Honours even as AFC Mansfield and Cipstone share 1-1 draw

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Clipstone will be plying their trade in the Northern Counties East League this season and knew this match against an AFC side full of players with NCEL experience would be a good test for them.

AFC were without several players and some that started against Rainworth found themselves on the bench as manager Micky Taylor had a look at his squad.

Clipstone started brightly and stretched AFC at the back with James McCann went close in the opening 10 minutes.

Clipstone were competitive in the opening 25 minutes and it wasn’t quite working for the home side so Taylor decided to change it bringing Danny Naylor and Steve McGurk into the action.

Naylor immediately set up a chance for the home side. Turning neatly in the middle of the park he fed Danny Tighe on the right. Tighe’s cross found Mark Carter whose shot was superbly saved by Simon Smith in the away goal. The ball dropped to Phil Buxton who could only hit the side netting with the follow up.

Clipstone went in front on 35 minutes, a bit of a goalmouth scramble with AFC failing to clear their lines, the ball eventually fell to Danny House who rifled the ball into the roof of the net to put the visitors in front.

AFC responded and Danny McLane saw his effort drift over the bar after being put through by Buxton. Keeper Smith was now the busier of the two keepers, saving with his left foot from Joe Meehan’s low drive on 41 minutes.

Clipstone hit back a minute later when McCann unleashed a 25 yard effort that had Mark Frost beaten but cannoned back off the crossbar and away to safety.

At the other end Liam Pride saw his drive beat Smith but was denied by the post and Clipstone went in at half time 1-0 up.

A Danny Tighe free kick at the start of the second half found Meehan on the far post, the midfielder’s volley hitting the side netting as AFC turned up the heat.

Tighe was again involved on the hour mark, drifting past two players he shot from 20 yards but his effort was always rising.

Another Tighe cross on 63 minutes found the head of Pride but again the effort was wide of the mark.

Captain Steve McGurk bought AFC back on level terms after 65 minutes.

Tighe’s superb free kick found the captain in the box and he headed powerfully into the far corner of the net.

Top goal scorer Pete Stubley came on after 75 minutes and two minutes later saw his first chance hit the side netting. It was good work from Stubley on 80 minutes that carved open a chance for Carter but again the chance went wide of the mark.

The second half definitely belonged to AFC and they poured forward looking for the winner, but Clipstone stood firm and the game ended honours even. A good workout for both teams and on the evidence of the first half Clipstone will be able to hold their own in the NCEL but may need a bit more firepower up front.

For AFC Mansfield the next stop is Pinxton on Tuesday night where they will be looking to continue their positive build up to the start of the season.

AFC Mansfield: Frost, Tighe, Pride, Jones, Witton, Meehan, Chambers, Armstrong, Carter, Buxton, McLane. Subs: Naylor, Stubley, McGurk, Patel, Cox, Hartshorn.

Referee: Adam Coupe.

Assistants: Matt Jackson & Neil Allsop.

Attendance: 302.

Man of the Match: Liam Pride.