A much-changed Clipstone line-up worked hard in North Barnsley but were unable to deny Athersley Recreation a deserved 2-0 victory on Saturday.
The three points should ensure that the hosts retain their place in the NCEL Premier Division for season 2016/7.
Clipstone manager Billy Fox was missing a number of players for various reasons and there were places for recent signings Josh Dacre and Callum Littlejohn. Simba Ganyiwa also got a rare start and Craig Fletcher returned to the forward line after being unavailable for the Staveley game.
Whilst the overall effort and commitment couldn’t be faulted, this was a disappointing performance from the Cobras and if it was not for their man of the match Steve Hernandez, the scoreline would have been more emphatic.
The visitors rarely troubled home ‘keeper Neal May during the first period as they were unable to make much impact in the final third.
Athersley had the first chance of note on five minutes when Danny Cawley headed wide from a corner. The visitors had a rare attack a minute later with a move involving Ganyiwa, Liam Royles and Littlejohn but the latter was unable to find a team mate with his cross.
Ryan Smith then had a chance for the home side after a defensive error from Clipstone saw them concede possession but he shot wide. Hernandez then had to come off his line smartly to claim the ball as the same player moved in on goal.
The inevitable first goal came on 17 minutes when Cawley fired in a shot from the edge of the area through a crowd of legs that meant Hernandez saw the ball late, albeit the shot was well-placed and found the bottom corner.
Cawley then had further chances to extend the lead but found Hernandez in fine form as he kept out a shot from the edge of the box on 23 minutes and then denied the same player with his legs a minute later when he looked certain to score from close range.
Hernandez’s best save came on 25 minutes when a corner found Tom Copping on the edge of the six yard box and the Cobras’ ‘keeper produced a great reaction save.
The home side grabbed a second goal nine minutes after the re-start when a cross from the right found Kai Hancock at the back post and he headed home from close range.
Clipstone had their best scoring chance of the game midway through the half when they won a free-kick near the ‘D’ on the edge of the box. The resulting shot from James Ashmore had pace and was well-directed and forced May into a flying save to turn the ball round the post.
Both sides made changes as the game moved into the final quarter and resolute defending from Chris Fawcus in particular ensured that the home side had no further clear cut chances.
The Cobras continued to press forward and try and exert pressure but in general the quality was lacking in the final third.
Clipstone’s final home game of the season is on Saturday 16th April, 3pm when they face Parkgate.