Author: Square Peg

Away Point Starts The Season Off: Kings Langley (A)

by Peter Scherer

It was a valuable away point but it could so easily have been three, as Mickleover left Kings Langley with a 2-2 draw.

Starting line-up: 1-Jonathan Hedge 2-Elliott Walker 3-Rhys Dolan 4-Ryan Wilson 5-James Butler 6-Phil Watt 7-Joe Bateman 8-Mason Warren 9-Elliott Reeves 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Andy Dales. Subs: Kai Moore, Marcus Marshall, Ethan Mann, Ben Horleston, George Atwal.

Hosts Kings Langley started strongly and after Cain Keller had gone close with a long range shot after nine minutes, only two minutes later Alie Bangura swivelled in the box and fired a shot into Hedge’s top corner, 0-1.

As Mickleover began to settle and pushed forward more, keeper Al-Droubi pulled off his first save from a Sports strike after 24 minutes, but only two minutes later Reeves scored his first league goal for the club, 1-1.

The hosts keeper was suddenly very busy and on the half hour Sports had another shot saved, before Butler’s looping header saw Mickleover head to the half-time whistle for a 2-1 lead.

Only three minutes into the second half and Kings Langley were back on level terms, when debutant Kennedy Feyi made it 2-2.

There was almost a repeat for Feyi straight the restart, but Hedge had this one covered.

Mickleover finished strongly though and had a 75th minute effort cleared off the line, then with one minute on the clock another shot was deflected onto the bar, an so it remained at 2-2.

Reserves Start With A Win!

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover Reserves started their Central Midlands League Premier Division South campaign with a 2-1 win at Mansfield Hosiery Mills last Friday evening.

Only six minutes into the game Ben Horleston gave Mickleover the lead and it stayed 1-0 at half-time.

The hosts were a greatly improved side to last season and after just five minutes of the second half Elliot Nunn equalised.

Mickleover secured all three points though when George Atwal converted a 74th penalty.

The Reserves are away again in their next game, when they visit Clay Cross next Saturday.

And We’re Off!! Kings Langley (A) Match Preview

By Peter Scherer

This weekend is the start of a new era for Mickleover FC, when they travel to Hertfordshire to face Kings Langley in their first game in the Southern Premier League Central Division.

Chris Cummins side are also new to the league as they just escaped relegation in the South Division and have also been transferred for 2022/23.

Our visitors have had a busy pre-season which concluded with a 2-0 home win against Watford Academy ON Tuesday night.

Manager Cummins had mainly worked in Youth football with Watford, Luton and Reading before taking over at Kings Langley in 2019. He has also coached at Toronto FC in Canada.

Centre back Jorell Johnson is our hosts longest serving player, having arrived from Watford in July 2016. During his time with the Hornets he was also loaned to Hemel and St Albans.

Midfielder Cain Keller was one of the scorers in the home win against Watford on Tuesday night, he has also played for Biggleswade, Hendon, Barnet and Stevenage.

Goalkeeper Hafed Al-Droubi is a recent signing from Potters Bar. He started in Luton’s Academy before going to Turkey with Besiktas. He has also played for Manchester 62 in Gibraltar, Chesham, Harrow, Beaconsfield and Northwood.

Midfielder James Jellis arrived from Aylesbury last October. He is a former Stevenage junior and has also played for Hitchin and Wingate.

Alex Lafleur was another signing made last October, when he came in from Beaconsfield. A versatile defender he started out at Wealdstone and has played at Chalfont St Peter, Gosport, Moneyfields and Salisbury.

Ryan Case is a centre back or midfielder who was signed from Hartley Wintney in March. A well-travelled and experienced defender his career started as a Bournemouth Junior before joining Havant and Dorchester continuing via Braintree, Basingstoke, Staines, Poole, Eastbourne, Bath, Gosport, Oxford City, Dulwich Hamlet and Chippenham.

Striker Bradley Wadkins was part of last years team, having arrived from Chesham in July ’21. He previously was at Enfield and Slough and was the other scorer against Watford.

James Mulley is another recent signing. The winger or midfielder was with Ware last season, having started his 15 year footballing career at Yeading.

