Denton hat-trick gets Clipstone back on track

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After two defeats on the bounce, Alec Denton scored a hat-trick to help Clipstone win 3-1 at Parkgate to keep up the pressure at the top of the Toolstation Northern Counties East Premier Division.

Clipstone moved up one place in the table to fourth with 35 points from 18 games with a hard-working display on a very wet afternoon that saw them forced to come from behind.

Manager Jas Colliver made four changes to the team beaten last week by Athersley with Pat Lindley, Rob Paling, Alex Nightingale and Oli Ryan all starting.

After the game the Cobras’ boss said: “We worked really hard and played some great stuff.

“We went a goal down and sometimes you have to hold your hand up and say it’s a good piece of play.

“A great cross and he’s scored early on. But I don’t think it shook us and we bounced back.”

Colliver also praised Lindley’s performance in midfield as “outstanding all the way through” while noting that the experience of James Ashmore alongside him had allowed Lindley to get on the ball and make things happen.

There was a minute’s silence before the game in memory of those killed in the Paris attacks the previous evening.

Parkgate scored from the first real attack of the game when the ball was crossed with pace from the right hand side and Jake Ashton ghosted in at the far post and his shot from close range gave Steve Hernandez no chance.

The Cobras dominated possession for the remainder of the half with Lindley and Ashmore both catching the eye in midfield, with good support from Ellis Wall.

As the visitors found attacking momentum, Wall saw his shot go narrowly wide on 21 minutes.

Alec Denton did then get the ball in the net on 24 minutes following good work by Oli Ryan but Denton was judged to be narrowly offside.

Clipstone were now in total control and another Ellis Wall effort from the edge of the box on the half hour brought a good save from Parkgate ‘keeper Ben Brunt.

The visitors came even closer on 40 minutes when Lindley played in Ryan and the striker and keeper Brunt collided as both went for the ball, which deflected narrowly wide.

However the Cobras got the goal that their play deserved on the stroke of half-time with a spectacular strike from top scorer Denton.

Parkgate captain Michael Jones had seemingly done well to block a long high ball from Damian Magee with an outstretched leg, and when the loose ball fell to Denton 35 yards from goal there didn’t initially seem to be any danger.

However, Denton moved forward five yards before letting loose and unstoppable 30-yard right foot shot that found the bottom left hand corner of the goal.

The Cobras continued the second half in the same positive fashion and Lindley and Denton combined for the latter to put in an excellent cross which found strike partner Ryan at the far post. However Ryan was unable to get the ball under control and the chance was gone.

Clipstone then went ahead for the first time in the match when Paling played the ball into Ryan, who executed a neat turn and found Denton in space just inside the box.

The Cobras forward had time pick his spot and fire home past Ben Brunt.

Ryan, who was starting a game for the first time this season, was replaced on the hour by Jahmal Smith. The latter nearly scored within a few minutes of coming on with a header from a delightful chip by Nightingale.

Nightingale then won back possession and played the ball to Denton down the right hand side. The latter cut inside but his left foot curling shot went wide of the post.

Parkgate came close on 71 minutes when Mbea Lebrun looked favourite to get on the end of a cross but Chris Salt put in a timely block to deny the forward.

On 77 minutes Clipstone nearly put the result beyond doubt when Lindley intercepted the ball and set up Denton and the latter’s shot hit the post.

Lindley had a chance of his own when he again won the ball but was unable to get his shot from 20 yards on target.

The three points were finally secured with five minutes remaining when a good through ball found Denton who went round the keeper and put the ball in the empty goal to complete his hat-trick.

Clipstone’s next game is at home against Pontefract Collieries on Saturday (3pm).

CLIPSTONE: Hernandez, Royles, Paling, Lindley, Salt, Magee, Nightingale (France 90), Wall, Ryan (Smith 60, Hall 80), Ashmore, Denton. Subs not used: Nelthorpe, Francis.