Clipstone still pointless, but win praise for fightback
A plucky fightback almost made up for a poor defensive performance in the first half as Clipstone sank to their 13th defeat on the spin at the bottom of the Toolstation Northern Counties East League's Premier Division.
The 3-2 loss, away to Hull outfit Hall Road Rangers, means the Cobras are still waiting for their first legue point of the campaign, after 1,170 minutes of football.
But at least they gained praise from both their opponents and neutrals for the way they gave everything in the second half and tried to recover from their 3-0 deficit at the interval.
The half was a complete contrast to the first as Clipstone responded to strong words said in the dressing-room and showed terrific tenacity and spirit.
Within six minutes, they had pulled a goal back as Eden Homer, signed in midweek from Shirebrook Town, advanced out of defence, and his long ball was deflected into the path of Tim Gregory, who finished clinically from the edge of the box.
The Cobras had other opportunities as Gregory put Ben Burbanks’s cross into the side-netting, a free-kick from Gareth Curtis, re-signed from Pontefract Collieries during the week, flew narrowly off target and substitute Matt Hubbard put an effort wide when a quality through-ball from Matt Brian gave him time and space.
At the opposite end, they also looked a much tighter unit, with Homer turning in a man-of-the-match performance. And Clipstone bagged a deserved second consolation goal in added time when Curtis’s fine pass allowed Hubbard to get behind the defence and wrongfoot ‘keeper Phil Dobson.
Sadly, all the good work could not camouflage the opening period when a bright opening by the Cobras soon disintegrated into defensive folly. It started in the 17th minute when a long throw-in from Louis Bruce on Hall Road’s left was missed by two defenders and Danny Norton accepted the gift by heading home from close range at the far post.
Teenage goalkeeper Levi Owen then pulled off two excellent saves to deny Danny Chambers with a low shot and Josh Batty with a 25-yarder. But Owen was beaten again on 29 when he did well to block an initial attempt but could do nothing as Chambers reacted first to head home the loose ball.
The killer blow for Clipstone came on the stroke of half-time as Hall Road moved the ball forward quickly and a pass through the middle found Chambers, who slotted a shot past Owen.
Manager Ian Cotton said: “We see the same pattern every game -- individual errors leaving us a mountain to climb. But I can’t fault our performance after half-time.”
CLIPSTONE LINE-UP -- Owen/ Homer, Vickers, Burbanks, Radford, Ashton, Curtis, Williams (Hubbard 66), Brian, Morgan (Richards 80), Gregory (Williams R. 82).