Clipstone were crowned NCEL Division One champions on Saturday to cap a glorious season just four days after achieving promotion in midweek.
Chris Millington’s men won 1-0 at Winterton Rangers while title rivals Pontefract Collieries lost 4-2 at home to AFC Mansfield to see Cobras take top spot.
In an historic 2014/15 season, Clipstone have climbed into the Premier Division, had their first taste of FA Cup football in their 87-year history, eventually losing out to Grantham Town in the first round qualifying, and tomorrow (Thursday) will contest the Notts FA Senior Cup final at Mansfield Town’s One Call Stadium against Basford United.
This has to be one of the best seasons in their history, and in manager Chris Millington’s very first season in charge of any side with Chris Bullock and Steve Whitehead at his side all the way.
Clipstone went into Saturday’s game knowing that the championship was in their own hands. Pontefract were only one point ahead in the league but only having one game left compared to Clipstone’s two.
But the Cobras very nearly made life difficult for themselves in the early exchanges.
Brandan Shaw was put under pressure on three minutes, and when he played a backpass to keeper Nick Siddons, Winterton’s Andrew Williamson chased the ball down, Siddons slicing his attempted clearance and giving the hosts an early corner that Siddons safely caught.
Clipstone had an injury scare on six minutes as midfield dynamo Ash Rawson fell awkwardly from a aerial challenge, landing heavily on his back. But being the soldier he is, he quickly ran off the pain.
The Cobras steadily took control of the game, creating lot of chances.
Levi Walker worked hard to gain 30 yards. He passed to Matty Ord, who in turn fed Josh Gibson, his shot being well saved by Daniel Waring in the Winterton goal.
The visitors won several corners midway through the first half, Callum Mawby working well down the left wing.
On the 20 minute mark the heavens opened up and rain lashed down on to the playing surface, changing the dynamic of the game.
Clipstone were still making headway inside the hosts’ half and on 28 minutes Mawby did well to gain yet another corner for the visitors. Matt Austin clipped the ball onto the head of Josh Gibson, but his goalbound effort was blocked on the line.
It was half cleared to edge of the area where Jamie Brown controlled and unleashed an effort to the far post, and Mawby stuck out a toe end and divert the ball into the back of the net to score the all-important goal.
Winterton were pressing all the time at Clipstone’s possession, making the Nottinghamshire team earn any points they were to take from this game.
On 38 minutes Ord had to be replaced by Luke Thomas, who let his opponents know he was in the match almost straight away, winning yet another corner with in a minute of coming on, after his attempted cross was deflected behind.
Just before the interval more great work by Walker saw him lay the ball to Thomas, who set up Gibson, and his powerful right footed shot missed the right post by inches.
Clipstone made their second substitution at the start of the second half, top scorer Jamie Smith replacing Gibson.
The whole of the second half was a tight and cagey affair with the Clipstone bench holding out for clues as to what was happening at Pontefract.
This was of no concern to Winterton, who to their credit just wanted to get something from this game.
Rich Mintoft was having a magnificent game in the middle of defence alongside Shaw, who was filling in for Stu Hill as he was being rested on the bench after a heavy knock in midweek.
On 54 minutes Mawby was at it again down on the right wing, again getting a corner for his troubles. Once again Austin swung the ball into the danger area to Thomas, whose shot was well blocked by a Winterton player. The ball fell to Mawby who got his shot away, but found himself in an offside position.
Soon after Smith had the ball at his feet with two defenders behind him. He tricked his way to the side of them and sent a lovely ball through for Thomas to run onto, but he couldn’t find the target with his shot.
Rob Paling had been battling all afternoon in the right back position, only once mistiming a tackle, and receiving a yellow card for his trouble.
On 75 minutes Brown was still working hard and did very well going between three defenders on a mazy 30 yard run, eventually winning a corner on the right, the Winterton keeper punching clear.
This was not a classic game by any means, the weather saw to that. But both teams gave it their all, and it was Clipstone who claimed all three points to take the glory.
COBRAS MAN OF THE MATCH: Callum Mawby.