Clough steals FA Cup show
Friday 2nd January 2015 @ 15:25 by Mark Phillip
Denton & Audenshaw Football Sports

Bolton Wanderer’s Manager Neil Lennon isn’t the easiest man to please, but a former Audenshaw School student tamed the fiery character.

Zach celebrates his match winning goal

Zach celebrates his match winning goal

Zach Clough, who left Audenshaw in 2011, scored the trotters match winning goal last Saturday during their FA Cup encounter against Wigan Athletic.

The feisty Lancashire derby was played on an icy afternoon, but Zach’s clever little chip in the 76th minute certainly warmed things up.

The 19 year olds effort was enough to separate the sides on the day, which secured his teams place in the fourth round draw.

Zach’s clinical finish was rewarded on Monday evening, with Wanderer’s drawing Liverpool in the next round tie.

The youngster is no stranger to footballing success, and he revelled in Cup glory six years ago, when the Audenshaw Under 14’s triumphed in the National Schools Cup.

Despite his undoubted talent, which has seen him rewarded with a two-year contract extension, Zach remained modest following the game. He said “I couldn’t have imagined it going as well as it did – it’s been a long time coming for me.

“I’m really pleased that the gaffer has given me a chance, he’s put faith in me and I’ve shown him what I can do.”

Despite stamping his authority in the game, which Lennon described as ‘special’, Zach was unaware of the day that lay ahead when he got out of bed. He added “I didn’t even know I was playing in the morning and I thought I’d probably be on the bench, but the manager told me I was starting and I was over the moon.”

The feisty local derby attracted a crowd of 16,788 to the Macron Stadium and Zach attributed his performance to the support he received from fans. He said “The crowd were fantastic with me too – I never imagined I would get the reception that I did, but it’s something that they always do, because they get behind the young players and give them a boost when they need it.”

The temperament of his team mates was a contributing factor too. “Every single one of the players has been fantastic with me, coming up to me and offering advice, telling me when I’ve done something good and just generally helping me.” Zach said.

“We’ve got a really good set of fans here and I’m sure that the club as a whole are happy because there’s a few of us breaking into the first team who have come up through the ranks.”

Audenshaw has produced a cluster of talent over the years, with Niall Maher, who also played in National Cup winning side, also contracted to Bolton.

Other stars include Manchester City centre back, Ellis Plummer, who also lifted the silverware in 2009.

Zach’s cup heroics have certainly caught the eye, with former teacher Adam Donnelly showering him in glory. The Curriculum Leader of PE at Audenshaw said “We are so proud of Zach and what he has achieved, so we are very much looking forward to following his career.

“He was always hard working and dedicated, so it is extremely rewarding to see him progress and he is an excellent role model for our students who are looking to follow in his footsteps.”