Stretford Paddock boost promotion hopes following a hard-fought victory at top of the table Clay Brow FC.
Manager Stephen Howson stated that he was “really proud of them [the players]” as a gutsy performance saw Paddock win 2-1 which “will give the lads confidence”.
The early exchanges saw an end-to-end game develop with both sides creating half chances. Paddock had an early opportunity in the opening minutes with Kieron Molloy collecting the ball on the right before taking on his fullback and sliding a low cross in front of goal towards Ryan Katumba which was comfortably collected by the keeper.
Clay Brows best effort came with just over a quarter of an hour on the clock A free kick on the left of the field saw an outswinging delivery found its way through to the back post and a looping effort to help the ball back into the mix was calmly collected by Martin Flanagan.
Down the other end of pitch Paddock were presented with a gift to open the scoring. A defensive throw-in from clay brow in the corner, taken directly to the keeper Katumba was on hand to pinch the ball off the keeper and gratefully tap into an empty goal.
Paddock had a half chance to double their lead when goal scorer Katumba collected the ball backing into the defender, before rolling his marker and running onto the ball, however he dragged the shot from outside the area wide of the far post.
The pressure from Clay Brow started to grow, as the hosts created a number of opportunities, although the hosts failed to test Flanagan in the Paddock goal. Eventually Paddock found themselves with hearts in mouth, as with less than ten minutes of the first half Clay Brow had a penalty shout waved away, when Flanagan slid to clear away a drilled cross for a corner.
The resulting corner whipped away from goal saw a free header in the box from a Clay Brow centre half instinctively palmed over the bar by Flanagan for second consecutive set piece. This time the ball was met by a Paddock head but was cleared as far as the Clay Brow Number 6 who teased a cross towards the far post. As Flanagan looked to claim the cross the knockdown left the saw the Paddock keeper caught in no man’s land and the audacious effort from Clay Brow’s attacker waste the opportunity to level the game.
Clay Brow’s pressure ultimately led to an equaliser on the stroke of half time. Following a goal kick which was helped forward an effortless through ball caught out the Paddock defence on the back foot, with just the keeper to beat the Clay Brow striker gently slid the ball past the out rushing Flanagan.
Half-time: Clay Brow 1-1 Stretford Paddock
Within minutes of the restart Paddock restored their lead when midfielder and man of the match Joe Coleman scored his first goal for the club. Kieron Molloy picking the ball up on the right cut in field to prior to unleashing a shot which got blocked as far as Nosa Iyamu. His teasing cross found his midfield compatriot in the box to delicately side foot beyond the keepers reach to the far post.
Clay Brow had a second penalty shout waved away when Richie Adjei shielded the ball out for a goal kick before tumbling over under the pressure and pulling down the Clay Brow attacker.
The hosts found the ball in the back of the net when a pass into the box was smashed in the net, but the goal was immediately disallowed for an offside following the through ball.
With less than half an hour to go Clay Brow moved the ball around the box shifting the Paddock defence as they looked to create an opportunity. Eventually the gap opened up for a shot from range which rattled against the bar and the rebound was headed over.
Paddock’s only chance to kill the game, fell to Kieron Molloy midway through the second half, when he ran down the left-hand side, the winger pulled his left footed shot wide of the far post.
The final twenty minutes of the game saw Paddock resolute in defence as they held on to stop Clay Brow creating clear cut chances to hold on for a massive three points in a thrilling encounter.