The wait is over at last for relieved Clipstone as they were victorious for the first time since August 5, even though their goalkeeper was sent off as early as the 14th minute.
Clipstone had suffered ten defeats on the trot in the Premier Division of the Toolstation Northern Counties East League to leave them rock bottom of the table.
But it was the side directly above them, Barton Town, whom they beat 2-1 in the Second Qualifying Round of the Buildbase FA Vase on Saturday to bring Ian Cotton and his troops a much-needed lift.
In an enthralling tie on Humberside, The Cobras produced a tremendous peformance, full of character, with star billing going to stand-in goalkeeper Jacob Lowe, who pulled off numerous impressive stops, including a penalty save, after replacing the dismissed Gary Doncaster.
Had the spot-kick gone in, ten-man Clipstone would have found themselves 2-0 down after only 14 minutes because Barton had already grabbed a fortuitous early lead when Will Waudby curled in a dangerous corner that had Doncaster sprawling before hitting right-back Ben Burbanks on the knee and going into an open net for an own goal.
Five minutes later, things went from bad to worse because not only did they concede that penalty, they also had Doncaster red-carded for the reckless two-footed challenge inside his own box that gave it away.
With no goalie on the substitutes’ bench, defender Lowe had to take over the jersey -- and his first duty was to dive low to his right to miraculously save the spot-kick. His heroics seemed to galvanise Clipstone and give them the extra momentum they needed to forge a notable victory.
Mind you, they were helped by the referee evening up the numbers on the half-hour when Barton’s Will Waudby was sent off for a two-footed tackle on Charlie Taylor. Immediately, you could sense that this could be Clipstone’s day and they finished the opening period strongly, creating the better chances.
They remained on the front foot at the start of the second half and impressive new signing Matt Brian went close before Taylor had a goal disallowed for a foul.
Boss Cotton decided it was time for a change, sending on substitute Fenn Radford for Jack Hutchinson in the 62nd minute, and seven minutes later he was rewarded by Radford scoring the deserved equaliser. Good patient play eventually led to the ball finding the sub, whose first-time strike flew past Barton ‘keeper Rob Zand.
The home side responded well with a spell of pressure. But Clipstone defended solidly, with Lowe continuing to look nothing like a rookie in goal, parrying one long-distance shot from Tom Waudby over the bar.
Victory remained up for grabs and a Cobras counter-attack resulted in a speculative, dipping effort from Radford that beat the ‘keeper but dropped on to the roof of the goal.
Clipstone’s winner arrived nine minutes from time. Brian rose to head the ball into the path of Brendan Williams, who showed fine composure to direct his shot into the bottom left of Zand’s net and was instantly engulfed by all his teammates in celebration.
Barton created a half-chance in added time, but the tie belonged to the visitors, who must now hope to extract new-found confidence from the win to take into their league campaign, which resumes on Saturday with a home match against fellow strugglers Parkgate.
CLIPSTONE LINE-UP -- Doncaster/ Burbanks, Lowe, Webster, Taylor, Rogers, Hubbard, Williams (Cotton), Brian, Morgan, Hutchinson (Radford).