Category: First Team

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.


It’s The First Big Step… Play Off Semi Final

by Peter Scherer

Last Saturday’s home win made sure that Mickleover stayed in the play-off positions, but due to the league’s points penalty, we now have to travel away to Telford, rather than hosting Leamington.

Hopefully a full squad will be available for manager John McGrath, as he now looks to move on to pastures new at the of the season, after eight years in charge.

Telford have probably finished the stronger of the four play-off teams, with six successive wins and only one win and one draw in their last 10 games.

Manager Kevin Wilkin was a striker with Cambridge City, Northampton Town, Nuneaton and Grantham, before becoming Nuneaton’s manager in 2006.

After eight seasons he moved onto Wrexham, but after 18 months of his two-year contract he moved to Brackley Town, winning the 2018 FA Trophy. He has been in charge at Telford since October last year.

First choice keeper Brandon Hall started out at Charlton Athletic, before spending seven months at the Nike Academy. His next move was up to Scotland with St.Mirren, but returned south with Hayes & Yeading.

Ebbsfleet, Lewes, Woking, Kidderminster and Hereford were his next stops, with a loan spell at Banbury. He came to our hosts pre-season, after a year with Gloucester City and is an England C International too.

George Scott is Hall’s deputy, having returned to the club last December, after a year without a club and came into the side a few years ago, while Hall was injured.

Centre back Fraser Kerr started his career at Motherwell before moving South with Birmingham City. He spent two years with the Blues, before an initial loan back to Motherwell became permanent.

He moved on to Cowdenbeath and Stenhousemuir too, before going to Gateshead, with 54 Scottish Premiership appearances and 45 in League One, plus Europa League Qualifiers too.

Stops at Hartlepool, Torquay and Chesterfield followed, before spending last season at York City. He has represented Scotland at Under 16, 17,19 and 21 levels and was another pre-season arrival at Telford. He is now team captain too.

Jordan Piggott is another centre back. He started out at West Bromwich Albion before heading for Scotland too. He played for Dundee and East Fife, before heading to North Wales with Bangor City.

Halesowen was his next stop, moving to Solihull Moors after a year, spending another year before a move to Gloucester City on loan. He spent four months at Telford at the beginning of last year and then returned to our visitors permanently for the start of last season.

Pre-season signing Orrin Pendley is a centre back too. He started at Highgate before joining Redditch. He soon moved on to Kettering and Rushall Olympic, before spending a year at Tamworth and spent last season at Hereford.

Nathan Fox is a left back who spent his junior career at both Notts County and Derby County. Following his Rams release he joined Corby Town, moving to Rugby Town after a four year stay. Only a month later he moved again, with a very short stay at Coalville, he briefly went back to Corby, before joining Sutton Coldfield.

Redditch, Hednesford, Kings Lynn and Alfreton Town followed by a year at Buxton, preceded starting last season at Peterborough Sports. He was another of Telford’s pre-season signings.

Jared Hodgkiss played his early football at Wolves and West Bromwich Albion. Right back by choice, he was loaned to Aberdeen and played seven games in the Scottish Premiership. 

After a further loan at Northampton, he joined Forest Green Rovers on his release, staying almost five years, before spending another two years at Kidderminster, who also loaned him to Torquay. His next move was Macclesfield, before a four year-spell at Hereford preceded his pre-season move to Telford.

Right back Ellis Myles is another right back and pre-season signing from Kettering, who started off at Leicester City. He moved to Brackley Town on his release, before going to Rugby, Stamford, Corby and Boston Utd.

 He went back to Brackley in 2016 and stayed six years, before moving to Boston Utd and had eight months at Kettering before his Telford move.

Midfielder Remi Walker continues the list of signings having arrived pre-season, following his release from Birmingham City. He spent the last few months of last season on loan at Alvechurch.

Ty Webster is a midfielder too, came to our hosts last August, after being released by Crewe Alexandra.

Right midfielder Byron Moore is one of the select retained players from last season, having joined Telford from Torquay February last year. He has over 400 league appearances to his name in Leagues One and Two, having started out at Crewe.

