Clipstone slipped to only their second Toolstation Northern Counties East Premier Division defeat of the season as Marc Cooper bagged a hat-trick in a hard fought 3-2 home defeat with Cleethorpes Town.
The visitors started the day in 18th place and had been beaten by a single goal at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium three weeks ago in the FA Cup.
However, in this league encounter Cleethorpes took all three points thanks to Cooper’s treble.
Cobras’ boss Jas Colliver said: While I am disappointed with the result, I was pleased with the overall performance.
“In the first half my team were on the wrong side of a number of decisions made by the officials, but the players responded well in the second half and we would have been level almost immediately but for an unbelievable save by the Cleethorpes keeper from Jahmal Smith.”
Both sides showed attacking intent from the start and Clipstone keeper Steve Hernandez made two good early saves to deny Cooper.
The visitors’ main threat was through set pieces and high balls as they sought to upset the home defence with their physical presence which left a number of Clipstone players with knocks and bruises as the referee, seemingly intent on letting the game flow, over-looked a number of over-physical challenges.
With 20 minutes gone, Rob Paling was clearly fouled during the build up to a Cleethorpes attack but it went unpunished. The move resulted in a corner that was headed home by Cooper at the near post.
The home side responded and Paling found Liam Royles who cut inside, but saw his shot blocked by defender Tim Lane.
James Ashmore then forced a save from Miles Fenty in the Cleethorpes goal before Hernandez saved well at the near post from Brody Robertson.
As half-time approached, an incisive move between Sam Finlaw and Liam Royles created a chance for the latter, who cut inside but saw his shot blocked.
The visitors then increased their lead when winger Luke Mascall got away down the right hand side and his deep cross was headed home by an unmarked Cooper from six yards out.
Alec Denton grabbed a goal back for the home side on 45 minutes with a well-taken penalty that sent Fenty the wrong way after Smith had been brought down by Lane.
The home side started strongly in the second half and would have scored within 30 seconds of the restart but for a fantastic save from Cleethorpes keeper Fenty to deny Smith from close range after the forward helped on a cross-cum-shot from Finlaw.
Denton then came close on 53 minutes when after his initial shot was blocked by a defender, he put the rebound narrowly wide.
Denton then turned creator when Finlaw found him in the box and, after checking back to lose his defender, he crossed to Brad Jones who headed narrowly wide.
Substitute Alex Nightingale caused the visitors’ defence problems with his control and link-up play and he found Finlaw in a good position on the edge of the box, although the midfielder was prevented from getting a shot in by a great block challenge.
At the other end Cobras’ keeper Hernandez then produced a stunning fingertip save to divert a shot from Brody Robertson onto the bar.
The home side continued to attack in search of an equaliser as the game moved into the final ten minutes and came close again when intelligent play between Nightingale and Denton enabled the latter to put in a powerful low cross which deflected off defender Lane’s heel for a corner.
The visitors increased their lead on 85 minutes in a somewhat fortuitous fashion.
Cobras’ centre defender and substitute Chris Salt, a recent signing from National League North side Gainsborough Trinity, saw his clearance rebound off a Cleethorpes player and straight into the path of Cooper and the big striker completed his hat-trick.
The home side kept pushing forward and were rewarded in the third minute of stoppage time when a superb 40-yard cross field ball from Ashmore found Jones on the edge of the box. The full back chested the ball down and then smashed an unstoppable half volley past Fenty.
There was still time for one further attack from the Cobras, but Jones was unable to find Denton at the far post.
Clipstone’s next home game is a local derby against Retford Town on Tuesday, September 29 (7.45pm). Before that they travel to Albion Sports on Saturday (3pm).
CLIPSTONE: Hernandez, Jones, Paling (Hall 84), Royles, McAllister (Salt 61), Magee, Smith, Finlaw, Denton, Ashmore, Atkinson (Nightingale 61). Subs not used: Hodder, Francis.
CLIPSTONE MAN OF THE MATCH: Steve Hernandez.