The Sports Report is ready to view for today’s game…
by Peter Scherer
Rushden & Diamonds are our next port of call on Saturday afternoon, as we strive to make it five successive wins, to sustain the pressure on the clubs currently in the play-off positions.
Former Football League side Rushden & Diamonds have been in turmoil all season with numerous changes both on and off the field.
With one win against St Ives in the last 10 games, they have a goal difference of -50 and are currently bottom of the table, with no other points since the end of last year.
Chris Nunn took over just before Christmas, having left Kempston Rovers and has made the side almost unrecognisable from side we beat 2-0 back in October, as he strives for their survival.
Keeper Dean Snedker was a Northampton Town Junior, who moved onto Brackley after an initial loan. Kidderminster, Nuneaton, Kettering, Cambridge City and St Albans were his next ports of call, before a year at Hemel preceded his move to Rushden in August 2021. He was also an England Under 19 International.
He was back behind between the sticks last weekend, having lost his place to Frenchman Loris Marcimain on loan from St Albans City.
Centre back Ryan Hughes started at Northampton too and after a loan at St Neots, he came to Rushden on loan too for three months until January 2020. Further loans at Banbury and Corby followed, before a permanent move to our hosts in August 2020.
Defender Luca Doorbar Baptist was a January arrival from Peterborough Sports, having started his career as a Nottingham Forest Junior. He was also on a dual registration with Cambridge City recently.
Fellow defender Miguel Lopez De Matos came from Hadley FC in January. He also played for Waltham Abbey, Potters Bar, Northwood, Staines, Welling and Kempton.
Charlie Pattison was signed in January too. A midfielder, he started as an MK Dons Junior, before joining Dunstable. After a spell at Banbury he rejoined Dunstable, from where he was picked up by our hosts.
Central defender Luke Massingham was a pre-Christmas signing from Thame Utd. Standing at 6ft 4in, he scored their first goal in six games last weekend. An ex Wealdstone Junior, he captained Slough Town and played for Staines, Bracknell, Chalfont St Peter, Rayners Lane and Kempston. He was also manager Chris Nunn’s first signing.
Right back Eniola Agemoh-Davies was signed in August last year from Cambridge City, he is another ex Northampton player, who’s played for Stratford, Potters Bar, Soham and St Ives.
George Joyce is another right back. He played his junior football at Boreham Wood, before moving to Hitchin Town last November. He arrived at Rushden in January.
Midfielder Mitchell White came from Cogenhoe Utd in November, having previously been a junior at Rushden.
Midfielder Luis Pinto-Leite started his career in Portuguese Junior football, before a stay at Bloomfield College in New Jersey. He signed for Rushden in July last year, through a Scholarship programme with Moulton College.
Courtney Lashley is a left back who arrived at Rushden in July last year from Northampton Town, but is currently out on loan.
Andy Mandjoba started out at Blackpool, but moved to South Liverpool on his release. The midfielder moved on to Loughborough University, before coming to Rushden last October.
Midfielder Nigel Chikamba has become part of the first team squad, after coming through the clubs own junior ranks.
Striker Jenson Cooper was a summer 2022 signing from Shrewsbury Town’s Academy, while midfielder Fraser Corden only broke into the first team at the beginning of this season, having graduated through the clubs own youth scheme.
James Burnside is another striker signed in January from Real Bedford. He was previously at Potton Utd and Newport Pagnell where he was a prolific scorer.
Striker Charlie Black was signed last September from UD Poblense in Spain. A former Luton Town Junior, he has played for Dunstable. Arlesey and Biggleswade too and has played in Finland and the US.
Bogdan Marian is a Rumanian born defender, currently on loan from Watford. Both attacking midfielder Joel Anker and defender Charlie Waller are on loan from MK Dons, having previously been loaned to Tring Athletic. Waller captain Dons Under 21’s.
Kick off is at 3pm.
by Peter Scherer
Mickleover FC Reserves club secretary Fran Fuller will face her owns fears an apprehension on February 17th, when she takes to the Tottenham Hotspur Skywalk.
I am doing this to raise awareness for young sports people, mainly with mental health in football. We are all aware of issues across all sports, but the passing of our own young goalkeeper Fin Bowen has brought it even more to my attention,
The FA and PFA already do a lot, but I have decided to challenge my own emotions and fears, do the Skywalk and the drop into the stadium from 46.8 metres above the pitch.
