Clipstone’s title hopes rocked at Eccleshill, but Cobras still on promotion course

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Promotion is still in Clipstone’s own hands after Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Eccleshill United as the Toolstation NCEL Division One season approaches an exciting end.

But dropping two points has rocked the Cobras’ hopes of the title, a late winner ruled out for offside to rub salt into the wounds.

Before this game, it was thought that four wins out of the last six league games would be enough to end up in the top two and gain promotion.

With third placed AFC Emley drawing away at fourth-placed Shirebook Town, the only thing that changed at the top was Pontefract Colleries opening a five point gap to Clipstone, with the Cobras only having one game in hand.

Clipstone knew this would be a tough game after facing Eccleshill only a few weeks ago at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium in a gruelling 2-0 victory for Clipstone.

The weather conditions had turned from beautiful sunshine to a howling strong wind blowing from penalty area to penalty area which did not help produce a great spectacle for the small crowd watching from the sidelines.

Clipstone were playing into the wind in the first half and it did take a few minutes to get used to the pace of the pitch. On three minutes Levi Walker had the ball on the left and played in Jamie Brown who, with a strong first time cross, got the ball over to Jamie Smith, who connected well enough only to see the ball dipping just over the crossbar.

Just two minutes later and in a very similar position, Matty Ord delivered a cross, again to Smith, this time the striker’s header being well saved by the Eccleshill keeper.

The first corner of the game was awarded to Clipstone on six minutes, Matt Austin clipping the ball into the area. But Eccleshill cleared and try to hit on the break, which seemed to be their plan for the whole of the first period.

However, Levi Walker and Ash Rawson combined well to snuff out anything that could hurt the Cobras’ defence.

On eight minutes Clipstone won a series of corners. Matt Austin tried to find players on the edge of the area with low driven crosses, but the Eccleshill players coped well.

On 20 minute Eccleshill did break free with a long clearance from the centre half, bypassing the midfield. Joey D’Antonio latched onto the ball while being chased down by Stu Hill, the American just getting too much underneath the ball with his attempted lob, and Nick Siddons grateful to see the ball fly over the crossbar.

On 30 minutes Rob Paling was driving down the left wing. Controlling the bounce of the ball well, he delivered another great cross for Jamie Smith, this time Clipstone’s top scorer failing to find the target as the ball drifted inches wide.

Eccleshill were struggling a little to time their challenges towards the end of the first half, James Delgardo receiving the the first caution of the game on 40 minutes after a rash tackle on Matty Ord.

Clipstone started the second half with positive attitude and should have had a penalty as soon as the 47th minute as Delgardo ran into the back of Jamie Smith eight yards out from goal.

The referee said he only saw minimal contact, though the crowd heard the thud from 30 yards away.

Eccleshill knew how fortunate they had been by immediately taking Delfardo off, who had already been cautioned, and replacing him with George Verotney.

The closest anyone came to scoring in the second half was from a free kick, a good 30 yards out, after a Clipstone defender was late in a challenge. Eccleshill No.8 Josh Rossenstrough took aim and blasted the ball at goal with a thunderous strike and the crossbar may still be vibrating from it this time next Saturday.

There were a few refereeing decisions that had everyone bemused, one being an offside decision for a Matty Ord goal on 80 minutes. There must have been millimetres in it after Ord had connected on to Smith’s lovely through ball.

Next up for the Cobras is their League Cup quarter-final away at Cleethorpes tomorrow night (Tuesday).

Then the busy league fixtures keep coming thick and fast as Thursday sees Yorkshire Amateurs (7:45pm) and Saturday (3pm) sees Hall Road Rangers both visiting Clipstone. Admission is £4 adult and £2 concessions.