Clitheroe boss Lee Ashforth hopes to build a head of steam for next term

Clitheroe boss Lee Ashforth (left) pictured with striker Harry Pratt
Clitheroe boss Lee Ashforth (left) pictured with striker Harry Pratt
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Lee Ashforth hopes to use Clitheroe’s remaining 13 games to build a team ready to hit the ground running next season.

The Shawbridge boss is confident that another 10 points will be enough to secure the Blues’ place in the Evo-Stik League, but wants to instil a winning mentality into the side.

Clitheroe are set to face bottom-of-the-table Skelmersdale United on Tuesday as they hope to bring their 11-game winless streak to an end.

“It’s about getting as safe as possible as quickly as possible,” Ashforth explained. “If we can get another 10 points, that should be enough to keep us in the division. Whether we’ve got enough now is debatable, but a couple more wins and we’re probably safe.”

A frozen pitch postponed Clitheroe’s trip to Valerie Park on Saturday, but the rescheduled fixture is a good opportunity for the Blues to chalk up one of those wins, with Paul McNally’s side yet to win at home this season.

To Ashforth the Skelmersdale game presents a challenge as well as an opportunity.

“They’ll be as hungry as us to get points on the board and get a win,” he warned, with late goals a particular concern at present.

Across their last four games Clitheroe have conceded four goals in the final 10 minutes.

“We need to make sure the players are playing for 90 minutes, not 88 minutes. It’s important to get that mentality, the right mental approach.”

A win at Skelmersdale would give Clitheroe a much-needed boost ahead of their home fixture against second-placed Runcorn Linnets the following Saturday.

“We’ve got to concentrate on each game,” Ashforth warned, but admitted that attention is now turning to building a head of steam for next term.

Clitheroe’s 2-1 win in the reverse fixture against the Blueboys in November remains their most recent win to date, and marked the end of Ashforth’s spell of early successes after taking over as manager in September.

“We went on a really good run and then we followed that with a really poor run. It’s our aim now to get the players that we’ve got to pick up as many points as we can,” he said.

“At the end of the day it all comes down to results on the pitch, but we need to get things right off the pitch. It’s about building a team that can work.”

As well as securing safety in the league, Ashforth is keen to develop the foundations of next year’s squad.

“We’re looking to see whether we’ve got a team in place for next year rather than having to start from scratch,” he said, adding that his side’s two away draws in January demonstrate the strength of the current squad.

The postponed match on Saturday means that Clitheroe will have been without match time for 17 days by the time they face Skelmersdale, before playing twice in a week.

But Ashforth is unconcerned about the change in pace to their schedule. “All players just want to play matches and I’m sure they will be looking forward to the game on Tuesday night.”

MARK SLEIGHTHOLM