THREE second-half goals consigned Clitheroe to a disappointing home defeat to Radcliffe Borough on Saturday.
The Blues conceded two penalties in the space of seven second-half minutes which were duly converted by James Burke and Matt Crooks, before the latter completed the rout late on.
Louis Edwards returned to league action for the first time since August and replaced the injured Lee Pugh at left back while Adam Birchall started following his move from Kendal Town.
The first-half was largely even with regards to possession although the visitors shaded proceedings in terms of chances created and efforts on goal.
Former Bradford Park Avenue striker Griff Jones had the first sight of goal after five minutes as his volley from Ben Wharton’s flick bounced narrowly wide of the upright.
Burton kept the scores level ten minutes later as he palmed an effort from the influential Mark Jones around the post after a neat passing move by the visitors.
At the other end, after several wild attempts at goal from range, Chris Dykes’ driven cross popped up quickly to Jack Higgins who missed the target with an instinctive volley.
Shortly before the half hour mark, Shaun Connor and Crooks both had free headers from successive Alex Mortimer corners which were kept out by Burton.
Clitheroe enjoyed their best spell of the game in the final five minutes of the half and carved out their most presentable chance of the match.
After Danny Mahoney drilled a shot wide, Borough keeper James Coates kept the hosts at bay with a smart reflex save.
The lively Birchall found Chris Mason in the penalty area who picked out Simon Nangle, only for the 22-year-old to denied by former New Mills stopper Coates.
Simon Carden made way for Matty Chadwick at the break and the substitute had a major impact on the second-half, crossing for Wharton to head over on 50 minutes.
After a period of few clear chances, Radcliffe were awarded a penalty on 70 minutes after Chadwick was upended in the box after a jinking run from the right flank.
Burke calmly slotted the spot kick past Burton before a second penalty was awarded seven minutes later after Chris Smalley was adjudged to have fouled Crooks.
The midfielder picked himself up to dispatch the penalty and double the visitors’ lead.
Aside from a couple of long range Danny Mahoney attempts and a strike from Rob Bodie from the edge of the area, Clitheroe created very little in the second period.
With two minutes remaining, Radcliffe scored a third to add gloss to a combative performance which belied their lowly league position.
After initial hold-up play by Wharton, Jamie Baguley and Jones combined to tee-up Crooks who produced a superb finish to curl the ball into the top corner of Burton’s net.
Although only a sixth Evo-Stik League Division One North loss of the season, Clitheroe have now recorded four league defeats from their last half a dozen matches.
The Blues will look to arrest this sequence of results when they make the long trip to Goole on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3 p.m).
Clitheroe: Burton, Smalley, Edwards, Higgins (c), Bodie, Pearson, Nangle (Smith 53), Dykes (Bell 53), Mahoney, Mason (Buchan 66), Birchall. Subs not used: Calvert.