Category: First Team

Sports Look For More Success In Cheshire: Nantwich Town (A)

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover will be looking for their second successive win on the road this Saturday, when they visit Nantwich Town.

At present the Dabbers are one point behind Mickleover in 20th place, following only their second home win of the season on Tuesday evening against Gainsborough.

Our hosts have still have three games in hand, so it’s another critical double pointer as we try to pull clear of the drop zone, so with Nantwich only an hour down the road travelling support would be more than welcomed by John McGrath and the boys.

Let’s take a look at our hosts.

Having used three goalkeepers this season, Matty Gould holds the number one shirt at present, on loan from Altrincham until later this month.

He started out in New Zealand with Hawke’s Bay and Maycenvale Utd, before coming to the UK with Cheltenham in 2014. He was loaned out to Bishop Cleeve before moving to Scotland with Livingston. 

Further loans at Stenhousemuir and Stourbridge followed, before he went to Spennymoor in 2018, moving on again to Altrincham after two years. He is the third generation of footballer, with father Jonathan an ex Celtic keeper, and Grandad Bobby the former Coventry City legend.

Andy Wycherley has kept goal in four of the last five games however. The Welshman started at the New Saints, before joining Telford Utd, after a short loan at Guilfield. In January last year he moved to Solihull Moors and then had just over a year at Hednesford before coming to Nantwich in October.

Troy Bourne is one of the main stays of the Nantwich defence, now in his seventh season at the club. A graduate from the Dabbers’ youth team, he spent much of the 16/17 campaign on loan at Alsager Town but did make a couple of first-team appearances for the Dabbers. Now a regular in the centre back position but can also play at right back when required.

Defender Josh Langley was a summer 2019 signing from Southport. He started out a Junior at Wigan Athletic, then had four years at Fylde before joining Southport. Loans at Altrincham and Guiseley followed before arriving at Nantwich. 

Matty Devine is a left back who switched Cheshire allegiances in the summer of 2019 as he joined the Dabbers from Witton Albion. An attacking full-back, he was previously at Marine and Burscough.

Joel Stair is another long serving player in his sixth season at the club. Primarily a right or centre back he was signed from Hanley Town in 2016.

Former Welsh under 15, 16 and 17 International Jacob Edwards is a right back, signed in September 2021 after serving his apprenticeship at Swansea.

Midfielder Caspar Hughes re-joined the Dabbers from AFC Fylde at the start of the 2017-18 season, before being named captain in January 2018 after the departure of Sam Hall. He started at Crewe Alexandra youth academy and had a loan at Chasetown before starting his long association with Nantwich, first as a loanee, before it was permanent from July 2012.

Moving on to Fylde a year later, he helped them gain promotion from both the Northern Premier League and the National League North, before returning to Nantwich.

Midfielder David Vaughan came through the ranks at Crewe Alexandra, playing 209 matches and scoring 20 goals over eight seasons.

But in 2007 he ventured to Spain with Real Sociedad, scoring one goal in nine games before returning to the UK with Blackpool. He had three years at Bloomfield Road before moving to Sunderland for £1.8 million and then spent five years at Nottingham Forest, making over 100 appearances.

 He then crossed the Trent for a spell at Notts County, which brought an end to his league career of over 500 games. He turned to Crewe to coach the Academy and after two years out, started playing again at Nantwich last September.


Having already been capped by Wales at under 19 and 21 levels, he went on to play 42 games for the full Welsh side and was part of the successful 2016 Euros squad.

Sean Cooke is an attacking midfielder and is the son of manager Dave. He played with Caspar Hughes, at the AFC Fylde side that won promotion from the Northern Premier, but played his junior football at Crewe and Blackburn Rovers.

He first came to Nantwich in 2011, before moving to Fylde after five months.  Moving on to Telford Utd, where they loaned him back to Fylde and FC United, from where Nantwich signed him again in 2015.

Carlos “Thommy” Montefiori is a young Argentinian winger who was signed in February 2021 after turning 18. He has been a local resident with his family in Chester for the last couple of years and was spotted and invited to Nantwich and subsequently signed. He started at the famous All Boys FC in Buenos Aires.

Another midfielder Prince Haywood came from fellow NPL club Radcliffe in January 2020. Ghanaian born,
Prince previously played in Italy with Modenese and Virtus Pavullese, before coming to the UK with Stalybridge Celtic. After two seasons he moved to Colwyn Bay, then Witton Albion and Radcliffe before joining the Nantwich squad.

Joe Mwasile has spent recent games on the bench, but a midfielder or pacey winger he joined the club in October 2017. A former Morecambe Academy Graduate, he had loans at Workington, Altrincham and Barrow before being released in 2014.

He then joined Workington permanently, moving on via Salford City, Marine and Warrington, before arriving at Nantwich.

Striker Shaun Miller hasn’t been in the starting line-up of late. He started his career with Crewe Alexandra’s youth system, and he signed a professional contract with the club in July 2006. He made his first-team debut in November 2006.

After a loan at Witton he joined Sheffield Utd, after making 179 appearances and scoring 43 goals at Gresty Road.