Fran will be accompanied by a couple of friends and plans to wear one of the Fin Bowen Tribute T Shirts for her challenge.
I had known about this opportunity for a while, but it’s my 60th year and I wanted to mark it with 60 new things, combining awareness and challenges. I have a fear of heights and no one has influenced me to do this or not, it’s purely my decision.
She is quick to point out that it is not for charity, it’s for awareness.
I wanted to feel I contributed, the Mickleover FC lads are already raising funds for a mini bus. So setting myself this challenge is an achievement for me, as well raising awareness to the mental health problems that some of our young sports people have, and so often can go undetected.
by Peter Scherer
A promising start came to nought as Mickleover slumped to a home defeat against their jinx side Hitchin Town.
Starting line-up: 1-Jonathan Hedge 2-Joe Bateman 3-Rhys Dolan 15-Ryan Wilson 5-Ethan Mann 6-Phil Watt 7-Will Trueman 8-Mitch Rose 9-Marcus Marshall 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Elliott Reeves, Oliver Bosworth, Andy Dales, Pablo Mills, Mason Warren.
A chilly start to the game but the morning rain had ceased and it couldn’t have started better for Mickleover.
Mann put a diagonal ball through that’s split the defence and was pounced on immediately by Greaves, who planted it firmly past keeper Charlie Horlock in the opening minute 1-0.
Seven minutes later Dolan fired in another shot from the left, Horlock saved again, but it was a corner for Sports.
It has been a fairly even start to the game, despite Mickleover’s lead, but they were beginning to luck vulnerable for pace down the right.
Ciaren Jones managed to outpace Bateman and planted a telling cross towards the left hand post, where Bradley Bell had an almost clear header to make it 1-1 after 13 minutes.
Both sides had chances to move forward, but most of the passes lacked accuracy and after 19 minutes Diogo Freitas Gouveia had a shot from Mickleover’s left, but fortunately it was wide, but a slight deflection earned the visitors a corner.
Horlock pulled off a good save after 23 minutes from Greaves, after an accurate cross field ball from Wilson, and four minutes later Bateman and Greaves linked up down the right, but the final ball was just out of Beavon’s reach.
Jones had a wild shot for the visitors on the half hour. But Mickleover managed to earn another a corner, after a further quick break.
As the ball came into the box, Dolan, Marshall and Beavon all fired shot’s in at close range. The final effort striking a defenders hand while he was on the ground.
In recent games Mickleover have been on the receiving end of far less clear penalties than this, but ref the ignored the requests.
But the threat was then reversed as Hitchin piled the pressure on the home defence, ending with a 37th minute free kick from Hitchin, just inches over Hedge’s bar.
Rose was yellow carded for a foul on the halfway line, but it was Mickleover that went close as the first half came to an end, when a free kick found Marshall, who set Greaves on his way, only to shoot straight at the keeper.
Warren was on for Rose as they re-appeared for the second half and was soon in action. A lovely ball was dropped into the box after 48 minutes, with Trueman and Marshall a whisker away from connecting.
But the tide quickly turned as Hedge made a save with his feet a minute later.
Greaves was almost through again after 51 minutes, but Horlock beat Marshall to the ball and kicked clear.
It seemed to be Greaves tenacity that set upmost of the Mickleover breaks, as overall they were struggling to break out of their own half.
Gouveia created space for another Hitchin shot on the hour, but it was well wide. Any retaliatory attempts from Mickleover were then fairly easily responded too.
It didn’t really come as any surprise when Ashley Hay picked up the ball after a goalmouth scramble, following a corner. Hedge had no chance with the shot as it hit the back of the net 1-2 after 66 minutes.
Mickleover brought Reeves on for Trueman for the last 20 minutes and was close to connecting after only three minutes on the pitch, chasing a long ball but just beaten to it by Horlock.
Reeves was the in action again with a cross come shot from the right wing, just over the bar from a tight angle.
Joining Marshall and Beavon up front, suddenly there was a spark from the Mickleover side. Reeves managed to outpace a defender on the left after 75 minutes. His cross was accurate, but there was no one on the receiving end.
Mills was then on for Wilson, but it was Layne Eadie was next to try his luck for Hitchin, again fortunately well off target.
The intensity shown from Mickleover in the last 10 minutes hoewever, was probably more than any point in the game. Dolan put a nice cross in after 81 minutes and there were various connections as it bounced around in front of goal, without space for a clear shot.
