Title-chasing Clipstone all but ended neighbours AFC Mansfield’s hopes of promotion in their debut Northern Counties East League Division One season with a 2-1 win at the Bulls’ Forest Town Area on Saturday.
In truth neither side deserved anything from this game as they served up a feast of non-football for the 176 in the crowd.
But it was Clipstone, courtesy of goals from Richard Mintoft and Rob Paling that took the points and keep their title fate in their own hands.
However, Tristan Whitman did pull a goal back for AFC and also had an equaliser chalked off for an offside.
The Bulls had the first chance of the game when Grant Allott put his 10 yard header over the bar on three minutes.
A minute later a great run by Matt Ord down the left forced a corner. Paling delivered to the far post and Mintoft looped a header back across goal and into the right hand corner to open the scoring.
Unfortunately for the crowd that was as good as it got in the first half. AFC Mansfield had plenty of possession but did nothing with it while Clipstone looked dangerous down the left with Ord’s runs.
Two injuries forced both sides into changes in the first half.
Dan Wood came out worst in a 50-50 challenge with Mark Dudley and Wood had to be stretchered from the field with a knee injury to be replaced by Levi Walker.
Then on 42 minutes Bulls winger Ryan Williams felt the full weight of keeper Nick Siddons on his foot after chasing a loose ball in the box and Williams was replaced by Tristan Whitman after being carried from the field.
The second half served up the same unedifying fodder as the first. Again the lion’s share of possession fell to the Bulls, but they did little with it.
A rare error from keeper Jason White just about summed up the day on 75 minutes as Clipstone doubled their advantage. When attempting to clear the ball, he only managed to find the feet of Rob Paling.
Paling then went past White on the edge of the box and rolled the ball into an empty net to double the advantage.
Two minutes later and AFC Mansfield pulled a goal back; Tristan Whitman volleying home from eight yards from a Mitchell lay-off.
Whitman had the ball in the back of the net again a few minutes later, but was denied by a linesman’s flag, and the final effort came from Danny Naylor, who hit a 30-yard drive which Siddons held comfortably.
It was not much of an advert for local football, but Clipstone took another ugly three points on their way to the league title.
Leaders AFC Emley suffered a shock 4-2 defeat at Rossington, allowing Pontefract Collieries to go top with Clipstone in third, two points behind the leaders but with three games in hand.
Fifth-placed AFC Mansfield now have eight games left to secure a top six finish in their first year at step six level, but will have to improve drastically on this showing.
AFC MANSFIELD: White, Kitchen, Dudley, Allott, Timons, D. Naylor, Ghaichem (C. Wood 84), Cotton, Lamplough (J. Naylor 62), Mitchell, Williams (Whitman 42). Subs not used: Buxton, Ward.
CLIPSTONE: Siddons, Shaw, Paling, Baugh, Mintoft, Hill, D. Wood (Walker 25), Austin, Gibson, Brown, Ord. Subs not used: D. White, Whitehead, Carrig, Owen.
REFEREE: David Evans of South Yorkshire.
MAN OF THE MATCH: AFC Mansfield - Mark Dudley. Clipstone - Richard Mintoft.