Subdued Clay Cross start fresh challenge with draw
A fresh challenge in the South Division of the Central Midlands League started with a disappointing draw for subdued Clay Cross Town.
After finishing free-scoring runners-up in the league’s North Division last season, plundering 117 goals but still five points behind champions Retford, Clay Cross have switched to the South for 2019/20.
But they were held 1-1 on the road by Hilton Harriers, who are based in south Derbyshire and finished only ninth last term after losing almost half of their fixtures.
The game started off brightly with both teams applying pressure on their respective goalkeepers, but neither could open the scoring.
A last-ditch clearance off the line kept the goal of Clay Cross ‘keeper Ryan Hopkins safe, while at the other end, the crossbar kept Hilton custodian Harry Wood’s sheet clean on more than one occasion.
Not until the 59th minute did the opening goal finally arrive, but it was well worth the wait as Josh Scully unleashed an unstoppable 30-yard drive for Clay Cross that Wood stretched for but never looked like preventing the net bulge.
Scully also hit the woodwork shortly afterwards and the Millers looked to be in the ascendancy before the hosts struck a cruel blow with an equaliser.
Just 14 minutes remained when Callum Wilson took up the ball, looked up and then hit a shot that twisted and turned on its way towards goal. It was the final swerve that deceived Hopkins and it levelled the game.
A late call for a Clay Cross penalty was denied by the referee, Jack Carter, and with that, the points were shared in what was considered a fair result.
This Saturday (kick-off 3 pm), the Millers’ second fixture of the campaign is at home to Teversal Reserves, who endured a difficult season in 2018/19, finishing next to bottom after winning only five of their 26 matches.