Author: Square Peg

Striker Heads For Mickleover

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover have added Loughborough University striker Dylan Edwards to their squad for next season. Edwards is the Universities all-time leading scorer, having played for them for the last three seasons.

He had also represented Wales at Futsal and is the Grandson of Welsh Rugby Union legends Sir Gareth Edwards.

I like to play winger or striker, but coming to Mickleover will give me the chance to test myself and maybe create other opportunities. When I was introduced to Gareth Holmes his enthusiasm impressed me and I was convinced that a move to Mickleover would be a good one for me

he said.

Dylan’s going to be really exciting for us, he wants to learn and improve as a player, he’s athletic fast and direct. He’s scored a lot of goals during his time at Loughborough and is versatile in the roles he can play. He is a great addition to the team and we are really looking forward to working with him

added Sports manager Gareth Holmes.

Mersin’s Back As Number One

by Peter Scherer

Having seen out the latter part of last season to the play-off semi-finals with some outstanding performances, goalkeeper Yusuf Mersin has re-signed for the coming season.

The former Millwall and Liverpool Junior and Turkish Youth International, was signed from Irish Club Harland & Wolf and was keen to return to the Don Amott Arena for the new term.

I really wanted to come back to Mickleover, as I enjoyed it so much, even though I had offers nearer to my home. When I arrived I had so much help from our goalkeeping coach Jonah Jones, he was brilliant with me. He rebuilt my confidence so I hit the ground running and he gave me the enthusiasm to feel part of the team.

I can’t fault the club, it has a great family feel and you feel the supporters are really with you, even when it doesn’t go right.

said Mersin.

Yusef gives us a real physical presence in goal, which is what we wanted as we move into the Northern Prem. I thought he was excellent at the end of last season. He’s commanding in the air and an excellent shot stopper. Again he’s someone who’s had other offers, but has chosen to sign here, which is testament to the things that are going on.

said Mickleover boss Gareth Holmes.

Atkinson Returns

by Peter Scherer

Experienced defensive midfielder Will Atkinson will be back in a Mickleover shirt again this season, having initially planned to move to Coalville.

Having arrived from Boston Utd in pre-season Atkinson was one of the stand-out players in last years line-up, showing his experience and skill as a calming influence.

I didn’t really want to leave Mickleover, but it was a new league and id would mean more travelling for me. But I have managed to sort that out now and so I am pleased to be staying.We had a good group of lads last year and I am glad some of them are staying too

said Atkinson.

Will and I have spoken quiet a few times since the end of the season and I’ve been really impressed with the type of person he is! His Honesty and Drive have really shone through. He’s an intelligent player with a excellent ability to develop the ball and break up play, so I’m delighted he has agreed to sign for next season

added Manager, Gareth Holmes.

Ryder Sticks With Sports

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover’s talented young striker Fin Ryder has committed to the club for the forthcoming season, having graduated to the first team squad via the academy and reserve team, to earn his first contract.

He scored his first senior goal in the home win against Nuneaton last season and also had a spell on loan at Basford.   

I’m really excited to sign my first contact at Mickleover, as I’ve been at the club since I was about 10 years old. I really enjoyed the games I started and came on as sub in last season. I’m hungry to score more goals and play more minutes this season and know the NPL is different, as people have said it’s more physical. However I enjoy that side of the game so it will be a good test for me and help me develop as a player.

said Ryder.

Mickleover boss Gareth Holmes sees Fin as one for the future…

He has a lot of raw attributes, he’s strong, fast and brave. His attitude and desire to improve has really stood out for me, and the exciting thing is the potential and room for further development that is Fin.

There are some excellent strikers here to learn from and Fin’s challenge is to push hard and be the best version of himself, because his attributes provide us with a different option.

Wilson & Dales Are Back For More

Captain Ryan Wilson and Andy Dales are the latest players to re-sign for another Mickleover FC campaign.

It will be Wilson’s third season at the Don Amott Arena, having signed from Basford in summer 2022, and his second term with captain’s armband.

Being captain doesn’t give more responsibility, apart from leading the lads out, but we’re a team. We are hoping to produce the same sort of performances as last year, but I think it may be a bit tougher in the NPL. It’s colder in the north and stronger to

he said.

Dales has become a Mickleover legend, having returned to the club in August 2021, after a three-year spell at Scunthorpe. Where he was loaned to Dundee and Hamilton Academicals.

I have been at the club for much of my career now and love it, so it didn’t take much thinking about really. Going back into the NPL will be more physical, with bigger teams, but we’ve been there before

said Dales, who was coached by new boss Gareth Holmes as a nine year old at Derby County.

For me this is simple, we want good people & players at the club. Andy & Ryan both need no introduction as they played major roles in last season’s achievements. People know the qualities they possess

said Mickleover boss Gareth Holmes.

