Late winner for Clay Cross in top-of-table thriller
Depleted Clay Cross Town delivered a seven-goal, top-of-the-table thriller to brighten up a drab and dreary rain-soaked afternoon for spectators at Mill Lane.
Entertaining fellow title-chasers Collingham in the North Division of the Central Midlands League, Clay Cross came from 2-0 down to triumph 4-3, despite the absence of player/manager Ant Lynam, who had been in prolific goalscoring form.
The clash looked to be heading for a 3-3 draw but, two minutes from time, leading scorer Josh Parfitt chased a long ball, and his determination and fitness took him past two leaden-legged defenders to fire the winner.
It more than made amends for a series of misses by Parfitt, and lifted the Millers eight points clear of Collingham, who have two games in hand, in the title race. Squeezed between the pair are Retford, who are seven points adrift of Clay Cross with three games in hand.
The visitors were the better side for the opening half-hour and took a deserved lead in the 18th minute when Ryan Rushen headed the ball on for Jake Park to burst clear and supply the finish.
Ten minutes later, the lead was doubled as George Slack’s foul on the lively Park resulted in a free-kick that was superbly dispatched into the top corner from 25 yards by Craig Bridge.
At this point, Clay Cross hadn’t produced an attack of note, but they got back into the game on 34 minutes when some superb close control and an excellent pass from Parfitt set up Josh Scully, who guided his shot expertly into the top corner.
A minute from the break, the sides were level as Callam Lytham cut in from the left and drove home low, across goal. And Clay Cross edged ahead for the first time 11 minutes into the second half when Aiden Ordidge tapped home a cross by Parfitt.
More chances went begging, but Collingham, who had forced goalkeeper Ryan Hopkins into several fine saves throughout the game, were still in it, and they proved it with an equaliser 13 minutes from the end as Park latched on to a headed backpass by skipper Ryan Ordidge that fell well short of Hopkins.