Clipstone pipped in thriller at Pontefract

Clipstone’s outside promotion hopes faded further with an unlucky late 2-1 defeat at Pontefract in a great advert for NCEL football.

Tuesday, 25th March 2014, 5:59 am

But boss Brett Marshall was proud of the side’s work rate as they kept battling all the way to the final whistle, which included six added minutes.

Marshall added after the game that Clipstone were never out to win promotion this season, and he felt finishing in any position above 10th would be a major breakthrough for his side.

Without the finances to be able to pay players like other clubs and without a prolific goalcorer, Clipstone have still already acquired more points than last season.

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The game started at a right old pace, Pontefract having the better of the possession in the opening minutes.

In just the second minute Rob Austin slightly misjudged an aerial challenge with Kingsley Wetherauld, who ran on on to the ball and hit a half volley that dipped under the crossbar, leaving keeper Ed Eley with no chance of getting a hand to the ball, to put the hosts in front.

On 22 minutes Kieran Watson intercepted the ball on the halfway line. He fed through to Warren Hatfield who was left one-on-one with home keeper Craig Parry, and one defender chasing him down three yards behind.

But, with the ball bobbling all over the place, when Hatfield had the chance to stab the ball home the defender got his tackle in at the last moment and the danger was cleared.

On 38 minutes, when Clipstone were enjoying their best period of possession of the first half, the ball fell to Rob Paling, and his turn and cross was curled towards the penalty spot where Hatfield connected with a superb header which was directed towards the goal, again the home keeper just managing to keep hold of the ball to deny a deserved equaliser.

Both teams were doing all that they could do to add to the scoreline, without seriously troubling either keeper for the remainder of the half.

Clipstone started the second half in a very positive fashion, and when Nathan Millington was fouled 25 yards out ,slightly left of centre, Ian Hillier stepped up and took the direct free kick with his right foot and found the top right corner to level things up on 48 minutes.

To the neutral spectator Clipstone were the team who were going to add to the scoring in the second half as Millington hit the post and Watson was denied by Pontefract keeper Parry.

On 74 minutes the Cobras were in the ascendency once again and, in a move involving six players, the ball was nudged out to Watson, who found himself on the left flank. He whipped in a cross which was only half-cleared and Paling hit a wonderful half-volley, equally well saved by the home keeper.

Just four minutes later Rob Camm was fouled 35 yards out, in a very similar position to Clipstone’s equaliser. Again Hillier stepped up and, with the wind in his favour, he struck the ball perfectly only to see his effort hit the top of the bar.

Instead, Pontefract hit Clipstone on the break on the 80-minute mark, a scramble in the Clipstone goalmouth ensued, and after several attempts and several blocks, the ball eventually landing at Witherauld’s feet to grab his and Pontefract’s second goal of the game.

CLIPSTONE: Eley, Armstrong, Leggitt, Austin, Weaver, Camm, Hillier, Paling,Watson, Hatfield (Gordan), Millington. Subs not used: Allan,Wisdom.

CLIPSTONE MAN OF THE MATCH: Ian Hillier.