BLUES boss Peter Smith praised his side’s spirit and commitment following their 2-1 victory over Lancaster City.
A catalogue of errors in a crazy 60 seconds looked as though it would amputate Clitheroe’s hopes at the Giant Axe Stadium as the hosts scored a dubious opener just seconds before the Blues were reduced to 10 men.
The linesman failed to raise his flag as Dave Swarbrick raced through in the 37th minute to give City the lead and within 30 seconds James Heywood’s raging frustration saw him dismissed by the match official.
“It was a great result for us, especially when we went down to 10 men after 30 minutes,” Smith said. “But full credit to the lads who came back after going 1-0 down. We do things the hard way but we showed a lot of character to win the game.
“Unfortunately Jimmy (Heywood) reacted to a poor decision which they’ve scored from. Their forward’s gone through after being two or three yards offside and the linesman’s kept his flag down. But you can’t call the referees, swear or be aggressive to officials when you approach them.
“I have no issue with the sending off because he deserved it but that poor decision could have cost us dearly. It was frustration that got him sent off and in a minute we found ourselves 1-0 down with 10 men. It was a manic 60 seconds.”
But the incident sparked a reaction from the Clitheroe camp in the second half; Rob Henry swept the ball past his own keeper just before the hour mark and Ryan Fisher left it late to seal the victory and a much-needed morale boosting three points.
Smith said: “To go to Lancaster and get a result with 11 players would have been an achievement because their record at home is second-to-none. But I’m so pleased with how we’ve reacted because we didn’t lie down and take it; we fought back with a lot of spirit.”
But Smith wants his players to replicate that same desire in their coming fixtures as they face three consecutive games at Shawbridge in the Evo-Stik First Division North against Leigh Genesis, Durham City and Wakefield. However, the Blues need to improve their home form with just one win in their last six league fixtures on home soil.
“We’ve got three games at home now and I want at least seven points from those nine,” Smith said. “They are all winnable games and we need to take advantage of them to remain in that chasing pack. Any sport is about confidence and that victory against Lancaster has got the lads buzzing and you could see when we scored the second goal the togetherness of the players. They are a very tight unit and it was like they’d just won a cup.
“But we’ve got to show that same desire, commitment and mentality against teams in the bottom half of the table. Sometimes we unfold against those teams lower down and we can’t afford to do that. We’ve got to be consistent and show the same effort and quality.”
Clitheroe remain in play-off contention, sitting fourth with 43 points though they have played the most games in the division. Smith added: “All we are doing is trying to enjoy our season. We are in a position where nobody expected us to be. I know we’ve played more games but those teams with games in hand have got to play each other. We’ve got to improve our home form and we can’t let it slip like we did in recent games.”