Category: First Team

Winter Blues For Sports Away: FC United of Manchester (A)

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover’s hopes of escaping the danger zone in the NPL were dashed with a 2-0 defeat at FC United.

Sports made three changes from the winning side against Atherton, with Arlo Doherty debuting in goal, Pablo Mills in for Phil Watt and Andy Dales back in for Joe Bateman.

Starting line-up: 1-Arlo Doherty 2-Jake Bennett 3-Jordan Gough 4-James Butler 15-Pablo Mills 6-Kemy Agustien 7-Andy Dales 8-Mason Warren 9-Dempsey Arlott-John 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Dexter Walters. Subs: Roger Lee, Ben Radcliffe, Phil Watt, Jahvan Davidson-Miller, George Milner.

It was blue sky but a biting wind as Mickleover took the kick off. 

It started fairly positively for Mickleover, with a corner taken by Agustien after only three minutes. Warren was able to get a shot in, but it was straight into keeper Lavercombe’s hands.

The hosts came straight back with a left foot shot from Hayes, which was blocked by Mills.

Warren was then almost on the end of a good through ball, before a tackle and another corner, with Walters and Beavon being unmarked in the box.

Gough started to push forward down the left, but back in defence Dales cut out a dangerous ball after a long FC United build up, ending with a corner.

As the corner came in it was too long for Ennis to connect on the far post.

But after nine minutes Waddecar almost gave the hosts the lead, after Linney put the ball through for the striker to hit the post with Doherty beaten.

Hayes was then fouled, before an Ennis cross gave Baker a header, deflected out by the Mickleover defence for another corner.

The pressure was building from the FC United attack, but Walters got a break after 14 minutes, but his shot was weak.

Beavon then forced his way through the defence, found Walters whose progress was thwarted by Smith’s tackle.

There was another half chance for Beavon after 16 minutes, but Baker intercepted.

Three minutes later Agustien placed a perfect ball at Arlott-John’s feet but was deemed to be just offside, before Linney responded for the hosts, with an effort well saved by Doherty.

FC were ahead on chances but the Mickleover defence held firm. Holmes put a telling cross into the box to find Waddecar, but his 21st minute effort failed to trouble Doherty.

Only a minute later Waddecar’s left foot shot was just over after another Holmes cross.

Dales then managed to connect with an Agustien corner after 24 minutes, but his shot was wide.

Hayes found himself in a good position, but held on to long and was tackled, while Linney did connect with an effort nearer the back of the stand than the back of the net.

Mills tried his luck with a long shot, but Lavercombe had it covered despite it dipping in the strong wind.

Sports were lucky to hold on when there was confusion in the defence. A poor clearance from Doherty was intercepted by Holmes and Waddecar’s final shot was again just over.

Mickleover’s attacks were on the decline and were too regularly caught offside, but pressure was building from the hosts.

Butler came up for a 40th minute corner but his effort was cleared by Lavercombe, but then Mickleover had their best chance of the match. Mills had cleared the danger from an FC attack and sent Arlott-John one on one with the keeper. 

Lavercombe was at full stretch to keep out the strikers shot and it remained 0-0.

After Hayes had another shot well over the bar, it looked as if the sides would be going in level at half time, until Doherty mishandled the ball after a free kick from Holmes in the final seconds. Morris managed to poke the ball home and the whistle went 0-1.

The second half started with a corner for the hosts, but Warren then put in a nice cross into the box, but it beat everyone.

Doherty then had to come to the rescue after a Mills miskick had almost let Hayes in after 50 minutes.

But Mickleover were pressing for the equaliser, just after Arlott-John had a shot just wide, Beavon was close to collecting a Bennett cross but was ruled offside.

Arlott-John’s pace continued to keep the FC defence on its toes, and he sent Dales on a run after 53 minutes, until a strong tackle stopped him.

But Doherty looked vulnerable again a minute later when Waddecar shot and the young keeper saved initially, before dropping the ball again, but this time he recovered.

There were problems for the hosts keeper too, when he came to collect a long ball and flattened Arlott-John. He received a yellow card, but it could have been a red.

Walters and Arlott-John kept the attacks going and Butler had another shot over the bar in the 59th minute from a Warren free kick.

As the home supporters looked for a second goal to seal the win, Mickleover continued to push forward, with another run from Arlott-John putting Walters through until Lavercombe collected.

