Blues boss Simon Garner is ready to tackle his side’s psychological flaws in a bid to remedy a severe bout of travel sickness.
Clitheroe have won just twice on the road from 13 league outings this term, and the latest saw Garner’s men endure a 6-0 thumping at the hands of promotion hopefuls Darlington 1883.
More than 1,000 spectators witnessed the Evo-Stik First Division North clash at Heritage Park, a factor Garner believes led to his inexperienced players freezing on the occasion.
“All our worst fears came to light,” said Garner. “We were totally out-thought and out-battled. It was like watching men against boys and it was a horrible experience. I’ve been saying for weeks that we lack experience in the squad and it showed against Darlington. They were shell-shocked and overawed by the experience.
“There was a big crowd and it was just too much for them and they froze. We went from beating top-of-the-league Warrington convincingly to performing like we didn’t deserve to be at this level. It was an unbelievable contrast.
“Away games are always harder but it’s still only a football pitch and two sets of nets. It seems like it’s psychological but we’ll work hard to address that. We need experience and consistency.”
On the other side of the coin, the Blues have lost just once on home soil under Garner’s tenure which came in the Boxing Day defeat to rivals Padiham. The last fixture at Shawbridge saw Clitheroe beat league leaders Warrington and that’s inspired Garner ahead of Saturday’s game with basement side Ossett Albion, kick-off 3 p.m.
“We know that we need a few more players but we still feel that we’ve got the nucleus of a very good team which we proved against Warrington,” Garner said. “We need to improve our displays away from home and the results because some of them have been shocking. It’s disappointing and frustrating that the players turn up at home but can’t repeat that for away games.
“Ossett’s results have improved. They aren’t winning games but they are pushing teams now. The weather has been horrendous so the pitch won’t be great and that levels things out a bit. The players will have to roll up their sleeves and battle. It’s not just about ability at this level; you need to work hard and compete. We are always confident at home though because our form is great so I’ll be expecting a response.”
Garner added: “I know I’ve got a squad of players that will react positively from that defeat. They’ve responded well before and they’ll do it again.
“It’s all about building on what we’ve got at the moment and working towards next season. We’re determined to bring success to Clitheroe Football Club so we won’t accept performances like that at the weekend.”
The club is currently seeking the services of a part-time physio. Anybody interested in undertaking the post can contact chairman Anne Barker on 07709 243515.