Metcalfe strike steers Boro to win at Clitheroe

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Scarborough Athletic extended their unbeaten run to four league games with a 1-0 win on the road at Clitheroe.

Alex Metcalfe’s strike just before the break proved decisive as Boro consolidated fourth place in the Evo-Stik North with a determined display.

Joint-bosses Bryan Hughes and Paul Foot had to shuffle their pack before the game as Gary Bradshaw missed out after taking a knock in the midweek game against Thornaby, with Paul Robson taking the captain’s armband in his absence.

Steve Ridley returned at left-back after a period on the sidelines with Robson moving into midfield.

Backed by a vocal travelling contingent, Boro got off to a quick start and were denied a penalty early on when Laquan Esdaille looked to handle on the floor after a tangle with Tom Corner, but referee Chris Isherwood waved play on.

The home side were caught on the back foot in the early stages, with Seydou Bamba nearly putting into his own net as he skewed a Jimmy Beadle cross narrowly over.

The Blues were then dealt an early blow as Jay Hart had to make way with a suspected broken toe after a heavy challenge from Beadle.

Clitheroe had not lost at home in 2015, with top scorer Sefton Gonzales spurning a great opportunity to take the lead as he latched onto a loose ball to race clear of the Boro defence, but took a tumble as he lined up his shot.

Athletic continued to press forward, with Pete Davidson turning the ball into the path of fellow midfielder Jimmy Beadle to drag wide of the target. The home side were staying resolute in defence, throwing bodies in front of the ball to deny Plummer and then Murray in quick succession.

The attacking trio of Metcalfe, Corner and Murray were causing problems for the Clitheroe defence with their pace and movement, with a neat Murray flick releasing Plummer to spoon over.

Gonzales then capitalised on a long ball over the top to find himself bearing down on Cracknell’s goal, however his drive flashed wide of the target.

With the half-time break looming, it was Boro who seized the initiative to take the lead. A break through the centre stretched the Blues defence; with Metcalfe nipping clear to calmly slide between the legs of keeper Collinge to make it 1-0.

There was still time before the interval for Beadle to see yellow as he upended Dent, with Joe Cracknell tested from a dipping free-kick by Louis Mayers to keep the lead intact.

The opening stages of the second half saw Clitheroe try and force an equaliser, but they lacked the cutting edge to really test Cracknell.

Blues youngster Ryan Cattermole had the first chance as he looked up 25 yards out and crashed his shot just wide.

The Boro defence were in the action again as Gonzales got on the end of a lofted ball into the box, but in trying to generate power on his header forced the ball up and over. skipper Robson was then in the right place at the right time to clear from underneath his own crossbar as Clitheroe turned up the heat.

But Athletic were not content to sit on their lead, as Metcalfe nearly put the game to bed after closing down a Collinge clearance, before rounding the Blues keeper, with Esdaille rushing back to make a tremendous clearance as the midfielder tried to roll in.

Corner then looked to double Boro’s lead as he drove into the box and poked the ball past Collinge, only to see his shot strike the foot of the post and roll agonisingly along the goalline for the away fans behind the goal.

As the game went on Ben Middleton and Danny Wilkinson snuffed out any threat from Clitheroe as the hosts struggled to make inroads behind the Boro backline.

With the game edging towards the last 10 minutes Athletic rang the changes as Ryan Blott and James Bennett were brought on, with Ridley and Murray making way.

Clitheroe went to three at the back and thrust Bamba upfront to give the home side an aerial threat, but Cracknell stayed resolute along with his defence to secure a clean sheet and three points.