CLITHEROE picked up their first win of the season on Saturday, and boss Carl Garner is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel after a turbulent start.
The Blues beat Garforth Town 3-2 at Shawbridge, going 3-0 up through goals from Alex Brees, either side of half-time, and Ashley Parillon on the hour.
Garforth mounted a comeback, pulling it back to 3-2 with 13 minutes to play, but a young Clitheroe side held out.
On Bank Holiday Monday, the Blues suffered a 1-0 loss at Harrogate Railway Athletic, conceding the only just after half-time, but Garner – who fielded NINE teenagers in both games, is hugely encouraged by the last week.
He said: “We’re starting to get players back, and hopefully we will be adding a couple as well.
“But the bonus has been the young players – circumstances have forced our hand, but they have been an absolute credit to themselves and the club.
“Hopefully they will stick around and prove to be valuable additions.
“They ground a result out on Saturday against a strong side, then at Harrogate, they stood up to a physical team who tried to intimidate them, and were unlucky to lose.”
While his youngsters came of age, Garner also praised the experience of Marlon Broomes, as well as goalkeeper Zack Hibbert and Jack Higgins.
Broomes made 273 professional appearances with 10 clubs after starting his career at Blackburn Rovers, and has well and truly had his eyes opened to Evo-Stik League football, as Garner said: “Marlon has been fantastic, he has responded superbly to this level and looked after the young lads.
“His performances have been good, and his manner about the place has been fantastic.
“He had his front teeth knocked out on Monday after 10 minutes and played the 90, after picking up a hamstring injury early on Saturday and playing through that.
“It really has been a case of ‘Welcome to the Evo-Stik League!’
“Zach was on crutches until the middle of last week after his injury, but he came in at Harrogate and made two big saves, and Jack has played with his arm strapped as well after doing nothing for a month.
“I can’t speak highly enough of them.”
Garner feels the club can start to move on now.
He said: “It is a long-term plan, and we will get to where we want to be, no problem.
“But we’ve had to find a short-term fix, put a sticking plaster over it, and in doing so, we’ve discovered some fantastic young players, who could turn out to be big players for the club.
“We’ve used 30 players in three weeks, not by choice.
“We’ve called in a few favours, and hopefully now we can get a few of our players back and work towards bringing the ones we want in.
“There is plenty of talent at the club, and the young lads have taken their opportunity.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Clitheroe, however, as they face early pacesetters Skelmersdale United at Shawbridge on Saturday in the FA Cup preliminary round.
Garner said: “It’s a massive task again, and we have got to find a way of bridging the void between us and them, but with more of our contracted players coming back, and more additions, we’ll give it a go.
“It’s been a poor start, but we will turn the corner sooner rather than later.”