A depleted Clipstone squad fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Thackley on Saturday in the NCEL Premier.
New boss Billy Fox had to deal with a number of notable absentees due to injury and work commitments but gave debuts to George Milner from Chesterfield, Joe Hodgkinson from Heanor and Jamie Bryant from Chesterfield’s development squad.
The Cobras began brightly as Nicky Walker probed the Thackley box with frequent ease, only to have his efforts blocked by vital tackles.
The new striking partnership saw George Milner link up well with Walker and it looked as if they had played together many times.
Thackley keeper Dayle Coleing was on top form and he got down well to save a Luke Stevens flick following a corner. The keeper then produced a fine low save to turn Walker’s low drive round the post for a corner.
Thackley took the lead on the stroke of half-time after Luke Robinson had seen his shot parried by Steve Hernandez, Robinson reacted quickest to retrieve the loose ball and was then brought down in the box by Michael Trench and referee Paul Tomes awarded the visitors a penalty.
Tom Dugdale sent Hernandez the wrong way from the penalty spot to open the scoring.
After a half-time pep talk from Fox the Cobras came out for the second period determined to have a better second-half, which has been a noticeable feature of this season.
Early on Ellis Wall worked hard to win back the ball into the final third only to have his shot pushed past the far post.
Milner continued to be a thorn in the side of the Thackley defence, looking good with the ball at his feet and linking up well with both Scully and Ashmore in midfield.
Clipstone’s hard work was rewarded on 76 minutes when Liam Royles levelled. The goal came after a neat exchange of passing on the right with Walker who squared the ball inside the box back to Royles who dispatched his shot into the far corner.
Clipstone went out in search of a winner but were denied by the efforts of Coleing in the Thackley goal who kept out a Wall shot and a thumping drive from Walker.
However, it was Thackley who grabbed all three points with four minutes of normal time remaining when a long clearance from Coleing landed deep in the Cobras’ half and Andy Wood pounced after a mix up between the defence and Hernandez and just managed to get a boot to the ball as Hernandez came off his line and the ball found its way into the empty net.
Coleing then made another important save to deny Royles and prevent the Cobras getting at least a point from the game.
Clipstone: Hernandez (c), Royles, Trench, Scully (Hodgkinson 74), Fawcus, Stevens (Bryant 87), Walker, Langley (Ganyiwa 52), Milner, Ashmore, Wall. Unused subs: Truscott, Francis. MOTM: Ashmore