A raging wind played a key role as Clipstone let slip a two-goal half-time lead to share the spoils with Maltby Main in the Premier Division of the Toolstation Northern Counties East League on Saturday.
After a 2-0 defeat at Retford United in midweek, The Cobras looked set to return to winning ways against a South Yorkshire outfit who were hoping to extend an unbeaten run of seven league games. But they were pegged back by two Maltby goals in the last 20 minutes and, in the end, manager Billy Fox reckoned his side were “lucky to get 2-2”.
“Leading 2-0 at half-time, you are always disappointed not to win,” Fox said. “But it was a game of two halves and the wind was a big deciding factor.”
Fox made four changes to his side, with Craig Fletcher, a new signing from Parkgate, making his debut, Oli Ryan and Luke Randle returning and Andy Francis replacing the injured Steve Hernandez in goal.
Clipstone had the wind advantage in the first half, but the opening 25 minutes were cagey and Francis had to pull off two fine saves to keep the scores level as he went down low to deny Sam Forster and then brilliantly tipped over a shot from Josh Nodder.
However, the hosts took the lead when midfielder Ellis Wall earned a free-kick that man-of-the-match Michael Trench expertly curled past the wall and into the corner. And they doubled it on the stroke of half-time when Trench’s cross found experienced striker Ryan, who coolly finished from five yards.
Unfortunately, that was Ryan’s last contribution as he had to be withdrawn with a tight hamstring for a second half that saw Maltby capitalise on the wind and give Cobras’ new central defensive partnership of Luke Stevens and Chris Fawcus plenty to think about.
With the impressive George Milner running tirelessly, Clipstone held on until the 70th minute when Nodder rifled home from close range. Visiting substitute John Ballington then saw an effort touched on to a post by Francis before an 84th minute penalty, awarded for a foul by captain James Ashmore on Steven Hopewell, was converted by Nodder to earn Maltby their point, leaving Clipstone eighth in the table ahead of a home game against Staveley Miners Welfare this Saturday.
CLIPSTONE LINE-UP -- Francis/ Royles, Trench, Fawcus, Stevens, Ryan (Langley 45), Wall, Ashmore, Fletcher (McAllister 76), Milner (Ganwiya), Randle. SUBS NOT USED: Bryant, Ball.