Clipstone hearts were broken by a 90th minute winner by local rivals Rainworth although they deserved at least a point from a pulsating local derby.
Slack defensive work allowed the Wrens to take a fourth minute lead through Matt Sykes but the Cobras clawed their way back into the match and thought they had grabbed a point with an 89th minute goal by substitute Tom Sharpe. However the visitors went straight up the other end and a last minute header by former Cobra Luke Walker secured all three points.
After the game Cobras’ boss Jamie Hardwick gave a realistic assessment of his sides performance: “Our game plan was to get through the first 20 minutes and then take control of the game, yet we concede within four minutes. When we did score we deserved that goal then they took the kick off, got it wide, we’ve not closed down the cross and they’ve scored the winner”.
“We deserved to come out with something today. These young lads are getting used to Step 5 now and they are starting to realise that if they move the ball quicker, they look good. However we still need to get better out of possession. I thought Luke Morgan was excellent. They tried to man mark him in the second half but he still created so much space. He’s only an 18-year old and he’s running the show. Connor Wright at the back was also excellent as well”.
Hardwick’s take on the Cobras’ goal was “There was some really good combination play before we got it wide for Olly to cross and it’s a lovely little flick header for the goal from Tom Sharpe into the top corner”.
And the manager remains positive: “I still believe this is going to turn sooner or later. Once we get that win, we’ll get a few. We just need more belief and to cut out the silly mistakes”.
Clipstone conceded as early as the fourth minute when they were caught out down their left hand side and despite ‘keeper Warren Squires keeping out the initial effort, Matt Sykes drilled home the rebound 0-1
The Cobras responded and a flowing move involving Jaydan Thorne and Tom Gledhill created half an opening for Liam Jepson but his shot was hit a defender and went out for a corner.
Squires then denied Rainworth a second when he kept out a firmly hit shot from Tomas Poole after the home side conceded possession cheaply.
Jamie Hardwick was then forced into reshuffling his back four after half an hour when centre-back Keir Webster picked up an injury and was replaced by Alfie Gaughan.
As half time approached Kyle Jordan missed an opportunity for Rainworth and a 25-yard shot from the Cobras’ Jack Dando was just wide of the upright. The visitors had the last opportunity of the half when they broke quickly and when the ball reached Poole he put his attempt wide of the post.
So at half time the visitors held a slender one goal advantage.
The second half saw a more open game as both sides looked for the all-important second goal. Clipstone started the half on the front foot but were still lacking the killer instinct in front of goal despite some excellent build up play.
Rainworth thought they had been awarded a penalty in the 57th minute when referee Richard Eley pointed to the spot after a foul by Charlie Taylor. Having cautioned the Cobras’ skipper, the official then belatedly realised that his official had flagged for offside earlier in the move thereby invalidating both the penalty and the caution.
In the 70th minute Tom Gledhill broke the visitors’ offside trap but delayed his shot with only ‘keeper Ben Townsend to beat giving Townsend time to bravely take the ball off the forward.
Jermain Jatau then replaced Gledhill and minutes later showed quick feet in the area to create a chance for himself but his shot was straight at Townsend.
With Rainworth looking uncertain at the back, Jatua then set up Olly Ashton and the midfielder’s 22 yard effort was only narrowly wide.
At the other end Rainworth substitute Cobra Luke Walker went close with six minutes remaining when his effort was blocked on the line by Taylor and Squires then did well to keep out Ross Goodwin’s follow up effort.
With a minute remaining it looked as though Clipstone had gained the point that they deserved when a cross from Olly Ashton picked out substitute Tom Sharpe and his looping header found the top corner 1-1
However Clipstone switched off at the back and a cross from Wrens’ left back Rob Ludlam found Walker whose powerful header from close range gave Squires no chance for a dramatic conclusion to a great local derby.
Clipstone now face two away games against Albion Sports on Wednesday 14 February, 7.45pm and then against Athersley Recreation on Saturday 17th February, 3pm.