They demonstrate a desire to excel at both sides of the game. We will need this desire in abundance next season and I’m delighted that they have chosen to stay and be part of what we are going to build here

he added.

Taft Joins Sports

Centre back George Taft has signed for Mickleover, having spent last season at Nottinghamshire neighbours Worksop Town.

A Former Leicester City Junior, Taft played league football for York City, Burton Albion, Cambridge Utd, Mansfield, Bolton Wanderers and Scunthorpe Utd, before moving to Worksop in August last year.

I already knew Stuart Beavon and he was my first point of contact, but manager Gareth had coached me as a youngster too. I was impressed when Mickleover beat Worksop last season as it was our first defeat at Worksop.

Taft explained.

I knew some of the players too and heard what a good family club it was. I have already been made welcome and hope to help them to promotion.

he added.

George is a great fit for us. I’ve stressed that we need good people, as well as good players and George fits this bill. His physical qualities are obvious and he will strengthen us in this department. But there is much more to George’s game than this, he’s got the ability to defend well and start attacks. His Calibre speaks for itself. His experience of doing well in the Northern Premier League last season is a bonus too and he’s another great addition

said manager Gareth Holmes.

Barnes Signs Up!

by Peter Scherer

Striker Marcus Barnes is the latest player to re-sign for another season at Mickleover. A pre-season season signing last year after a short stay in the US, Barnes went onto score 18 League and Cup goals and was the clubs second highest goalscorer.

Marcus is an incredibly exciting player, who I worked with in his earlier years. He has shown his prowess in front of goal and 18 goals, having not been the designated penalty taker is an excellent return.

He’s got bags of pace, coupled with intelligent movement, and the ability to play in multiple positions

said Mickleover manager Gareth Holmes

It’s another positive signing for the club and again demonstrates the intent that we have for next season. We want to be an exciting and dynamic football team and Marcus is the type of player that will help us be this, so I’m really looking forward to working with him again

Holmes added.

It’s a great family club from top to bottom, and I’ve known Gareth since he coached me when I was 11 or 12, so it’s good to rejoin him.

It will be nice to progress more with the club this season, but I won’t be setting any targets. Just take any opportunities game by game

replied Barnes.

Bennett First To Re-Sign

by Peter Scherer

Jake Bennett has become Mickleover boss Gareth Holmes’ first signing for the 24/25 league season, when he penned a two-year deal to start his fifth consecutive season at the Don Amott Arena.

Right back Bennett had a previous spell with Mickleover before joining Sheffield Utd, and has also played for Coalville, Alfreton and Chesterfield, having started his career in his native Shropshire, with Market Drayton and Telford.

I’m excited in what we are going to build here at Mickleover FC. We’ve been clear in what that vision looks like now and how we improve all aspects of the club, both on and off the field.

Jake will be an integral part of how we want to play and move forward. I’m delighted that he has committed to the club and the journey that we are going to go on.

said Holmes.

Introducing Our New Manager

by Peter Scherer

Following the departure of John McGrath after eight years in charge, Gareth Holmes has taken over the reins.

Mansfield born Holmes played in the Conference for Nuneaton Borough and Leigh RMI, as well as locally with Ilkeston Town, Worksop and Hucknall Town and had six-month spell in Finland too.

He had already done some coaching at Ilkeston, “I decided to retire from playing aged 26 and became one of the youngest first team coaches in the league when I joined Mansfield Town,” he explained.

His FA and UEFA coaching qualifications continued to map his career, when after a year at Field Mill, he joined Burton Albion, working with the Brewers junior players.

Two years later he moved on to Birmingham City in a similar role, and then spent six years with Nottingham Forest managing the under 18’s, as well as been part of the first-team coaching staff

Since then he has worked with the Derby County Community Trust, but felt it was now time to make a return.

“I haven’t been away from football, just the competitive side, after I had done 20 years of coaching,” he explained.

He has worked a lot with youngsters developing their careers, “that part is important to me, helping us build a strong squad at Mickleover and helping the youngsters develop in their individual careers,” he added.

“I saw Mickleover play a couple of times this season, but at the time I never thought I would be where I am now. I am hoping to announce my backroom line-up later this week too,” he confirmed too.

He has four key words in his coaching style, SERVE, IMPROVE, DRIVE & UNITE.

With rumours getting stronger that Mickleover may be making a return to the Northern Premier League, does our new gaffer have any views on that?

“I believe any moving of leagues etc will be confirmed by the end of the month, but with only Blyth from the North coming down from the National League North and the others all Southern based, that could be quite likely. I think the Northern Premier is probably a stronger league too,” he concluded.

Telford Were Just Too Good On The Night!

by Peter Scherer

The dream of National League North promotion to the fore, we knew it would be a tough challenge. But a goal in each half sealed the deal in Telford’s favour.

