In-form NCEL side Clipstone booked their place in the next round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 home preliminary round victory against Loughborough University of the new Step 5 Midland Premier League.
Loughborough got the game underway against the wind, and with only 47 seconds on the clock had the first shot at goal, Jack Poxon dragging his effort well wide of the Clipstone net.
Loughborough were trying to play textbook football, which was undoubtedly their downfall in the early stages of this contest, as the Clipstone defence of Tom Carnall, Brandan Shaw, Stu Hill and Callum Mawby were far too savvy and had to much know-how to deal with everything that was thrown their way.
On nine minutes Clipstone took an early lead as a dreadful mix-up in the Loughborough defence led to the goalkeeper mis-kicking his clearance under pressure straight to Jamie Smith, who had the relatively simple task of picking his spot in an open goal from 22 yards out.
On 19 minutes Clipstone nearly deservedly doubled their lead. Dan Wood dispossessed the last defender on the edge of the penalty area, ran on a few yards to pick his spot and pulled the trigger, only to see the ball blast off the crossbar and away to safety.
Within a minute the visitors were on the attack themselves. They won a free kick 25 yards out after Tom Carnall was adjudged to have tripped Poxon.
Theo Brown tried his luck with a direct shot that cleared the four-man wall, but the keeper was on hand to easily deal with it and the danger was gone.
In fact White did not put a foot wrong all game, his positioning and communication were spot on.
Even though Loughborough were very fit and fast, Clipstone had done their homework on them and made sure the midfield of Ryan Hindley, Steve Carty, captain Ash Rawson and Matty Ord closed them down at every opportunity, a test they all passed with flying colours.
The second half continued as the first finished at a right old pace.
On 47 minutes Dan Wood was pulled back 19 yards out on the left side of play.
Steve Carty whipped the ball inside the six yard box with Loughborough keeper Jack Howard spilling the ball an,d somehow missing every Clipstone attacker, it was eventually hoofed away from danger.
The visitors enjoyed a little of the possession for the next five minutes, leading to Rob White making a tremendous save to scoop away at the top corner to turn the ball out for a corner.
However, Alun Webb’s corner found the unmarked Sam Downy six yards out and the scores were level on 52 minutes.
But parity was only held for four minutes as Ryan Hindley received a ball from Ash Rawson just inside the Loughborough half. He in turn fed the ball through to Jamie Smith just inside the visitors’ area, and he had the strength and skill to hold off the last defender and pass the ball into the bottom corner, avoiding the desperate dive of the goal keeper.
Loughborough made their first change of the day on 59 minutes as centre half Luke Trotman was replaced by Sam Minihan.
The visitors were finding it more difficult to cope with Clipstone frontmen Dan Wood and Jamie Smith, who won several free kicks during the half.
The ebb and flow of the game was incessant with Loughborough running all game, but Clipstone’s defenders were mopping up everything.
Man Of The Match Brandan Shaw led the back line along with Stu Hill. When anything did get past them, keeper White gathered up everything.
With the referee Mr Evans adding an additional five minutes, the home supporters thought he was never going to blow the final whistle. When he did the jubilation was plain to see with cheers ringing around the stadium among the 71 crowd.
Clipstone manager Chris Millington was extremely proud of all his players, showing the will and commitment to come through a very difficult game.
Next up in the FA Cup is an away game at Grantham Town on Saturday, 13th September.