Clipstone back on track with away draw

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Clipstone manager Ian Cotton was delighted but frustrated as his side bounced back from their first defeat since February with a terrific point at ninth-placed Athersley Recreation.

The Cobras, beaten just once in six matches, took a fortunate second-minute lead through Ryan Hawley’s deflection as they maintained their habit under Cotton of striking early.

But the visitors, who are 16th in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, failed to take any of further chances.

Despite man-of-the-match keeper Gary Doncaster saving a penalty, Clipstone were pegged back by Danny Cawley’s 79th-minute equaliser for Athersley as the home side stretched their unbeaten run to six matches in the 1-1 draw.

Cotton, who said the draw got the Cobras back on track, added: “After last week’s 1-0 defeat at Harrogate, which was one of our poorest performances of the season, we needed to put in a good effort.

“We should have had the game won at half-time. We created numerous chances, but we didn’t take them.

“There was always that possibility of them getting a goal back, which happened late in the game.

“They got a penalty, which I thought was harsh, but Donc (Gary Doncaster) superbly saved. He is a quality keeper at this level.

“We’ll take 1-1, but we are disappointed because we should have been out of sight by half-time.”

Cotton said there were plenty of positives to take out of the match, despite conceding the late leveller, including overcoming the absence of a few players.

“Since I took over (earlier this year), in every game we have played the effort and performances have been good, even when we were losing,” he said.

“Last week we took a massive step back when we were poor. I wondered what we would be like this week, but the lads have responded brilliantly.

“There were a few missing, but the lads who came in have done really well and we are back on track again.

“If we keep getting the early goals and our game management gets better, game by game we will be competitive in this league.

“At the moment our decision-making on the final ball is letting us down... we had enough chances in the first half to be two or three up.”