He was loaned to Kidsgrove Athletic but joined Port Vale on his release. After two years he moved on to Bristol Rovers and Bury, before spending two years at Plymouth Argyle.

Striker Montel Gibson has been a regular goalscorer since his pre-season arrival from Ilkeston. He was a Notts County Junior and was loaned out to Romulus, Barwell, Hednesford and Sutton Coldfield, before going to Ilkeston after his release in 2017, having made 24 League Two appearances, scoring two goals.

Spells at Redditch, Bedworth and Halesowen followed, before joining Grimsby Town. He was the loaned to Altrincham, before a permanent move to Stourbridge, but started 2022 back at Ilkeston. He spent six months on loan at Telford at the end of last season and returned again on a permanent basis pre-season.

Striker Ricardo Dinanga started out at Cork City, before Coventry City brought him across the Irish Sea. He had loans at Hereford and Nuneaton last season, but came to Telford following his release last July.

Reece Styche is both an England C and current Gibraltarian International, having scored three goals in 27 games for the latter.

He came from Telford in October from Matlock Town, having played for a huge raft of clubs in his 14 year career, including Buxton, Alfreton, Darlington, Macclesfield and Wycombe, having started out at Hednesford.

Centre back Sam Whittall came from Rushall in October. He is an ex Wolves Junior and played at Cambridge Utd and Brackley, before his seven year spell at Rushall.

Midfielder Ellis Brown just after Christmas, having been without a club for a while, after a year in Scotland with Hamilton Academicals. He started out at Boreham Wood.

Kyle Storer and Matty Stenson are the only players to have arrived at Telford, since they came to the Don Amott Arena in January, both coming from Nuneaton.

Striker Stenson came from Nuneaton at the end of January. He started out at Hinckley Utd and after spells at Leicester Road and Barwell, signed for Leamington in 2018. He then moved to Solihull Moors, from where he came on loan to Telford for six months.

His next stop was Halifax, who also loaned him out to Tamworth and Kidderminster, before his 18 month spell at Nuneaton.

Storer is an experienced midfielder who managed Nuneaton until they dropped out of the league in late January. He was a Leicester City Junior, who joined Bedworth following his release.

Stops at Atherstone and Hinckley Utd preceded his first move to Nuneaton, he then went to Kidderminster, Wrexham, Cheltenham and Solihull Moors, before rejoining Nuneaton in January last year. 

Central midfielder George Forsyth has spent almost his whole career in the West Midlands. Having started at Kidderminster, he was loaned to Halesowen before joining Gloucester City.

Worcester and Stourbridge were followed by a return to Halesowen and Hereford followed by another return visit to Stourbridge and Bromsgrove, who loaned him to Kettering, from where he joined Telford pre-season.

Tre Mitford was another early season signing, having come from Boston Utd. The striker started off at Aylesbury Utd, and has played at Bedford, Kettering, Brackley and Gloucester City too.

Twariq Yusuf came from Brackley earlier in the season and can play as a striker or midfielder. He has also played for FC Kidlington and Ardley Utd.

Having graduated through Telford’s own youth scheme, left back Brad Blood is now in his third season with the first team squad. Also Billy West captained our hosts under 18 side, following his release from Shrewsbury Town and in his third season with the first team too.

Finally striker Harvey Solley made his debut earlier this season, having come through the clubs youth scheme.

Kick off is 7.45 and remember the game is all ticket and need to be purchased online in advance.

Three Goal Finale Seals Play-Off Place

by Peter Scherer (Images: Steve Ingers)

Saturday’s final league game of the season at home to Stamford made sure of fifth place in the final league table and with it a play-off place too.

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

Mickleover keeper Mersin was soon in action as play got underway, making a diving save to his left  after Duffy fired goalwards following a run in the second minute.

Only five minutes later the ball was firmly back in Sports court, as Bradley set up Barnes on the edge of the box, he turned his defender to make space and fired home a cracking 15 yarder to make it 1-0.

Barnes tested the defence again after 15 minutes, his telling charge almost put Waite in the clear, but keeper Duggan came racing off his line and just managed to intercept.

