Stuart Mellish says that his players showed that they’ve got something about them, despite the heavy loss in his first competitive game as Clitheroe boss.
Visiting skipper Anthony Malbon, who dumped the Blues out of the FA Cup last term, scored a hat-trick for Kidsgrove Athletic in the 4-0 win at Shawbridge on the opening weekend of the Evo-Stik West Division campaign on Saturday, with Jordan Cole rounding off the scoring.
The hosts conceded three times in 10 first half minutes, shipping a fourth with six minutes remaining, but Mellish explained that the scoreline didn’t give a fair reflection of the performance.
Striker Oliver Wood squandered an opportunity with just goalkeeper Kyrystin Burzynski to beat in the opening minute, Jacob Gregory had penalty appeals waved away while Max Heseltine had a goal chalked off.
“It’s a disappointing result and I wasn’t expecting that,” he said. “Individual errors proved costly, we just had a mad 10 minutes and we were punished for it. We didn’t deserve to win the game but 4-0 certainly flattered Kidsgrove.
“We had around 70% possession in the game, we should’ve gone 1-0 up after 15 seconds and we were camped in their half after the break. They couldn’t get out. “At 3-0 down Jacob Gregory got hacked down in the box but he’s tried to stay on his feet and nothing was given.
“He was too honest but it was a penalty all day long.
“Exactly the same thing happened five minutes later but, after we had the ball in the net, the referee has pulled play back and disallowed the goal.”
Mellish added: “We got beat and I’m gutted but I’m not worried about it.
“Far from it. There was nothing to suggest that we’ll struggle.
“It takes a bit of time with a new squad so there are bound to be mistakes - let’s just hope we’re getting them out of the way now.
“There are plenty of positives to take; we played some good football.
“We just switched off in periods, not sticking with their midfielders when they offered the overload as their front men made the ball stick, but they’ve learned from that.
“We had a couple of shots cleared off the line as well and their keeper has made a few good saves.
“We will go again.
“The work rate was fantastic.
“I wanted a response in the second half and I got that.
“Lesser teams and lesser individuals would have crumbled and possibly beaten by five or six.
“That pleases me because it shows that they’ve got something about them, it shows that we can improve.”
Clitheroe slipped to a 4-1 defeat at Radcliffe on Tuesday night – a scoreline which more than flattered the hosts.
Radcliffe took an early lead as Andy Watson turned the ball into his own net, under pressure from Ben Wharton, as a deep ball to the far post was headed back across goal.
But Stuart Mellish’s side responded well, and carved out a number of chances before the interval, and deserved to go in level.
Shortly after the restart, Obi Anoruo forced a superb save from Ollie Martin from Max Hazeldine’s centre, but minutes later, Shelton Payne charged down Watson’s challenge and lifted the ball over Kyle Trennery to make it 2-0.
Clitheroe pulled one back with 23 minutes to go, as Anoruo squeezed his effort in at the second attempt after good work from Hazeldine, and the Blues pressed for a deserved leveller.
However, two Tunde Owolabi goals in injury time killed them off and gave the scoreline an unrealistic look.
Clitheroe are in Emirates FA Cup preliminary round action on Saturday, as they host Sunderland RCA at Shawbridge, kick-off 3 p.m.
Sunderland Ryhope Community play in the Northern League Division One.