Shawbridge boss Simon Haworth admits that Alex Newby’s departure has hit Clitheroe harder than he could have ever anticipated.
The 22-year-old had netted 19 goals for the Blues in all competitions in a prolific partnership with leading scorer Kurt Willoughby.
However, the former Barrow and Kendal Town forward’s form had rival clubs on high alert and it was Chorley who eventually won the race for his signature.
Newby has netted twice for the Magpies in his last three appearances in the Vanarama National League North, opening the scoring in a 1-1 draw against York City at Bootham Crescent and doing the same in the 68th minute of a 2-1 triumph against AFC Telford United at New Bucks Head.
Those goals have helped to position Matt Jansen’s side on the periphery of the play-off places, two points behind the Minstermen with a couple of games in hand.
Meanwhile, the Blues have slipped away from the Evo-Stik First Division North top six after picking up a solitary point from their last five games. The goals have also dried up in that sequence with just two netted.
“I went to watch Alex play for Chorley against Bradford Park Avenue,” said Haworth. “He was one of the best players on the pitch by a million miles. It really hit home just what we’re missing.
“He was the best player in the league at the time he was with us. Now he’s getting man of the match at that level. If he keeps going he’ll be playing in League Two soon.
“His loss hit us harder than we’d anticipated; we’ve been hit by things like that at the wrong time.”
Clitheroe’s latest loss came at the hands of promotion seeking Bamber Bridge at Irongate midweek.
After Lewis Nightingale’s set-piece cannoned back off the bar for the hosts, full back Stephen Rigby and striker George West were both thwarted by Brig goalkeeper Lloyd Rigby.
Defender Ian Rowlands gave the visitors the lead in the 26th minute with a towering header from a corner and that was an advantage that the Blues preserved until the break.
Alistair Waddecar equalised in the 54th minute with a well-executed free kick that sailed over the wall and out of reach of Chris Thompson.
And they took the lead three minutes later when Nightingale was played through on goal before slotting the ball in to the corner.
Willoughby and Rigby went close for the away side in their push for an equaliser but it was former Blues boss Neil Reynolds that came away smiling at full time.
Clitheroe entertain Goole AFC on Saturday before travelling to the Dual Seal Stadium to take on struggling Brighouse Town on Monday.
Meanwhile, tickets and hospitality packages are now available for Clitheroe’s trip to the Macron Stadium.
Haworth’s men take on Chorley in the final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy on Monday, April 23rd.
Prcied at £8, and £4 for concessions, they will be available to purchase at games against Goole AFC, Brighouse Town and Colwyn Bay and they will also be on sale at Banana News in Clitheroe.
Hospitality tickets are also available for £35, or £25 for concessions.