SAM Heap has been tasked with making Clitheroe hard to beat on his return to Shawbridge.

The Blues won only one of their five games in December – picking up just four points from a possible 15 – and began the new year with a 6-0 thrashing at Darlington 1883.

But with a new backroom team in place under recently appointed manager Simon Garner, Clitheroe are seeking improvements in the second half of the season.

And Heap, who spent 10 months coaching with Vancouver Whitecaps’ Academy, says building from the back is the best course of action.

“The boys have had a bit of a tough run and December wasn’t a good month,” he said.

“We’re just lacking goals at the moment. That’s one of the areas I’ve been asked to work on, to make us harder to break down.

“If you can keep a clean sheet it guarantees you at least a point and you can build from there.

“It’s no good scoring twos and threes at home and not getting the points.”

But Heap is relishing the challenge of helping to turn Clitheroe’s fortunes around.

The striker has thrown himself into coaching while recovering from knee surgery, leading to a transfer from Nelson – where he was head of development – to first-team coach at the Evo-Stik First Division North side.

And while the striker hasn’t ruled out a comeback on the playing field, he is more than content with his new backroom role.

“I was delighted to come back to Clitheroe. It was my first semi-professional club in 2007 so I’ve got a lot of memories there and had a good rapport with the fans. I won the supporters’ player of the year.

“I love the place and it seems like a good fit for me,” said Heap. “When Simon took over the team was towards the bottom of the table.

“Finishing mid-table would be a successful year for us.

“We’re trying to build on that with maybe one or two extra players, but it’s mainly about developing a core squad.

“We’ve got a young squad and a young management team so we’re all still learning, but we can learn together.”