Hayes’ 67th minute shot was then deflected by Mills and cleared and Linney managed to get a shot in, but the angle was too tight.

After long and cautious build up Warren had another shot just off target, but Arlott-John was in space and unmarked.

Mickleover made their for change when Milner came on for Walters, before Sports went close with an Agustien free kick, after Dales and Bennett had combined, before Bennett was felled.

Warren shot again with the unmarked Arlott-John unseen and from the resultant corner, Butler’s header lacked power.

FC sub Duckworth forced Doherty into another save, but time was running out and after 80 minutes it was effectively all over, after Waddecar collected on the volley and Hayes hit home number two for FC, 0-2.

Davidson came on for Arlott-John for the last few minutes and in injury time Warren was red carded for a high tackle.

It was hard fought game and Mickleover held their own for much of it, but they still had to return home pointless and heading desperately close to the wrong end of the table.

Sports Sign On Loan Keeper From Leicester City

by Peter Scherer

With Callum Hawkins having returned to Burton Albion, Mickleover have signed Leicester City’s Under 19’s goalkeeper Arlo Doherty, on loan.

18 year old Doherty has been at Leicester for two years, having previously been at Manchester City and Norwich City and is also capped at Under 19 level by the Republic of Ireland.

He will make his debut for  Mickleover in the weekends away visit to FC United.

Match Day Saturday: FC United Of Manchester (A)

by Peter Scherer

After collecting a hard fought point from Warrington last weekend, Mickleover are off to a struggling FC United of Manchester on Saturday.

United have had a run of three defeats, away at Atherton and Whitby in the NPL and at Marske in the FA Trophy. There last win was on November 6th at home to Gainsborough.

Currently 14th in the league and only three points ahead of Mickleover, they have five wins and two draws from their 19 games so far.

For Mickleover the main decision will be over goalkeeping duties, with Callum Hawkins having returned to Burton Albion. 

The choices being another on loan keeper, or a league debut for reserve keeper Fin Bowen, so watch this space.

The FC United has a mixture of experience and youth, with some loan players in the squad too

First choice goalkeeper Dan Lavercombe played his youth football with Exeter City and Torquay United. He joined Wigan Athletic in January 2016, but was loaned back to Torquay for a couple of spells, as well as Welsh League Club Rhyl.

He was released by Wigan in the summer of 2019 and joined Fylde, from where FC United signed him in September 2020.

Michael Donohue is a defensive midfielder, who started out at Everton’s Academy. After a loan at Barrow he joined Fleetwood, but was sent out on loan again to Tamworth. In September 2018 he was loaned to FC United, before the move became permanent the following January.

Joe White is a left back who started out at Bolton Wanderers. He made four first team appearances before being released to join Lower Breck and FC United on a dual registration. He has continued on a dual registration again this year between FC United and Ashton Athletic.

Luke Griffiths is a central midfielder who came back to FC United in October from Warrington, having only left a few months earlier. He was another Bolton Wanderers junior and has also played for Runcorn Linnets, Marine and Prescot Cables.

Playing either centre back or defensive midfield, Curtis Jones is well travelled. From Stockport County’s Youth Team, he joined Glasgow Celtic and Bristol City, before his first senior transfer to Livingstone.

His spell back in Scotland was shortlived and he joined Welsh League’s The New Saints. Quickly moving on again he had a year at Nantwich and then played for Southport and Ashton Athletic, before coming to FC United in July 2019.

Centre back Drew Baker arrived at FC United in the summer from the Oldham Athletic Academy.

Aaron Morris is another centre back who started out at St Helens Town. He came to FC United in summer 2020 from Runcorn Linnet’s, where he played for three years, and has tended to play at right back.

Cian Hayes is a striker currently on loan from Fleetwood Town and is a Republic of Ireland Under 19 International. He has made one first team appearance for Fleetwood and is due to return to the club this month.

A midfielder with mainly League Two and National League experience, Jonathan Smith was signed during the summer. He was a youth player at Morecambe.

After loans at Fleetwood and Bamber Bridge, he signed for Forest Green Rovers in 2010, and spent three years there pre their league status.

A spell at York City followed before joining Swindon Town, where he played 48 games and scored three goals, before returning to League Two rivals York.

Moving onto Luton Town where he played 150 games, he was at Stevenage too, before a couple of seasons at Chesterfield preceded his current move.

