Clipstone ............ 1 (Warwick 48')
Gedling MW ........ 1 (Hastings 72')
Courtney Hastings’ strike less than twenty minutes from time earned Gedling a share of the spoils away at Clipstone.
The match began in cagey fashion with the ball spending a lot of time in midfield and clear cut chances in short supply.
The visitors managed to put together the first promising passage of play three minutes in. Josh Thornton, Gedling’s captain, cleared the ball from the edge of the penalty area and found Felix Hogg. On the half turn, Hogg played the ball over the top and Hastings, on the right wing, ran perfectly onto it. He cut into the penalty area and got a shot away but it was well blocked behind for a corner by the Clipstone defence.
It wasn’t until 17 minutes that the next good opportunity arrived for the visitors following a fairly forgettable first quarter of an hour. The chance came from Clipstone trying to play the ball out from the back and being pressured into a mistake. Goalkeeper Ryan Skidmore gave the ball away carelessly and Kieran Harrison was unlucky to see his shot blocked by two defenders.
Seven minutes later the home side had their first chance of the game. Striker Jack Warwick collected the ball on the edge of the area and unleashed a shot, however, it was straight at the well positioned Matthew Simpson in the Gedling goal.
The hosts began to grow in confidence and just after half an hour Charlie Dawes struck a shot that wasn’t far wide of the target.
Gedling responded well to this warning and had a quick succession of chances. Ruben Wiggins-Thomas got in behind from a quickly taken throw in and his shot which would have troubled the goalkeeper was blocked behind, thanks to a last ditch challenge. Two minutes later, Hogg let fly from distance but it was comfortably over the crossbar.
The visitors kept probing and nearly found success with just under ten minutes of the half remaining. Joshua Gardner broke down the left and delivered a low cross into Hastings just inside the box. Hastings was bumped off the ball and it broke to Harrison on the edge of the area. However, his low shot was fairly easily fielded by Skidmore.
Hastings was at the centre of the next major Gedling chance which came in the 41st minute. A Ross McCaughey corner wasn’t dealt with by the Clipstone defence and Hastings, with his back to goal, improvised with an acrobatic overhead kick. It was a spectacular effort but it whistled way over the crossbar.
With two minutes of the half remaining, Clipstone reminded Gedling of their attacking ability as Dawes made a good run to the edge of the area and struck the post with a low shot that had Simpson beaten. The ball bounced away and shortly after, the halftime whistle sounded to bring to an end a fairly drab 45 minutes.
The hosts began the second half on the front foot in much the same way as they had finished the first. They reaped the rewards three minutes in, when Jack Warwick headed home a cross from the right. He met it firmly enough to guide it over Simpson and it just had enough on it to loop over Thornton who had backtracked to try to provide cover on the line.
Five minutes later, Clipstone nearly doubled their lead as Dawes drove at the Gedling defence and fizzed a shot narrowly wide of the post.
This drew an excellent response from the visitors as a minute later they came agonisingly close to levelling the match. Wiggins-Thomas was played clean through and looked certain to round the ‘keeper and slot the ball home. However, Skidmore just did enough to force him too wide of the goal to be able to shoot. Undeterred, Wiggins-Thomas pulled the ball back towards the penalty spot where Charlie Roberts was arriving. The ball was slightly behind him and he was forced to stretch to collect it, this resulted in him ballooning his shot over the bar with the defence scrambling to get back into position and Skidmore stranded.
The Miners kept plugging away and Gardner, who grew into the game with every passing minute, produced a sublime through ball to put Hastings in on goal in the 57th minute. Hastings tried to find the corner with a precise side footed finish but Skidmore was equal to it, tipping it away. Wiggins-Thomas tried to turn the rebound in but the defence recovered and Gedling were forced to settle for a corner.
It was from this corner that they almost equalised. The ball came out to Hogg who hit a ferocious strike that looked destined to hit the back of the net only for Skidmore to tip it round the post, preserving his side’s lead in the process.
In the 63rd minute, Clipstone went on what had now become a rare foray forward, such had been Gedling’s level of dominance since going behind. As the ball was crossed into the box Roberts was adjudged to have pushed the player he was marking and the referee awarded a penalty.
Jason Foster stepped up confidently, sent Simpson the wrong way but saw his low effort bounce back off the post and away. It was a huge let-off for Gedling and seemed to galvanise them once more.
Having seen a host of chances go begging they seized their next with both hands to draw level on 72 minutes. McCaughey picked the ball up on the left and clipped an accurate diagonal ball into the penalty area. Finlay Gaynor arrived at the back post and collected the pass, he then calmly laid it off to Hastings in the centre who fired it powerfully beyond the ‘keeper and into the back of the net. It was a superb team move, and a goal that Gedling thoroughly deserved, having dictated play for much of the second half.
Both sides pressed for a winner with Gedling looking the slightly more likely to find one but neither could fashion a clear cut opportunity as both sides defended valiantly, desperate not to lose the game late on.
Gedling might have had a penalty of their own five minutes from time when Thornton appeared to be bundled over in the box but the referee waved the appeals away.
The draw ended a run of five straight defeats in all competitions for the visitors and although it could easily have been a win, it was a welcome point.
Manager Chris Marks said: “We asked for a reaction today from the lads and they gave us that. I’ve said it all along, we’re a good side. Today we were probably unfortunate not to get the three points but it’s a point on the board and we move on to the next game.
“It was a good finish from Courts and credit to Ross today, he was superb. He’s put a great ball in and young Fin’s shown some great composure just to lay it off. A lot of players in that position would try and hit it, he found Courtney; it was a good team goal.”
Gedling Miners Welfare Man of the Match – Felix Hogg
Match Attendance – 81
Referee – John Stevens
Assistant referees – Lee Harrison and Tim Gregory
Clipstone – Ryan Skidmore, Mitch Mullins, Curtis Birchall, Chris Smith, Aaron Pride, Tom Weaver, Charlie Dawes, Nathan Whitehead, Jack Warwick, Jason Foster (C), Josh Pickering
Used Substitutes – Marcus Beddoe, Alex Mann
Unused Substitutes – Rob Paling, Lewis Warwick, Rich Williams
Cautions – Mitch Mullins
Gedling Miners Welfare – Matthew Simpson, Charlie Roberts, Ross McCaughey, Felix Hogg, Steven Brett, Josh Thornton, Joshua Gardner (Richemone Sylla 65’), Kieran Harrison (Dean Gent 61’), Courtney Hastings, Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, Finlay Gaynor (Abdau Cole 79’)
Unused Substitutes – Tony Law
Cautions – Kieran Harrison 31’, Dean Gent 61’, Steven Brett 90+2’