STARTING LINE-UP: 1- Yusuf Mersin 2-Jake Bennett 3-Ryan Wilson 4-Will Atkinson 5- Kyle Rowley 6-Will Tamen 7-Marcus Barnes 8-Ethan Mann 9-Tyrell Waite 10-Ben Sault 11-Will Trueman. Subs: Stuart Beavon, Andy Dales, Ethan Fitzhugh, Rhys Dolan, Oli Greaves.

It was the hosts that took the kick off, with Rowley making an immediate clearance into touch.

There was standing water so passing accurately wasn’t easy, and the opening five minute were tight, with Telford making the attacks.

A long kick from keeper Brandon Hall found Montel Gibson, setting up Ricardo Dinanga for the chase, but Bennett had it covered.

Sault managed to find Barnes in the box as Sports pushed forward, but his early shot was blocked. Tamen then tried a long ball forward with Wilson in space on the left, but it was too long for the skipper to catch.

Telford won a free kick after 12 minutes, when Mann caught Dinanga, but Remi Walker’s kick was headed out of danger.

After another Telford attack had broken down, Waite almost connected with positive rebound on a Mickleover break, but Orrin Pendley just got their first with a saving tackle.

Wilson went in the refs book after 15 minutes, having pulling back Gibson in full flight, but the pressure was building more and more on Sports defence.

Walker again took the free kick, which was headed away for a corner, but after a scramble in the box it was eventually cleared.

The bounce of the ball was still being affected by the wet conditions, but Mickleover managed a good attack 21 minutes in, when Mann put Barnes through on the right, his cross found Waite but the shot was blocked.

Barnes’ pace had the defence stretched at times, but it was still Telford on the attack, and after Tamen slipped in the box after 25 minutes, Dinanga hit a shot, but Mersin was out quickly to save with his legs.

Mickleover were trying to play their usual short passing game, but were losing possession in the conditions. Jordan Piggott had taken the ball from Atkinson and then Nathan Fox was fouled. Walker’s kick found Piggott’s head, but that was cleared, but after 28 minutes Bennett was caught out by an awkward bounce, after the ball had been headed out, Gibson let fly and struck the bar, a lucky escape for Sports.

But Mickleover were quick on another break, after Tamen sent a powerful header out of defence. Aided when Pendley missed a tackle, it was one on one before Kyle Storer intercepted Sault’s effort. But the ball ran to Barnes on the right, only for his cross to be cleared too.

Rowley and Tamen were managing to just about cope with the Telford barrage, as Mann played in front of the back line. But it was some deft touches from Atkinson that seemed to be dictating much of the Mickleover play.

Walker was on the attack again after 38 minutes, but as he tried to find Dinanga, the path was blocked by Tamen. Walker then picked up the lose ball and his shot forced Mersin into a low save to his left.

Fox then won a corner off Bennett, but the ball was dangerously played out of defence to Mann on the edge of the box. He couldn’t retain possession, and Gibson fired it home 0-1.

Mickleover’s response was swift and positive with Hall forced to dive to his left, pushing a Barnes effort around the post for a corner.

But Telford surged forward again with Dinanga in acres of space, he found Gibson, but his effort was well saved by Mersin, who had to make another remarkable stop from the home strike force, in time added on.

Possession wise the home side had the edge, and the 0-1 half time scoreline probably reflected that, but without Mersin’s heroics it could have been more.

There were early second half appeals for a penalty against Wilson, but waved away, but Gibson was soon testing Tamen again.

Some long balls out of the home defence were failing to reach their targets, but Mickleover were trying to push forward and Bennett had a 50th minute shot blocked.

Two minutes later Barnes fired a shot over the bar, but Telford still had the upperhand and Dinanga managed to combine with Walker, before Piggott shot wide.

Gibson had the ball in the net again after 56 minutes, but it was flagged offside.

Mersin was in action again on the hour when Ellis Brown ran at the defence, he pushed the ball around the post for a corner, but the pressure was building.

Wilson managed to break and a put a nice cross in, but Sam Whittall had it covered. Brown collected and set up another attack, with Gibson challenging Tamen. But Brown sent in a low powerful shot, again well saved by Mersin.

Sault’s determination saw him battle through after a nice build up, but he was intercepted just before he could get a shot it. Waite then made a similar run to earn a corner.

69 minutes in and Greaves replaced Trueman, he injected pace and led a break three minutes later, sending Barnes clear down the right, until he was fouled by Fox.

Rowley was yellow carded after a challenge on Dinanga, but 80 minutes gone and Dinanga fell over just outside the box. The referee saw it as a foul though, gave a free kick, which Walker smashed home for their second goal 0-2.

Fitzhugh then came on for Rowley, followed by Beavon for Barnes, but it was Mersin’s heroics again that followed, saving well from sub Matty Stenson’s strike.

There were six minutes added on, but the dream was over for another year. The end of a magnificent season and the end of an era, as we say farewell to John McGrath and his team.