Blues are better but are beaten in the cup

Action from Clitheroe's FA Cup defeat against Kidsgrove Athletic                                       Photo: Peter Ryan
Action from Clitheroe's FA Cup defeat against Kidsgrove Athletic Photo: Peter Ryan
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Simon Haworth believes the Blues have been a bit more like themselves in recent outings and is confident that results will marry up with displays soon.

The Shawbridge chief had been demanding more heart, desire and hunger in the performances of his players - attributes that had served the club well last term - and he feels that those characteristics are starting to shine through.

Clitheroe were knocked out of the FA Cup by Kidsgrove Athletic before exiting the Integro League Cup at the hands of local rivals Colne but the former Wigan Athletic striker felt that his side deserved better.

At the Novus Stadium, playing in the first qualifying round of the country’s most prestigious competition, the visitors fell behind in the 11th minute when defender Ryan Austin headed home when unchallenged from a Tim Sanders set-piece.

Kurt Willoughby levelled in the second half with an exquisite free kick that hit the back of the net before goalkeeper Dave Parton had time to react.

However, Clitheroe were only on level terms for a matter of minutes when man of the hour, and man of the match, Anthony Malbon turned Luke Holden before thumping the ball home.

The hosts went 3-1 ahead in the 72nd minute when winger Dan Cocks was flattened by Robbie Bromley in the penalty area leaving Malbon to claim his second of the afternoon when converting from the spot.

The Blues reduced the deficit within 60 seconds to give themselves hope when youngster Ollie Crankshaw cut infield from the right hand side and lashed a superb shot in off the far post.

Charlie Russell and Joe Mitchell both went close to forcing a replay but the home side held on to advance to the next round.

“We played well but the result didn’t reflect the performance,” said Haworth. “We dominated the game in terms of possession, opportunities and territory but we were punished for every little mistake that we made.

“It was a lot better and I told the lads that if we keep playing like that we will win more than we lose. We just need to keep sticking to it.

“We’ll be fine as long as we cut out a few individual errors at one end while becoming a bit more ruthless at the other end.”

He added: “The shape is similar we just needed to change the way that we were playing. We needed to introduce a higher tempo, more energy and express ourselves a bit more. We had been a little bit uptight recently and our football hadn’t been flowing as a result.

“We’re starting to look a bit more like we did last season. It’s difficult because we’ve been a victim of our own success. Expectations are higher now.”

Clitheroe, who have resigned Alex Newby on loan from Witton Albion, were then beaten 2-0 by the Reds at the Utility Renewals Stadium midweek.

Daniel Wilkins opened the scoring for the hosts in the 68th minute when latching on to Alex Curran’s incisive pass and firing in to the corner.

Mark Ayres completed the scoring from the penalty spot in the 89th minute once goalkeeper Chris Thompson had upended substitute Lewis Hanley.