After nine goals in 35 games for the Blades in League One and a loan Shrewsbury, he joined Coventry City, but was soon loaned out again to Crawley and York City.

Further moves to Morecambe and Carlisle preceded his return to Crewe in 2018. He then joined Bolton Wanderers in 2020, before coming to Nantwich at the beginning of this season and scored on his debut.

Striker Joe Malkin is the son of former Tranmere Rovers striker Chris. He joined the club at the beginning of the 2018-19 season from North-West Counties Football League side Cammell Laird 1907 and won the Northern Premier League Young Player of the Season. 

Connor Heath was a signing in the summer after being released from Crewe Alexandra, where he had impressed during his 2-year scholarship period with a number of goals, he signed a professional contract in the summer of 2019.

He had previously been loaned to Witton Albion and Colwyn Bay and is currently dual registered with Farsley Celtic.

Dan Cockerline came through the ranks as a Sheffield Utd junior. He had loans at Grantham. Marine, Matlock and Curzon Ashton before being released in July 2016 to join Northwich Vics.

Further moves to Barrow and Southport soon followed plus a loan at Stalybridge, before he had three months in Australia with Adelaide. 

On his UK return he joined AFC Liverpool, then FC United, Aberystwyth and back to Liverpool, finally coming to Nantwich September last year.

Joe Robbins is a central midfielder currently on loan from Crewe. He previously had a spell on loan at Altrincham too.

Midfielder Matt Bell came back to the club last month. The former Port Vale graduate moved onto Mansfield, and after loans at Stafford, Solihull Moors, Leek Town and Kidsgrove Athletic, he first came to Nantwich in May 2015.After 21 goals in 199 games in moved back to Leek in October 2019, before arriving back at Nantwich again.

He is also a full international too, having been caped twice by the British Virgin Islands in 2015.

Matchday Saturday: South Shields (H)

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover FC squad will need all the confidence gained in last weekends win at Hyde, when they face title contenders South Shields at the Don Amott Arena in the Keith Loring Memorial League Match.

Sports will have George Milner and James Butler available again, while Jahvan Davidson-Miller is also possible.

Our visitors are currently third in the NPL table, having only lost one away game all season, but having only played five games in the last two months, their home win against Gainsborough at the end of November was their only win in those five, having also lost to Hyde at home Pre Christmas.

Manager Graham Fenton has managed to keep a fairly stable starting eleven of late too, but having gone down 0-3 on the opening day of the season, Sports will be looking to turn the tables on our North Eastern visitors.

Myles Boney is their first choice goalkeeper, a former Blackpool Academy graduate. He made six first team appearances and was loaned to Nantwich and Solihull Moors, before a third loan spell brought him to South Shields in July 2019, then making the move permanent a year later. He was then loaned to Darlington for a month in early 2021, before becoming first choice for South Shields.

Midfielder Mitch Rose is the brother of former England player Danny. He started out in the Sheffield Wednesday youth team before a move to Rotherham in 2012, where he made five senior appearances. Loans at Stamford and Crawley Town preceded a move to Ilkeston, moving on to Mansfield Town in League Two where he made 52 appearances.

After a short spell at Newport County, he had a couple of seasons each at Grimsby Town and Notts County, before going non-league again with Boston United. He came to South Shields in December, after three months at Yeovil.

Left back Blair Adams is the visitors captain, having started his career as a junior at Sunderland. He didn’t make their first team, but gained league experience during loans at Brentford, Northampton and Coventry, before joining the Sky Blues permanently in 2013.

After 64 games in a Coventry shirt he moved on to Notts County, making another 55 first team appearances, plus being loaned to Mansfield. Further stops at Cambridge Utd, Hamilton Academicals and Hartlepool followed, before arriving at South Shields in July 2018. He had a month loans at Gateshead early last year, but is now first choice on the team sheet and is s former England Under 20’s capped player.

Midfielder Callum Ross started out at Cramlington Juniors before being spotted by Sunderland, where he spent three years before returning to Cramlington again. He then tried his luck in the US, spending three years at Wingate Bulldogs, a University team. He then moved up to the US Pro Soccer League with Charlotte Independence and Oklahoma City Energy, before returning to the UK with South Shields in January 2020.

Former Carlisle Utd Junior centre back Dillon Morse has spent all of his career in the North. After his release from Carlisle, he joined Benfield, before spending a year each at Gateshead and Blyth Spartans. He came to South Shields in July 2016, but was briefly loaned back to Gateshead for a month, early last year.

Welshman Jack Bodenham started out at Cardiff City, but was released in August last year after loans at The New Saints and Hereford. Capped by his country at Under 19 level, he came straight to South Shields and was quickly established in their starting 11 this season.

Ghanaian born Striker Darius Osei started out at Stalybridge Celtic, before being picked up by Oldham Athletic. In 27 games he scored three goals for the League One side, before a short stop at Maidstone preceded his return to Stalybridge. He came to South Shields in February 2020.