Brad Holmes is a young midfielder who started at Bolton Wanderers, before moving to Blackpool. He is currently part way through a three month loan at FC United.

Paul Ennis is an experienced midfielder with a long list of clubs throughout a lengthy career. After starting at Stockport County, he had a loan at Salford City, then quickly moved on to Stalybridge Celtic, Bala Town, Witton Albion, Northwich Victoria, Colwyn Bay and Guiseley, before a two year stay on a return trip to Stalybridge.

Curzon Ashton, Matlock, Shaw Lane, Buxton, Skelmersdale, Southport and Ashton Utd also joined his long list of travels, before arriving at FC United in May 2019.

Regan Linney is a striker who was signed from Bamber Bridge in July 2019, having developed through their own Academy.

Midfielder or left Back Adam Dodd was a Blackpool junior, who made the first team bench but didn’t get to play. He had loans at Altrincham and Scottish First Division’s Ayr Utd, before joining Chorley on his release. He then had just over three years at Bamber Bridge before being signed in May 2019.

Winger Jayden Major was a Liverpool Junior before moving to Burnley. He also had a loan at Clitheroe before his release, from where he joined Spanish club UP Plasencia until lockdown. He joined Stockport in July this year and came to FC United in October.

Ex Leeds Academy winger Omar Sanyang has been at Bradford City, Doncaster, Scunthorpe and Darlington, before joining Tadcaster Albion. He then moved to Bradford Park Avenue in November last year, before joining the FC United squad.

Ali Waddecar moved to FC United after an 11 year spell at Bamber Bridge having made over 450 appearances. The striker had joined Bamber from local football, having previously been at Preston North End.

Toby Humphries is a product of FC United’s own youth scheme. The young midfielder has only recently become part of the first team squad.

Mike Potts is another midfielder who started out with Manchester United. After he was released he was at Blackburn Rovers for year, before signing for York City. 

He has moved on each season spending time with Guiseley, AFC Fylde, Stalybridge on loan, Bradford Park Avenue, Shaw Lane on loan and Curzon Ashton. He was signed from Bamber Bridge in October 2018.

Vani Da Silva has recently joined our hosts on loan from Oldham Athletic, described as a “lightning striker.”

The kick off at Broadhurst Park is 3pm.

Walters Double Wins Hard Fought Home Point: Warrington (H)

by Peter Scherer

It’s been said a number of times already this season, but Saturday’s home game against Warrington proved to be another game of two distinct halves.

Starting line-up: 1 Callum Hawkins 2 Jake Bennett 3 Jordan Gough 4 James Butler 5 Phil Watt 6 Kemy Agustien 7 Joe Bateman 8 Mason Warren 9 Dempsey Arlott-John 10 Stuart Beavon 11 Dexter Walters. Subs: Andy dales, Ethan Mann, Pablo Mills, Jahvan Davidson-Miller, Roger Lee.

The game started strongly for Mickleover with Arlott-John threatening in the box after only three minutes before Dan Atherton in the visitors goal cleared for a throw.

Two minutes later Bennett had dropped a telling ball into the box, from which Beavon half connected with a shot at the keeper again.

From the clearance Warrington had their first attack, with Mols crossing to find Grivosti who headed over the bar.

Mickleover had the edge in midfield, with Warren in command, ably supported by Agustien and Bateman,

Beavon was looking to go on a run after seven minutes, but was fouled on the halfway line, but only two minutes later it was 1-0 to Sports, Warren had found Arlott-John again, he turned and shot but his initial attempt was blocked, before Baillie cleared an attempt from Beavon off the line.

The ball then found Walters lurking just outside the area and the on loan striker smashed a crisp and firm shot into the top right hand corner, with keeper Atherton well beaten.

As Warrington started to push forward to seek the equaliser, Hawkins covered a half chance, before Butler blocked a 16th minute shot.

The pressure was on and over a three minute period, Grivosti shot straight at Hawkins, Baillie fired over from long range and Reid created his own space before putting in a weak final effort.

But Mickleover came fighting back with more determination than has been seen of late, as Bateman put a nice ball through to Beavon, whose shot was blocked again, but earned a corner.

Agustien’s kick found skipper Watt, who turned to fire a strong shot just over the bar after 22 minutes.

