Clipstone 2, Hall Road Rangers 2
Worksop Van Hire Stadium
Thursday April 19
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
By Neil Winsor
THE COBRAS delivered a toxic bite to Hall Road Rangers survival bid last night as Rangers still await their first ever away win over Clipstone.
However a brace of their own, from Clipstone’s, Chanju Mphande pegged Rangers back before Spinks saw his last minute penalty saved by Michael Ball.
Rangers made two changes to the line up which lost narrowly to Bottesford Town on Tuesday night as Dane Mortimer and Danny Norton returned to the starting line up whilst Sam O’Malley dropped to the bench and Jordan Clark did not travel.
Mortimer slotted in at centre back alongside Sam Belcher whilst Jacob Norburn switched to left-back.
A young Clipstone side were full of energy as they pressed Rangers into surrendering possession in the early going, harrying centre midfield pair Jack Binns and Jack Griffin, so when the visitors reverted to route one this brought more success.
It was via this method Hall Road got the early goal on just two minutes.
Josh Batty rose above his marker to flick on a downfield pass into the path of Spinks.
With Ball coming to meet Rangers leading marksman, Spinks craftily lofted the ball over his head into the net.
It was thought the early goal may help settle Rangers down, however it had the opposite effect.
Clipstone failed to roll over and continued their high energy approach forcing many Hall Road passes to go wayward whilst the hosts appeared to win every second ball.
They threatened with some territorial advantage without seriously threatening Hitchcock, however a warning shot was fired when a driven right hand cross evaded everybody in the penalty area.
It wasn’t until eleven minutes in when Rangers next went close, as a turn and shot by Batty sailed over on the half volley afte nice link up play involving Fraser Hansen.
Frustration began to creep into a lot of Hall Road’s play early on despite their lead, something which Clipstone fed off throughout the game, as they also grew off the roaring encouragement from their dugout.
Rangers finally looked like settling down for the last twenty minutes of the first half as they crafted a couple of openings.
Danny Norton’s cross had just too much juice for Batty, before the latter later capitilised on the Clipstone defence failing to judge the flight of another long ball downfield, however Batty’s looped effort sailed wide.
Clipstone were still in the game though as the first half came to a close and a free-kick from Jayden Thorne curled narrowly over to offer further encouragement.
A second goal was needed for Hall Road and Ball bravely threw himself in the path of Spinks to deny him from a cross from the left and the Clipstone keeper needed a couple of minutes to receive treatment seven minutes after the restart.
Hall Road then found their second goal on 54 minutes.
Josh Batty was shoved in the back and with no hesitation the referee pointed to the spot.
Spinks stepped up and drilled his penalty into the bottom right hand corner, his 21st goal of the season and 47th in Rangers colours to double Hall Road’s lead.
Again to their credit though the hosts kept going and Mphande reduced the arrears two minutes later, smashing over Hitchcock and into the roof of the net.
Some improvisation from Hansen followed as a weak clearance from Ball who was out of his goal on the right only found the Rangers winger who first time from 40 yards smashed his effort against the foot of the post with Ball nowhere.
The Cobras came knocking again though and Gareth Owen was on hand to snuff out two promising attacks, first staying on his feet to wrestle the ball away from Thorne and then to head clear at the near post from a goalbound effort.
Rangers then spurned a great chance twenty minutes from time as Spinks this time turned provider for Batty, however Ball this time did enough to distract the Rangers striker by racing to meet him as Batty prodded wide.
Batty soon after made way for Conner Harman before Clipstone drew level thirteen minutes from time.
In a move that started with a Hall Road corner, the pacy Mphande found himself in on Hitchcock and the striker bent his effort past the keeper and inside the far post.
It was no more then Clipstone deserved as they were rewarded for their high energy.
Sam O’Malley and Alex Stock were introduced and Stock’s infectious running freshened things up in midfield, whilst O’Malley’s strength helped hold play up.
It was O’Malley that was the next to go through however he was penalised for a soft push on the Clipstone defender which appeared harsh.
It looked as though Rangers blushes maybe spared however, when as the game ticked over into added time they won their second penalty as Stock was scythed down inside the area.
Although the penalty was well struck, Ball stood tall and at a good height and straight down the middle he kept the ball out with his legs as the ball also flew away to safety.
The final whistle blew moments later as Clipstone gained only their second point this season to leave Bill Gill and his side deflated at full time.
The response must be instant though as a trip to Athersley Recreation looms tomorrow, Hall Road’s fourth game in seven days and with nine games to go, their destiny remains firmly in their own hands