NANTWICH Town finished a disappointing 13th after being edged out by the odd goal in their final League fixtures.
Clitheroe were crowned champions after a 3-2 win at Jackson Avenue on Saturday, watched by a bumper crowd of 481.
Gary Jackson's first-half brace put Clitheroe into the ascendancy but Nantwich hit back with goals from Ashley Lawton and Melford Knight, only for Neil Reynolds to settle the game and the destination of the title with a late winner.
'Poor decisions cost us the game,' said Nantwich playermanager Nigel Gleghorn. 'We had two decent penalty shouts turned down and Danny Griggs was lying injured when they got the winner.'
Last Tuesday night, Nantwich had been pipped 2-1 in an entertaining game at Newcastle Town. Mark Gardiner grabbed the Dabbers' goal from the spot.
After the highs of sixth place last season, chairman Clive Jackson is demanding an improvement next term.
'Thirteenth place isn't good enough. The excitement of receiving the Lottery grant for our new ground hasn't been matched by a mediocre season on the field and we have been incapable of fielding a consistent side.' One of the highs saw another player progress to league football with Wes Wilkinson, the club's leading scorer with 21 goals, joining Second Division Oldham Athletic before the transfer deadline.
Meanwhile, work on the new Kingsley Field ground is continuing well.
Jackson said: 'It may not look as though much is happening but it takes time to get the tenders in, and the architect and project manager Peter Summersgill is working hard on getting things moving.'
Work will be carried out on improving the playing surface at Jackson Avenue, where the Dabbers will start 2004-05.