Watt was in particularly good form backed up well by Butler, while both Bennett and Gough played more of a defensive wing back role than pushing forward.

Warren tried a random shot from well out after half an hour, which was well over the bar, but Warrington were still pressing and began to look vulnerable in defence themselves.

Baillie tried another long shot for the visitors which was well over, but in the 36th minute Duggan failed to clear his lines and Arlott-John intercepted.

Atherton was quickly out of his goal, but Arlott-John took the ball around him and squared it back from the by line. There were defenders on the line, but Walters smashed in his second of the match, 2-0.

Grivosti went for his Oscar though after a challenge with Watt as half time approached, but Hawkins had to make one more save before the whistle, tipping over from a Williams shot.

The second half was barely underway when appeals for a penalty were rejected when Arlott-John was upended.

Gough then had a positive attack down the left, feeding Beavon, whose header was just over, while after five minutes Arlott-John had another strong run and was close to breaking through the Warrington defence again and all inside a five minute opening spell.

But the tide then turned with Grivosti’s initial effort punched out by Hawkins, only to find Williams, who fed Duffy to make it 2-1.

It was still fairly even still and Arlott-John went close again after 58 minutes with a spectacular overhead kick.

Mols then got over ambitious and lost possession for Warrington, only for Grivosti to intercept again and shoot over the bar.

Gough headed clear after the visitors had a dangerous free kick and Arlott-John was taken down again in the 63rd minute, but Agustien’s free kick went wide.

Warrington were almost on equal terms when they got a break after a Bateman shot was blocked. Hawkins had to come racing out to go one on one with Reid, but despite putting it around the keeper, Watt was on hand to clear.

Only a minute later it was 2-2 after Williams’ kick pierced the Mickleover lines.

Mickleover made their first change when Dales came on for Arlott-John, but Warrington had started to take control in midfield and left the Mickleover’s defence looking vulnerable.

Walters had another half chance but fired well wide, before Williams tried a lob for Warrington equally wide of the mark.

Bateman lost possession on the left which allowed Warrington sub McDonald a run. But he failed to maximise his opportunity and shot straight at Hawkins.

Into the last 15 minutes and Beavon was blocked as he prepared to shoot, but it was the visitors that were looking more dangerous.

Agustien had a pot shot well wide, before Davidson-Miller came on for Walters.

Warrington continued to seek the winner and after 84 minutes they had a shot cleared off the line, before Watt was outpaced by Mackreth, but there was no one to receive his cross.

Hawkins had to pull off another acrobatic save from a Duggan shot, before Mickleover almost got a break too with two minutes on the clock. But Davidson-Miller’s charge was stopped with Atherton charging from his goal.

Watt made a final headed clearance to retain the hard fought point, but Warrington’s second half fight back had proven just too strong for the battling Mickleover side.

Sports v Warrington This Weekend!

by Peter Scherer

This Saturday Mickleover FC have a tough home game, with Warrington Town the visitors. 

Currently sixth in the NPL, Warrington have won nine of their 17 games so far, including wins on the road at Ashton, Lancaster, Stafford and Grantham.

Following last Saturday’s victory over Atherton, Mickleover are back up to 18th in the table, but with teams around them having games in hand, points particularly at home are critical to escape the drop zone.

Warrington are captained by 6ft+ defender Mark Roberts, who started his career at Crewe Alexandra. He made seven first team appearances at Gresty Road and also had loans at Leek, Vauxhall Motors, Southport, Chester and Halifax, before joining Northwich after another initial loan.

In 2007 he joined league two Accrington Stanley and played 37 games before moving on again. After a brief return to Northwich, he was back to the Football League action with Stevenage, Fleetwood, Cambridge Utd and Forest Green Rovers, making almost 350 appearances and is now in his fourth season at Warrington.

Goalkeeper Daniel Atherton was signed during the summer. A former Liverpool junior, he also had a spell on loan at Marine last year and spent some time at Warrington last year too, before a brief foray in the US. 

James Baillie is a right back and another former Crewe Junior. He had a loan at Nantwich before being released, from where he moved onto Curzon Ashton. He joined Warrington in September last year.

Central midfielder Jay Harris was a summer signing. Starting out at Everton, he had a couple of seasons at Accrington, before moving onto Chester City. He then spent five years at Wrexham, scoring 20 goals in over 200 appearances.