Nathan Lowe is a midfielder who started out as a Burnley Junior, he joined FC United after being released in 2016. Moving on to Southport he was then loaned to Spennymoor, before joining South Shields in July 2019. Like a number of his team mates, he was loaned to Darlington for a month in early 2021.

Striker JJ Hooper started off at Cray Wanderers Academy before moving north to Newcastle Utd. He was then loaned out to Darlington and Workington before a permanent move to Northampton, where he made five starts for the League Two side.

Further loans at Alfreton and Farnborough followed, before another move to Havant and Waterlooville, preceding a spell at League One Port Vale, where he scored 10 goals in 54 appearances. After a loan back at Northampton, his path took him to Grimsby, Bromley, Wrexham and Barnet, before joining South Shields in November 2021.

Will McGowan was a summer signing who started out at Sunderland. The young midfielder has more recently been at Doncaster Rovers and has scored in each of South Shields last three home games.

Striker Cedric Main played his early football in the Netherlands. From the KFC Youth side he played for FC Groningen/Cambuur and Ajax Amateurs, before moving to Spain with CF La Nucia and Almagro CF. After joining FC United in January last year, he came to South Shields last October.

Striker Ntumba Massanka is well travelled, having started his career as a Burnley Junior. He had loans spells at York, Morecambe, Wrexham, Dover and RWD Molenbeek in Belgium, before joining Chorley on his release in 2019. He came to South Shields in July last year, after a spell in Italy with Angelana.

Jordan Hunter is a former Liverpool and Sunderland Academy player, who came to South Shields in July 2020, but is currently out injured.

Alex Kempster is a striker who came to South Shields from York City in August 2020, after a loan at Spennymoor. He started out at Whitley Bay.

Midfielder Robert Briggs has spent over six years at South Shields, having joined from Spennymoor in August 2015. With over 300 games under his belt for the club, he started off at Gateshead and has played for Blyth Spartans, Sunderland RCA, Shildon and West Auckland too.

Brandon Taylor is a loanee from Darlington, the young defender joined Sunderland from Birtley and went to Darlington in August 2021.

A summer 2021 signing Midfielder Conor Tee is a former Leicester City Junior, who was signed from Brackley

Sam Hodgson is a young striker from our visitors own Academy, similarly midfielder Will Jenkins and Goalkeeper Aaron Steavens, all more recent additions to the first team squad.

Although Jon Shaw runs the clubs Academy, the veteran striker is often on the bench for first team games too. He was a Sheffield Wednesday Junior, and played at York, Burton, Halifax, Rochdale, Crawley, Barrow, Mansfield, Luton and Gateshead, before arriving at South Shields back in 2016.

Kick off is at the Don Amott Arena at 3pm and a big crowd is expected!!

Sports Start New Year With A Bang!! Hyde United (A)

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover FC started 2022 with probably their best performance of the season so far, doing the double over Hyde Utd with a dominant 4-1 victory.

Having beaten our hosts at home back in August, hopes of completing the double were top of the agenda.

Injuries and Covid forced more changes to the starting line-up, which including former skipper Jake Scott for the first time since his return to the club.

Starting line-up: 1-Jonathan Hedge 2-Jake Scott 3-Rhys Dolan 4-Phil Watt 5-Pablo Mills 6-Kemy Agustien 7-Ben Radcliffe 8-Mason Warren 9-Andy Dales 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Andrew Wright. Subs: Bobby Battisson, Ethan Mann, John McGrath, Roger Lee, Fin Barker.

Right from the opening minute of the game Mickleover began to threaten the hosts goal, when Dales led an attack, which firstly had a Wright shot blocked, before Beavon’s follow up was saved by keeper Craig Ellison.

Only a minute later a second wave of attacking brought a corner too, followed by another Beavon effort.

As Hyde began to slowly break out Mills intercepted a shot from Fogerty, after a break from Prifti. Tongue then found space to get a shot in, comfortably taken by Mickleover keeper Hedge.

But as Mickleover began to push forward again, the hosts defence struggled to deal with the long ball, but it was 17 minutes in before the next shot, when Radcliffe tried a tentative long range shot just wide, after collecting a loose ball from a free kick.

With Mills and Watt looking solid at the back and Hedge’s constructive narrative, Mickleover’s midfield took charge more and more, with Warren, Radcliffe and Wright’s tenacity, combining well with Agustien’s time on the ball.

Wright led another charge after 19 minutes, ending with another shot from Radcliffe blocked, but Prifti led Hyde’s positive retaliation until it was comfortably dealt with by the defence again.

A rare mistake from Watt let the ball run to Ikpakwu, but his effort failed to trouble Hedge, but after 23 minutes it was 1-0, after a Warren free kick sought out Mills and Watt who had both come into the visitors box.  Mills got on the end of it in a crowded area, leaving Ellison beaten.

Almost from the restart Mickleover surged forward again to earn a corner. But with Ikpakwu down there was a halt in play, but from the drop ball Dolan flicked the ball in and Watt made it 2-0 with a diving header after 27 minutes.

Dales and Beavon continued to challenge the home defence. Beavon was then fouled just outside the box after 34 minutes, but Mills free kick was saved by Ellison.

