Ossett Albion 3 Clitheroe 0 (17th March 2018)
Bloody cold – that’s the main summary of yesterday’s day out. Braving “snow-mageddon” weather forecasts and newspaper headlines, which all but predicted the start of a new ice age, with polar bears and snow leopards roaming Britain by tea-time on Saturday, the decision was made to venture up to Yorkshire. This game offered one of the last chances to see an Ossett Albion home fixture, and a 1st team match at their Dimplewells ground, before both Ossett teams merge next season, with this ground being used for reserve games and as a training ground.
With a 10 am pitch inspection planned, we’d expected the game to be called off and were already considering alternatives, but twitter confirmed it was on and we went up the M1 through just the occasional patch of snowfall, albeit rather heavy patches, that almost turned day to night at times.
At Ossett though there was just sunshine, no snow, but with some menacing dark clouds attacking hilltop communities in the distance. There was also a biting wind, whipping at any exposed skin, that would no doubt render my attempts to photograph much of the game as a very trying experience. Nevertheless, I did manage a personal record, a perfect hat-trick of capturing all three goals “on film” where the ball is either completely obscured, or barely visible. It’s a natural talent I have.
The ground itself, behind a cricket pitch in the south of the town, is one of those that’s not particularly good or bad. My priorities shifted due to the cold, so that my prime concerns were places to shelter from the wind. The warmth of both the tea bar (indoors) and the club bar became of paramount importance. Aesthetic merit took a back seat, although there was a nice view of the hills in the distance, as well as the 1,084 ft Emley Moor Transmitter.
With Ossett Albion having a very poor season, being 2nd bottom, the rather uncharitable assumption was that most action would be down at the Albion end of the pitch. Surprisingly, despite the scoreline, that was actually a correct assumption. Clitheroe, chasing a win that would have put them in the play-off places, did have by far the lion’s share of possession. They just struggled with the wind though, and mixed with some determined Albion defending, they found it really hard to get and decent shots away.
The home side were pretty much playing on the break, and like a pervert locked out of his favourite used underwear draw, they barely had a sniff in the opening stages. One defensive lapse though and they were away, breaking away centre right to fire a shot past the keeper to opening the scoring after 10 minutes.
This really didn’t help Clitheroe’s game, as they got increasingly frustrated with their inability to make their possession count, and the game definitely went through a spell that could be described as a little testy, with some robust tackles, and equally robust complaining.
Half time arrived with the score still 1-0, and little evidence of Clitheroe knowing how to fashion a decent chance, nor of the snow we’d been warned about, just a few flakes in injury time. Within a couple of minutes those few flakes had turned into a full-on blizzard, driven in by a howling gale, and the fans, safely in the warmth of the club bar, watched the ground spend the next few minutes being turned into Ice Station Zebra.
By the start of the second half though it was bright sunshine again, but the game followed the same pattern, with Clitheroe having most of the ball, but struggling to create anything.
The sunshine only lasted about 10 minutes before the snow returned, rolling in across the pitch, and seeming to blow the players down the slope, with nearly all of the play down one side.
The snow didn’t ease until the last few minutes, which was the point that Clitheroe’s frustrations grew, resulting in the conceding a rash foul in the box, after an Albion break. The penalty was tucked away with four minutes to go, and while you have to praise Albion for their defending, the body language suggested complete disbelief among the away players.
It got worse. They had a strong penalty appeal turned down, and within seconds the ball was down the other end, facing an over-committed Clitheroe defence. With the keeper unable to gather a ball, and caught in no-man’s land, it was a fairly simple task for Albion to pass the ball past a despairing defender or two, to seal an emphatic-looking result.