He was with Tranmere Rovers when they regained their league status and then had a season at Macclesfield before rejoining Wrexham in January 2020.

Mitch Duggan is a defensive midfielder. A Tranmere Junior he had loans at Marine and Warrington, before joining our visitors permanently in July 2018. He has been out on loan at Flint and Southport, but is now back at Warrington and part of their first team squad.

Left back Eddie Clarke is another former Tranmere junior, but is currently on the injured list. He joined Fleetwood in July 2018, and after loans at Macclesfield and Stockport, was released to join Warrington in November last year. Like Duggan he also had a loan spell at Flint earlier this year too.

Winger Jack Mackreth came from Bala Town in the summer. He is yet another former Tranmere junior. He had a brief spell at Hyde, before longer spells at Barrow, Macclesfield and Grimsby. Then return trips to Tranmere and Macclesfield followed, with a short stay at Bury and he spent most 0f 2017/18 at Wrexham, before coming to Warrington in 2018. He went to Bala in February and was back at Warrington to start this season.

Striker Jordan Buckley was another one of a number of Warrington players who spent the early months of this year in Welsh football. Previously at Irlam, he signed from FC United in January 2020, and then went to Flint in February before heading back to Warrington in July.

Bohan Dixon is a midfielder who started out in the Welsh League with Connah’s Quay. He quickly moved on to Buckley Town, before dropping back into local football in Liverpool.

He was then signed by Hednesford Town in August 2011, moving to Burscough before dropping back to local league level. But a year later he was spotted by Accrington and his career was on the rise again.

After a loan at Marine he joined Lincoln City, but quickly moved on via Northwich, Salford City, Stalybridge Celtic, AFC Fylde, Halifax, Stockport and Ashton, before finally arriving at Warrington in September 2018.

Striker Dom Reid is a returnee, after played for Warrington a couple of seasons ago. An ex Rochdale youth player, he has also played for Bootle, AFC Fylde, Prescot Cables and Marine before coming to Warrington in 2018. He then moved to City of Liverpool and made his return pre-season.

Josh Amis is yet another Warrington player who had a spell in the Welsh League with Flint, before returning in the summer. Originally a Preston junior, he had loans at Stockport and Northwich, before the latter became permanent. 

The young striker then returned to Stockport and after spells at Altrincham and Marine signed initially for Warrington in July 2018.

Midfielder Ben Hough was picked up from Oldham Athletic in the summer, after signed for Latics as a 10 year old from Runcorn Linnets.

Matty Regan is an ex England under 16, 17 and 18 international who started out at Liverpool’s Academy. He then joined Nottingham Forest, before going to Tamworth on his release.

The centre back had more loans at Hednesford and Worcester City, before joining Stalybridge in 2014. Further moves to Colwyn Bay, Curzon Ashton and Farsley Celtic, preceded his arrival at Warrington. He is however, currently out injured.

Spanish midfielder Stefan Mols had only just been signed, having been released by Blackburn Rovers in July.

Luke Duffy is another attacking midfielder, who was signed in September 2020 from Lower Breck FC, he has also been part of Salford City’s development side.

Matt Grivosti was another young striker found in local football, before being signed up pre-season.

Kick off at the Don Amott Arena will be 3pm as usual, the bar will be open and the forecast is dry but overcast.

Back To Winning Ways: Atherton Collieries (H)

by Peter Scherer

Not only did Mickleover returning to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Atherton Collieries, it was their first double of the season, having beaten the Greater Manchester team away a few weeks ago.

Starting line-up 1-Callum Hawkins 2-Jake Bennett 3-Jordan Gough 4-James Butler 5-Phil Watt 6-Kemy Agustien 7-Joe Bateman 8-Mason Warren 9-Andy Dales 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Dexter Walters. Subs: Dempsey Arlott-John, Adam Haw, Pablo Mills, Jahvan Davidson. Ethan Mann.

It took a while for both teams to get up to pace, but Mickleover had their first chance after 16 minutes. Andy Dales led a counter attack from his own half, and having outpaced the defence, his cross went across the face of the goal with no one able to connect.

Seven minutes later a good positive build up from Warren out wide found Dales again, but his shot was blocked and went out for a corner.

It was still 0-0 when the visitors had their chance to open the scoring, but Elliot Rokka’s powerful close range shot was straight at Hawkins, who saved confidently.

