A hat-trick by top scorer Alec Denton capped a stirring comeback that stretched the unbeaten run of away-day specialists Clipstone to eight matches.
Clipstone trailed 3-1 at half-time against mid-table Maltby Main in the Premier Division of the Toolstation Northern Counties East League. But man-of-the-match Denton earned a 3-3 draw, which means Cobras have yet to taste defeat on the road in six league outings so far this term.
It was very much a game of two halves, with the Yorkshire hosts calling the tune before the interval. Their direct approach was much better suited to the sloping pitch and uneven bounce, and they were ahead after only five minutes when Nicky Darker got on the end of a low cross from the right to clip home from close range, giving ‘keeper Steve Hernandez no chance.
Clipstone did level nine minutes later when Denton took advantage of a slip by his marker, burst into the box and rounded goalkeeper Danny Rusling to slot home for a well-taken goal.
However, Maltby’s experienced striker Brian Cusworth responded to not only restore Maltby’s lead but also extend it. In the 22nd minute, Cusworth applied the last touch after a corner had been only partially cleared and the ball drilled back into the danger-zone. And in the 32nd minute, he rounded Hernandez to roll the ball home after James Ashmore had lost possession in midfield to Sam Forster, who duly released the seasoned frontman.
Clipstone hit back well, dominating the first 15 minutes of the second half and drawing level with a striker’s double of their own. They also defended better, with club captain Damian Magee in commanding form.
After appeals for a penalty had been turned down and both Brad Jones and Jahmal Smith had gone close, Denton smartly turned a defender before unleashing a shot from 25 yards that beat Rusling with the aid of a deflection. And just moments later, Smith went round the ‘keeper before squaring to Denton, who coolly picked his spot, even though he still had three defenders in front of him.
The rest of the match turned increasingly physical, with the best chance being a one-on-one for Maltby’s Sam Forster that Hernandez blocked.
CLIPSTONE LINE-UP -- Hernandez/ Jones, Trench, Paling, Salt, Magee, Smith (Ryan 81), Royles, Lindley (Nightingale 70), Ashmore, Denton. SUBS NOT USED: Somes, McCallister, Francis.