Hyde won a free kick a couple of minutes later, but Tongue’s powerful and accurate shot was well held by Hedge.

Dales then went on one of his long runs, outstripping Roscoe, but his final shot was just over the bar.

Hyde had one more half chance before the half time whistle when Pratt and Prifti combined, before Dyche’s shot was blocked and Watt cleared the resulting corner.

It had been all Mickleover in the first half, and not surprisingly no changes were made for the second.

Only three minutes into the second half Beavon was sprinting down the right into the box, until he was pushed off the ball. After a brief consultation, the penalty was given and Warren smashed it home 3-0.

Hyde continued to try and push, but their attempts to use the wings lost out regularly to both Scott and Dolan and they had difficulty to find space for a clear shot.

But after 56 minutes Tongue did find space but his cracking shot was well saved again by a diving Hedge, followed by a shot from Benns just off target.

Just over the hour and Battisson came on for Wright, but Hyde were still looking for that elusive goal.

They managed to earn a corner, after Watt had cleared, but as the ball bobbed around in the box, none of the Hyde players on the line could get a touch and the danger was cleared by Mills.

Battisson gave away a free kick, but as Watt challenged to clear, he was grounded and Roscoe connected with a diving header and made it 3-1.

Only two minutes later the lead gap was restored though, when a corner was floated in from Warren and Watt rose to make it 4-1 with his second on the game, after Ellison’s appeal for a foul came to nought.

Lee then came on for Scott for the last 15 minutes, with Barker soon following for Dales.

Two of the subs worked well together, with Battisson’s trickery finding Barker, who shot wide, before the young striker had another shot with three minutes left.

Battisson then tried his luck but was just wide and so it remained 4-1, with a result and performance that the whole team could be proud of.


After the game we caught up with Skipper Phil Watt…

With centre back Phil Watt now established as the Mickleover skipper, he takes a look back at the weekends win at Hyde Utd, where he played a starring role at both ends of the field.

I have never headed so many balls in a game for ages, the performance just encouraged me to go forward.

He had scored goals before.

I scored a few last year but nothing this season until this match, but after the first one I got my head stood on, and for a minute thought I had broken my jaw. Today it just worked for me.

But it was the whole team performance that pleased him.

Yes it was a good all round team performance and everyone did their job. We had a great work rate and it just clicked. We knew we had the skills to do it, but this felt like the first game that we had played for the whole game and not made silly mistakes.

I felt so happy for the gaffer and the coaching staff too, as they work so hard to try and make it work for us,

Does he enjoy being club captain?

I just take it in my stride really, I am used to leading a team being a fitness trainer, so I just get on with it.

Sports Seek Away Points On Return Visit To Hyde

by Peter Scherer

After last weekend’s disappointing home defeat to Basford Utd, it’s back on the road for Mickleover FC, visiting Hyde Utd on New Year’s Day.

Having beaten our hosts at the Don Amott Arena earlier this year, hopes of a double are top of the agenda.

Hyde are currently six points ahead of us with two games in hand, holding 15th place in the NPL and unbeaten in their last five league games.

They have had 1-1’s at Stalybridge and Gainsborough over the last two weeks, after beating South Shields away earlier in December.

During the last couple of months seven of their squad have been ever present, which has aided their performance and seen them start to climb the table.

Goalkeeper Joe Green was a Sheffield United Junior, who headed for the US after his release and played College football for Monroe Mustangs in New York.

He joined Newport County on his return to the UK, making a couple of first team appearances, before moving on to Handsworth Paramore and Hemsworth MW. A short stay at Scarborough preceded a three year spell at Guiseley, during which time he was loaned out to Gainsborough, who he then joined permanently. He’s been ay Hyde since August 2020 and is one of the ever present players this season.

Defender Harry Ditchfield can play anywhere across the back line. He only arrived at Hyde in October, having come through the Salford City Academy.

Left back Kyle Brownhill is a long serving player, who began his career as a Stockport Junior, before being picked up by Burnley. He was loaned to Workington before his release, from when he joined Hyde for the first time in 2014.

After further loans at Telford that became permanent, he arrived back at Hyde in August 2016. He soon moved on again to Altrincham and Ramsbottom, but came back to Hyde for the third time in December 2017.

Ed Elewa-Ipakwu is Nigerian born defensive midfielder who played for Leicester City Academy after a short earlier spell at Stoke. Following his release in October 2020 he spent a year at Lancaster City, before joining Hyde in 2021.

Jordan Fagbola is Nigerian born too. The centre back came from FC United in July 2018, having started out at Rochdale. His career has also taken him to Stockport, Colwyn Bay and Solihull Moors.

Centre back Bradley Roscoe a Preston Junior, who moved on to Fleetwood before settling at Buxton in 2016, where he spent three years before moving to Hyde. He has also scored two goals in the last month too.

Albanian midfielder Krisel Prifti came to the UK in 2019, having played six years in his homeland, for KF Viora, Himara, Bylish Ballsh, Luzi Utd and FK Apolonia in the Albanian Super League.

