. Whilst Brad Main and Joel Ashwell had decent chances to score for the visitors. However, on the hour mark Mount Pleasant scored again to make it 3-0. Jack Hewitt would then find himself needlessly picking up a booking before the hosts made it 4-0. Not much the keeper could do with either of the second-half efforts.
As the game looked to be dying off in the final minute a beautifully played ball into the box by Kieran Gallagher saw the Athletic striker fouled in the back and a penalty awarded. Keelan Town stepped up and put it past the keeper to reach double figures in the league and it was the least the visitors deserved for effort. Time would just be seen out by the hosts who would win the game 4-1 and you could easily see why they are champions and many congratulations to all at Mount Pleasant.
Next up will be the final game of the season as Athletic host Birstall CC and another firm test. Should they get a result from the fixture then it would be a very good end to the season and an excellent 2019 for the squad.