BLUES boss Paul Moore believes recent results and performances have shown significant progression at the club.
Clitheroe are fourth in the Evo-Stik First Division North table, where they remain unbeaten after four games, though they exited the FA Cup at the weekend despite pushing league leaders Skelmersdale United all the way at the West Lancashire College Stadium. Former Shawbridge striker Josh Hine scored the 70th-minute winner to consign Moore’s side to their first defeat of the season.
“I was really pleased with the performance,” declared Moore. “I’m obviously disappointed that we lost, especially with it being the FA Cup, because it’s nice to earn that prize money.”
Both sides were restricted to half chances during the opening period, with Skelmersdale creating the majority.
The first fell the way of the hosts as Warren Bellew’s swerving shot from outside the box was pushed out by Hakan Burton and cleared behind for a corner.
Mark Jackson, another former Clitheroe forward, then shot over before being denied by the first of many crucial interventions during the afternoon from Jack Higgins, who defended magnificently all game.
The visitors’ best chance of the half came after 24 minutes as James Gardner latched onto a Chris Smalley throw-in only for his stinging effort to be saved by Sam Ashton.
Within two minutes of the restart Clitheroe had the ball in the net only for Higgins’ cool finish to be ruled out for offside. Jordan Williams tested Ashton with a rasping drive just after the hour mark and shortly afterwards Dent helped on a ball forward from Will James which Williams managed to reach only for his looping header to come back off the crossbar.
However, the breakthrough arrived when James was robbed of possession on the halfway line, Strickland capitalised on this mistake by playing in Hine who ran clear to finish past Burton.
Moore, who had Lee Pugh, skipper Ollie Devenney and Rob Brodie missing, said: “In areas of the game they had better possession, retaining the ball well, and we made one or two errors in the first half that we were desperate to correct at half-time. It was that one mistake in the second half that cost us, which can happen at any standard of football.
“I thought other than that the game was very even. We matched them for 70 minutes and restricted them to long range efforts up to that point. I think that shows how far we have come. They’ve been pushing for promotion for six years, whereas we’ve been here for six competitive matches. We’ve come a long way in a short period.
“The lads were very down about the final result. They analysed the performance after the game and looked at it together objectively. That shows how far they have developed as a squad and their disappointment was a sign of where they want to be. They are sending the right messages.”
The re-arranged game with Ramsbottom United will be played on Tuesday, with a 7-45 p.m. kick off, though first up for the Blues is a FA Trophy Preliminary Round tie against Northwich Victoria.
Supporters are able to travel to Saturday’s match, which is being played at Stafford Rangers’ ground, by coach.
The coach will be leaving Shawbridge at 10-45 a.m. with a cost of £9 per person. Anybody wishing to travel can contact Andrew Jackson on 07788 662294 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile Moore, who has praised the club’s loyal supporters for their backing since the start of his tenure, is hopeful of securing deals for a striker and a winger, released by Blackburn Rovers, by the end of the week.