Cleethorpes Town hammer leaders Athersley Recreation
A FANTASTIC 4-0 victory rubber-stamped Cleethorpes Town's promotion credentials as they stunned table-topping Athersley Recreation.
The Owls moved to within two points of the Baris Northern Counties East League Division One summit after hammering the leaders at Bradley Community Stadium.
Marc Cooper scored a double to accompany Owls goals from Jack Richardson and Jack Debnam in front of a home attendance of 190.
Cleethorpes defended solidly early on as Athersley, the pacesetters throughout the season so far, started on the front foot. But the hosts were close to opening the scoring when, after Lawrence Heward fired the ball into the box, Debnam shot just wide.
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Former Grimsby Borough player Debnam then went close again, with an effort that sailed just wide of the upright.
Cooper broke the deadlock for the Owls in the 33rd minute when he arrowed a strike into the top corner.
The leaders responded, with three efforts on goal that flew just wide.
But Andy Liddle's men bagged an important second goal on the stroke of half-time when Richardson ghosted into the box to nod home Debnam's cross.
In the two teams' reverse fixture, on the opening day of the campaign, Cleethorpes let a two-goal lead slip in a 3-3 draw.
There was no repeat this time.
Cleethorpes were cruising when Cooper netted his second, just after the hour, to make it 3-0 as he finished off a good move involving Debnam and Craig Mitchell.
Five minutes later, Debnam burst through on goal and was brought down, the foul prompting a red card to the offending Athersley player. And from the resulting free-kick, a curling delivery then fell to Debnam who slotted home.
On the back of one of their finest performances of the season, the Owls visit Bottesford on Saturday.