NORMAL service has been resumed at Clitheroe FC according to Blues boss Paul Moore.
After winning five games in all competitions in November, the Ribble Valley side went on to pick up just seven points from the following eight First Division North outings.
But the return of key personnel in Moore’s starting XI had a significant impact as goals from Chris Dykes, Danny Mahoney and second half substitute Isaac Kusaloka saw the Blues bounce back with a 3-1 win over 10-man Bamber Bridge, who had Mahoney’s brother Matt dismissed at Irongate.
“Normal service has been resumed,” beamed Moore. “To be honest we should’ve scored at least five without a shadow of a doubt.
“Within 90 seconds they’ve hit the post with a speculative effort that cannoned off Will James’ knee, wrong-footed Hakan Burton and hit the post. That would’ve changed our gameplan straight away.
“We got ourselves in to the game and we scored a great opener which was deserved really.
“They went down to 10 men when Danny Mahoney’s brother was sent off. He tripped Danny first to pick up his first yellow and then went in two-footed on Pugh and kicked him as he got to his feet.”
Moore added: “From that point we controlled the game though they equalised from a corner which was a sloppy goal to concede from our point of view.
“We just split them with ease after that, we missed a few chances but then Danny stuck the penalty away.
“Isaac came on as a sub, ripped their right-back apart and eventually scored a great goal. It was a strong, commanding performance and it was like what we were at the start of the season. It felt good and it seemed like we were back to our best.
“We just needed to get players back. Lee Pugh got 90 minutes and did great as did Dean Canning.
“Will James was back as well and we looked a solid outfit again. It will take a decent side to beat us again.”
Consistency is key at this stage of the season, and an integral component to achieving that is home form.
The Blues have lost three consecutive fixtures at Shawbridge in recent weeks and Moore understands the importance of rectifying that record, starting with Salford City on Saturday with kick-off at 3 p.m.
“There’s still another 15 games to go so we’ve a lot to do,” declared Moore. “We started the season tremendously and only the top three clubs bettered our start.
“Nobody has been able to break in to that top four really, that’s how good our form has been. It was that strong a start from us that when we lost games people were expecting the wheels to fall off and for us to drop down the table. I knew that wasn’t the case.
“A win over Salford would strengthen our position in the play-off spots. It’s all bubbling nicely again. Trafford will run Skem close and you can forget about those two really because they’ll take up the top couple of positions.
“Ramsbottom are surging up the table and they’ve got games in hand so we have to hope that they’ll falter at some point. They can put the pressure on us but they’ve got to win those games.
“We are still well in the mix and what a great position it is to be in. We’re in there and I think we’ve cracked it at the right time.”
Moore added: “We spoke after the Bamber Bridge game and understood how important it is to get back to form at home.
“It’s three consecutive defeats at home for us now. We had made Shawbridge a tough place to come but the last three teams have taken the points away.
“It will be a tough one against Salford because they’ve been taking points off some good sides. It’s a good chance for us to put things right on home soil though.
“What we are aiming for - the target we’d set out - is still very achievable. We’ve got to ensure that we do the right things in the right areas and make sure that they don’t enjoy coming to Shawbridge. It’s important that we back the Bamber Bridge win up.”