After arriving in the UK he joined Trafford, before moving to Stalybridge where he played last season, moving to Prestwich in July 2021, before coming to Hyde.

Teenager Cameron Fogerty is a product of the clubs own youth programme. He made his league debut earlier this season and is now an integral part of their line-up.

Jonah Mitchell has been on the score sheet in two of the last three games. The Irish winger was a junior with Ards, before moving to Annagh Utd. He played at Queens University in Belfast and came to Hyde last season.

Liam Tongue is in his third season at Hyde, having started out at Stockport Georgians. The striker has also played at Cheadle, Mossley, Stalybridge and Marine and has scored three goals in the last five matches.

Striker Tom Pratt started out as a Bury Junior. He’s played at Ashton, Mossley and Trafford and been at Hyde since July 2017. He is also our hosts captain.

Midfielder Harry Benns was a Port Vale Junior. He was loaned to Stafford Rangers and came to Hyde in July 2019 on his release.

Ciaran Summers can play left back or midfield. He has spent most of his career in his native Scotland, starting out with Stenhousemuir. After a spell at Queens Park he spent a year in the Netherlands with VV DOVO Veenendaal, before joining Stirling Albion in July 2021 and finally Hyde in October.

A former Leeds and Scunthorpe junior, striker Jack Dyche has played for a number of clubs. He was loaned to Ashton and Boston before being released by Scunthorpe in 2018.  After a year at Guiseley he first joined Hyde in July 2019, moving on to Ossett and Curzon Ashton before returning in October 2021.

Henry Carne is a young defender that has come through their own youth programme and joined the first team squad this season.

James Chew is another junior graduate, currently one of the reserve goalkeepers.

Fenton Green is one of the more recent signings, a young midfielder fresh out of Crewe’s Academy, he arrived in October 2021.

Carter Waters is another one for the future, the pacey winger has also come through Hyde’s own youth programme.

Midfielder Chinedu Uche is yet another Nigerian born player in the squad. He played his early UK football at Oldham, before moving to Glossop North End, from where Hyde signed him in August 2020.

Stalybridge, Curzon Ashton, Witton, Halifax, Garforth, Burscough  and Vauxhall Motors are among goalkeeper Craig Ellison’s previous clubs. He started as a junior at Altrincham before moving to Crewe.

He came back to Stalybridge after a lengthy injury, before joining Hyde and is also a successful goalkeeping coach at Burnley’s Academy.

Finally striker Jack Doherty is coming to the end of his months loan from Accrington Stanley.

Mickleover Go Down To Local Rivals: Basford United (H)

by Peter Scherer

Having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Nottinghamshire rivals Basford Utd, hopes of a revenge win and points to escape the NPL relegation area were high.

But sadly a second half goal in a fairly even game, resulted in all three points going back across the border.

Starting line-up: 1-Jonathan Hedge 2-Ben Radcliffe 3-Rhys Doran 4-Phil Watt 5-Pablo Mills 6-Kemy Agustien 7-Joe Bateman 8-George Milner 9-Andy Dales 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Mason Warren. Subs: Bobby Battisson, Roger Lee, Ethan Mann, Andrew Wright, Jahvan Davidson-Miller.

After the initial sort out from kick off, Basford had a free kick after five minutes, followed by a corner, from where Terry Hawkridge smashed the ball against the post in a lucky escape for Sports.

Gradually Mickleover began to pick up the pace and Dales had his first shot blocked after nine minutes.

It continued fairly even, but 14 minutes in and some good interplay between Milner, Dales and Beavon, ended with a shot blocked for a corner.

Some good build ups followed over the next few minutes, with the danger finally headed away when Sports struggled to get the space for a final shot.

Both Bateman and Warren managed to get shots in eventually, before Ryan Wilson cleared further danger for another corner.

As Basford starting to come out too, there was another break but Beavon was just a few feet short of collecting the final ball.

Warren was the instigator again after 20 minutes, when his telling cross was taking away from Dales head by some brave Basford defending.

The same duo combined again a minute later, but Dales was deemed fractionally offside.

Basford tried a speculative lob just after the half hour mark, it was close but failed to trouble Hedge, Mickleover’s debutant keeper.

Both Dolan and Radcliffe began to attack more on the wings, with Watt and Mills looking fairly solid at the back.

Agustien was spraying the ball around in central midfield, but Milner was having a rather subdued game as Warren and Bateman tended to make the play.

Dolan put in a cross tight to the Basford goal, but it was comfortably taken by Jordan Pierrepoint, before Bradley Gascoigne cleared.

Bateman’s 38th minute cross was just short of Dales, before Dolan burst out of defence again to find Beavon, who twisted and turned but couldn’t create the space as his final shot was blocked.

But Basford were on the break too, but the cross from the left found no one to collect in the middle.

Milner finally managed to get a run with five minutes left in the first half. He was in full flight after collecting a loose ball, heading for goal, when Owen Betts tripped him and was yellow carded.

Warren picked the ball up again after the free kick and floated in a nicely weighted ball that almost caught out the visitors defence.