Duggan and Waite went head-to-head again in the 24th minute. The Mickleover striker had rounded the Stamford keeper, but was fouled on the edge of the box. Duggan was yellow carded, but lucky not to see red.

With Rowley and Tamen solid in the middle of the Sports defence, Mann had extra freedom to attack from right back. His 33rd minute cross from the right, was met, before the final strike went over the bar.

With Bradley and Atkinson on more defensive midfield duties. The pace of Sault and Trueman continued to test the visitors defence.

41 minutes in and Sault battled through to find Waite in the box, but his shot was just wide gain, but Stamford went close too with two minutes of the second half left, after a low cross was deflected onto the post, before earning a corner.

Stamford started the second half on the attack and a Duffy flick allowed Chitiza to send in a volley, well saved  by Mersin after a scramble in the Mickleover box.

Mersin was on form again with a great save after 53 minutes, before play went straight to the other end, as Mann tested Duggan too.

As the hour mark approached, Dolan replaced Bradley, but barely had play restarted when a Sault cross was flicked on by Waite, to find Trueman unmarked to make it 2-0.

The attacks continued to flow and it was only nine minutes before Sports added a third. With Dolan out wide on wing, he played the ball into the path of another Sault charge, to leave little chance for Duggan, making it 3-0.

Fitzhugh and Beavon came on for Trueman and Barnes in the last 15 minutes and with seven minutes left, Fitzhugh shot just wide and so it remained a fairly comfortable 3-0 victory.


The Final Push!

by Peter Scherer

This Saturday’s home game against Stamford is the culmination of the teams final push for promotion. It’s our last match and it’s at home, and with the result of the appeal against the 12 point deduction levied by the league rejected today, it’s crucial.

But a win would see us into the play-offs still but playing away from home.

Stamford will still have their eye on the play-offs too and Graham Drury’s side have only lost three of their last 10 games, but all three away from home.

First choice goalkeeper Michael Duggan was signed from Spalding Utd in September, after spending more than 10 years with the “Tulips.” 

Dan Wallis had been first choice, but has had back injury problems. He was a Junior at Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, before moving to Matlock and Gainsborough. He same to Stamford in August 2021, but returned to Matlock a few months later. Then after a short stay at Macclesfield, he came to our visitors in March 2022.

Centre back Ashton Offler started at Matlock Town, before joining Sheffield Utd. After a loan at Guiseley he returned to Matlock two years later, but moved again to Sheffield FC after three months. His next stop was Grantham, spending six months with the Gingerbreads, before signing for Stamford pre-season.

Midfielder Harry Vince is in his fifth season with the club, having come from Matlock in July 2019. He started at Boston Utd and was loaned to Matlock and Grantham before his permanent move to the Gladiators in 2018.

Fellow midfielder Will Glennon came from Rushden & Diamonds in October. He has also played for AFC Hackleton and Bugbrooke St.Michaels.

Centre back James Blunden arrived during pre-season 2019/20, having previously been at Lincoln Utd, CGB Humbertherm and Grimsby.

Michael Armstrong is a defender too, he was signed from Belper Town for the 2017/18 season and played his Junior football at Long Eaton.

43 year old Jon Challinor has a vast amount of experience, having been with the “Dannies” since May 2014. He started out Stamford before joining Cambridge City in 2001. St.Albans, Aldershot, Rushden & Diamonds, Cambridge Utd, Forest Green, Mansfield Town, Newport, Kettering and York City followed, before returning to Stamford in August 2013.

He left to join Halifax six months later, before rejoining our hosts for the third time. He has played in League Two of the EFL too.

Midfielder Jack Duffy came from Quorn in summer 2020. He previously had a spell at Long Eaton and represented English Universities, during his time at Nottingham Trent.

Striker Ollie Brown-Hill is in his third spell with the club, after returning from Ilkeston pre-season. He left initially to join Rushden & Diamonds in 2017, then had sixth months at Corby before returning in January 2018. 

He then went to Ilkeston, but returned on loan, before making it permanent last July.

