Clipstone keep NCEL hopes alive with win


Clipstone got back to winning ways and kept their Northern Counties East League title hopes alive with a 1-0 victory away to a spirited Knaresborough Town.

They sit fourth, five points off the top with three games in hand.

In the end the difference between the two teams was the fortune of two direct free kicks

The opening exchanges were slightly in the hosts’ favour, Knaresborough winning the first corner on five minutes and Brad Walker having the first shot at goal which, fortunately for Clipstone, was high and wide.

On eight minutes Clipstone ‘s Stu Hill was adjudged to have pulled back Knaresborough’s Colin Heath on the far left. The free kick was swung in and Heath got a header goalbound, but straight into the arms of keeper Nick Siddons.

Clipstone waited until 10 minutes their first corner. Rob Paling took the set piece to the far post, headed back by Stu Hill, but the home keeper caught the ball at the second attempt.

Neither side wanted to give an inch, but Clipstone were starting to mount the pressure on their hosts. Great interplay between Paling and Dan Wood saw the latter shooting hard and low, the ball being deflected out for yet another corner.

On 16 minutes Matty Ord came into life with one of his mazy runs at pace. He beat three defenders, cutting both in and out and from a narrow angle, and shot at goal, Knaresborough keeper Jack Rushmore up to the job at hand and palming the ball around the post for a corner.

Just two minutes later Wood was showing his agility again, this time beating two defenders, but once again a Knaresborough defender got his body in the way to deflect his shot wide for a corner.

Paling put the ball into the right areas with all of these corners, but the Clipstone players were just half a yard behind their hosts and unable to take advantage of the situations.

On 21 minutes Josh Gibson was brought down just 20 yards out and central of goal by Luke McCrum. Gibson picked himself up and fired the set piece straight into the wall, and the ball was hacked clear.

The one moment of contention came on 27 minutes. Wood played a through ball for Gibson to run onto, and when one on one with the onrushing keeper Rushmore. Gibson played the ball to go to the keeper’s left just outside the area.

The referee blew his whistle for a handball offence and was lenient on the keeper, showing only a yellow card when even the home supporters were expecting him to see red.

If that was not punishment enough, then the resulting free kick was.

Wood ran at the ball with purpose and with the outside of his right foot curled the ball around the wall with real pace and hit the inside of the left post to send the net bulging.

Knaresborough were awarded a free kick 30 yards out and central to goal 10 minutes later, from which Jim Bradley hit a ferocious shot that had the crossbar stopped rattling.

The second half was just as exciting as the first half with both teams giving it their all.

Clipstone maybe shaved the possession, but Knaresborough defended with all their might and counter-attacked when the opportunity came.

Brandan Shaw started the entertainment on 49 minutes as he ran at pace, making 30 yards before delivering a ball down the channel for Gibson, who got his shot away, but was off balance and it went high and wide.

Knaresborough had two men marking Ord every time he touched the ball.

On 53 minutes on such an occasion he was fouled on the left touchline. Paling took a free kick towards the back post, but this time the home keeper did well to snatch the ball off the head of Gibson.

Knaresborough won a corner on 60 minutes after Paling deflected an attempted cross on the right. When the ball did come over, Siddons managed to punch the ball clear with numerous people around him.

It did start to be an end to end game midway through the second period.

On 62 minutes Wood was running at the home defender once again. Once he had knocked the ball beyond him he raced to the goal line and crossed low and hard. which was knocked out once again for another Clipstone corner.

On 65 minutes a Knaresborough free kick was awarded in the Clipstone left back position after a decision against Stu Hill for an alleged hand ball. This time captain Rich Mintoft cleared the danger.

Knaresborough made a double substitution on 66 minutes as Byron Littlefair and Matthew Pascal were replaced by Graham Whitehead and Hilliard Serrao respectively.

Soon after it was Ben Parkes making way for Mitch Hamilton as the hosts went searching for an equaliser.

Boss Millington waited until 82 minutes to make his only change of the game as Ryan Damms was given a well earned rest to enable Blake Owen a chance to make a name for himself.

Just five minutes later Owen did have that chance, playing an old fashioned one-two with Ord. It was good defending from the hosts to give Clipstone yet another corner.

Wood possibly could have wrapped things up a couple of times right at the end of the game to add to his season’s tally but it was not to be this time.