42 minutes gone and another free kick was taken by Agustien. Mickleover skipper Watt then dared to challenge keeper Pierrepoint. They both ended up on the ground, from where Pierrepoint pushed Watt down again before the referee intervened.

Watt then received a lecture for having the audacity to challenge the keeper, and a free kick was awarded, even though the keeper did not have control of the ball at the time of the challenge.

So it was still 0-0 at half time with relatively few true chances created by either side. Neither side elected to make immediate changes, but at the least the first half rain had relented.

Only two minutes into the second half and Mickleover went close to breaking the deadlock, when Warren saw the keeper off his line, before seeing his opportune lob bounce off the Basford bar.

Watt was then booked after catching Marcus Marshall, but it was still stalemate.

Warren managed to create some space again and fired his shot over as we passed the hour mark and Dales put a ball through for Beavon to chase. Both he and the defender stretched for ball, but Beavon took a knock to the face and was booked for dissent too.

Hedge was looking fairly confident in the Mickleover goal and was quick of his line to intercept a Basford attack after 67 minutes.

But only a minute a later Agustien wanted too much time on the ball and the following challenge resulted in a corner for the visitors. 

As the ball came in Gascoigne was relatively unchallenged as he placed his header, wide of Hedge and just inside the far post 0-1.

Only three minutes later Basford sub Kieran Wells had a shot tipped over by Hedge and Betts put in a low drive, which Kane Richards could have collected.

75 minutes and Davidson-Miller came on for Warren, as Mickleover tried to strike for the hope of an equaliser.

Milner was on the end of another good ball from Doran, but there was no one to finish. As Milner the chased for another ball, the defender was already going before any challenge was made. 

With the referee fooled by the gamesmanship, Milner was booked too for highlighting it!

Into the final 10 minutes and Dales almost got Davidson-Miller through, but it was just out of reach and then Wright came on for Dales as Mickleover’s second sub.

Beavon tried a shot from Bateman’s pass, but the keeper took it comfortably and Basford then broke again, with Hedge saving.

Two minutes of normal time were left and Wells split Mills and Watt but his effort was wide, before Radcliffe responded with a tentative shot well wide as time was running out for Mickleover.

Wright had the final effort in injury time, but his long range effort failed to trouble Pierrepoint and it remained 0-1 as the hunt for points continues unrewarded.

Revenge Time for Sports: Basford United (H)

by Peter Scherer

For the second time this season Mickleover will be hosting Basford Utd on Christmas Monday, having been knocked out of the FA Cup by the Nottingham team 1-3 back in September.

Although 10th in the NPL, Basford haven’t been in the best of form of late, having only taken their first win in eight matches last Saturday, 2-0 victors at home to Atherton.

They have managed eight wins in total, four at home and four away, but unlike Mickleover’s injury ravaged squad, manager Steve Chettle has managed to field a fairly consistent line-up.

Former Heanor Town player Jordan Pierrepoint is now the first choice goalkeeper, following the recent retirement of the experienced Adam Collin. He was signed back in May 2020, with Youth team keeper Gianni Musson now his understudy.

Defender Owen Betts came in from Notts County last season, but had a loan spell at Spalding Utd.

Left back Ryan Wilson is the son of former Rams player Kevin. He started out at Ilkeston and after a move to Gateshead, played for a number of clubs in the East Midlands region, notably Alfreton, Coalville and Matlock. He came to Basford in May 2019 after spell at Telford.

Defender Dominic Roma started his professional career at Sheffield United. After loans at Boston Utd, Hinckley and Tamworth, he joined Hinckley on a permanent move. He’s played at Alfreton, Harrogate and Gainsborough, before coming to Basford in 2017.

Centre back Brad Gascoigne was a Birmingham City junior, but since his release in 2012 has travelled widely through the non league world. Having played for 17 clubs over his career he came to Basford in 2019 from Barwell.

Declan Dunn is a former Notts County junior. The young Centre Back also had a spell on loan at Grantham before joining Basford last season.

Winger Terry Hawkridge played junior football at Barnsley and Tranmere, before returning to Nottinghamshire with Carlton Town. Spells at Hucknall and Gainsboroough followed before he joined Scunthorpe Utd. Three seasons with the Irons preceded loans at Mansfield and Lincoln, before a permanent move to Lincoln. Stays at Notts County, Solihull and Boston Utd followed before arriving at Basford this season.

Skipper Matt Thornhill is an attacking midfielder and ex Nottingham Forest junior. He went on loan to Brighton and Cheltenham, making 70 first team appearances, before a spell with Hibernian.

He returned to England with Buxton in 2012, and has also played for Shaw Lane and Gainsborough before signing for Basford in March 2017.

Striker Kane Richards is Derby born and a former Rams Junior. He had a loan spell at Matlock before his release, seeing him move on to Ilkeston, Chester, Gainsborough, Dover and Telford, before arriving at Basford from Kidderminster July last year.

Rev James is a midfielder who started out as a Rotherham and Oxford Junior. He was on loan at Basford in 2018, but came on a permanent from Tamworth in November 2019.

