BDYL match of the week: Clifton Rangers Under-15 4 Fleetwood Town 1

Clifton Rangers (in yellow) v Fleetwood Town

Clifton Rangers (in yellow) v Fleetwood Town

A first-half brace by Theo Ioannou set Rangers on their way to an emphatic win which kept their U15 Alpha Gold title challenge on track.

The striker opened the scoring at St Mary’s Catholic Academy after barely two minutes and doubled the lead with a superb individual strike.

And when Alfie Tomlinson made it three on the stroke of half-time the points were virtually wrapped up.

Credit to Fleetwood for keeping their spirits up and pulling a goal back.

Town increased the pressure after the break and skipper Michael Thwaites headed a goal which gave them hope of a fightback.

Manager Shaun Hartley said: “We thought that if we could have got a second goal the final five minutes might have been nervy for both teams. Tired legs took their toll but my lads gave the all.”

And it was Jacob Wharrie who sealed the three points with a late fourth for Rangers.

The win means Clifton keep the pressure on Kirkham in the race for the title.

Kirkham have their noses in front but Andy Clarkson’s Clifton side have games in hand and will be champions if they win all their remaining fixtures, including Sunday’s potential title decider against Kirkham.

South Shore are the only side to have beaten Clifton in the league all season and manager Andy Clarkson said: “That’s the only time we’ve slipped but I’d have settled for the position we’re in now.

“We just have to keep winning and it’s in our own hands.

“We had chances to score more against Fleetwood and they didn’t really threaten us, so it was a pleasing performance.”

Fleetwood manager Hartley added: “It’s been a tough season for us. We ’ve lost a few players but managed to draft some in as well. It’s still a small squad but we have won two of our last three and are picking up a few points.

“The lads have been together a few years and have a great team spirit. We have a few more games to play this season, so it’s onward and upward.”

Right-back Dylan Webbe was Clifton’s man of the match after displaying his leadership qualities, while scorer Thwaites took the Fleetwood award for his captain’s performance.

Clifton manager Clarkson summed up: “It was a convincing win and a pleasing performance which helps us to stay in the title race.”