Brave Clipstone make Grantham work for their FA Cup win

Clipstone go out of the FA Cup at Grantham on Saturday.
Clipstone go out of the FA Cup at Grantham on Saturday.

All good things come to an end, but Clipstone did make their hosts work for their 4-1 win in the FA Cup first qualifying round on Saturday.

Clipstone had already defeated two higher league sides to reach this far and were the only NCEL Division One side left in the competition.

Grantham Town, from the Northern Premier League - three leagues higher within the football pyramid system – took until midway through the second half before taking control of this fixture as Clipstone frustrated the life out of them.

Chris Millington had obviously done his homework for this one off fixture and for the first 50 minutes the tactics his team deployed worked very well.

Clipstone kicked off the first half and immediately went on the offensive. Within the opening minute Matty Ord managed to get the first attempt at goal, just hitting the side-netting at the near post.

In fact Ord was finding the ball at his feet more and more, especially on the right wing and was linking up well with Steve Carty and Tom Carnall.

Carty, in particular, alongside his midfield colleague Ash Rawson, were making tackles and unsettling the Grantham attacks, which in the first half ended with an offside decision.

The frustration was plain to see and was probably the reason their No10 Greg Smith received a severe talking to on 17 minutes after a late challenge on Clipstone captain Rich Mintoft.

Every Clipstone player was playing out of their skin, which they knew they would have to do to get anything from this game.

When Grantham did break through the offside trap on 19 minutes, Jordan Hempenstall raced through one on one with keeper Rob White, who dived bravely at the feet of the onrushing forward and grabbed the ball cleanly.

The visitors were finding more confidence as the half went on, Jamie Smith and Josh Gibson making the home defenders earn their money.

Smith was felled on 24 minutes by home captain Phil Watt 35 yards out. The free kick floated in by Steve Carty and aimed for the far post area, just missed the head of Josh Gibson and was safely collected by the keeper.

This was a sign of things to come as Clipstone continued to frustrate Grantham, and on 32 minutes that frustration went into overdrive as Clipstone took the lead to send the visiting fans into raptures.

Steve Carty was exceptional in sliding in to intercept a loose pass forward from the Grantham defender 10 yards inside his own half.

Finding themselves two on two, Carty played in Jamie Smith and, from a full 30 yards out and the keeper in no man’s land, calmly placed the ball into the right hand side to put the Cobras one goal to the good.

That lead only lasted a couple of minutes, though, and it came as a shot out of frustration really. Clipstone were defending really well and Jordan Hempenstall, with very little option of making a clear pass, took a blistering shot at goal from a full 30 yards with keeper White totally unsighted and found the bottom left corner of goal to bring parity to the game.

Just before half-time Grantham’s Greg Smith did not learn anything from his earlier talking to from the referee, and with his second late challenge of the game received the first caution of the game.

For the first 10 minutes of the second half it was much the same as the first half, Clipstone frustrating the life out of Grantham.

On 51 minutes for the first time in the game Clipstone’s defenders did not deal with a ball over the top which Greg Smith got onto the end of and, with a fine finish, lobbed keeper Rob White to take Grantham ahead for the first time in this game.

Clipstone did not learn from that and just two minutes later it was Hempenstall who latched onto the through ball and grabbed his second and Grantham’s third with a terrific half volley, leaving keeper White no chance of saving.

From that point onwards Grantham started to show their superior passing and movement.

Clipstone did not give up the fight, but were chasing shadows a lot of the time.

Brandon Shaw found himself on the left wing position and ran at the home defenders and won a corner for his troubles.

Carty floated in the set piece and Gibson managed to get a header on target, but could not get enough purchase on it and the keeper snuffed out the danger.

With Clipstone pushing more forward to try to get something out of this game, gaps were appearing at the back and on 83 minutes Sam Purcicoe found himself in a forward position and got on the end of a bit of a scramble to score Grantham’s fourth.

It is back to league action for Clipstone tonight (Tuesday) with a home NCEL clash with Worsborough Bridge (7.45).