Clitheroe FC boss Lee Ashforth can’t wait to put the 2018/19 term behind him

Clitheroe FC manager Lee Ashforth
Clitheroe FC manager Lee Ashforth

Lee Ashforth is ready to draw a line under a disappointing campaign for Clitheroe in the Evo-Stik League West Division.

A season of upheaval threw everything in to disarray at Shawbridge, with Stuart Mellish leaving the club by mutual consent after just five league games in charge.

Under Ashforth’s predecessor, the Blues sank to the bottom of the table having picked up just three points while conceding 17 goals.

At that point the rebuild in the Ribble Valley commenced and Clitheroe lost once in eight league games but from the back end of November onwards it became an all too familiar tale.

A run of 18 defeats from 23 games has been a real cause for concern but, having sewn up survival by the skin of their teeth, Ashforth has vowed that things will only get better.

“We’ve got to concentrate on what we do now,” he said. “We need to draw a line under this season, move on and get in to the summer.

“The lads know, the supporters know, I know, the committee knows that we haven’t been good enough. I’m not hiding behind anything.

“We’re looking forward to the end of the season now, we’ll go again, get some players in and start again.

“We’ll re-look at the budget, the amount the players are getting paid, re-evaluate it and start again with a fresh sheet of paper. I can only assure people that next season will be better than this one.”

As it stands, Ashforth is only planning on keeping hold of a handful of his current squad after a thoroughly underwhelming conclusion.

A 3-0 defeat to Colne at the Sovereign Play Stadium was the final straw and now those with question marks over their heads have one final game to prove themselves.

Ahead of Saturday’s home game against Mossley, he said: “The lads have got one game left to prove themselves.

“They won’t be just turning up, treating it as one final 90 minute game. They’re playing for their shirt.

“I’ve said to them that if they want to be invited back they’ve got to show me something. At the moment there’s only a handful that will be coming back.

“We’re going to have to get out there, get some players in, have a look at those who are available and maybe look to add another member to the management team, we’re considering that, and then we’ll look from there.”

Mamadou Djabi gave the Reds the lead after a quarter-of-an hour on Easter Monday before Billy Priestley and Oliver Wood netted in the second half.

The result pushed Steve Cunningham’s side in to the play-off pack and consigned Clitheroe to a bottom three finish.

“Colne are up there, they’re a good team,” Ashforth said. “They’ve given themselves a chance because Runcorn have slipped up.

“It’s all about them and I wish them all the best. Steve Cunningham is a good guy and I’ve got a lot of time for him, I speak to him regularly and I wish him and Colne all the best.

“The performance wasn’t good enough. We did quite well up until the hour but we were poor in the last half-an-hour. It shouldn’t be hard to motivate yourself. They need to get a result from somewhere and they need to put a shift in.”