Striker Kieran Wells is a new signing, having only made his debut last Saturday, after coming from Stalybridge. It’s his second spell at Basford, having originally arrived from Handsworth in 2016. He has since played at Stamford, Ilkeston and Hednesford twice and Basford are his third club already this season.

Former Birmingham City central midfielder Sean Devlin is another newcomer who debuted last Saturday. He has recently been playing for Sutton Coldfield.

Marcus Marshall is a winger that started out at Blackburn Rovers. He made one senior appearance, as well as gaining experience with loans at League Two Rotherham and Macclesfield.

He then joined Bury in League One, but was loaned out to Grimsby Town, before moving on to Morecambe, Lincoln City, Boston Utd, Coalville, Alfreton and Hyde, from where he joined Basford in early 2020.

Attacking midfielder Niall Towle was a May 2020 signing from Long Eaton Utd. He has also played for Hucknall Town and has recently returned from a loan at Corby.

Naturally left footed defender or midfielder Mitchell Tait has recently arrived from Ilkeston Town, having previously played for Nottingham FC.

Lewis Rourke is one of the players to come out of Basford’s successful FA Youth Cup team, along with. midfielder Nat Peters, defender Jordan Haywood and Rory Harrison.

Haywood has been on loan at Newark FC too and spent time previously in the Mansfield and Scunthorpe Academies, with Peters a former Mansfield junior too. Harrison spent six years in the Rotherham Academy.

Kick off as usual is 3pm at the Don Amott Arena, with the bar open and hot food available too.

Penalties Sink Mickleover Hopes: Ashton (A)

by Peter Scherer

It was another disappointing day for the Mickleover FC team, going down to fellow relegation threatened Ashton Utd by three second half goals.

Starting line-up: 1-Tom Smith 2-Ben Radcliffe 3-James Butler 4-Phil Watt 5-Pablo Mills 6-Kemy Agustien 7-George Milner 8-Rhys Dolan 9-Jahvan Davidson-Miller 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Dexter Walters. Subs: Ethan Mann, Bobby Battisson, Roger Lee, Dempsey Arlott-John, Josh Scott.

After a quiet opening 10 minutes, Sports had the first chance when Mills struck a long range free kick just wide of the target after 13 minutes.

But it was the hosts who upped the pace, with a number of first half opportunities, which were fortunately off target.

Ben Hardcastle tried a right foot shot from outside the box after 16 minutes, just over the bar as Mickleover’s debutant keeper Smith had it covered.

Four minutes later it was Hardcastle again cutting in from the right to fire a left foot shot over the bar again.

Osebi Abadaki was next to try and break through the Mickleover defence after collecting a loose ball, but Butler made sure his threat was blocked. 

Agustien was booked after 37 minutes and the resulting Sam Sheridan free kick was punched clear by Smith.

Mickleover had posed little threat to the Ashton goal and their last chance of the first half came from a 39th minute Hardcastle corner, with Coates just failing to connect, so it remained 0-0.

Both sides were initially unchanged for the second half, with Abadaki causing more problems with a 48th minute cross into the box, but there was no one to collect.

Sheridan then hit a shot on the bouncing half volley four minutes later, whistling past Smith post.

As the hour mark approached Hardcastle was just wide with another left foot attempt, after he picked up the loose ball when Florian Yonsian was challenged.

Mickleover made their first change when Arlott-John replaced Walters after 62 minutes and shortly afterwards Ashton had a penalty shout rejected when Hardcastle went down.

Mickleover had their first best chance of the game when Davidson-Miller was one on one with keeper Greg Hartley. Unfortunately the keeper won the challenge and remained 0-0.

Hardcastle had probably been the biggest threat from Ashton and it was his cross from the right that was met by Liam Tomsett’s head making it was 0-1 to the hosts after 68 minutes.

Radcliffe was so close to securing the equaliser within three minutes, when his long distance strike bounced off the bar, but in the 73rd minute the penalty appeals for Ashton proved decisive, after Smith had brought down Yonsian. He took the kick himself and it was 0-2.

Battisson came on for Davidson-Miller, but with five minutes of normal time left Tomsett was down in the box and Yonsian made it 0-3 from the following penalty.

With only a few minutes to go Scott replaced Agustien, but it was another game with no points on the board, as the gap to safety in the NPL continues to widen.

Sports Look To Do The Double Over Ashton (A)

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover are back on the road again for the second successive week, as they head to Ashton Utd on Saturday.

Our hosts are also struggling this season and are currently level on points with Sports, but lie 18th due to superior goal difference and also have four games in hand.

When Ashton visited the Don Amott Arena earlier this season, Mickleover were 2-0 winners and they have also lost two of their seven NPL home games.

They have only played one league match in December, going down 0-2 at Buxton.

First choice goalkeeper is the vastly experienced Greg Hartley. He progressed through the Manchester City Academy, winning the FA Youth Cup, while playing alongside Kasper Schmeichel and Joe Hart during his time at City. 

