Confident Kurt is key asset for Clitheroe says Haworth

Action from Clitheroe's defeat against South Shields
Action from Clitheroe's defeat against South Shields

Kurt Willoughby is king for Clitheroe at present according to boss Simon Haworth.

The Blues striker is hovering around the top end of the Evo-Stik First Division North goalscoring charts having scored eight times so far.

And his hat-trick against Ramsbottom United at Shawbridge midweek helped his side get back to winning ways following three defeats in succession.

Willoughby, signed from AFC Blackpool, is level on goals with Colwyn Bay’s Astley Mulholland and just one short of Scarborough Athletic’s Michael Coulson.

The prolific forward inspired the home side when they needed it the most as they trailed by two goals against the Rams.

Greg Daniels fired the visitors in front as early as the ninth minute when cushioning a cross and beating goalkeeper Chris Thompson.

United doubled their lead eight minutes later when Jerome Wright’s deceptive cross floated over everybody before finding its way in at the far post.

Willoughby responded in the 26th minute when slipping through United’s defence before slotting the ball past Martin Fearon.

Alex Newby then levelled in the 71st minute before Willoughby turned the game on its head three minutes later with his second of the evening.

Thompson made an outstanding double save to preserve Clitheroe’s lead with 10 minutes remaining and then Willoughby completed his hat-trick from the spot, thumping the ball in to the corner as Fearon guessed correctly.

Sam Heathcote’s header in the final minute set up a nervy finale but the Blues held on to lift themselves in to a mid-table position.

“Kurt scores goals and Ramsbottom were one of the teams trying to sign him in the summer,” said Haworth.

“There was a lot of interest in him from bigger clubs. Even when he’s having a quiet afternoon he’ll score goals.

“He’s the top scorer in the league at the moment and he’s been massive for us. Keeping him happy and fit is vital.

“He always believes in himself, he backs his own ability, and when he scores goals he goes up another gear. Kurt is heading towards a 25/30 goal season and that will be huge for us.

“He’s even more important to us at the minute with how things have been defensively.”

A 4-1 defeat to league leaders South Shields at Mariners Park prompted Haworth to dip his hand in to the transfer market.

Newby’s early strike had given the Blues a surprise lead but Gavin Cogdon’s double plus further goals from Craig Baxter and Carl Finnigan made it a comfortable afternoon for the league newcomers.

Midfielder Bradley Knox has returned to the club following a trial with Fleetwood Town, Daniel Byrnes has joined from Ossett Albion and Jacob Gregory has signed from Colne.

Haworth said: “We needed to freshen things up. We’re trying to find a settled group of 18/20 players again that we can trust and who can do what we want them to do.”

The Blues entertain Mossley on Saturday with kick off at 3 p.m.