Clitheroe aim to end year on a high and get back in touch with play-off places

Clitheroe defend their goal during the 2-0 win at home to Hyde United on Saturday. Picture: Peter Ryan
Clitheroe defend their goal during the 2-0 win at home to Hyde United on Saturday. Picture: Peter Ryan

Clitheroe boss Simon Haworth is in confident mood going into what could be a critical stage of the season.

The Blues have won their last two games, with two clean sheets, knocking holders Ashton Athletic out of the LFA Challenge Trophy, before ending Hyde United’s unbeaten record in the league on Saturday.

Clitheroe now host Ossett Albion in the league on Saturday, before a December schedule that takes in seven games – including the LFA Challenge Trophy quarter-final at home to Radcliffe Borough.

And Haworth hopes his players can start clawing back the six-point gap to Glossop North End in sixth: “We’ve had two good results now, and two clean sheets, and we’ve been threatening it with the performances in our last five or six games.

“The results haven’t mirrored that, but it is starting to come together – it feels like we’ve turned the corner.

“It’s pretty similar to last November, when we started a 15-game unbeaten run – we’ve tried a few different players and players have come and gone, andgiven our budget, maybe it takes 10-20 games for things to settle down. That seems the case anyway.

“But we have a good squad now, and if we can continue to play at our best, we should be competitive.

“We have the quarter-final to look forward to – and the lads are desperate to get to the final after losing in the semis last year – and come the turn of the year, hopefully we can be knocking on the door of the top 10.”

Kurt Willoughby’s double saw off Hyde at Shawbridge on Saturday, taking him one clear of Scarborough Athletic’s Michael Coulson at the top of the Evo-Stik First Division North goalscorers charts with 13.

Haworth has spoken previously to Advertiser Sport about how he feels the striker could prosper at a higher level, and he is delighted with more than just his goals: “Kurt is a goalscorer, but I have spoken a lot to him about adding to his game, and on Saturday, apart from his goals, his build-up play was impressive.

“He will always score goals, but Saturday was as good as he has been in terms of bringing players into the game.”

Haworth felt it was his midfield three who were pivotal to beating Hyde, however, whose only previous loss this season was to League 1 MK Dons in the FA Cup: “Kurt is on fire, but Ross Dent, Joe Mitchell and Charlie Russell probably won us the game. They set the tempo for us.”

Haworth is wary of Ossett Albion, despite sitting next-bottom: “They are down there, but it’s a very competitive league, and we need that consistency now.”