Simon Haworth isn’t short of superlatives when it comes to describing the excellence of his players in recent weeks.
Clitheroe are on a run of seven wins from eight outings in the Evo-Stik First Division North and that return of 21 points has pushed the club to within touching distance of the top five.
The Blues have now triumphed in nine out of 10 fixtures across the board, scoring 34 times in the process, and they’ve managed it with a depleted group that has been hit hard by injuries and illness.
Just three players were named on the bench for the fantastic 5-2 victory against Atherton Collieries at the Kensite Stadium and one of those, Brad Carroll, was still suffering with a virus.
Clitheroe’s character was tested again when they battled back from going behind to Christopher Lynch’s 27th minute strike which came against the run of play.
The full back’s crisp attempt from distance found an uninterupted path through a crowded area, sneaked under the torso of Chris Thompson and nestled in the corner.
The away side’s response was almost immediate and they were back on level terms three minutes later when George West converted Daniel Byrnes’s cross from close range against his old club.
West, who made four appearances for the Colls earlier in the season, gave the Blues the lead in the 55th minute when curling a shot past Greg Hartley from the edge of the penalty area.
After Luke Giverin’s set-piece came back off the post, the visitors went on to extend their lead just after the hour.
Jacob Gregory supplied the perfectly measured pass to send Alex Newby clear and the forward obliged with a controlled flick over Hartley to make it 3-1.
The hosts got back in to the game through Darrhyl Mason with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining but leading scorer Kurt Willoughby restored the two-goal cushion from the spot after being brought down in the box.
The striker then turned provider in the final moments of stoppage time as Newby poked home his second of the afternoon from just outside the six-yard box.
“The lads were excellent and we were still short of bodies,” said Haworth. “We were without our captain Danny Brady and others were absent through illness and injury.
“We had Brad Carroll on the bench who has been suffering with a virus.
“To win 5-2 was unbelievable. I’m so glad that we’ve been able to pick up points when we’ve been stretched. We’ve really had to patch ourselves up in recent weeks. That says a lot about the lads.
“They’ve got huge character and there’s a really good team spirit at the moment. They’re all playing at the top of their potential and they’re doing it in an eye-catching manner.
“Scoring five goals away from home is excellent. It started to turn the last time we beat Atherton Collieries having gone back to how we’d operated last season.
“The lads have got another season under their belts, they’ve had some success following a positive season and they’ve learned a lot from it. Now they’re going a step further.”
Team : Chris Thompson, Jacob Gregory, Stephen Rigby, Ian Rowlands (c), Ryan Ellison, Ross Dent, Danny Byrnes, Charlie Russell (Brad Carroll), Kurt Willoughby, Alex Newby, George West (Jamie Hodgson). Subs - Jamie Hodgson, Brad Carroll. Not used - Joe Mitchell.