Among his other teams have been Hayes and Yeading Utd, Maidenhead, Slough, Chelmsford, AFC Wimbledon, Enfield, Bracknell and Uxbridge.

Young striker Edu Toiny-Pendred had come through the clubs own youth scheme. He made his debut in 2018 before moving to Berkhamsted. After a spell in US College football he played for Watford Under 23’s and St Albans, before returning to Kings Langley.

Former Arsenal schoolboy defender Samuel Okoye-Aheneku had a spell at Stevenage and Wingate & Finchley, before joining Hitchin. He started last season at Sittingbourne.

Josh Boorn is a new arrival from Chalfont St Peter, the attacking midfielder was previously with Luton Town.

Striker Alie Bangura hit two goals in five appearances towards the end of last season, after signing from Berkhamsted. He was previously at Biggleswade, Tring, St Margaretbury, Enfield and Broxbourne.

Turkish born midfielder Aryan Tajbakhsh arrived in February from Potters Bar. He has played for numerous southern based teams as well as spells in Turkey.

Noyan Tajbakhsh is the clubs most recent signing. A striker who was a junior with top Turkish side Fernerbahce, but has dropped in and out of the game in recent years. He has also played in the UK for Woodford and Uxbridge.

Centre back James Kaloczi is another new arrival from Hemel, he has previously had a couple of years at St Albans, where he was also loaned out to Wingate.

It’s a grass pitch and kick off is at 3pm

The Reserves Kick Off: Mansfield Hosiery Mills (A)

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover Reserves Central Midlands Premier Division South campaign gets underway on Friday, with a visit to Mansfield Hosiery Mills, kick off 7.45pm.

Dave Mackenzie’s team were the leagues top scorers last season and finished second in the table, just four points behind Champions Blidworth.

Blidworth are one of five teams that have moved on, with Long Eaton Community, Rowsley, Sherwood Colliery Reserves joined more recently by the resignation of our neighbours Hilton Harriers.

New to the league are Cromford & Wirksworth Town, Clay Cross Town and more locally Derby Singh Brothers and Graham Street Prims.

Following Friday evenings visit to Mansfield, we are away again at Clay Cross on Saturday 13th, before our first home game with Holbrook St Michaels on Tuesday 23rd at 7.45pm.

Following Aaron Hayer’s departure to take over at Borrowash Vic’s, Leigh Parr joins Dave Mack as the teams assistant manager and coach.

Mickleover Play Their Part

by Peter Scherer

Over the recent years a number of players have appeared at the Don Amott Arena in Mickleover’s red and black, as part of their growing careers.

Most have been loanees and are now part of their league clubs first team squads. Here are some of them.

Striker Max Watters, goalkeeper Louis Jones and midfielder Liam Ravenhill all came on loan from Doncaster Rovers. 

Watters was with us for a month from September 2019. He was an ex England Schoolboy International and scored one goal from his six games.

He then left Doncaster for Crawley Town, before joining Cardiff City last December and was in the starting line-up for Cardiff in last weekends 1-0 win over Norwich City.

Goalkeeper Jones came in 2019 too and stayed for six weeks. He played his first league game at Doncaster in March last year, having made his first team debut in the EFL Cip a year earlier.

He was on the bench too for Doncaster’s away draw at Bradford City last weekend.

Liam Ravenhill was already well-known to Mickleover, being son of assistant manager Ricky. The young midfielder had two loan spells during last season, having broken into Doncaster’s first squad in between.

The experienced gained with his home first team was immediately obvious on his return to Mickleover in February and he was in the starting line-up for Doncaster last Saturday.

Nathan Broome was part of the England Under 18 squad when he arrived on a season long loan in 2019/2020, playing 20 games for us.

He was an ex Manchester City youth player, but after returning to Stoke he moved onto AFC Wimbledon last January. He was on the bench for the teams opening day victory against Gillingham.

Last season we were fortunate to have Burton Albion’s Ben Radcliffe on loan for much of the season. He played in midfield, wing back and centre back and midfield, gaining valuable experience.

He has become part of the first team squad at the Pirelli Stadium during pre-season and was on the bench last Saturday awaiting his first team league debut.

