Clitheroe boss Simon Haworth was left scratching his head after his players went ‘back in time’ in a 3-2 defeat at Prescot Cables on Saturday.
The former Wales international admitted his side had reverted back to the bad habits and defensive frailties that caused the Blues problems late last month.
The Ribble Valley outfit conceded 13 goals in four games in the Evo-Stik League First Division North, with nine of those shipped at Shawbridge.
Haworth believed the Blues had turned a corner with clean sheets against Colne and Atherton Collieries, but things went downhill when they conceded in the second minute at Volair Park, as Joshua Klein-Davies’ shot looped over Chris Thompson after taking a wicked deflection.
The hosts were then awarded a penalty after 15 minutes when Ian Rowlands handled a cross, and Jordan Wynne netted from the spot.
Just before the half-hour, Clitheroe pulled one back as Brad Carroll spotted goalkeeper Marcus Burgess off his line, and his effort was helped home by defender James McCulloch.
However, poor defending early in the second half gave Josef Faux the time and space to pick his spot to restore Prescot’s two-goal advantage.
Charlie Russell reduced the arrears again in the 71st minute, beating Burgess with a looping effort, and the Blues piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser but were left frustrated.
“We didn’t have a great game on Saturday but that’s the league for you,” said Haworth. “It was like going back in time.
“I thought we had turned a corner, but it was like watching a performance from six weeks ago. It was a real shock to the system.
“The penalty was dubious, but that’s the seventh or eighth we’ve conceded this season and that really isn’t good enough.
“We got back into the game and could’ve earned a draw but you can’t afford to concede three goals. We just went back to conceding sloppy goals and chasing the game.
“I genuinely thought we’d moved on so I’m hoping that this is a one off. I’m just disappointed that we seem to be performing in fits and starts. It’s like we’re constantly fighting an uphill battle.”
He added: “I watched the interview with Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool were beaten by Spurs and, like he said, we don’t coach players to defend like that.
“Players don’t do that in sessions. We work hard on it in training but you can’t account for silly mistakes.
“There’ve been individual errors, players not doing their jobs, and we need to eradicate that. We’re conceding goals that can be stopped.
“It drives me mad because there’s not an awful lot you can do about it from a manager’s perspective.
“They’ve got to learn that they can’t be inconsistent physically or mentally.”
Blues: Chris Thompson, Jacob Gregory, Stephen Rigby, Ryan Ellison, Ian Rowlands (c), Charlie Russell, Brad Knox (Joe Mitchell), Brad Carroll, Kurt Willoughby, Alex Newby, Adam Bolton (Danny Byrnes). Subs - Danny Byrnes, Joe Mitchell. Not used - Michael Samson, Robbie Bromley.
Clitheroe are at Altrincham tomorrow in the FA Trophy first qualifying round, kick off 3 p.m.