BLUES boss Carl Garner has been struck with an injury crisis.
Eight players are on the treatment table following a tough start to the 2011/12 campaign. Garner has been forced to juggle his squad since the start of the season, with Zac Jones replacing the injured Zach Hibbert in goal, while last season’s golden boot winner, Ashley Parillon, has also been unavailable for selection.
Now, following Tuesday night’s spectacular 5-2 win over Premier Division outfit Burscough in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round, Garner is without skipper Marlon Broomes, Nathan Taylor, Alan Coar, Chris Turner, Alex Brees, Eddie Stanford, Steve Mercer and Dan Barnett.
“We are just suffering with injuries,” Garner said. “I have eight players unavailable, and half of those would feature in my starting XI. I lost three more in our FA Cup win against Burscough.
“Marlon Broomes’ calf went during the warm-up, then Nathan Taylor and Alan Coar came off.
“We ended up playing with teenage full-backs, and 20-year-old Jack Higgins took the captain’s armband.”
Garner added: “If the players aren’t injured at the moment, then they are off on their holidays. We should be sponsored by Judith Chalmers.
“Chris Turner, Alex Brees, Eddie Stanford, Steve Mercer and Dan Barnett are also missing, and none of them will feature against Farsley.”
But the Blues boss was buoyed by the attitude of his young side, who fought back from a goal down.
Ashley Higgins had given Chris Stammers’ men a sixth minute lead at Shawbridge, but goals from Josh Hine, Nick Walker, Nathan Taylor and Alex Ralph saw Clitheroe surge in to a 4-1 advantage just after the hour. William Jones pulled one back for the Linnets with 15 minutes remaining, but Hine grabbed his second moments later.
Strikes from Taylor and Parillon had earned Clitheroe the replay after a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Victoria Park on Saturday.
“They were fantastic, absolutely brilliant,” said Garner. “We were one down within 10 minutes and never had a kick. Things were looking ominous. But we came back and dominated the game and they worked really hard.
“Chris Smalley moved to centre-half and was outstanding and Matthew Carr was also fantastic.”
He added: “It was a good night for the club and it earned us some prize money. The young lads were fantastic and ran their hearts out. I can’t speak highly enough of them.”
Clitheroe’s reward is a home tie against Radcliffe Borough in the second qualifying round on Saturday, October 1st. And following the First Division North fixture against Farsley, which kicks off at 3 p.m. at Shawbridge on Saturday, the Blues face four cup clashes, all in different competitions.
Garner said: “We’ve got Radcliffe Borough next in the FA Cup, which will be a tough fixture. It won’t be easy, but we feel we can push on.
“The FA Cup is a massive one for us, and the FA Trophy is also an important one.
“The other cup competitions give me the chance to play fringe players and those who haven’t had much game time.”