The young Blues ultimately had no answer to likely title challengers Fylde but didn’t go down without a fight at Shawbridge.
A late flurry of goals gave the scoreline a harsh look for Dennis Hill’s side, who trailed just 3-2 with half an hour to go as they traded blows with the National League’s Academy side.
Will McMurtie’s opportunist strike had raised hopes of an unlikely point for the Blues as they looked to build on their opening win in the Lancashire FA’s U21 County League.
But the visitors rode out the fightback and then utilised their superior fitness levels to add four goals in the last 20 minutes as the Blues’ efforts caught up with them.
“We competed well for a long time and it was decent effort,” said Hill.
“Full-time training makes a difference, but we were in the game and had chances at 3-2 to get level.
“But we’ve told the lads we won’t be playing teams like that every week and as long as we keep progressing, we’ll be okay.”
Fylde went ahead inside the first 20 minutes when centre-back Robbie Parker swivelled to fire home.
But Clitheroe had gone close from set-pieces as defenders Charlie Dewhurst and James Billington headed just wide.
And the hosts were level after 27 minutes when hard-working midfielder Liam Clegg burst into the box to convert a low cross with a neat right-footed finished into the bottom corner.
Jack Price – enjoying a run-out alongside first-team squad member Jake Connelly on the opposite flank – then saw a long-range strike tipped over by Fylde keeper Matt Hodds.
But just before the break the Coasters grabbed the lead through winger Sheldon Green, and it was 3-1 eight minutes into the second half when Jack Kay grabbed the first of his hat-trick.
Clitheroe could have accepted their fate at that stage but responded impressively and got back into the game when McMurtie collected a poor clearance from Hodds to coolly slot the ball home and make it 3-2.
Substitute Kit Lloyd also saw a volley saved while the hard-working Olly Stirziker made a chance for himself which he lifted over the top.
And having survived that let-off, Fyle broke clear to open up a two-goal advantage again when Cameron Hollywood raced through to score.
That ended Clitheroe’s resistance, although two more goals for Kay and a big finish from Hollywood were tough on the Blues, who play a friendly at Ribchester on Wednesday night before their next league fixture at Fulwood Amateurs next Tuesday night.
Clitheroe: Pritchard; Devenney (Rogerson), Billington, Dewhurst; Price (Ngongo), Raincliffe (Devlin), Ricard (Lloyd), Clegg, Connelly (Kirby); McMurtie (Mason), Stirziker.