AFC boss Martin Baird has fielded a strong squad with Jake Darnell set to return, only to retire during the warm-up.
It proved a blessing in disguise as Clarke, on loan from Fleetwood Town, took advantage of the AFC game’s first chance 10 minutes later.
A well-organized corner routine saw Adam Sumner find the attacking midfielder at the far post to nod on his debut.
Fleetwood Town sign AFC Blackpool teenager Kyle White
Ben Duffield tapped wide from Gregory’s cross and Josh Winder saw off a deflected effort before the AFC were caught in the 31st minute.
It came in the same way as Clarke’s goal with Jack Hunter found at the far post, where he nodded to equalise.
The AFC responded as Clarke found the net just before half-time, only to have his header ruled out for offside.
Having missed chances in the first half, the Mechanics had to come out stronger after the break if they wanted to claim points.
They regained the lead within eight minutes of the restart when Joe Robinson returned the ball to Ryan McLean on the left side.
He took a touch before looking up and spotting Gregory, running towards the front post.
He threw a low cross and the forward tapped it in from close range for his second goal in as many games.
Winder was then thwarted by another offside decision and, with the game still in play, Celtic pushed for another equalizer but Baird’s side stood firm.
The win lifted them to fourth in the NWCFL North Premier Division table heading into Monday night’s trip to Daisy Hill (7:45 p.m.).
AFC Blackpool: Eastham, Radcliffe, Clarke, Bishop, McLean, Sumner, Thompson, Gregory, Robinson, Winder, Duffield. Replacements: Hall, Hughes, Roberts, Smith, Darnell.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoy what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 per month for the first two months. Try us today by clicking here