Promoted Clipstone went top of the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division following a hard earned 2-0 victory over Brigg Town at The Worksop Van Hire Stadium last night.
The home side created the majority of the chances, but it was starting to look like they would be unable to find a way past Ryan Ramsden in the Brigg goal until Alec Denton and Sam Finlaw scored two quality goals in three minutes near the end.
In a first half that belonged to the home side, the Cobras hit the woodwork twice.
The first came with only two minutes of the game gone when, following good work by Denton and Michael Trench, the ball was squared to James Ashmore who saw his shot hit the crossbar. Then Jahmal Smith, who had his best game of the season, was unlucky when Ramsden got a hand to a powerful shot and diverted onto the post after 19 minutes.
Brigg had a chance sandwiched in between these two efforts when ex-Coventry and Hull City forward Jamie Barnwell hit the crossbar.
However, Ramsden continued to be the busier keeper and was called in to action again when a great chip from Alex Nightingale played in Smith, but the latter’s shot was saved by Ramsden with his feet.
Smith was again in action just before the break when he was found by Liam Nelthorpe and having jinked past his defender, was able to release a stinging shot but Ramsden showed strong hands to push the ball away.
Nelthorpe was withdrawn at half-time as a precaution with a tight groin and replaced in midfield by Jack Hall.
The home side dominated the second half with Ashmore running the midfield.
They looked good going forward with Denton always dangerous while Trench was finding space and made a number of penetrating runs down the left hand side.
In general either the final ball wasn’t quite in the right place, or a Brigg defender was able to get in a last ditch challenge and clear the danger.
Brigg created a chance near the hour mark when Barnwell was one on one with Damian Magee and the Clipstone defender did well to prevent Barnwell getting near goal.
Brigg’s Joe Barden got his head to the resulting corner but saw the ball go wide of the post.
Smith was then brought down very close to the box on 64 minutes and the resulting free kick from Trench was well-struck and looked to be heading into the bottom right hand corner until Ramsden somehow got a hand to it.
The crucial first goal eventually came with 13 minutes left through Denton, who had been a constant threat to the visitors all night.
The home side hit Brigg with a quick counter-attack and substitute Liam Royles played an inch perfect pass for Denton to run onto. Denton’s marker lost him as the defender tried unsuccessfully to intercept the ball, but as the Cobras forward moved into the box he still had plenty to do and he produced a quality finish as he rounded the keeper and fired his left footed shot into the top of the net.
The next goal will long live in the memory of those who saw it. Finlaw received the ball near the edge of the box and then skipped past four challenges before calmly stroking the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net.
It was a quality goal worthy of confirming victory in any game.
Clipstone came close to a third on 82 minutes when Denton and Royles combined and the latter’s ball to Finlaw enabled the midfielder to run powerfully to the dead ball line and cross only for a defender to get a leg to the ball and it looped over the bar for a corner.