Another magnificent display saw Clipstone produce a sensational team performance to keep a clean sheet in a fine 1-0 NCEL Division One win at Bottesford.
Most of this match was a midfield battle with Clipstone on the back foot, chasing down, and working very hard for the cause.
Kieran Watson had the first chance of the game on three minutes from 25 yards out, and if he could have timed his shot just a little better then Leigh Herrick in the Bottesford goal may have struggled, but claimed the ball with ease on this occasion.
Five minutes later Will Gordon was making progress on the left wing when he was pushed from behind and won a free kick in a dangerous area for Clipstone.
Ian Hillier whipped in the cross towards the back post where Rob Austin climbed with Bottesford’s Mike Thompson, each getting their head to the ball at the same time, the rebound bouncing awkwardly two yards in front of Nathan Millington. But before he could get his shot away, Nathan Smith nipped in and headed clear, and the danger was gone.
Clipstone were chasing down every ball, giving Bottesford no time to think.
The epitome of this was on 10 minutes when Ian Hillier dispossessed Tom Johnson on the halfway line on the right side of the pitch.
He ran on to the edge of the penalty area and crossed low for Kieran Watson, who stretched out his right boot to connect with the ball and beat the keeper on his near post, only for the ball to strike the post and rebound to a defender to clear the danger yet again.
Bottesford were enjoying a lot of possession but did hardly anything with it. Danny Boulton had a few half chances in the first half, but with Clipstone working so hard he never got a decent shot on target.
Then on 18 minutes, Rob Paling, with a lovely chipped through ball, found Steve Carty one-on-one with the onrushing keeper. With his first touch, the quick-thinking Carty lobbed the keeper and the ball bounced into an empty net to put the Cobra’s into a well deserved 1-0 lead.
On 25 minutes it was Craig Bridge’s turn to try his luck on the Clipstone goal, again the defenders standing strong, which gave Bottesford the first corner of the game.
The inswinger taken by Martin Pembleton saw Ed Eley, in the Clipstone goal, punch clear and win a free kick for his troubles after Boulton was adjudged to have pushed him.
Bottesford were huffing and puffing but they did not make a dent to the Clipstone house, Eley saving from Bridge again on 35 minutes.
The work rate from the entire Clipstone team was magnificent with no free headers given, and every Bottesford pass closed down.
They kept their shape for the whole time to keep Bottesford at bay with Ed Eley standing firm when they did get a sniff of goal.
Clipstone did not slack off the work rate in the second half and, even though Bottesford had a lot more possession, they could not penetrate Clipstone’s defence.
Nothing that the home side tried was coming off with ex-Cobra Karl Slack and his colleagues doing a lot of running about but getting no reward for their hard work.
On 52 minutes Clipstone hit them on the break and a long crossfield clearance from Gary Armstrong in the right back position found Will Gordon on the left. He travelled to 20 yards out and hit a thunderous effort which just would not come down in time.
Instead Bottesford should have equalised on 67 minutes. After two minutes of possession they eventually worked their way to right side of the area.
Danny Gibbons fed Boulton his backheel was right in the path of Karl Slack and his curling shot was high and wide when it seemed easier to score.
There was a hold-up in play on 76 minutes when Slack fell awkwardly on his ankle and was stretchered off and replaced by Dayle Hutson.
After five minutes of additional time played at the end of the game a remarkable team performance was complete on the the referee’s final whistle.
CLIPSTONE: Eley, Armstrong, Paling, Shaw, Austin, Camm, Hillier, Carty, Watson, Millington, Gordon (Jackson 57). Subs not used: Allan, Wisdom.
CLIPSTONE MAN OF THE MATCH: Steve Carty.