Mickleover began to take charge towards the end of the first half, which was to bode well in the second.

Only three minutes back in action and it was 1-0 to Mickleover. A cross from Dales found Warren, who buried a powerful shot from 18 yards out into the bottom corner, with Atherton keeper Luke Hutchinson well beaten.

Six minutes later Warren was on the mark again, after a telling crossed had found Dales in the box, he was fouled in a melee of legs and the penalty was awarded.

Warren’s kick sent Hutchinson the wrong way, deep into the left corner 2-0.

Atherton continued to try and push forward and Marcus Cusani managed a shot in the 64th minute, but it was just over the bar.

Mickleover made their first change when Arlott-John came on for Walters after 65 minutes. But only a few minutes later it was so nearly a third for Sports. 

Agustien’s free kick was initially saved by Hutchinson before he pulled off an excellent reflex save from the rebound too.

Davidson came on for his debut replacing Beavon after 77 minutes, but the points were secure and just as importantly the Mickleover defence kept a clean sheet.

Mickleover Seek To Repeat Atherton Victory

by Peter Scherer

This weekend Mickleover face Atherton Collieries at the Don Amott Arena, in a game brought forward from January 29th. 

Atherton were the victims of Mickleover’s only away so far this season, so while we look to try and take three points to ease relegation fears, our visitors will be seeking revenge.

They were in 11th in the NPL before our visit, but have only taken one point since, in a home draw against South Shields. They went down 2-0 at Buxton on Tuesday night, and are now 16th.

Sharing goal keeping duties in recent matches have been Bolton loanee Luke Hutchinson and Elliott Wynne.

Wynne started out with Oldham Athletic and Rochdale, before joining AFC Fylde. He has also played for Fleetwood and Lancaster City, Glossop North and Abbey Hey, before joining Altrincham, prior to his move to Atherton.

Clive Smith is a right back who started out at Preston North End. He had loans at Bamber Bridge and St.Johnstone, but never made the Preston first team and was released in December 2017. After six months at Southport he joined Droylsden and has been at Atherton since December 2018. But after being carried off in Tuesday nights game at Buxton, he’s a doubtful starter this weekend.

Wing back Gareth Peet is an Atherton legend, having joined the club back in 2010. He has also played at Ashton, Skelmersdale and Nelson.

US born Luca De Freitas-Hansen was a pre-season signing from Ashton. The young centre back played for Weston Academy and Portland Pilots in the States, before joining Ashton Athletic in August 2018.His brother plays for Swansea City.

Centre back and skipper Danny Lafferty is another long serving player, having joined Atherton 13 years ago. He has also played for Oldham Borough and Radcliffe Borough. 

Joel Amado came from Trafford FC at the end of last season. The young defender has also played at Curzon Ashton and Irlam and represented England Universities.

Attacking midfielder Ben Conway has returned to Atherton in July 2018 after playing in the US with IW Cardinals, OKC Energy and Corpus Christi.

Danny Lambert is another long serving player. The winger started out at Wigan, before moving on to Darlington and is now in his fifth year at Atherton. He has also played at Ashton, Radcliffe and Trafford.

Another player in his second spell with our hosts is striker Marcus Cusani. He came back to Atherton last season after a spell at Warrington and has also played for Ashton.

Central midfielder Jack Lenehan is a former Rochdale junior. He was loaned to Prescott Cables before joining Chorley and came to Atherton last year after a season with FC United.

Scott Sephton started out with Leigh Genesis. Prior to joining Atherton in May, the midfielder was captain of Stalybridge Celtic. He has also played for Matlock, Warrington, Buxton, Ashton, Trafford, Porthmadog and Prescott Cables.

Striker Elliot Rokka has come from the Tranmere Academy. He arrived at Atherton in March last year from Radcliffe.

Young defender Niall Battersby was spotted playing in the local Manchester League and signed for Atherton. While Luke Hutchinson is second choice keeper and is on loan until January from Bolton Wanderers.

Lewis Doyle is another young midfielder, who was signed from Accrington in July last year. He was previously at Southport, having started out in the Preston North End Academy.

Ethan Kershaw was a Burnley junior before joining Longridge. He moved to Mossley in July last year and came to Atherton pre-season.

Matty Gillam was another new pre-season signing. The young striker was with Rochdale until August last year and had loan spells at Stalybridge and Cork City, before joining Guiseley on his release.

