Clipstone were supposed to be understrength on Saturday, but this squad’s 4-3 away NCEL win at Shaw Lane Aquaforce will give boss Brett Marshall a nice headache for the upcoming battles with high-flying Selby over the Christmas and New year double header.
But it was a topsy-turvy game with Clipstone 2-0 up and 3-2 down before taking all three points late on, Keiran Watson the hero with a hat-trick.
Clipstone gave a debut to Adam Wisdom, a recent signing from Rossington Main, and it did not take long to show what he can do.
He chased down a backpass from Shaw Lane’s Chris Fawcus to keeper Jamie Green. Wisdom’s pressure made the keeper panic and a beautifully timed tackle took the ball to Watson who opened the scoring into an empty net.
Carl Haslam could have doubled the lead on 30 minutes when he picked up the ball just over the half way line.
He showed a turn of pace and headed off towards the home side’s penalty area beating three defenders on the way, and from the right edge of the D blazed a curling shot, missing the right hand post by inches.
Just before half time it was 2-0 as a long ball came out of the Clipstone defence aimed at Watson.
The pass was slightly over hit and went over the head of Watson.
It seemed an easy clearance for the keeper to make, except for some reason or another the keeper, just yards out of his area, decided to make a diving header clearance, which didn’t clear anyone at all, the ball landing at the feet of Watson, who for the second time on the afternoon had an open goal which he hit handsomely, this time from 18 yards out.
The pitch conditions were not conducive to a great spectacle of football.
It was boggy and cut up massively in the second half, making it a nightmare for both sides and the referee and his assistants.
On 50 minutes Shaw Lane pulled a goal back from a corner, Luke Danville rising highest to nod a firm header passed Ed Eley in the Clipstone goal, and on 65 minutes it was all square as Will McGee floated over a cross that beat everyone and crept in at the left hand post.
Then on 75 minutes came the most controversial moment of the game.
Ashley Flynn found the ball at his feet, heading away from goal just outside the near post.
With a defender and keeper Eley going for the ball at the same time, the assistant on the nearside of play signalled for a penalty to Shaw Lane.
Flynn took the kick himself and fired towards goal, Eley making up for the decision by saving.
There then ensued a goalmouth scramble with the ball finally going over the goal line off a defender.
Shaw Lane had turned around a two-goal deficit to go in front for the first time in the match.
Right from the restart Clipstone were awarded a penalty themselves. Rob Paling sent a ball down the right flank from a midfield position for Haslam to pick up and head towards goal.
He was just about to pull the trigger when last defender Luke Danville tripped him up just inside the area.
Even the home supporters were bemused that he only saw a yellow card. However, Paling stepped up and made no mistake with the spot kick, blasting passed Green.
Shaw Lane did make all endeavours to take back the lead, Clipstone defending like their lives depended on it, with captain Rob Austin and centre half partner Jobe Shaw, along with Gary Armstrong and Brandan Shaw, really putting their bodies where it hurt.
Then in added time another long ball from Paling found Haslam, and he again beat the last two defenders all ends up, heading towards the near post, and found Watson to enable him to grab the headlines with his hat-trick and complete a fully deserved win for the Cobras.
CLIPSTONE: Eley, Armstrong, B. Shaw, J. Shaw, R. Austin M. Austin, Paling, Edwards, Wisdom (Pride 70) Watson, Haslam. Subs not used: Millington, Allen.