Although no longer a league side, Yeovil Town have former Mickleover Academy graduate centre back Morgan Williams in their squad. He was a Forest Junior before coming to Mickleover and moved to Coventry for the 2017/18 season. He had loans spells at Yeovil before joining permanently in July 2021.

It’s an unbelievable achievement for us as a football club to be involved in these players development

said gaffer John McGrath, who has seen his own son move to Coventry City and a number of other home grown players going for trials at various clubs.

Final Pre-Season Friendly Win At Gresley

by Peter Scherer

A goal in each half was enough to see Mickleover FC’s pre-season end on a victory at Gresley Rovers.

Only five minutes into the game Kai Moore gave Sports the lead. A long ball had caused some confusing in the home defence, which left the young striker with a free run on goal to slide past the advancing Fenney. 1-0.

Seven minutes later Andy Dales tried his luck from long range, but was off target, before a Gresley corner was headed towards goal. Sports keeper Jonathan Hedge shot off his line to intercept but was beaten to the ball by Gresley’s Landsdowne, who’s header was over the bar.

Although Mickleover had the majority of the possession, the home defence continued to hold out.

Left back Elliott Walker went close after 23 minutes with a free kick just inches wide, followed five minutes later by some Dales magic. He managed to create the space to shoot, but it was straight at the keeper.

Nbakop had a shot for Gresley just over the bar again, before Morris earned corner for the hosts after a run down the left.

While Gresley’s attacks seemed to lack the final ball, Moore went close again after 39 minutes, when he cut in from the right only to have his shot deflected for another corner. Ryan Wilson was on the end of it, but his effort was wide of the post.

Gresley had another try when Wells effort was headed clear after 42 minute and so it remained 1-0 at half time.

Mickleover started the second half strongly, with Dales collecting from a 50th minute free kick to fire over, before a Gresley clearance resulted in a Moore half volley just off target too.

It could have been another Sports goal after 54 minutes, when a break from Elliott Reeves found Dales, who was thwarted by keeper Fenney pushing his shot around the post.

Mason Warren then tried his luck with a curling ball just over the bar, before Dales left the defence flat-footed, leaving Jahvan Davidson-Miller to go for goal, only for his hot to be deflected by an offside player.

Davidson-Miller had started to cause problems for the Gresley defence and was able to cut inside Frizzelle after 70 minutes, before a weak shot went straight into Fenney’s hands.

Only a minute later Davidson-Miller had another shot straight at the keeper, before Lee made a break for Gresley but Hedge had it covered.

With three minutes on the clock Morris broke free for the hosts and found Wells. Hedge managed to push it wide, but was at full stretch to keep Sports advantage.

Only a minute later though there was a second goal, but it went in Mickleover’s favour. After a dangerous ball into the box, Davidson-Miller collected and sent a cracking shot into the top corner to seal the victory 2-0, with the final whistle soon following.

Weakened Sports Held At Uttoxeter

by Peter Scherer

With some minor injuries and a couple of players away, it was a considerably weakened team that made the trip to visit Uttoxeter Town.

Starting line-up: 1-Fin Bowen 2-Elliott Walker 3-Rhys Wilson 4-George Atwal 5-James Butler 6-Ethan Mann 7-Ben Horleston 8-Mason Warren 9-Kai Moore 10-Elliott Reeves 11-Andy Dales. Subs: Joe Bateman, Stuart Beavon, Brandon Ferron.

In a fairly even start to the game in which Uttoxeter tried to push forward, the hosts won the first corner after four minutes, before Mickleover followed four minutes later.

It was the hosts that had the first shot too, with an attempt well off target in the ninth minute, before an Atwal break found Walker on the right, and Wilson had a shot over the bar.

As Sports began to push out of defence Mann tried a long shot, again just off target, before Horleston managed to split the home defence but the final ball was just too long for Walker.

Both Dales and Atwal had started the game well back, which allowed the continued push from the home side. Uttoxeter won a free kick in the 14th minute which went straight out of play, before Mickleover followed suit when Atwal found Warren who fired just wide.

A couple of minutes later the Uttoxeter left back gave the ball away and Moore picked it up. He broke towards goal and earned another corner.

