Clitheroe’s safety secured despite Prescot Cables defeat

Action from Shawbridge where Clitheroe were beaten 2-1 by Prescot Cables
Action from Shawbridge where Clitheroe were beaten 2-1 by Prescot Cables

With the key objective accomplished, Blues boss Lee Ashforth feels that he can start making plans to take things to the next level.

A planned reshuffle in the structure effectively safeguarded Clitheroe’s position in the eighth level of the English pyramid with Skelmersdale United cut adrift from the pack.

Their point against Market Drayton Town at Valerie Park means that it is now a mathematical impossibility for Clitheroe to finish bottom, despite a 2-1 loss at home to play-off hopefuls Prescot Cables.

It now seems like a two-horse race in the fight against relegation with the Blueboys facing a shootout for survival with Kendal Town.

“When we took over the main concern was keeping the club in the league and after results today we’re guaranteed that,” said Ashforth.

“We’ll be playing Evo-Stik football next year so we’ve hit that target. Have we been as successful as what we could and should have been? Probably not.

“We’ve lost 18 points in the last 10 minutes of games; if we’d have hung on to some of those points we’d have been up towards mid-table comfortably and nobody would have batted an eye lid. Can we be better? Of course we can. We’ll never be the finished article.”

In Max Hazeldine’s absence, Harry Blackburn was hoping to prove an able deputy to the club’s leading scorer and the striker went close within three minutes.

His shot took a wicked deflection, causing the ball to loop awkwardly over goalkeeper Ollie Taylor only for the effort to be cleared off the line.

However, the hosts were made to pay for that missed opportunity when Ben Purdham dealt with Chris Almond’s attempt but Lloyd Dean - on his return to Shawbridge - nodded in the rebound.

Blackburn drew another fine save from Taylor after Jason Jeffries led a three-on-one counter attack and, in return, Purdham pulled off a magnificent double save at the opposite end to keep the home side in it.

Both Dean and Blackburn were foiled again in the second half as both sides continued to put their stamp on the Evo-Stik West Division fixture in the Ribble Valley.

Clitheroe equalised in the 62nd minute when substitute George West’s set-piece arced rainbow-like in to the top corner after the forward was fouled on the edge of the penalty area.

But the hosts were level for just four minutes. It was captain James McCulloch who again rose to the occasion to restore Cables’ advantage.

A beautifully flighted free kick from Luke Griffiths was met at the back post by the Cables skipper who was able to head the ball home and give the visitors all three points.

Ashforth said: “We created chances, we looked good at times, we still looked a bit vulnerable at the back, Ben made some saves, but they’re up near the top and they’re going for the play-offs.

“They’ve been together for a couple of years but we’ve matched them at times and probably deserved something out of the game. We’ve done well to improve on last week and we can go again.”

Team : Ben Purdham, Josh Snowden (Michael Wilson), Cole Lonsdale, Alex Low, Andy Langford, Jay Jeffries (c), Bevan Burey, Hyuga Tanner, Phil Marsh (George West), Harry Blackburn (Jacob Gregory), Antoine Recizac. Subs - George West, Michael Wilson, Jacob Gregory.

Not used - Ryan Botell, Cameron Terry.