Despite a record-breaking season, Clitheroe’s goalless draw against New Mills at Shawbridge on Saturday put pay to their play-off aspirations for another year.
The Blues enjoyed the better of the game, but failed to set-up an exciting final weekend of the season and a potential winner-takes-all scenario at Trafford.
Paul Moore recalled Danny Mahoney in place of Chris Mason in the only change to the starting line-up from the draw at Curzon Ashton the previous week.
The hosts started the game brightly against surprisingly lacklustre opponents, with Daley Woods forcing David Stevenson into action with a shot from range after Mahoney robbed Sam Egerton.
Second-placed New Mills – unbeaten in 11 games – created very little, with Clitheroe keeper Hakan Burton a virtual spectator during the first half.
Mahoney missed the target with a header on 38 minutes, before Pugh saw a powerful shot from Jack Higgins’ cut-back deflected over the bar by Daryl Weston two minutes later.
Will James was replaced at half-time by Connor Smith – a move which saw Simon Nangle replace the former Blackburn Rovers defender.
Shortly after the break, Scott Bakkor latched onto a forward ball before finding Mahoney, whose drive was blocked by Carlos Meakin.
Five minutes later, Ross Dent’s shot from edge of the area narrowly missed Stevenson’s right-hand post before Woods fired over on the hour.
A minute later, Burton superbly saved Michael Bowler’s low shot from a Chris Luby cross, but the visitors were looking increasingly threatening and Egerton missed the target with a header from David Fitzpatrick’s free kick.
The Blues put in a battling performance and continued to search for a winner with Woods again firing narrowly over, as Clitheroe ultimately fell short of the play-offs.