Captain Fantastic and a wonder goal from Sam Agar prove the difference in a close match.
SKIPPER Tom Potts led by example with a commanding performance in Newark Flowserve's tight win against Clifton All Whites.
NEWARK FLOWSERVE were made to fight all the way for a battling 2-0 win at home to Clifton All Whites on Saturday in a match that could prove to be crucial to their dreams of playing step five football next season.
The tight result was sealed with a spectacular goal three minutes into stoppage time and, although title rivals Selston also won to stay neck and neck with The Highwaymen at the summit of the East Midlands Counties League, third-placed Sherwood Colliery lost heavily to slip eight points adrift.
Flowserve made one change, with debutant Blair Anderson wearing the number 11 shirt. The 26-year-old, signed from Dunkirk late in the week, has Football league experience under his belt with Crawley Town, and is yet another example of the quality of player that the management team are attracting to Hawton Lane.
He made an impression as early as the second minute when an astute ball down the left released leading goalscorer Sam Agar, and his cross found Tyrell Shannon-Lewis to sting the hands of Alex Smith in the Clifton All Whites goal with a powerful header.
A moment after Jammy Lloyd’s header from a Danny Meadows corner had brought another fine tenth minute save from Smith, Flowserve were awarded a penalty, much to the delight of another fine crowd of 174 who had braved a dank and cold day with a threat of rain.
Agar stepped up to the spot confidently, but Smith denied him with a smart dive to his left, and it looked as though it might turn out to be one of those days.
But on the half hour mark another Meadows corner from the right was powerfully headed home by skipper Tom Potts, to supposedly stop the home nerves from jangling. It didn’t.
Flowserve had travelled to Clifton in their first away match of the season, and a hard-fought 2-2 draw had awoken their eyes to the true task that awaited them in step six football after their opening day 8-0 romp at home to Arnold Town.
The rain that had threatened at times in the first 45 minutes turned into a second half deluge, and it was Clifton who lifted their game as they poured forward in search of the equaliser, inspired by the twinkling feet of substitute Jahred Russell who had come on just before the break.
But the wave after wave of visiting pressure broke down on the rocks of the twin centre-back pairing of Rhys Lewis and Potts, who withstood anything that was thrown at them and were dominant in the air.
They were joined by robust defenders all around them who were happy to clear the ball anywhere, though often thoughtfully to willing runners down the flanks.
When that back line was occasionally breached, keeper Joe Searson was in defiant mood and eager to secure his second successive clean sheet.
With home supporters glancing anxiously at their watches, and the game edging into the third minute of stoppage time, the ball was hoofed down the flank by substitute Chris Richards, a left-back who did a sterling job in left midfield.
The ball found Agar who controlled the ball with a deft first touch and then curled a remarkable shot from distance over the back-peddling Clifton goalkeeper to spark scenes of joyous celebrations among fans who forgot all about their second half soaking.
Shortly afterwards the final whistle blew and social media brought the news that rivals Sherwood had lost and that the promotion race was now very much of the two-horse variety – with two to go up.
Newark Flowserve: 1 Joe Searson; 2 Sol Miller; 3 Will Rawdon; 4 Tom Potts (captain); 5 Rhys Lewis; 6 Jammy Lloyd; 7 Jack Beckett; 8 Danny Meadows; 9 Sam Agar; 10 Tyrell Shannon-Lewis (Chris Richards 44mins); 11 Blair Anderson (Elliot King 75mins).