CLITHEROE hit top spot in the First North Western Trains League First Division with a comfortable win over Atherton Collieries.

Steve Parry's side strolled through a largely unchallenging game which was hampered by a sticky pitch and still trudged off at full time whistling thanks to league rivals GM Vauxhall's FA Vase commitments.

A brace from Steve Denny and a fine individual goal from Andrew Taylor took the heat off Darren Norman, whose first half own goal gave Atherton an unexpected lifeline.

Denny kicked off the scoring in the 12th minute after some good link-up play with strike partner Neil Spencer. The frontman then doubled his side's lead a minute later before the Atherton defence woke up to the pair's threat and closed the gaps in the final third.

In fact, the home side then began to come into the game and with five minutes to go until half time a quick break resulted in a low cross which Norman struggled to come to terms with and sliced the ball into his own goal.

But with 20 minutes to go Taylor wrapped up the points for the Blues with a sudden burst through the midfield that ended in a clinical finish to make him the toast of the Clitheroe team on a night of collective triumph for Parry's men.

And, although Vauxhall's games in hand will no doubt mean a return to the front of the promotion queue Clitheroe will look to make it as long a stay at the top as possible.

Meanwhile, the optimists amonst the Blues faithful will cling to the small hope of championship glory with the slim possibility that the Motormen make a disastrous and unprecedented slip-up between now and the end of the season.

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