Visitors Clipstone progressed to the next round of the FA Vase as they beat East Midlands Counties side Greenwood Meadows 4-1, thanks to a brace from Dexter Atkinson in Saturday’s second qualifying round tie.
After the game manager Jas Colliver was honest in his assessment that, overall, his team were below par, particularly in the first half, although a difficult pitch made it difficult for the visitors to move the ball around with their usual fluency.
He picked out the performances of Brad Jones and Damian Magee while stating he was pleased with Atkinson’s goals as these will give the ex-Chesterfield FC apprentice more confidence.
The home side, who play one step below Clipstone and are currently bottom of their league, started the game strongly and showed a greater urgency and were quicker in the tackle than their visitors. They were also helped by the amount of grass on the pitch which caused many well-intended passes to go astray.
Greenwood launched a number of early high balls into the Clipstone half and the visitors, clad in an unusual mix of black and white stripes with red shorts and socks to avoid a colour clash, had Damian Magee to thank in particular as the experienced defender gave another assured performance.
However, it was no real surprise when the home side took the lead after 33 minutes when a through ball from Ricky Cross, who was sent off late in the game after receiving his second yellow card, found Liam Taylor who scored from 15 yards out.
Greenwood continued to press and Clipstone keeper Steve Hernandez had to be alert and used his feet to divert a Ricky Cross shot onto the post.
The Cobras got the goal they needed to settle them four minutes before the break. Brad Jones won the ball through sheer determination as he went in for two aerial challenges in quick succession. The ball fell to Atkinson via Alec Denton and a deflection off a defender and the striker stabbed the ball home from close range. Clipstone put in a much improved second hand performance and finished the job with three further goals.
The early exchanges in the second period were dominated by the Cobras and Liam Royles set up an early chance for Jones. The full back found space in the area but was unable to get the ball under control and keeper George Samson came out to collect.
Jones then set up Michael Trench, who forced a save from Samson.
They went ahead for the first time in the match on 55 minutes through a Royles penalty after Atkinson had been hauled down in the box as he tried to connect with a cross.
Substitute Henry Sibenge then went close with a curling shot after good work by Jones and Royles and another good move saw Jordan Hodder play in Trench. who shot wide of the post.
There were still a couple of nervous moments for the visitors. On 63 minutes Ashley Cheetham blazed over from close range and Hernandez made a good low save to deny Connor Scott on 76 minutes.
Jones then capped a fine individual performance with a well-taken goal on 78 minutes.
He had gone close a minute earlier after an exchange of passes with Royles and then got on the end of a defence splitting ball from Sam Finlaw and, having got behind the covering defender, showed good composure to beat Samson from six yards.
The Cobras scored a fourth on 84 minutes when Royles was the provider. He found Atkinson in plenty of space in the box and the striker rounded the keeper to grab his second goal of the afternoon.
Clipstone’s now return to NCEL Premier League action and a home game against third-placed Handsworth Parramore tonight (Tuesday, 7.45pm). They then travel to Thackley on Saturday (3pm).
CLIPSTONE: Hernandez, Jones, Trench, Paling, Salt (Hodder 64), Magee, Royles, Finlaw (Colliver 82), Atkinson, Ashmore, Denton (Sibenge 51). Subs not used: Ryan, Francis.
CLIPSTONE MAN OF THE MATCH: Damian Magee.