Tendai Chitiza arrived last August, after spending last season at Coalville. A striker, he started at Leicester Nirvana, before a spell at Gresley Rovers preceded a move to Serbia, with CSK Pivara Celarevo and TSC Backa Topola.

On his UK return he joined Stamford in July 2019, before moving on to Coalville three years later.

Lee Shaw is another striker who was signed pre-season from Grantham. He started at Grantham, but has also played for Guiseley, Chesterfield and Alfreton.

Ex Kings Lynn, Grantham and Sleaford striker Tom Siddons, returned to Stamford last summer, having been in and out of the squad for the last five years.

Flo Tsagium is a striker too, signed from Royston in January. He started out at Kings Lynn, and has played for Wisbech, St.Neots and Corby too.

Striker Michael Frew came from Holbeach in September 2021. He was at Nuneaton initially, before moving on to Cambridge City, Histon, Corby, Lowestoft and Wisbech.

Midfielder Callum Chettle is well known to Mickleover fans, having spent last season at the Don Amott Arena. He started his youth career at Nottingham Forest, following in the footsteps of Father Steve.

Moving onto Ilkeston Town and made his league debut at the age of 15, but after three years moved on to Nuneaton.

He then joined Peterborough Utd, where he made 22 appearances for the League One side, before joining Alfreton, after a brief loan at Fylde.

Further loans at Boston Utd and Matlock preceded a three year stay at Basford, re-united with manager and Father Steve. Injuries restricted his appearances last season though, and he started this season at Nuneaton, but returned to Mickleover on a months loan, before joining Stamford in February.

Midfielder Rhys Hilton arrived in March, after a short stay at Halesowen. A former Birmingham City Junior, he was loaned to Redditch before joining Sutton Coldfield. He has also been loaned to Bedworth and Coleshill.

Fellow Midfielder Rob Morgan first signed for our vistors in 2017/18. After a brief spell at Barwell he returned in 2019 and has been captain this season. He played for Corby Town too earlier in his career.

Striker Tom Siddons is in his sixth season with the club. A former top scorer, he has played for Kings Lynn, Grantham and Sleaford too.

It’s a 3pm kick off and from half time it’s only £5 to come along for the second half too, straight from Pride Park!

We Got A Win… But The Fight Goes On

by Peter Scherer (Images: Steve Ingers)

Mickleover came away from newly crowned Champions Needham Market with heads held high, after a 2-0 win. Regardless of the pending points penalty deduction, if Sports win at home on Saturday, they will be assured of a play-off place. 

Starting line-up: 1-Yusuf Mersin 2-Jake Bennett 3-Ryan Wilson 4-Dan Bradley 5-Will Tamen 6-Ethan Mann 7-Ben Sault 8-Will Atkinson 9-Tyrell Waite 10-Will Trueman 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Stuart Beavon, Ethan Fitzhugh, Rhys Dolan, Andy Dales.

After a fairly even start it was Mickleover that snatched the initiative, when Sault opened the scoring with a 13th minute chip over keeper Garnham, as he charged off his goal line to try and intercept, 1-0.

After Needham had penalty appeals waved away a minute later, Ingram went close from a McGrath cross for our hosts after 21 minutes.

Needham were pushing for an equaliser, but Bennett, Tamen, Mann and Wilson were looking a solid back four, but after 29 minutes Mersin punched away a header by Mills, following corner.

There were more chances as McGrath had a shot blocked, before Mills fired the rebound over the bar, but it was still Mickleover ahead as the half time whistle blew.

Needham continued to push forward as the second half got underway, but a number of attempts on goal followed, but few on target.

Mickleover made their first change when Dales came on for Atkinson after 69 minutes, but two minutes later there was a penalty award in Sports favour and Greaves stepped up, sent the keeper the wrong way, and it was 2-0.

Beavon came on for Waite after 75 minutes, before Mersin made another save to keep his clean sheet.

Sault, Trueman and Greaves had run themselves ragged to earn the valuable three points, with Bradley the stability in defensive midfield, but the Champions were forced to surrender.

Dolan was a late sub for Bennett, but it was a well deserved 2-0 win and now we look forward to the visit of Stamford at the Don Amott Arena on Saturday.