by Peter Scherer
It was the biggest game in our recent Academy history, as Mickleover faced League One Northampton Town’s youngsters, in the first round proper of the FA Youth Cup.
Starting line-up: 1-Josh Maher 2-Mason Hoult 3-Brandon Ferron 4-Toby Smith 5-Jared Cholerton 6- Zac Sandhu 7-Liam Carter 8-Harry Atwal 9-Sam Tomlinson 10-Fin Ryder 11-Josh Carter. Subs: Luis Mas-Hall, Josh Bull, Josh Powell, Hamza, Mason Tudgay.
The rain was falling but spirits were high for kick-off, but keeper Maher was soon tested, making a diving save to his left from a Reuben Wyatt volley, after just three minutes.
Mickleover earned a free kick after seven minutes, as gradually they began to grow in confidence and began to push forward themselves, with Tomlinson and Ryder combining in the first strong attack 10 minutes in.
Hoult began to find space on the right overlap, which gave the home defence some respite from the Northampton attack.
But after 15 minutes the visitors went close again, following a header from a short corner, with a combination of Maher and the crossbar keeping it all square.
Only two minutes later the home defence was breached, when Wyatt put Harry Guess through to slot home 0-1.
The pressure had begun to build again, with Mickleover having gone off the boil. There were chances going begging for Northampton, but the shots were failing to reach the target nor test Maher.
Liam Carter had a half chance when the ball fell to him, but his shot was wide of the left-hand post.
34 minutes gone and our visitors doubled their advantage from a break. Wyatt squared the ball for James Owen to run onto, but Maher saved the first effort at close range, only for a lucky hit on his left post to rebound into the goal, 0-2, as it remained as the half time whistle went.
Only two minutes into the second half Northampton fired another shot well over the bar, before Mickleover skipper Atwal got a shot in too, but t was an easy pick-up for the Marc Bald the visiting keeper.
From the hour mark the Mickleover lads seemed to gain in confidence again and began to move the ball around more effectively.
Northampton continued to create a few chances without being seriously threatening, as Cholerton and Sandhu looked fairly solid. The defence allowed Ferron to use his pace more on the left and a series of promising attacks followed.
Josh Carter had a good effort over the bar, but despite their hard work, neither Tomlinson nor Ryder were able to break the visitors defence.
It was a defeat, but a good strong team effort, which bodes well for the future for all concerned.