The chance to equalise came after 85 minutes though when Man was clearly tripped inside the box, as the defender made no contact with the ball.
The referee may have been unsighted, but his assistant was on the spot and failed to flag for the clear penalty.
Into the final minutes it was like a game of pinball in the Hitchin box, with Dolan almost firing home, only to be deflected for a corner.
The pressure continued to the final whistle, with Horlock making a diving save from Sports Star Man Greaves.
Despite the two clear penalty appeals incorrectly dismissed, the majority of Sports second half performance didn’t rally merit the valued points that were had lost, as Hitchin were deserved 1-2 winners.
by Peter Scherer
Despite the bitter cold and constant drizzle, there was a feast of goals and football, with Mickleover Reds taking a 6-4 win over the yellows, in the Fin Bowen Charity match.
REDS: 1-Tom Smith 2-Jacob Edge-Lucas 3-Ben Lewin 4-Ethan Mann 5-Pat Pugh 6-Will Robinson 7-Emilio De Abreu 8-George Atwal 9-Kai Moore 10-Bobby Battisson 11-Fin Barker. Subs: John McGrath, Jay McGrath, Tom Hilton, Harry Atwal, Ronnie Bonser, Jack Leighton.
YELLOWS (Roughly?) : 1-Jenson Cooper 2-Taylor Maxwell 3-Josh Frewin 4- ??? 7-RJ Davies 8-Sam Pipes 9-Johnny Johnson 16-Louis Pennington 11-Brad Daley 11- Taylor Smith 12 Lewis Watson 14 Dylan Muir.
The drizzle started just as the game kicked off, but after three-minutes Barker had the ball in the back of the net for Reds, before play was brought back for a foul on keeper Cooper.
Although the game was quite open and flowed freely, the Reds had the upperhand and they went close again after 14 minutes. Lewin crossed from the left, Moore touched the ball onto De Abreu, whose shot was just wide.
Only a minute later Pugh put a long ball through the middle, but it proved too far for the strikers to chase. But the attacks were coming thick and fast, with Edge-Lucas firing a cross in from the right, initially cleared for the yellows by Taylor Smith, before Moore went in for a header, just losing out to keeper Cooper.
18 minutes in though Barker had a run on the left after Yellows had lost possession, he jinked past Frewin and Smith and fired passed Cooper 1-0.
Having been beaten once, Rushall Olympic’s Cooper, a former Mickleover junior keeper, shed the goalie shirt to play outfield. “I’m glad I am not a keeper any more,” he was heard to say.
His replacement made a double save four minutes later, the second a spectacular dive to keep out George Atwal’s effort. But Atwal tried again a minute later and was just wide of the post.
Both sides were rotating their squads and after 25 minutes gaffer John McGrath and son Jay both came on for the Reds. McGrath Senior was soon trying his luck on goal too, firing just wide.
It wasn’t long before the Reds got a second, when Battisson set up Moore, whose effort had the keeper beaten just inside his right-hand post 2-0.
Pipes then responded at the other end, and brought a fine diving save from Smith to his left, before De Abreu had another shot just wide on the half hour.
It was soon 3-0 though when a fine solo effort down the left again saw Barker take on and beat three defenders, before cutting in and finding the back of the net.
De Abreu continued to cause problems on the right, managing to then create the space for a shot just inside the box and just off target again. Five minutes later he shot just over the bar, before Battisson completed the first half, shooting just outside the left-hand post.
Into the second half and the Yellows were close to pulling one back, when Smith was almost caught out by a lob. As he raced back to see the ball just clear his bar, various expletives were heard from the Borrowash Vics keeper.
Just after the Yellows had fired a weak shot straight at Smith, Battisson tried again, but was just off the mark, Jay McGrath then had a try after 68 minutes, again just wide, before Harry Atwal followed up inside the box, making it 4-0.
Smith was busy again though in the Reds goal, after Pennington went close, but then it became 5-0 with Jay scoring.
There was a sudden comeback in the last 15 minutes, with the Yellows hitting four!! The first was from a direct free-kick and the second a rebound following a penalty save, 5-2.
75 minutes and it was 5-3 and then Cooper, who had started in goal, made it 5-4. But Hilton scored again for the Reds with five minutes left, and Battisson went close again a minute but his shot was saved, and it finished 6-4.