Aaron Smith was signed a week before our visit to Atherton and made his debut this week with a goal in the 2-1 win at Bamber Bridge. He started as a Nottingham Forest junior, before spending a year in Scotland with Hamilton Academicals.  From there he moved to Ashton Utd, before joining Northwich 1874. He went back to Ashton and then moved to Curzon Ashton, before his return to Northwich preceded his arrival at Atherton. 

Former Blackpool midfielder Rowan Roache is a recent new signing from Workington. During his time at Blackpool he had loans at Southport, FC United, Derby County and Lancaster, before his loan at Bamber Bridge became permanent. He then moved on to Altrincham in November last year, before joining Workington at the beginning of this season.

Kick off as usual is 3pm and Sports can do with all the support they can muster.

Mickleover Lose Out In Second Half Goal Spree: Radcliffe (A)

by Peter Scherer

Two second half substitutes got on the score sheet for Radcliffe to turn the tide and pick up all three points, after Sports led 1-0 at half time.

Radcliffe made it five wins on the bounce in all competitions after a clinical second half display claimed victory against Mickleover. 

Starting line-up: 1-Callum Hawkins 2-Jake Bennett; 3-Jordan Gough 4-Joe Bateman  5-James Butler 6-Phil Watt 6-Andy dales 8-Andrew Wright 9-Adam Haw 10-Stuart Beacon 11-Dexter walters. Subs: Mason Warren, Roger Lee, Dec Bacon, Bobby Battisson, Dempsey Arlott-John.

There were early chances for Mickleover when Butler headed wide from a corner after two minutes, and then shot wide after finding space in the box a couple of minutes later.

 Kole Hall should’ve put the hosts in front with a dinked attempt which scraped wide of the mark, after he  out muscled his man to create an opening for himself to shoot. He took his time on the ball before eventually chipping the goalkeeper, his effort looked to be dropping into the bottom corner but it wasn’t accurate enough as it bounced out for a goal kick. 

After 25 minutes Mickleover hit the post with a deflected shot, before the defence cleared the danger, but only a minute later a penalty was awarded after Radcliffe keeper Cam Belford clipped an oncoming attacker as he tried to round him. 

Captain Wright stepped up and sent the ball into the bottom corner of the net, Belford did get a hand to it, however his efforts weren’t enough. 1-0.

Belford denied Mickleover a second goal after 36 minutes, with a spectacular diving save to keep out Wright’s rocket free kick.

With half time approaching James Baxter had a chance for the hosts to equalise, when he latched onto a corner from Matty Crothers, only to shoot over the bar.

But Mickleover repeated their first half form by starting the second half on top again, but Belford was the hero once again for Radcliffe,  by making a multitude of superb saves to stop Mickleover  from increasing their lead. Those saves became even more beneficial  as Jo Cummings got the equaliser after 55 minutes.

Adam Dawson had picked up a loose ball down the left and then whipped an accurate cross into the box, before a mix of touches from both teams left a scramble in the Mickleover penalty area, with Cummings getting the decisive touch to tap home from a few yards out. 1-1.

The momentum quickly shifted in Radcliffe’s favour as they looked for another a goal.

They  mounted more and more attacking pressure onto the Mickleover defence and it was soon breached by failing to pick up substitute Chris Taylor at the back post, as he diverted the ball into the net to put Radcliffe ahead at the sixty-four minute mark.

 Bobby Grant had got on the end of a cross-field pass from  Dawson, he picked out Taylor who was waiting to pounce at the back post and at the second attempt, he slotted the ball into the bottom corner beyond a frustrated Hawkins. 1-2 

It could easily have been another goal for the hosts when Baxter’s shot appeared to aiming for the bottom corner, only for Hawkins to make a spectacular diving save to his left. 

But just seconds after coming onto the pitch, sub Luca Navarro wrapped up all three points for Radcliffe with his first touch, after latching onto a goal kick from  Belford, he chipped the ball over the on-rushing Hawkins, who had to helplessly watch the ball as it ricocheted off the surface and made its way into the net. 1-3. 

For 55 minutes Mickleover held their 1-0 advantage, but as on so many occasions this season it was not to be. But it now leaves them in a perilous 21st place in the NPL.

Report by Peter Scherer, from Kieran Wilson’s Radcliffe summary and twitter feed.