Clitheroe FC 0, FCUM 3

THERE was no floodlight failure for Clitheroe to answer to on Tuesday night, just a strong, well organised FC United of Manchester and defeat in front of an 800-strong crowd.

The Blues had no solution to the visitors' three goals despite having numerous half chances in the opening 45 minutes and an array of shots go wide of the mark.

In fact Clitheroe struggled to hit the target, even though they had plenty of opportunity around the United box to level before the break thanks to former Rossendale striker Neil Zarac making his debut alongside Gary Jackson.

It proved a tale of two strikers in the end, and it certainly didn't help that FC United were quick out of the blocks thanks to former Manchester United reserves top scorer Aaron Burns also making his debut.

The 19-year-old striker was picked up in the close season by Cardiff City having been released by Alex Ferguson in the summer, but Robbie Fowler and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank have left him out in the cold.

So FCUM took advantage of FA rules, which dictate he can't play above UniBond League level until the transfer window re-opens, due to contractual restrictions preventing him from moving on to a league club before January.

Clitheroe were left to bare the brunt of this remarkable signing with a goal in each half from the eager striker, either side of a Rory Patterson penalty.

Captain Patterson was equally as impressive for the visitors as his pass put Jerome Wright through to round James Mann and put Burns in for his first strike inside six minutes.

And after being pulled down by Kieron Fletcher in the second half, he netted from the spot to put United 2-0 up.

Clitheroe went to three at the back as a result, bringing on a third striker in Sam Heap for Adam Koslowski, only to see a mistake let Wright in down the left wing to craft a cross for Burns to volley home United's third at the near post.

Zarac and Heap saw further chances in the box closed out by the visitors' defence and further shots from distance by Craig Sargeson went over the bar. A goal just wouldn't fall, as even when Will Exton replaced Jackson near the end, it just wasn't Clitheroe's night.

Clitheroe: Mann, J. Osborne, Koslowski (Heap), Fletcher, Clarke, Fisher, Sargeson, P. Osborne, Jackson (Exton), Byrom, Zarac.