REPORT | Clitheroe 2-3 Widnes
By Callum Chadwick
Stoppage-time Lomax goal helps Widnes beat Clitheroe
George Lomax produced another late show as Widnes broke Clitheroe hearts with a 3-2 win at Shawbridge on Saturday.
Kev Towey’s penalty inside the opening two minutes gave the visitors an early lead which was doubled by a composed Ben Hodkinson finish shortly before half-time.
Clitheroe rallied in the second-half as a Steve Akrigg own goal and a Max Hazeldine strike had Lee Ashworth’s men seemingly heading for a point.
However, Lomax again provided a telling contribution off the bench, finding the back of the net via a deflection in the 93rd minute to seal all three points for the Whites.
Co-bosses Akrigg and Towey made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 at home to Colwyn Bay last time out. The joint-managers both came into the side as replacements for Danny Ventre and Joe Herbert, with the latter named amongst the substitutes. Elsewhere, George Webster made his first appearance since early December, replacing Sam Sheen.
Widnes made the perfect start. Hodkinson was lively throughout and it was his pace that caused Clitheroe early problems as he went down under an Oliver Muir challenge in the area with referee Ian Gittins pointing to the spot.
Towey stepped up and finished emphatically, sending Terry the wrong way as the Widnes co-boss found the roof of the net.
The first half went the way of Widnes who never surrendered control. Hodkinson and Chris Lomax would both threaten early but both would see efforts curl wide of the target.
Clitheroe struggled to deal with Widnes’ pace and when Niall Watson sent a delicious ball in from the right, Hodkinson looked destined to score but he couldn’t quite connect with an outstretched leg.
Widnes began to crank up the pressure and Watson was unfortunate not to extend his side’s advantage after showing tremendous desire to get himself on the end of a Bram Johnstone cross only to be denied by a great Cameron Terry save.
The on-loan Accrington Stanley youngster was again thwarted by Terry following the half-hour mark, with the Clitheroe custodian getting down quickly to make the save after Watson raced on to a threaded Towey pass.
Five minutes later, Widnes’ pressure paid dividends as the visitors extended their advantage. Hodkinson seemed to have a coming together with Muir as he raced on to a lofted Myler pass but referee Gittins waved play on, allowing the Widnes striker to calmly round Terry and apply a composed finish into an empty net.
Into the second half, Clitheroe had a strong penalty appeal waved away as Hazeldine tumbled under an Akrigg challenge but referee Gittins was unimpressed despite the groans from the home support.
The game began to open up as a reinvigorated Clitheroe controlled possession but failed to trouble Widnes goalkeeper Owen Wheeler.
Widnes had the ball in the net 10 minutes into the second-half but Hodkinson was denied his second goal of the afternoon by a very late flag for offside.
Clitheroe enjoyed their best spell beyond the hour as Widnes found themselves penned in. Wheeler was tested for the first time, getting down well to his left to make a good save from Michael Wilson.
George Lomax and Rob Bourne were introduced from the bench for Widnes who continued to find themselves under the cosh as Blues’ skipper Jacob Gregory dragged an effort off target.
17 minutes from time, Clitheroe gave themselves a lifeline. Hazeldine found space in the area to drill a cross across the face of goal that ricocheted off the legs of Widnes co-boss Akrigg and into the net, completely wrong-footing Wheeler.
That gave Clitheroe a boost but they again had to rely on the services of Terry down the other end, as the impressive shot-stopper managed to tip a Hodkinson effort on to the bar as the hosts cleared.
Ashworth’s side had upped the tempo, and they grabbed an equaliser on the 80-minute mark. Myler and Phil Mooney both brilliantly blocked initial efforts but Harry Pratt reacted quickly to tee-up Hazeldine who hit a fine finish into the top corner to grab a crucial leveller.
The hosts had their tails up and looked likely for a winner. Attacks came in waves and with the game into added time, Hazeldine hit a powerful effort on goal that seemed destined for the net only for Wheeler to sensationally finger-tip the shot against the crossbar.
Widnes had rode their luck in the second half, and the Whites got themselves out of jail with a dramatic late winner.
The visitors poured forward on a late counter-attack with Hodkinson looking to cut in from the right. He seemed to miscue his effort but the loose ball fell to George Lomax who hit a first-time effort beyond Terry via a heavy deflection to send the visiting support into raptures.
Clitheroe were in disbelief but there was still time for a late flurry of attacks but Widnes held firm to continue their unbeaten start to 2019.