He spent ten years at City before moving to the US where he plied his trade at Georgia Gwinnett and Chattanooga. Following a seven-year stint in the US, he moved back to England, joining Oldham Athletic in 2017 where he worked with the academy and as a goalkeeping coach. 

During his coaching Hartley also played for Tadcaster Albion and Atherton where he worked under Ashton United manager, Michael Clegg for the first time.

Australian born defender Stavros Tserpes joined Ashton during the 2019/20 season from Droylsden, but has also spent time at Altrincham, Newcastle Town, Radcliffe Borough and Clitheroe.

Defender Harry Spratt was a pre-season signing from York City. He was a Manchester Utd junior and then moved onto Huddersfield, before joining York and was also on loan at Scarborough last season.

Also in defence is player coach Michael Raynes. He joined Ashton United in July 2020 after a two-season spell with National League side Hartlepool United. As a journeyman of professional football Michael came to Ashton with a wealth of experience and knowledge as well as talent.  He played almost 500 league matches at Stockport, Scunthorpe, Rotherham, Oxford, Carlisle and Crewe before joining Hartlepool. Standing at 6”4 Michael is the monster amongst the Robin’s back line.

Centre back Harry Coates was another new signing for this season, having arrived from Scarborough. He started his career at York City, before moving on to Harrogate, Tadcaster, and Bradford PA.

Michael Brewster is a midfielder in his third season at the club. After leaving Oldham as a junior, he moved on via FC United, St Mirren, Colwyn, Skelmersdale, Southport, Shaw Lane, Marine and Droylsden, before coming to Ashton from Atherton Collieries. 

Ben Hardcastle is a striker who made his way through Morecambe’s youth ranks before signing for Ashton manager Michael Clegg at Pennington, then following him to Atherton LR before signing for Atherton Collieries

He played over 250 games for Atherton and was an essential player for the Colliers, especially in their promotion winning season from Division One West. He was the first player manager Clegg, signed after taking over at Ashton.

Striker Tom Bentham was one of the scorers in their win over Matlock on the opening day of the season. He was a summer 2020 signing, rejoining manager Clegg having tasted success with him at Atherton Collieries. He’s a strong centre forward, having also played at Hyde and Stalybridge.

Liam Thomsett is one of the longest serving players, having signed for Ashton in 2017. An ex Blackpool youth player, he made one first team start in the FA Cup, before moving on to Altrincham, Ayr Utd and Hyde on loan.  After a year at Fylde, he was at Curzon Ashton for another two, before his current spell at Ashton.

Harvey McAdam was a former Burnley junior, who joined the Ashton in February 2019 from Nelson FC. After his release from Burnley the young midfielder joined AFC Fylde’s under 18s before moving again to Northwich Victoria. 

Another new signing for this season is midfielder Tom Warren. He was an Everton junior until September 2019, from when he joined Warrington, prior to joining Ashton.

Experienced midfielder Sam Sheridan has been at Ashton since January 2018. He started out as a Bolton Wanders Junior, with a loan at Altrincham before joining Stockport County. A further loan at Southport, preceded spells at Barrow, Chorley, FC United and finally Altrincham again from where he joined our hosts.

Ivory Coast born striker Florian Yonsian came to Ashton last month and soon became a regular in the side. He was a Junior at both Rochdale and Salford City, before being loaned to Stafford and Marine. He then moved onto Trafford and spent last season with Stalybridge Celtic.

Osebi Abdaki is a Nigerian striker, with a vast amount of experience mainly in the North East. He was at Ashton in 2010 after spells at Altrincham and Stalybridge, but moved on again to Salford, Halifax, Nantwich (two spells), Ramsbottom, Buxton (two spells), Stafford, Hednesford, Matlock and Barwell, before arriving for his second Ashton spell in October from Stourbridge.

Midfielder Liam Loughlan is currently on a months loan from Salford City. He started at Leicester City, having also had a spell at Farsley Celtic.  

Veteran centre back Nicky Hunt was signed in July this year, from Darlington. He was a Bolton junior player, loaned to Birmingham and Derby, before joining Bristol City on his release in 2011. Spells at Preston, Rotherham, Accrington, Mansfield, Orient, Notts County and Crewe preceded his move to Darlington in July last year, with 500 league appearances under his belt.

He is also the first team coach and an ex England Under 21 International.

Oliver Martin is currently second choice keeper, signed from Ramsbottom in September. From Fleetwood’s Academy originally, he has also played for Stalybridge, Ange IF in Sweden, New Mills, Mossley and Radcliffe.

Defender Will Hall is on loan from Altrincham. The former Salford City Junior has also been loaned out to Whitchurch and Ramsbottom.

Andreas Bianga is a midfielder who started out as a Burnley Junior. He has also played for Droylsden and Curzon Ashton.

Parabou Jenkins is a start of the clubs youth team and who has only recently graduated to the first team squad.

Young defender Scott Holding is anther loanee, from Stockport County.

Sam Baird came to Ashton in summer 2020, he’s previously played at Trafford and FC United.

Kick off at Hurst Cross is at 3pm.