Troubled times for Clitheroe

Carl Garner
Carl Garner

BLUES boss Carl Garner admits he’s working tirelessly to construct a stable foundation for Clitheroe Football Club’s long-term future.

Though it’s clichéd, Garner’s early experience of management can only be likened to a roller-coaster ride.

Two manager of the month awards, for April and September, had rocketed the former club chairman to cloud nine – but the constant transition of personnel, a void in the assistant manager slot, recent results, league position and a relentless barrage of bad luck has swiftly brought Garner hurtling back down to earth.

Defeats against Trafford and Ossett Town, both at Shawbridge, has seen the Blues’ winless streak extend to double figures.

An 87th-minute Adam Edwards strike looked to have salvaged a point on Saturday, but, in bizarre fashion, Clitheroe conceded three goals in additional time.

Michael Oates grabbed a hat-trick for the visitors.

“The results have not been good, and the outcome on Saturday was just crazy,” Garner said.

“We’ve equalised in the 87th minute, and then Trafford have gone on to score three goals in injury time.

“We played ever so well so I was speechless at full-time.

“We were very vibrant and created the better chances, but we fell apart at the end.”

And there was more heartache as Clitheroe surrendered a 1-0 lead midweek against fellow strugglers Ossett Town.

Ashley Parillon opened the scoring in the sixth minute, but a Matty Carr own goal and a late Lee Garside strike ensured the Blues left empty-handed again.

“From start to finish we dominated the game against Ossett Town yet we’ve lost the game 2-1,” said Garner.

“They must have only had about three chances in 90 minutes. We just appear very fragile mentally at the moment, because we are so young.”

But there’s plenty of life within Shawbridge and the evolution process has begun.

Garner has gathered an army of young, eager, exciting and enthusiastic players who have the desire to bring success to the Ribble Valley club.

The performances have improved, and the Blues boss is adamant that the results will follow in time.

“I’m still very positive as we’ve got some fabulous young players,” he said.

“People are recognising that fact, and the supporters can see that we’re growing as a unit.

“The team is ebbing around the 20-year-old mark and the majority are younger than that. Maybe we are just lacking that leadership and organisation we need to see games out.

“All the new players have come in and done really well.

“We are playing attractive football but it’s our naivety that’s costing us.

“Many players have stepped up from a lower level so it’s a learning curve for them. I remain very upbeat.

“The club is totally backing us. It’s just a case of being patient, and allowing us to work with these players and nurture them so they can flourish. There’s plenty of potential.

“I’ve got to be patient as well. There’s been too much chopping and changing of personnel this season, and things have conspired against us but we should hopefully get that level of consistency and familiarity soon.

“Once these players learn the ropes at this level, they’ll be formidable.”

The next step for Garner is to bring in someone who can share the workload and help bring success to the club.

An assistant, currently working at a club in the First Division North, has been identified, and discussions should come to a conclusion before Saturday’s fixture at Warrington Town.

“I’ve made a formal approach for an assistant from another club,” said Garner.

“I’m hoping to hear something on that soon, but there will definitely be someone working with me at the weekend.

“That will be great for me and the club because you can’t do the job at this level on your own. The workload and stress levels need to be shared.

“It’s a monumental task for one person to sort out. An assistant is imperative.”