BLUES assistant boss Lee Sculpher is demanding to see his side’s fighting spirit.
Consecutive defeats against Ossett Albion and Bamber Bridge have seen Clitheroe slip to 16th in the First Division North table, just seven points clear of the drop zone.
And with crucial fixtures against lowly Mossley and Wakefield to contend with in the coming weeks, Sculpher wants the performances of his players to pack a punch.
He said: “The league has tightened up. The clubs down at the bottom have been picking up points over the last few weeks, and that puts added pressure on ourselves.
“We need to start picking up points pretty quickly. We don’t want to have to rely on other teams getting beat.
“Ossett Albion have lost only one in seven, Cammell Laird won at the weekend, and Wakefield are battling hard.
“We play Wakefield in a week’s time, which is going to be a massive game for us.
“We can really help ourselves in those particular games but every game is vital for us now.
“Technically we’ve got some fantastic individuals.
“But there are question marks over our ability to fight for the win.
“That would be one criticism, so we need to roll our sleeves up and get a bit dirty.”
Sculpher’s arrival back at Shawbridge sparked a prosperous run over the festive period, with the Blues accumulating eight points from five fixtures.
But since then, Clitheroe have picked up just one win in four outings.
“We’ve been inconsistent,” said Sculpher.
“We are doing the best we can and working hard to put things right.
“It just doesn’t seem to have clicked at this moment in time, which is frustrating, because over the Christmas period, we picked up some good results, but now we’ve suffered consecutive defeats.
“We’re taking one step forwards and two steps back.
“I’m confident this team will evolve.
“You can understand the frustration of the spectators, because they want immediate success.
“But the route we’ve gone down with the younger players will take more time to get the balance and consistency right.
“Ideally we want three more experienced players mixed in with these youngsters.”
Shawbridge plays host to Saturday’s fixture once again, with Mossley the visitors.
“They are one place below us,” said Sculpher.
“They’ve just changed their manager as well, and when that happens, there is generally an upturn in results, so we’ve got that to contend with.”
Sculpher’s latest tenure in the Ribble Valley doesn’t exactly convey the riches of his past.
Sculpher was player/assistant to Dave Burgess in 2000/01.
In their first season together, the pair guided the Blues to runners-up in the North West Counties League Premier Division, and the FA Vase semi-final.
Sculpher took over in the hotseat the following season, and again led Clitheroe to second place in the league, before losing 2-1 to Mossley in the League Cup final at Bury’s Gigg Lane ground.
But then his persistence was rewarded as Clitheroe were crowned NWCL Premier Division champions on the final day of the 2003/04 campaign, after a late goal from Neil Reynolds sealed a 3-2 victory at Nantwich Town, and the title.
But he admits he’s used to the ups and downs of life in football, recalling: “When I was a player, not just at Clitheroe, I had my ups and downs and that’s the same for a management team.
“It’s all about how you work through it.
“Carl Garner has shown a lot of faith with certain individuals in the squad, and now it’s time for them to repay that faith.
“We had a very settled side, week in, week out when I was at Clitheroe before.
“But at the moment, what the line-up is going to be changes each week.”
Sculpher says he and Garner are continuing their in-depth search to add further quality to their ranks with 15 games remaining in this campaign.
He said: “We are always looking to bring people in but we want to make sure that they are the right characters for the club.
“We don’t want to bring in people for the sake of it, because they need to be better than what we’ve got.
“They need to have that added quality.”