A poor decision to send off Simon Nangle early in the second half unbalanced the shape of the game but ultimately could not paper over the cracks of this defeat against a limited Wakefield team.
In a game lacking in real quality, Clitheroe who had an earlier chance as an inviting ball from Andrew Griffiths into the box saw Chris Dykes miscue and send the ball wide.
At the other end, on 17 minutes, Wakefield saw a long distance effort narrowly thunder over the bar.
Clitheroe were finding some success down the flanks, and midway through the half, a hanging cross from Matthew Carr saw Griffiths head wide.
A minute later, a meandering run from Paul Carney resulted in a through ball to Keith Wedge, who hammered the ball over.
On 27 minutes, Clitheroe had the breakthrough asJack Higgins headed home a free kick from Carr before diving into the Clitheroe fans.
The lead lasted all of two minutes. A thunderous pile driver from Wakefield, expertly tipped over by Richie Mottram, should have set alarm bells ringing. The resulting corner was scuffed to the near post, Mottram scrambled to get to the ball but was stranded as the ball squirted to Shane Hamilton, who slammed home from two yards.
The first half petered out and Paul Moore set out his positive intent by taking off Griffiths and Wedge, playing three at the back and replacing them with Scott Bakkor and Nangle.
The game’s key moment happened on 55 minutes, when Nangle was shown a straight red in a full blooded challenge. He was incredulous and the fans were incensed.
The introduction of new boy Aaron Fleming from Fylde added another attacking dimension, and they pressed for a second goal, but, five minutes from time, they were hit by a sucker punch as Wakefield sprung the off-side trap and Robert Boardmanrounded Mottram to score.
Further chances fell Clitheroe’s way, but the gods were not smiling on them.