Clitheroe’s resurgence under interim manager Lee Sculpher came to a shuddering halt at Valerie Park on Saturday with a comprehensive defeat against Prescot Cables.
There were two changes to last week’s starting XI as Matty Fearon and Marcus Calvert replaced Sam Christensen and Alex Johnson respectively, with Chris Smalley switching to centre-half. Altrincham loanee Tom Davidson was named among the substitutes and made his debut from the bench in the second half.
Clitheroe made a brisk start to the game with Oliver Devenney firing in a strike which ricocheted around the Prescot box after Nat Taylor had released Marcus Calvert down the right-hand side of the penalty area. Taylor looked capable of causing the Prescot backline problems but this was largely the only effort the Blues mustered in a lacklustre opening half.
In the 8th minute Ged Kinsella issued a warning of things to come as his shot from distance clipped the post.
Prescot took the lead in the 19th minute when Michael Reid picked out Joseph Gibiliru who fired past Zack Hibbert after showing excellent skill and composure to engineer an opening for himself. The home side came close to adding a second moments later but Ashley Ruane failed to make the necessary contact with Steven Tames’ dangerous low cross.
The Tigers did not have long to wait before extending their advantage as the influential Gibiliru added to his tally with an inswinging free-kick from the left which bypassed a crowded penalty area and found the bottom corner.
The half time break afforded Clitheroe some respite but the hosts continued to dictate proceedings for much of the second period. Chris Rowntree had already drilled an effort wide of the post before Tames effectively ended the match as a contest on 55 minutes as he slotted home after latching onto Ruane’s flick on. This display will have done little to harm Tames’ burgeoning reputation with the forward catching the eye of a number of professional clubs, most notably Sheffield Wednesday.
Prescot continued to create chances and a powerful run and shot by Kinsella forced Hibbert into a decent save. Shortly afterwards John Couch picked out Ruane who rattled the bar with a superb improvised effort before missing the target with the rebound.
Substitute James Thomas compounded Clitheroe’s misery with a fourth goal after 75 minutes, rifling a free-kick from range over the wall and past the outstretched dive of Hibbert. Ruane was close to adding a fifth but blasted narrowly over after Reid had wriggled through the visitors' defence.
A subdued Clitheroe did manage a consolation with six minutes remaining to give the scoreline a degree of respectability. Connor Smith reduced the arrears with similar ingenuity to that of Gibiliru in the first half after Glodi Kuba-Kuba had been denied by Prescot keeper Stephen Longrigg after racing clear.
There is no hiding the fact that Clitheroe were handsomely beaten today with Prescot extremely good value for this comfortable win, which incidentally was their first victory at Valerie Park in 2012. The forwarding of the clocks signals the business end of the football calendar and the manager has spoken of the importance of hitting the 40 point mark before thoughts can even begin to drift towards a ninth season at this level of football. The Blues will need to put this disappointing afternoon behind them and lift themselves ahead of a crucial fixture at Shawbridge in seven days time against Ossett Albion where they will look to build on the foundations laid over the last fortnight in the wins against Salford City and Warrington Town.
Stephen Longrigg, Chris Rowntree (Freddie Potter 64), Fraser Abblett, Michael Reid, Michael Grogan, Stewart McMullan, John Couch (James Thomas 73), Joseph Gibiliru (c) (James McCulloch 73), Steven Tames, Ged Kinsella, Ashley Ruane. Subs not used: Anthony James
Zack Hibbert, Chris Smalley, Lee Pugh (c), Jack Higgins, Matty Fearon, Connor Smith, Nat Taylor, Oliver Devenney (Joe Roberts 70), Glodi Kuba-Kuba, Marcus Calvert (Tom Davidson 56), James Davis (Ross Dent
56). Subs not used: Bobby Langford, Andrew Naylor