Early goal costs Clitheroe at home to the league leaders

Clitheroe attack a set piece'''Picture: Peter Ryan
Clitheroe attack a set piece'''Picture: Peter Ryan
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Clitheroe could consider themselves unfortunate not to take at least a point at home to league leaders South Shields on Saturday, in front of a bumper crowd of 521.

But the Blues have now won just once in their last six outings, ahead of last night’s LFA Challenge Trophy semi-final against Charnock Richard at the County Ground in Leyland.

Simon Haworth’s men went behind after just four minutes when Graeme Armstrong capitalised on Clitheroe’s failure to defend Aksel Juul’s cross, and the striker stopped low to head past Chris Thompson from close range.

And it was an advantage that the hosts were unable to peg back.

Right back Caldon Henson drew a fine save from goalkeeper Liam Connell with a rasping drive as the Blues responded, while Danny Brady, picked out by Joe Mitchell, glanced a header over the crossbar when unmarked.

Ian Rowlands also found himself with space in the box when meeting Joseph Mitchell’s corner, but the defender’s header grazed the top of the bar.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t falling for the home side, as Dimitri Tuanzebe and substitute Jacob Gregory squandered further opportunities after the break.

The Mariners even held firm when surviving a late scramble in the penalty area.

Boss Simon Haworth said: “We probably gave them too much respect and stood off them too much.

“They have players like Julio Arca who have played 300-odd games in the Premier League.

“We were too respectful and we just showed that soft touch defending crosses again sadly.

“We work on it and work on it and we talk about it but we let another soft goal in. For 85 minutes after, though, we defended brilliantly.

“That’s all it takes though.”

Meanwhile, leading scorer Kurt Willoughby is determined to emulate the run of form over Christmas that propelled the Blues back in to play-off contention.

Clitheroe took 21 points from eight games during that period, scoring 27 goals in the process, which included the 6-0 thrashing of rivals Colne.

He said: “They (South Shields) were holding it in the corner towards the end which just shows the respect they had for us, because they wanted to see the game out.

“We got in good areas and I thought we were the better team for most of the game.

“They had to work for it but we couldn’t take our chances and find the killer pass but if we play like that against most teams in our league then we’ll win.

“There are winnable games coming up so hopefully it sparks a run again. We’ve matched the best team in this league we fancy ourselves in the next game and we should do it.”