By Chris Gibbs
There’s no other way to put this but after last week’s 1-0 home defeat to Skelmersdale, we are now in a scrap.
The points difference to the team above us in the league table, City of Liverpool, is at 4, while the points difference to the first team in the relegation play-offs, Widnes, is only 3. A point worse off than them are our local rivals Hanley, who are in the automatic relegation places. It’s tough.
So perhaps this isn’t quite the right moment to remind supporters that the last time we played Saturday’s opponents Clitheroe in October, we were on the wrong end of our heaviest defeat of the season by some distance – an eye-watering 7-1 scoreline.
That game needs some context though. With 20 minutes to go we were in the ascendancy and trailing only 2-1. Then a penalty led to the parting of the waves and ultimately a collapse. Clitheroe’s leading marksman Sefton Gonzales bagged a hat-trick that evening and he’s sure to be a threat again on Saturday.
We’ve freshened up our squad recently by bringing in Joe Thompson, Luke Walsh and Max Chimenes, and this has been critical with the injuries that we’ve got to cope with.
Goalkeeper Joe Slinn is a doubt for Saturday and Will Lloyd has been suffering with a chest infection this week. Ethan Vale is still not quite ready for first team action and Ollie Ritchie having been rested last weekend, is also a doubt. In the forward positions, Jake Lovatt remains on the long-term injury list while Nathan Morley may also miss the visit of Clitheroe.
But in spite of all this, we are still able to compete and that’s testament to the playing squad we have now. How we cope with this adversity remains to be seen but one thing has never been in doubt and that’s that this team will keep fighting for every ball to the end.
Come on ‘Castle!