A big thank you to Liam Kent for the match report. If you want to follow him on Twitter for more blog posts you can find him at @tnekmail (https://twitter.com/tnekmail)
Football is at it’s best when it offers up surprises, twists and turns. For about twenty minutes or so on Tuesday night, it looked like there could be a massive shock in store as rock-bottom Clipstone FC took on high-flying, league leaders Pontefract Collieries in a game which certainly ebbed and flowed.
Pontefract came into the game having scored 5 in each of their last 3 league games whilst Clipstone were yet to pick up a point in the NCEL Premier Division, going down 5-0 to Worksop on Saturday.
The first half hour went to form as Pontefract took a 2-0 lead. Kane Reece opened the scoring on 23 minutes, firing in from inside the area after a scramble. Clipstone strongly protested about something in the build up but when you’re down there, those decisions go against you.
Ten minutes later Pontefract had a second. Eli Hey, a summer addition from Division One side Campion AFC, swivelled from range and fired a tremendous volley into the roof of the net which left the young Clipo ‘keeper with no chance.
What happened next however didn’t go to script as Clipstone pulled one back two minutes later, Tim Gregory slotting in. The home side should, and probably could have levelled before the break too, but failed to punish Pontefract for their defensive lapses.
Clipstone were frustrating their visitors and came out five minutes late for the second half, perhaps in an attempt to further get under Pontefract’s skin. Whatever they were doing worked though as just before the hour, they made it 2-2. A brilliant counter-attack ended with Gareth Curtis being played through and calmly slotting past the Pontefract ‘keeper. Clipstone’s squad is mainly the old Blidworth MW team, asked to do a job two levels higher than where they previously plyed their trade but it must be said that on Tuesday’s evidence, Curtis is a player who will make the grade at NCEL football as he was a big threat throughout.
The wind was now well and truly in the Clipstone sails and they were giving as good as they got. However, some of the Clipstone faithful were bemoaning how they seem to fade away in the second half and unfortunately that happened again.
Kane Reece put Pontefract back in front on 75 minutes, smashing a shot in after the ball fell to him kindly from a corner. That deflated Clipstone and their task wasn’t made any easier when they lost their keeper to injury, defender Jacob Lowe deputising between the sticks.
With the firepower Pontefract possess, you can’t give them an inch and unfortunately the tired legs of Clipstone did just that, as Pontefract sealed the victory and what was a rather flattering scoreline. Eli Hey scored a quick fire double, the first coming on 87 minutes and he sealed his hat-trick two minutes later, meaning his side had scored 5 yet again.
Clipstone will be gutted and on another day, against a lesser team, they could have definitely secured their first point. The hard work they put in and the moments of quality they showed though should give them confidence that they can get themselves out of danger.
Pontefract will feel relieved to continue their good form and stay at the right end of the table and with the front three they have, they’ll certainly be up there challenging for what would be a second successive promotion.