by Peter Scherer
Mickleover FC’s first year Academy squad opened their ESPFA Midlands Division season with a 2-1 win over Belper Town, thanks to two goals from Reece Perry.
Although Belper went straight into the attack from the kick off, the opening minutes were fairly even.
Lennon Higgins had a random shot which was well over the Belper bar, before the wing back sent a sixth minute through ball which Devon Smith just failed to connect with.
Belper kept coming back in surges and Berhard Koecher cleared the first real effort from the visitors, playing the ball nicely out of his own area.
Smith led another attack for Sports after 12 minutes, but weak ball into the area came to nothing. It was only two minutes later that Perry found the top right hand corner from outside the box, after a gradual multi-player build up to make it 1-0.
Belper had a fairly good chance to equalise four minutes later, with the Mickleover defence failing to intercept on a couple of occasions, but the Belper number eight’s shot was high and wide.
Mickleover keeper Fin Bowen had little of the ball as most of Belper’s attempts were very wide of the mark, whereas Mickleover went more for the gradual build up.
After 23 minutes Emilio De Abreu was in the clear, but the Belper keeper managed to block his shot and send it out for a corner.
On the half hour a Sports free kick was sent back into the box by Lennon, the ball bobbed around without either side collecting it, until Belper made another break which failed to reach its destination.
Smith though he had made it 2-0 after 32 minutes, but was flagged offside, but De Abreu the pout a good shot in from outside the area, just wide.
Perry and Smith the combined to put an effort just wide following a corner, before Belper’s number 11 managed to rebound his own first effort, only to shoot well wide again.
Smith was on the attack again with seven minutes left in the first half, his back header fell to Perry, who put in a weak shot which trickled to the Belper keeper.
There was one more slight chance for the visitors too, before half time, easily dealt with by Bowen.
There had been continuous substitutions from both sides, but it was Mickleover again, getting the first shot on goal in the second half, but Smith’s attempt was blocked.
But Belper’s number 11 was in space again, but failed to actually get a shot in, before Tom Griffiths put a god ball in the Belper box, just short of connecting with Lennon and Smith.
The visitors had a fierce shot blocked after 55 minutes, before Ethan Mann got clear, but his attempt was well wide of the target.
Smith broke through the Belper defence three minutes later, but fell at the final hurdle before getting his shot in and then Sam Allsopp had a shot saved.
But Perry made it 2-0 on the 20 minute mark, after Smith was chasing the ball and the Belper keeper went down injured.
Another fractional offside robbed Smith of another goal, but into the last 10 minutes Belper began to show more urgency and put the Mickleover defence under pressure.
Bowen had to palm away a close range shot, before Dylan Sanghera found Smith in the box for Sports, but his shot was saved. But Belper pulled one back when their number five beat Bowen on his near post with a header.
There were few more threats to the Sports defence before the final whistle went, but overall a good solid performance and a well earned three points.
The first years Black team play the return game at Belper next Thursday, and at the Don Amott Arena it’s the second years Reds v Stafford Rangers.