Clipstone moved to within one point of promotion to the Toolstation Northern Counties East League Premier Division with an emphatic 5-1 victory at home to Hall Road Rangers on Saturday.
Clipstone boss Chris Millington was delighted with all of his squad, who have all played their part in the last couple of weeks, this being The Cobras’ sixth game in 14 days.
Clipstone showed their intentions from the off, winning two corners within the opening minutes.
From the second of those corners on the left, Jamie Brown clipped the ball into the danger area.
Hall Road half cleared to midway inside their own half, Ash Rawson picking up the loose ball and playing in Josh Gibson, who won the race to the ball with the keeper, Gibson coolly lobbing the ball beyond him and into the far corner of the empty net with just three minutes gone.
The Cobras were bright and lively throughout the early exchanges, and it was no surprise when they doubled their lead.
Great interchange play by Levi Walker and Luke Thomas saw the former playing the ball back to the edge of the six yard box where Callum Mawby drove the ball beyond the keeper.
Midway through the first half and Hall Road Rangers remembered they were in the game and had several chances to get back into it. If it were not for Nick Siddons having another outstanding game between the sticks, they may have done so.
Robbie Start crossed from the right and Jon Blakeston’s header looked like finding the top corner of goal until Siddons clawed the ball to safety.
Just before half-time Clipstone put this game beyond doubt.
Thomas ran onto Rawson’s through ball and, showing great strength for a 17-year-old, held off one defender and had the intelligence to go to the keeper’s right and the agility to slot the ball home from a tight angle to score Clipstone’s third goal of the afternoon.
If Clipstone thought their visitors were down and out, then they were mistaken.
Hall Road Rangers were certainly making the Cobras work hard for the three points on offer.
Clipstone were making life difficult for themselves, giving away silly free kicks within 30 yards of goal.
Fortunately, Siddons, along with his back four of Walker, Shaw, Mintoft and Hill, were coping with most of what the visitors could throw at them.
However, in the 57th minute Adam Foster beat the offside trap on the left of the area, beat the last defender, and calmly slotted the ball home into the far corner to get Rangers back in the game.
The second half continued to be a hard-fought affair. The referee seemed to be a little fussy with his decisions, for both sides, but he must have forgotten to bring his cards with him, especially midway through as Jamie Brown forced himself into a one-on-one with the visitors’ keeper.
Brown nudged the ball beyond the keeper, whose momentum saw him collide with the Clipstone forward and the referee had no hesitation in awarding the penalty kick.
Brown dusted himself down to take the spot kick, but the keeper made amends twice over as he parried Brown’s shot away and, as Mawby followed in, the keeper saved well at his feet.
Rangers did hold out until the 87th minute when Gibson forced his way into the area with the last defender breathing down his neck. Gibson held his nerve and poked the ball beyond the keeper to grab his second and Clipstone’s fourth goal of the game.
Just two minutes later and Matty Ord was bamboozling the Hall Road defenders. He eventually made his way to the near post area and played the ball to Jamie Brown, who smashed the ball into the top corner, giving the keeper no chance of saving.