There are days that are perfect for football and Saturday, April 2nd appeared to be one of those days, the air was crisp but just right, the pitch was in good condition for an April match, despite a slope on her, and the sun was in the sky, all the makings of a perfect day for football.
However, the day started off not in that manner for Castle when we lost Lewis Jarman prior to kickoff with sickness meaning our squad which was already thin on the ground was even more so.
Midweek injuries to Jake Lovatt and Max Chimenes meant a recall for Chris Smith and also 2 more new faces in the squad in the way of Thomas Hinton a recent signing from Stafford Rangers and Ollie Torjussen promoted from the club's successful Midweek Floodlit youth cup winning team.
Castle made 3 changes from the side that lost in midweek with Will Lloyd returning to the starting XI, Tom Hinton getting his first start for the club and Ryan Baxter coming back into the starting lineup.
Clitheroe started the game looking to play as we would have expected getting the ball high and info Sefton Gonzales, and after just 3 minutes Joe Slinn was called into action when Gonzales turned on the edge of the box and got a shot away which Slinny managed to tip over the crossbar but early signs that Clitheroe was here to play as they looked to push towards the league playoffs.
Early chances were limited for Castle with a change in formation slightly to accommodate the missing players meant that the shape was at times testing for Clitheroe but their grit to win the ball and get it into the box was a challenge in itself for Castle.
Castle's first chance in the game come from a corner after Connor Russo was working hard to get the ball in and won a corner and Vale's ball into the box was met by a header from Ellis Jones goalwards but cleared by the player on the post to deny Castle the opening goal.
Clitheroe continued to grow in the game and get the ball into the danger area with Danny Wilkins impressing in midfield and the fullbacks also getting forward and using the slight wind to advantage to wip the ball in.
But on 37 minutes it was Clitheroe who got the break when a long punt from the back bounced awkwardly and was not dealt with and Max Cane come in and scored from just outside the area with what looked like a soft shot off the outside of his boot to put Clitheroe 1 up.
Just a few minutes later they had another chance to extend the lead but the ball was slammed into the side netting, Castle was now under the pressure and cosh in the game (as if it was not there before already!)
With just a minute of additional time added on Clitheroe was not looking to get in for a breather and extended their lead, Castle failed to clear the ball and Burrows run down the wing got his cross away into the box for Dent to rise highest and put his flick into the far corner of the net and give Clitheroe a deserved half time lead.
Clitheroe 2-0 Newcastle Town
Castle was sent out early for the second half to get ready to try and get back in this game as we all spent the halftime looking at the league table and starting to worry about the results around us.
5 minutes in and disaster struck for Castle as Ellis Jones went down with an injury and as a result, Gonzales broke away and luckily Slinn was on hand to pull off a good save low down to deny him and deny them extending the lead.
With the resulting injury, Ollie Torjussen come on for his first-team debut, once again proving the Newcastle Town pathway works as Ollie has come through the club ranks.
Yet more shuffling in the Castle team and formation meant we were looking to hold as much in the game as we could as well as still looking to get ourselves back in the game.
Castle did get their first shot away on goal in the second half after 57 minutes when Will Lloyd's strike went just wide off a corner but Castle was struggling to get the ball forward to the front line.
Everything in the air in the second half was being won by Clitheroe and when the ball got played over the far side a clash of heads between the Clitheroe player and Connor Russo resulted in Connor having a open wound above his eye and what looked deep enough to require stitches and yet another injury to the ever-growing list for Castle.
You could see the change in Clitheroe's play once the crowd informed them that Runcorn was losing who is the team just above them in the league and then the playoff race and from that point on Clitheroe was in charge of the game and dictated the final 15 minutes of play. Joe Slinn was called into play a number of times to pull of some good saves, as was our make shift back line to keep the scoreline where it would finish.
Clitheroe 2-0 Newcastle Town
CURRENT LEAGUE TABLE
So with that Castle dropped into the dreaded 3rd from the bottom spot which this season's manes a possible playoff to stay up if the club's PPG (Points Per Game) is worse than other teams from the trident leagues.
Only 2 sides will get a reprieve and not have to enter the playoffs and that is the highest 2 ranked teams on the PPG scale.
Below are the current standings.
Newcastle now look ahead to next Saturday and a game with Runcorn who are chasing a playoff spot and the return of Owen Mooney to Lyme Valley who we are sure will get a superb reception from the Castle faithful prior to the game but who knows if that will still be in place come 4:46 on Saturday afternoon.