Boss Ian Cotton says he is satisfied with the way his Clipstone side are progressing after picking up their first point under his management.
Clipstone did throw away a two-goal lead at home to Bottesford Town, but equally, they did well to hold on to a 2-2 draw after having captain Ben Rogers sent off just before the hour mark. And the result stopped the rot of six defeats in their previous seven matches in the Northern Counties East League’s Prermier Division.
“Even with ten men, I thought we were, by far and away, the better side and deserved to win the game,” said Cotton. “It was pleasing for the lads, and I am sure we will gain a lot of confidence from the game.
“Our performances are now a lot closer to the level we expect them to be. We are a young side who haven’t played at this level before, and we have been very naive. But games have been a lot closer than the scorelines have reflected, and I would say that performance against Bottesford, especially in the second half, was the best since I took over as manager. The lads are happy with the draw, but I felt we could have won the game.”
The ever-improving Cobras, spearheaded by their new strike partnership of Luke Walker and Ryan Hawley, made a bright start and took the lead in the 14th minute. The in-form Gareth Curtis turned cleverly on the edge of the box before his shot ricocheted off visiting centre-half Tom Johnson and flew into the top corner for his fourth goal in as many games.
Six minutes later, it was 2-0 as Keenan Leeds’s hard and low header from a brilliantly delivered corner was parried by goalkeeper Jody Barford, only to fall to Walker, who guided a simple finish into an unguarded net for his first goal for the club.
Scunthorpe outfit Bottesford, who sit just below halfway in the table, battled back with goals either side of the interval. In the 41st minute, a dangerous corner found its way to Johnson, who found his defensive partner Oliver Donald for an acrobatic volley into the net. And seven minutes into the second period, winger Wayne Graves sent a free-kick into the box where Mike Thompson beat ‘keeper Gary Doncaster.
Things went from bad to worse for Clipstone moments later when Rogers reacted to a late tackle by Bottesford’s Danny Boulton and was dismissed. It was controversial and one of many refereeing decisions that Cotton later described as “shocking”. But to Clipstone’s credit, they refused to let it bother them.
Rallying bravely, they still created the best chances of the final half-hour and, according to Cotton, they should have had a penalty when Tim Gregory seemed to be brought down after a tricky run.
CLIPSTONE LINE-UP -- Doncaster/ Paling, Randle, Thomas, Taylor, Rogers, Curtis, Walker, Hawley, Leeds, Gregory.