Butler got his head to a free-kick after 22 minutes, but the angle was too tight to trouble the keeper and then Atwal gave away a free kick which the hosts put straight out of play again.

Uttoxeter were relying on the breaks and a left wing charge was partially cut off by Walker, before Bowen was forced to make his first save of the night after 24 minutes.

The Mickleover attack then seemed to spring into action for a while, with Horleston finding Reeves, who shot well over, before Warren and Wilson combined with the keeper tipping away the best shot of the night, as Walker just missed out on the rebound.

Dales then had a run down the left to find Moore in the middle, but the home keeper again had it covered.

Another break for the hosts saw a hasty shot well over, before Warren broke on the left and had his effort saved on the half hour.

Moore then connected with a long ball from Walker on the right and shortly afterwards Reeves got on the end of a goal mouth scramble but his shot was deflected out.

Bowen had to make another save after 37 minutes and finally an Atwal corner found Wilson, but his shot was just wide as the half time whistle blew at 0-0.

Sports brought on Beavon and Bateman for the second half, with Moore and Atwal making way.

It was Mickleover that started the stronger and an early Walker shot earned a corner, but it didn’t last long. Walker again tried to be the instigator but the home side had him covered, before Bateman cut off their retaliatory break.

Although Butler and Mann kept things tidy at the back, Uttoxeter continued to make some challenging breaks, before dales got away to find Reeves, whose shot was blocked again after 52 minutes.

There were a few minutes of sustained attacking with Wilson firing in another good effort, before Warren found Reeves on the left, then a well-timed cross just failed to connect with Beavon.

Beavon then set up another chance for Reeves as the hour mark approached and Sports brought on Ferron for Horleston.

The young Academy players pace was soon evident and he managed to get a cross in from the left, but no one collected.

Bateman had a shot blocked after 65 minutes but the deadlock looked set to be broken after 72 minutes when Dales was tripped just inside he box. But Warren stepped up to take the penalty, which he placed to the keeper’s right and it was well saved, so it remained 0-0.

For most of the final 15 minutes Mickleover were on top, but the ball just wasn’t falling for the strikers. Dales had another run but the ball got away before he shot, while Atwal and Moore came back on for the closing minutes for Walker and Warren.

With three minutes left Uttoxeter had a free-kick. It was cleared out of the box, but sent in again to find a relatively unmarked striker on the far post. His free header went wide however and the best chance of the match was lost.

It’s now off to NPL Division One Midlands Gresley Rovers on Saturday for the final pre-season game of the year. Rovers had a 1-1 with Hanley Town last Saturday, after going down 1-5 to Rugby Town.

Sports Hit Four Against Vics

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover first team squad continued their unbeaten pre-season build up with a 4-0 win at local neighbours Borrowash Victoria.

Sports kicked off with the same line-up as in last Tuesday’s home win against Derby County Under 21’s.

1-Jonathan Hedge 2-Elliot Walker 3-Rhys Dolan 4-Ryan Wilson 5-James Butler 6-Ethan Mann 7-Joe Bateman 8-Mason Warren 9-Elliott Reeves 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Andy Dales. Subs: Fin Bowen, Ben Horleston, Marcus Marshall, Kai Moore, Brandon Ferron.

It was a strong performance from Sports throughout the game despite some determined opposition from the hosts. Once again Elliott Reeves was on the score sheet, having scored in every pre-season game he has played.

Stuart Beavon, Joe Bateman and recent signing  Marcus Marshall also found the net, with Marshall scoring two in two sub appearances after recovering from back injury.

Tuesday evening it’s Mickleover’s penultimate pre-season match, when they visit Midland League Premier Division side Uttoxeter Town, with a 7.30 kick off at the Oldfields Sports ground.

Junior Journo Archie Brown Looks Back At Sport’s v The Rams Youth

by Archie Brown

Coming off the back of a sweltering couple of days in England, Mickleover hoped their football would match the fabulous weather conditions at the Don Amott Arena in their Pre-Season encounter with Derby County U21s in front of 407 fans.

