WHAT a difference a year makes.

At this stage last season 1874 Northwich trailed inside five minutes and had to scramble a replay at Burscough after falling two goals adrift.

Don’t forget either they’d gone into that game on the back of conceding six in their opening league fixture.

This time around they had momentum from back-to-back victories and took their turn scoring early.

Clitheroe did bag an equaliser they barely deserved, but it did not knock the visitors off course.

Instead they carved open Blues’ backline again and substitute Harry Cain teed up Jake Parker for a decisive second.

It had to be him.

In the early hours of Wednesday the midfielder tweeted a clip of his stunning strike that had settled a derby encounter with Winsford United only a few hours before.

It has been watched close to 100,000 times.

The 24-year-old's latest strike was simpler in execution, steered past goalkeeper Connor King from close-range, and arguably worth more.

But to praise only him after this display would be to paint a misleading picture though.

Put simply, 1874 were better in every position.

Faster too.

They took the lead on six minutes when captain Matthew Woolley jabbed out a right boot to connect with Sam Hare’s driven free-kick.

There was vindication with it; Jacob Gregory’s dreadful tackle on Matthew Russell had ended early the full-back's afternoon, and Northwich netted from the resulting set-piece.

In wretched conditions – unrelenting rain and a swirling wind – they tried to keep the ball on the floor.

1874 custodian Nick Ward had blocked Hyuga Tanner’s attempt before King extended a left arm to keep out Michael Koral’s shot.

A slip, quite literally, by Sam Hind then invited Cole Lonsdale to cut back from the by-line for Charlie Mulgrew and Hare threw himself in the way of his drive.

At the other end Parker failed to connect cleanly with Lee Jackson’s cross after the defender, switched to full-back after Mark Jones replaced Russell, combined with Taylor Kennerley.

Those two joined forces again five minutes later, and from Jackson’s centre Scott McGowan somehow steered the ball wide of an open goal from close-range after stretching to meet it.

Parker continued to take pot-shots in the second-half, his first effort faded away and a second scraped a post.

Clitheroe, jumbled from fielding so many new signings and playing their first competitive match of a new season, then conjured a leveller.

Jordan Darr, a tormentor for 1874 in Northwich Victoria’s colours during a Mid-Cheshire District FA Senior Cup semi-final last season, scampered down the left before picking out a teammate.

Terry Cummings, on target for Burscough in that head-to-head last August, steadied himself before finishing smartly.

But his opponents 12 months on are made of sturdier stuff.

McGowan’s clipped pass invited Cain into space, and Parker only had to steer a perfectly-weighted cross where King couldn’t reach it.

In this form, that came easy.

There was a scare to survive, and replacement Jack Price’s shot whacked Ward in the face, but that was luck 1874 had earned.

Clitheroe | 4-2-3-1 | King (GK), Gregory, Foulds, Dugdale, Lonsdale, Stanley (Gray 85), Mulgrew (Charlie Russell 55), Cummings, Tanner, Darr, Pond (Price 75) Subs not used Ngongo, Muir, Terry (GK) Goal Cummings 60 Booked Lonsdale (foul) 

1874 | 4-3-3 | Ward (GK), Hind, Mitchell, Lee Jackson, Matthew Russell (Jones 6), Parker, Matthew Woolley, Hare, Koral (Knight 85), McGowan, Kennerley (Cain 62) Subs not used Okome, Ormrod, Pritchard, Stevenson (GK) Goals Matthew Woolley 6, Parker 70  

Referee Luis Griffiths 

Attendance 386