Clipstone produced the shock of the day in the NCEL Premier when two late goals saw them overcome high-flying Handsworth Parramore to make it 10 points out of the last 12 for the Cobras. The home side came into the game having won all of their last five matches and the game was expected to be a very tough challenge for Ian Cotton’s young Cobras side.
After the game Cotton declared himself “ecstatic” and gave his view on the frenetic last few minutes – “with ten minutes to go we looked physically shattered … team spirit got them through it. We got a free kick on the edge of the box. It’s a decent ball in and we get the second goal. Everyone then gets a massive shot of energy and we finish the game strongly. It was a penalty, but a soft one.”
There was one new face in the Cobras starting eleven with Keir Webster replacing Luke Thomas who was unavailable. Webster went on to produce an assured display next to Charlie Taylor in the centre of defence. Midfielder Ben Rogers was again absent due to a suspension.
There was a minutes’ silence ahead of the game in memory of Clipstone stalwart Terry Hutchinson who passed away recently.
Clipstone got off to the best possible start with Gareth Curtis grabbing his eighth goal in seven games when a long ball from Keenan Leeds put Tim Gregory in behind the full back and the latter’s pinpoint cross was met by Curtis who wrong-footed the ‘keeper from six yards out. 0-1
The first half developed into an end to end game with chances for both sides. The home side had their first chance on 7 minutes when forward Jon Froggatt’s curling shot from the edge of the box went over Gary Doncaster’s goal.
The Cobras were creating problems for the Parramore defence with Luke Walker winning plenty of aerial balls and receiving good support from Ryan Hawley. The latter’s pace nearly got him in after 12 minutes but defender Stuart Ludlam beat him to the loose ball.
Tim Gregory then shot over from 22 yards after a quick throw in by Luke Randle found him in space.
The home side drew level after 26 minutes when Cobras’ full back Ben Burbanks was caught in possession near the corner flag by Charlie Dawes and his cross was headed home by Aaron Moxam from close range. 1-1
Parramore then exerted significant pressure for the remainder of the half but the Cobras’ defence held firm and Doncaster did not have a save of note to make.
In the 43rd minute Curtis showed great technique to control the ball and turn his marker. However his shot from 20 yards was straight at Parramore ‘keeper Jim Pollard.
There was a controversial moment on the stroke of half time when the home side believed they should have had a penalty when a goal bound header from Froggatt hit Charlie Taylor on the arm. Referee Kevin Saunby had a clear view of the incident and decided not to award a penalty.
Half Time 1-1
The home side immediately took control in the second period and were dominant for long spells and created several chances.
Froggatt headed wide early on in the half after good work by Moxam and Richard Tootle and a Reece Hands header was just wide of Doncaster’s post.
In a rare Clipstone attack a long ball found Gregory in space and his cross looked to have found Curtis until a last ditch intervention from a defender prevented the ball reaching the Cobras’ forward.
Harry Bircumshaw replaced Brendan Williams on the hour mark and the 17-year old yet again made an impact with some decisive running and passing.
There were further chances for Hands and Moxam and the home side’s dominance was eventually rewarded in the 76th minute when a cross by substitute Danny Buttle found Froggatt who expertly steered his header wide of Gary Doncaster and into the top corner. 2-1
The home side came close to finishing the game off three minutes later when a cross by Moxam found an unmarked Froggatt eight yards out but this time the forward put his header wide of the target.
The Cobras looked visibly tired at this point with several players struggling. However they showed a fighting spirit and, with only one goal in it, kept pressing forward looking for an equaliser. This came in the 89th minute when a great free kick into the box by Leeds was not cleared and Curtis pounced to stab the ball home from close range for his second goal of the match.
It got even better when in added time Luke Walker went down under a challenge in the area and the referee awarded Clipstone a penalty. Keenan Leeds assumed responsibility and his excellent penalty was placed high into the top corner giving ‘keeper Pollard no chance.
Full Time 2-3
The three points ensured that Clipstone remain in 15th place in the league with 48 points from 36 games. The Cobras now don’t have a game until Saturday 1 April when they make the long trip North to play Harrogate RA. Their next home game is on Tuesday 11 April, 7.45pm when they entertain league leaders and FA Vase finalists Cleethorpes Town.