Boss Lee Ashforth says Clitheroe have raised the bar
Blues boss Lee Ashforth says that his players have raised the bar following a positive display in defeat to Ramsbottom United at Shawbridge.
Ashforth is now challenging his players to hit those heights in the remaining eight games of the season and prove that they’re willing to fight for the club.
With Colwyn Bay exploring the possibility of leaving the English league pyramid amid ongoing financial struggles, the likelihood is that only one team from the Evo-Stik League West Division will face the drop.
Clitheroe’s 11 point advantage over basement side Skelmersdale United should give the players the freedom to go out and express themselves, something Ashforth is encouraging them to do.
He said: “We always want to win games but it wasn’t about the result, it was more about the performance. We’re playing a team that are very good, who are up near the top.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league, if not the best team in the league. They’re very well organised, they have some fantastic players in their ranks and we matched them.
“I thought we put in a shift and that was the main thing. We were clapped off the pitch. I think people know the amount of work we’re putting in.
Ashforth added: “We had nothing to lose, it was a game against promotion chasers. You’re never going to be happy with a defeat but I was delighted with the reaction of the players.
“I’m looking at how the players react in the last eight games to show if they’ve got a desire to play for this football club, to show if they’ve got the ambition to kick on in pre-season.
“With Colwyn Bay going the likelihood is that only one will go down so we’ll be in this division again next year.”
The display was a vast improvement from the 3-0 defeat to Chasetown that had preceded it.
Former Blues striker Jamie Rainford, who joined from Widnes in October, refused to celebrate when picking his spot and giving the visitors the lead in the 36th minute.
The Clitheroe response was instantaneous and, three minutes later, a superb cross field ball by Josh Gregory found the visiting defence flat footed, with Max Hazeldine lobbing the bouncing ball expertly over goalkeeper Sam Ashton.
When the teams came out for the second half the hosts should have taken the lead within minutes when a whipped in free kick forced a point blank save.
Against the run of play, on 57 minutes, Andy Langford made an uncharacteristic error, leaving Rainford staring at goal , and he converted to restore the lead.
Minutes later, George West was sent through on goal and his weak shot beat the keeper, but was easily swept aside.
Half chances fell to both sides before a huge Ramsbottom shout for a penalty for handball was ruled out for off-side.
At the final whistle, the applause for the home team could not hide another blank at home, and a 13th defeat in 16 games, leaving the Blues still four points clear of Kendal Town.
Clitheroe: Purdham, Botell, Lonsdale, Wilson, Langford, Jeffries (Bianga), Jacob Gregory (c) (Blackburn), Josh Gregory, West, Hazeldine, Recizac (Tanner). Sub not used - Terry.