Clipstone produced what was arguably their best performance of the season on Saturday that on another day would have taken all three points against league leaders Tadcaster Albion.
In the end late goals from George Conway and Josh Greening for the North Yorkshire side, the latter a class strike deep into stoppage time, cancelled out first half goals for the home side from Henry Sibenge and Adam Somes in a 2-2 draw.
Clipstone had new signing Dexter Atkinson, recruited this week from Chesterfield FC, in the starting line up and there was a home debut for Henry Sibenge.
After Brad Jones and Damian Magee had combined well in only the second minute to prevent Tadcaster’s Nick Black getting his shot in from a dangerous position, the home side took the lead when Liam Royles played a great ball to Jones who moved forward 20 yards before putting in an inch perfect cross over Andy Milne and straight to Sibenge. The latter hit the ball on the volley and found the net from eight yards out.
The pace of Atkinson was clearly causing problems for the league leaders’ defence whilst at the other end full back Jones, who was having his best game to date for the Cobras, worked hard to ensure there was no supply line for the visitors down their left hand side.
Clipstone’s second goal on 23 minutes resulted from a free kick given for a foul on Somes. James Ashmore took the kick and floated in a ball that was only half-cleared by the visitors.
Somes showed good physical presence in a crowded box to head the ball back goalwards and it took a deflection off Andy Milne to deceive keeper Gary Stevens and roll over the line.
Ashmore nearly increased the lead when his 30-yard piledriver forced Stevens to make a one-handed save at full stretch.
At the other end Tadcaster’s Adam Baker forced Steve Hernandez into a good low save to keep out his shot from 25 yards.
On the stroke of half-time the home side could have made it 3-0 when a quality diagonal ball over the defence from Royles put in Atkinson one on one with Stevens and the keeper did well to save with his feet.
As expected, the visitors made a strong start to the second half and on 53 minutes Hernandez produced a top quality point blank save to deny ex-York City midfielder Jimmy Beadle from six yards out.
The Cobras’ keeper then had to be alert to save from Liam Ormsby when the latter got in a shot from 15 yards.
While Tadcaster had greater possession, the home side kept their shape and worked hard to close the visitors down.
But it was not all one-way traffic with Clipstone looking dangerous on the break.
One such move on 64 minutes involving Somes and Jack Hall saw the latter clumsily brought down in the final third by Paddy Miller which resulted in a caution for the Tadcaster full back. Three minutes later Ashmore played in Sibenge and the latter’s shot was just wide of the post.
Tadcaster halved the deficit after 71 minutes when a cross from the left found substitute Conway who had escaped his marker and scored from the edge of the box with a well-placed shot that gave Hernandez no chance.
Jimmy Beadle then had two chances to equalise for the visitors but didn’t find the target on either occasion.
Sam Finlaw replaced Dexter Atkinson to bring some fresh legs and give Clipstone added energy for the final ten minutes.
There was controversy on 82 minutes when Hernandez came a long way out of his goal to deal with a cross and, in going for the ball, came into contact with Beadle who went to the ground claiming a penalty.
The referee, Andy Newbold, judged that Hernandez got a touch on the ball and awarded a corner. The resulting dead ball kick fell nicely to Tom Claisse who fired wide from six yards out.
As the clock ticked down it looked like Clipstone would take all three points as centre back Magee was enjoying a superb second half and keeper Hernandez was dominating his penalty area and collecting all the balls that were pumped forward as Tadcaster went in search of an equaliser.
Mr Newbold surprisingly added six extra minutes to the 90 (having added four minutes at the end of the first half) and Tadcaster equalised with their last attack in the fifth minute of injury time.
Greening picked up the ball near the centre circle and skipped past two challenges before placing a quality shot into the bottom right hand corner of the goal from 25 yards out.
Clipstone’s next match is a local derby away at Rainworth MW tomorrow (Tuesday 7.45pm).
They then host Lincoln United from the EvoStik Division One South in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup, on Saturday (3pm).
CLIPSTONE: Hernandez, Jones, Hodder (Paling 8), Hall, McAllister, Magee, Sibenge, Royles, Somes, Ashmore, Atkinson (Finlaw 78). Subs not used: Nelthorpe, Nightingale, Francis.
CLIPSTONE MAN OF THE MATCH: James Ashmore.