Clipstone nearly pulled off a second half comeback against Hall Road Rangers but were left to rue a poor first half defensive performance that saw them concede three easy goals.
The Cobras have now played 13 league games and have yet to gain a point. However there was much praise from the opposition and neutrals for a fighting second half display in which every player gave everything they had.
The visitors had the better of the opening 15 minutes and Gareth Curtis, who re-signed for Clipstone this week from Pontefract Collieries, had an early chance but his two attempts were both blocked. In general the Cobras frustrated the home side and caused them to look nervy at the back.
The home side showed that they were more decisive in front of goal in the 17th minute when a long throw from Louis Bruce on the home side’s left was missed by two defenders and Danny Norton accepted the gift and headed home from close range at the far post. 1-0
Clipstone were then grateful to teenage ‘keeper Levi Owen who produced a good low save to deny Chambers in the 24th minute. A minute later Owen again did well to keep out a 25-yard shot from Josh Batty.
The home side doubled their lead in the 29th minute after Owen again did well to block the initial attempt but Danny Chambers was first to react and head home the loose ball. 2-0
The killer blow for the visitors came in the 45th minute when Hall Road moved the ball forward quickly and a ball through the middle found Chambers who slotted the ball past Owen for his second goal of the game.
Half Time 3-0
The second half was a complete contrast to the first as Clipstone responded to words said in the dressing room and show great tenacity and spirit in a situation where many teams would have looked to keep the score to 0-3.
Within five minutes of the restart Ben Burbanks brought the ball out of defence and found Curtis in space. The winger’s cross was over-hit although Matt Brian did well to cross the ball back to Curtis whose goal attempt was wide of the target.
Clipstone grabbed a goal a minute later when Eden Homer, signed midweek from Shirebrook Town, brought the ball out of defence and his long ball was deflected off a defender into the path of Tim Gregory who finished clinically from the edge of the box past ‘keeper Phil Dobson. 3-1
The Cobras had other opportunities with Gregory putting a Burbanks’ cross into the side netting and a 25-yard free kick from Curtis going narrowly wide after Olly Ashton was fouled. The best of all came in the 74th minute when a quality through ball from Brian found substitute Matt Hubbard who had time and space but put the ball wide of the target.
Hall Road did have chances of their own but the Cobras back four and ‘keeper Owen looked a much tighter unit with Cobras’ man of the match Eden Homer initiating numerous attacks with quality balls out of defence.
With time running out, Cobras’ substitute Rhys Williams had a shot blocked following a corner. However in the fourth minute of added time Curtis put a great ball into the area allowing Hubbard to get behind the defence and his shot left Dobson wrong-footed. 3-2
After the game, Cobras’ boss Ian Cotton said: “Slow starts and early goals are costing us dearly. We see the same pattern almost every game – individual errors leaving us a mountain to climb. I can’t fault our performance after half time but we have to be stronger as a team in the first halves of games. Eden Homer deserves praise for his second half performance at centre half”.