A game that should have seen Salford City hit eight or nine somehow ended with the Ammies hanging on for a win that now sees them tenth in the league and only three points off a play off place.
On a weirdly sloping pitch that one Salford fan described as like a saucer, Salford City milked the cowering Clitheroe defence to hit five before half time. The drama began after only five minutes when a long punt up field by Ammies keeper Andy Robertson was met by Steve Foster who squeezed the ball into the net while being pole axed by the onrushing Clitheroe keeper.
The dream New Year start was thwarted five minutes later when Clitheroe first equalised and then took the lead from a free kick. Foster notched his second soon after to equalise, when the Clitheroe keeper got a hand to his powerful shot but couldn't keep the ball from rocketing into the net.
When Salford went into the lead from a superb Matty Cross free kick taken from just outside the area, Ammies fans rightly claimed an assist. As the Clitheroe keeper lined up his wall, supporters stood behind his goal were directing the wall to go first right then left…then left, then right - the defenders didn't know where to go. While confusion reigned, the ball was hit sweetly around them and in to the net for a 3-2 lead.
Matty Cross was involved in the next drama of the day when he was scythed down by the Clitheroe number eleven, who was duly sent off. Salford took full advantage, with Foster getting his hat trick via a shot which squirmed under the keeper's body as it trickled into the net. Adam Morning made it five with a brilliant run from the half way line, evading defenders and cutting in from the wing to smack a top shot in at the keeper's near post. It could have been six or even seven soon after, first Adam Morning's header was scrambled off the line, and then Russell Headley's piledriver shook the post. But with the half time score at 5-2 no-one was complaining – apart from the moaning Clitheroe fans of course.
Meanwhile Salford City fans were trying to remember the last time the team scored six or even seven or eight at this level. Surely the record books were about to be re-written? Alas it was not to be. First Adam Morning's shot was cleared off the line by a desperate Clitheroe defender, then Steve Foster, clean through, allowed the keeper to block his first effort and then hit the rebound wide.
Clitheroe took heart and threw everyone forward to try and make the scoreline respectable. It almost worked, the attackers pulling two goals back and almost getting an unlikely draw. It wasn't to be, and every Salford City fan would have taken the final scoreline before the kick off, with Clitheroe second in the league.
The Clitheroe fans? Well the hillbillies took it all very badly, grunting insults at the Salford City supporters and even swearing at our kids. Charming eh? But then they are from Clitheroe – they don't get to see civilisation very often.
Hope they can read the score – Clitheroe 4 Salford City 5!!!
Next home game: Salford City v Garforth 3pm Monday 3rd January
Moor Lane, Salford 7 £7 – kids get in free with adults.
Photos by Andrew Goudie
Main photo shows Adam Morning celebrating his goal