Clipstone bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday, although they were unlucky not to take at least a draw and made visiting EvoStik League opponents Lincoln United fight all the way for their 2-1 success.
Although Lincoln play one level higher than Clipstone, there was little between the two teams on the day.
The home side enjoyed the better of the first half, but a class strike against the run of play from Paul Grimes on the stroke of half-time gave the visitors much needed belief.
Lincoln created a chance after just two minutes when Steve Hernandez came out and bravely threw himself at the feet of centre forward Stuart Reddington to block a shot at the expense of a corner.
Clipstone responded immediately and Liam Royles carried the ball 40 yards before setting up Jahmal Smith whose shot was blocked by keeper Sam Vince. The rebound fell to Henry Sibenge, who couldn’t get a clear sight of goal as several defenders moved towards him.
The home side then created a chance when a move involving Sibenge and Alex Nightingale led to a corner which was played to Nightingale. His put a beautiful cross into the box that Jack Hall, eight yards from goal, was inches away from getting his head to.
It was evident that the movement and pace of the Clipstone front line was causing problems for the visitors’ defence and there were a number of neat interplays between Jahmal Smith, Sibenge and Nightingale.
Behind them Sam Finlaw, back in the starting XI, had an impressive game with intelligent link up play and always taking the attacking option.
Liam Royles had another good game as he continued to make good use of the ball and demonstrate an excellent work rate.
Royles combined with Smith midway through the half to create a chance for Nightingale, whose shot from the edge of the box was not far wide of the upright.
The visitors’ main tactic was the long ball, although as they were playing with their backs to a strong wind, most of their punts forward went straight out for goal kicks.
The opening goal came on 45 minutes when Grimes placed a curling shot from the edge of the area into the corner of the goal which gave Steve Hernandez no chance.
The visitors, boosted by their goal, began the second half in more positive fashion and created a number of chances although the well organised Cobras’ defence kept them out.
The home side continued to match their higher league opposition across the pitch and Smith almost created a chance for himself until he was fouled near the box by Callum Ward, who was rightly booked as this was one of numerous fouls he had committed during the match.
Clipstone made a change on 66 minutes when Alec Denton replaced Nightingale and within two minutes Denton had got his name on the scoresheet with a well-taken equaliser.
A superb through ball from Royles allowed Denton to run into the box and, despite pressure from a defender, he got in a left foot shot that beat Sam Vince.
The visitors responded immediately from the kick-off and it took a brilliant last ditch tackle from Rob Paling to prevent them going in front again.
The home side then broke quickly and Denton took the ball down the right wing and his cross found Smith in the box but Lincoln’s Michael Jacklin did enough to prevent the forward getting a sight of goal.
The visitors restored their lead with 15 minutes left when Clipstone conceded a penalty and although Hernandez went the right way, Daniel Brooks’ spot kick was placed right in the corner.
Clipstone again responded positively and nearly grabbed a deserved equaliser with two minutes left after Sam Finlaw and Brad Jones combined down the right hand side and the cross that resulted found Sibenge, who forced Vince to save well with his feet.
After the match Clipstone manager Jas Colliver said he felt there wasn’t much difference between the two teams and highlighted Finlaw’s contribution.
Whilst disappointed to exit the FA Cup, he felt the performance, especially in the first half, was good.
Focus now returns to the league and next Saturday’s home match against 18th placed Cleethorpes Town. Colliver was quick to stress that he feels Cleethorpes are currently in a false position and will provide a tough test.
Clipstone’s next match is at home to Cleethorpes Town on Saturday (3pm).
Under 16s will be admitted to this and all future league games for the 2015/6 season for free.
The Cobras then travel to Albion Sports for another league game on Saturday, September 26 (3pm).
CLIPSTONE: Hernandez, Jones, Paling, Hall, McAllister, Magee, Smith, Finlaw, Royles, Sibenge, Nightingale (Denton 66). Subs not used: Hodder, Somes, Nelthorpe, Colliver, Francis.
CLIPSTONE MAN OF THE MATCH: Rob Paling.