Blues start the new year in fine style!

Clitheroe make their entrance on New Year's Day                                                      Pictures: Peter Ryan
Clitheroe make their entrance on New Year's Day Pictures: Peter Ryan
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Simon Haworth has praised the professionalism and commitment of his players following a 3-0 victory over Kendal Town at Shawbridge.

Clitheroe were depleted over the festive period and were forced to field players with knocks and illness.

Clitheroe face up to a goal kick against Kendal Town

Clitheroe face up to a goal kick against Kendal Town

But, with just three substitutes named on the bench, they found a way to win on New Year’s Day to secure their 18th point from the last seven fixtures in the Evo-Stik First Division North.

Having played three games in eight days the Blues battled through the fatigue barrier in the first half and Chris Thompson was called upon to make two good stops early on.

Kurt Willoughby, who now has 19 league goals, went close to opening the scoring midway through the half but his chip floated over Sam Ashton and cleared the crossbar.

Alex Newby also had a good opportunity to break the deadlock but he flicked a header wide of the upright from Jacob Gregory’s delivery.

Goalmouth action from the Blues' 3-0 win against Kendal Town

Goalmouth action from the Blues' 3-0 win against Kendal Town

However, the interval seemingly rejuvenated the hosts and after Willoughby went close and substitute goalkeeper Will Kitchen made a stunning point blank save the Ribble Valley outfit took the lead.

Kitchen got a glove to Newby’s attempt after the winger cut infield from the right hand side but the Kendal keeper couldn’t prevent the ball from creeping over the line.

Willoughby extended the advantage in the 74th minute to maintain his spot at the top of the division’s goal-scoring charts, adjusting his body to volley the ball across Kitchen and in to the bottom corner.

And Newby put the icing on the cake in time added on when keeping his composure to slot home after being threaded through on goal.

Match action from Clitheroe's first game of 2018

Match action from Clitheroe's first game of 2018

“It’s tough enough for professionals having to play two games in three days,” said Haworth.

“At that level they get all the recovery procedures and squad rotation as well.

“They’ve got everything in their favour really.

“We only took 13 players to Scarborough so we only had two subs and some of the lads were carrying injuries.

Skipper Danny Brady heads clear for Clitheroe

Skipper Danny Brady heads clear for Clitheroe

“It’s very difficult and that’s why this stage of the season can throw up some strange performances and results.

“I’m used to sacrificing things over Christmas and the New Year but at this level you’ve got to cut them some slack.

“It’s about finding that balance because they’re not professional footballers.

“They don’t get paid enough.

“They know not to wreck themselves, though, and I can’t fault them.

“There were a few ill and others carrying knocks so I was thrilled that they found a way to win against Kendal.”

Clitheroe: Chris Thompson, Jacob Gregory, Stephen Rigby, Ian Rowlands, Danny Brady (c), Ross Dent (Jamie Hodgson), Joe Mitchell (Brad Carroll), Charlie Russell, Kurt Willoughby, Alex Newby, George West (Danny Byrnes). Subs - Brad Carroll, Danny Byrnes, Jamie Hodgson.