Clitheroe boss Phil Brown is pleased with leading scorer Conor Gaul’s progress this season, but confessed that the versatile forward is by no means the finished article.
The 23-year-old, who won the title at this level with Atherton Collieries last term, picked the perfect moment to net his fifth goal of the season at the weekend.
With the Blues’ FA Trophy tie against Sheffield heading for a replay, Gaul struck in the third minute of stoppage time at Shawbridge to help the hosts advance to the preliminary stage of the competition.
The former Colne man, who also previously played at Kendal Town and in the Gibraltar Second Division with Bruno’s Magpies, became Brown’s second signing of the summer, arriving just after Charlie Russell’s return to the Ribble Valley.
“He’s got five goals, even though three of them have come from the penalty spot, said Brown. “His two goals from open play have been very similar.
“He’s turned the defenders inside out and managed to get his shot away. He’s a work in progress, he’s still got things that he can do better and he knows that.
“He’s scored five goals and added a number of match-winning moments, so we’ve got to be pleased with him.
“There’s still room for improvement, but we’re happy. It’s now up to us to try and get more out of him.”
In fact, Brown has been highly complimentary of his squad as a whole.
The group is still gelling having been compiled in a short space of time, but they’re sitting pretty in the top half of the BetVictor NPL North West Division following victory over league leaders Workington AFC.
“I’m really happy with the squad in general,” he said. “They’ve got a great work ethic and they’re an honest group.
“I was asked at the club’s Q and A what the fans can expect, and I promised them that they’d see a hard working group. That’s what they’ve got and we’ve added some quality and experience to that. I can’t fault anybody’s effort or application.
“It’s been first class, but we just need to work on our focus. We’ve switched off at key times, which has cost us in games.”
The club were rewarded with a home tie against Prescot Cables in the next round of the Trophy.
And Brown has identified the game, already the third meeting between the two this season, as an ideal opportunity to rewrite the script.
The Blues have taken a single point against the Pesky Bulls, courtesy of a 2-2 draw at Valerie Park, though Brown believes his side were deserving of much more: “I don’t feel that we’ve got what we deserved out of our two games against Prescot Cables. We were the better team away from home, but we’ve left with a point after conceding late on.
“Then we were 1-0 up in the game at home and coasting, but we’ve let them back in to it and come away with nothing. We’ve taken one point from a possible six and I’m not sure how that’s happened.
“I’m really glad that we’ve got another chance to play Prescot. We are looking forward to it.”
“We think it’s an opportunity to put right a few wrongs.
“They are doing well, they’re second in the league, but there’s no fear factor from us at all.”