Before the 90 minutes of footballing action went ahead  ,a minutes applause was spared for former Derby County Player Jack Parry who’d sadly passed away recently.It was Derby who kicked off the game but Sports who presented the first real opportunity when a cross by Stuart Beavon was cleared away for a throw-in. The opening five minutes showcased a great display of pressure from the home side, forcing mistakes from the youthful Rams.

Possession then became equal for a good 10 minutes with neither side able to create any solid chances. Sports then saw their moment to attack but a good cross by Mason Warren ended up being caught by the Rams keeper. The opening third of the first half was more memorable for its scrappy football with both sides frustrating each other and their fans with poor displays of passing and lack of attacking movement.

It was in the 20th minute where Sports opened the scoring. After a beautiful long ball over the top and a header back across goal, Elliott Reeves slotted the ball home for 1-0! Mickleover were then awarded a free kick on the right side of the 18-yard box two minutes later and after a low driven cross, what looked to be a simple catch for the Derby keeper was subsequently spilt into the path of  Reeves to grab his second goal in as many minutes!

Other than the two moments of magic from youthful Sports striker Reeves , it was a pretty flat 10 or so minutes following the goals ,with Mickleover dominating possession but failing to do anything with it. Soon after this poor spell from both ,a much needed drinks break for the players was signalled by the referee.

Two separate incidents a minute apart and five before Half Time had car owners around the Don Amott Arena nervously sweating as two of the match balls were recklessly hoofed over the main stand roof and towards the direction of the car park ,let’s hope none of the cars surrounding the stadium suffered any dents on them!

A third for Mickleover just before Half Time! A hat-trick that is now for  Reeves, he’s made a stellar impact on the first team. In the aftermath of the goal, tempers flared between Sports Captain Phil Watt and The Rams Number 9 who both received yellow cards after an altercation. In the dying minutes of the first half,Sports nearly produced another moment of brilliance with a great run and pass by Mickleover midfielder Ryan Wilson finding Hat-Trick hero Reeves however, despite a promising run to the by-line, the strikers’ cross couldn’t find a team mate in the middle.

HT: Sports 3-0 Derby U21s

The second half pretty much started with an instant free kick for the home side as Wilson’s cross was comfortably caught by the Rams goalkeeper. Reeves was then put through on goal with time very much on his side but his dink was poorly executed and rolled behind for a goal kick.

Soon after, an impressive shot by Beavon was parried by the goalkeeper but the follow-up was cleared.You may be wandering why their isn’t much coverage on the Rams in this game but quite honestly, they struggled to get into the game with Mickleover controlling possession for most of it.

The visitors finally attempted to recover their composure as the opening third to the second half displayed equal amounts of possession from both.Mickleover then attempted to make it four as a great ball freed sports Full-Back Rhys Dolan but once again the final product wasn’t there and the cross was poor.

Mickleover were able to sustain their lead for a good period of 15 or so minutes with neither side able to control the game or create any goalscoring chances. In fact the second half was quite a scrappy affair as Derby began to get frustrated with themselves for not creating chances and Sports getting frustrated for not putting their chances away.

Although Mickleover didn’t have the attacking spark in the second half, James Butler was particularly impressive in defence with good blocks, tackles, clearances and forward runs. Sports midfielder Wilson also deserves a mention for creating multiple attacking chances and displaying great work-rate in the centre of the park.

Then in the 90th minute a great run from Jahvan Davidson-Miller found fellow substitute Marcus Marshall at the back post who tapped the ball into an empty net for 4-0! 

FT: Sports 4-0 Derby U21s

A great win for sports then in their third win in their last four pre-season games as preparation for the start of the season in the Southern League Premier Central continues and nobody can argue that the confidence of Mickleover is sky high going into it!

Wilson Joins Sports Line-Up

by Peter Scherer

Full back Ryan Wilson is the latest addition to the Mickleover FC squad for the forthcoming season, the full back having spent the past few seasons with Sports rivals in the NPL Basford Utd, who are also making the move to the Southern Premier League Central this term.

He has played for a number of Midlands based clubs in his career, so what attracted him to Mickleover?

“It was the gaffer John McGrath that persuaded me to come, because they play football here the way I like to play, so I knew I would fit in OK,” he explained.