The great mystery surrounding Clipstone’s wretched home form, compared to that on their travels, deepened further with a shock defeat at the hands of Armthorpe Welfare on Saturday.
Armthorpe arrived at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium languishing in the bottom two of the Toolstation Northern Counties East League, Premier Division table after just three wins in 19 matches.
But they returned home with a 3-2 success after inflicting the fourth successive home reverse on Clipstone, who have now lost more games on their own patch than they have won, and yet they remain unbeaten away!
On the day Storm Desmond battered the UK, the Cobras started with the strong wind behind them and fielding Brad Holmes and Luke Randle, two apprentices on loan from Chesterfield, they hit the woodwork twice in the opening half-hour. First, Ellis Wall saw his shot beat ‘keeper Leigh Overton, only to crash back off the bar. And then a similar outcome when James Ashmore gained possession 35 yards out near the left-hand touchline, looked up and tried a shot that also rattled the bar.
At the other end, Luke Randle cleared off the line to prevent Armthorpe breaking the deadlock when Tom McLaughlin beat ‘keeper Steve Hernandez to a cross in the swirling wind. But as the goalless half meandered to a close, there was little sign of what was to follow -- namely three goals from the visitors, all scored by James Walker, in the opening 19 minutes of the second period. Hat-trick hero Walker netted the first when the Cobras failed to clear a corner properly. His second was direct from a free-kick, and his third was from the penalty spot as he sent Hernandez the wrong way.
To their credit, Clipstone responded, led by outstanding man-of-the-match and captain Damian Magee. They started to get the ball into dangerous areas and, on 69 minutes, they pulled a goal back when Brad Jones beat Overton from 25 yards with the help of a deflection.
The Cobras also bagged the best goal of the match eight minutes from time when Oli Ryan showed terrific technique to chest down a pass and send an instant right-fooot volley past the ‘keeper from just outside the area.
Frustrated manager Jas Colliver said: “We gave ourselves too much to do. In the first half, with the wind, we needed to put the ball into areas that would have made them defend.”
CLIPSTONE LINE-UP -- Hernandez/ Jones, Randle, Holmes (Royles 82), Salt, Magee, Lindley, Wall (Smith 61), Somes (Ryan 57), Ashmore, Denton. UNUSED SUBS: Paling, Francis.