BLUES boss Paul Moore insists that Clitheroe Football Club has progressed on a huge scale this term.
After battling against relegation last season, the Shawbridge side has defied the odds by clambering in to the First Division North play-off zone. Recent form - two wins in eight outings - may have seen that position become rather more tenuous but the Blues remain nestled in the top five.
Games in hand could see New Mills, Ramsbottom United and Cammell Laird change all that, but regardless of the outcome to the campaign Moore is delighted with the strides that have been made at the club - though he’s not conceding defeat in the promotion chase by any means.
“It’s still very early and it’s still in our own hands,” said Moore. “Most teams around us dropped points as well so we got through the weekend relatively unscathed. The belief is still there and there is nothing to suggest otherwise. We were never going to run away with it, it was never going to be easy.
“If it was that simple then the club would’ve achieved it long before I came on the scene. We are in a very good position to go ahead and make the play-offs. We know what the target is. Whatever happens though we are a hell of a lot better off this year than what we’ve been in previous seasons. We have made massive strides. We are doing our best to push the club on to a better platform.
“While we have got the opportunity we are going to go for it because we’ve got nothing to lose. We are going to throw everything at it. This recent spell has gone on a little bit too long so we’re eager to get back to how we were. We need to find that consistency again.”
The latest fixture saw mid-table Ossett Town inflict Clitheroe’s third successive defeat on home soil as Carl Stewart and substitute Joseph Thornton scored in either half in a 2-0 triumph. Moore conceded that his side wasn’t at the races but was adamant that they weren’t helped by enforced changes to the squad.
“In respect to the performance it was a shock but it’s disrespectful to Ossett Town to say the result was a shock because they’re a decent side,” Moore declared. “They are a typical hard-working Yorkshire team. We knew what to expect and it’s a shame that we didn’t deliver.
“There were too many lads in the starting XI that hadn’t had enough game time under their belts. We’ve fallen short. We didn’t have anything to trouble them which isn’t like us. We are usually in the faces of most teams.”
Moore added: “Dean Canning played 90 minutes after being out of action for two months and Daley Woods hadn’t played in around six weeks due to the enforced break. Lee Pugh was out injured so we’ve had a shuffle round at the back.
“Will James came back in and Louis Edwards played at centre back for the first time. The back four was completely changed. That was the problem, it wasn’t a settled side and we haven’t had that since November. You struggle in this division without a settled side and it’s showing at the moment.
“Daley had a great chance to put us 1-0 up when he blazed over from six yards out but he didn’t and we were punished for it. At the moment we are not doing the easy things right. We need to relax again and play without that fear or stress.”
The Blues will look to get back to winning ways when they travel to face Bamber Bridge on Saturday. Moore added: “Hopefully we’ll have something to celebrate, especially for the fans because their support has been A1. They’ve not had the same amount to cheer about recently as they did earlier in the season but everyone is working hard to turn that corner.”