by Peter Scherer
With two minutes left on the clock Mickleover had a 1-0 lead, but a stunning double blow from Alvechurch into injury time, left them returning home pointless.
Starting line-up: 1-Oliver Bosworth 2-Jake Bennett 3-Ryan Wilson 5-James Butler 6-Phil Watt 7-Andy Dales 8-Mason Warren 9-Marcus Marshall 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Pablo Mills, George Atwal, Jonathan Hedge, Rhys Dolan, Will Trueman.
Greaves led Mickleover’s first attack in the opening minute to earn a corner, before Dales found Warren who sent in a curling lob to stretch home keeper Dan Jezeph a minute later.
It was even closer five minutes in when Bennett was fouled and the free kick fell to Watt, after an attempted clearance by Jezeph. But Harry Williams was on the line and came between Mickleover and an opening goal.
It was all Mickleover at this stage as Bennett went on another run, found Wilson and his pass was picked up by Beavon in the box again. Not only was his shot blocked, but Marshall’s rebound too.
The hosts had their first telling shot nine minutes in, when Tyrell Skeen-Hamilton’s effort was blocked. Mickleover were soon breaking again though with a Dales cross after Warren and Wilson had advanced, but there was no one in the middle to receive.
Jed Abbey then forced a save from Bosworth in the Mickleover goal, diving to his left as the game became much more even.
Mann had worked himself into space down the right, and sent a Crossfield ball to Dales. His curling cross was tight into the keeper, but Jezeph managed to hold it under pressure from Greaves on the 15 minute mark.
Wilson then sent in a long ball, which Jezeph appeared to handle outside the area, but the referee failed to react to the appeals.
But Alvechurch were quick to break again and after a series passes, Abbey tried a long range shot well over the bar. The hosts continued to push forward, with slow but gradual build up’s very much like Mickleover’s own approach.
Sports kept coming back though as the defence stayed strong and Bennett fed Dales down the right after 23 minutes, only to find Beavon’s path blocked in the box.
Danny Waldron then had a shot blocked for the hosts, earning another corner, from which Mickleover went on another charge.
Dales, Warren and Marshal combined, with a nice lay-off aiming for Dales, which was just short of its target.
With both sides trying to break the deadlock, Alvechurch went left to right, before a cross on the half hour, saw Skeen-Hamilton’s effort just wide.
Waldron had another good chance for our hosts after 39 minutes, when his charge upfield, saw his final shot just inches wide of Bosworth’s left hand post.
With two minutes left in the first half Abbey had a great chance again, following a cross from his left, but the shot was blocked and earned a corner, which came to nothing.
Dales ended the half with a tame shot straight at the keeper, to send the teams in level, which was probably a fair score.
Both teams were playing a similar style, which saw the second half kick off in a similar vain to the first.
Mickleover had an early free kick cleared and then after 54 minutes Warren put a strong long ball through the middle for Marshall chase, but the home keeper was just off his line in time to intercept.
Alvechurch had a free kick on the hour after Waldron was fouled, but Mickleover made break from the interception, sending Greaves on a long run. He was pursued by the Alvechurch number six, who pushed him to the ground and the referee had hesitation in awarding a penalty.
Warren stepped up and calmy hit the back of the net, to finally break the deadlock, 1-0 after 62 minutes.
Marshall then became the second Sports player in the ref’s book after Butler was cautioned earlier, but his clash Carter looked more as if he was the victim.
Trueman then came on for Beavon as Mickleover started to take control for a while, with Greaves on another charge in the 70th minute, crossing from the right and almost finding Marshall.
A few minutes later Marshall charged through the defence to send Dales clear, before Warren was fouled on the edge of the box.
There was no messing from the home defence, as they booted Wilson’s free kick out of the ground to earn a corner.
Wilson then sent a crossfield ball to Bennett and layed on a lovely ball for Marshall, but the striker lost his footing at the critical moment.
Mickleover were still on top but Alvechurch continued to look very dangerous on the break, and Waldron got on the end of one, before Watt and Bosworth combined to block the shot.
Bosworth was then added to the refs yellow card collection, before Greaves was on the end of another attack, with a shot just wide on 78 minutes.
Trueman then split the defence and was heading for goal two minutes later, before a critical tackle from Remi Walker cleared the danger.
Watt was next in the ref’s book, but time was running out, and despite a number of substitutions by the hosts, Mickleover were starting to look home and dry.
With one minute on the clock, there was a cross from the Alvechurch left into a crowded box, the defence was packed tight but no one connected to hoof it clear, and Skeen-Hamilton fired it home at close range, 1-1.
Greaves almost responded from the kick off, but Jezeph bravely dived at his feet to intercept.
Time was almost up when another mass attack from the hosts bore fruit, with sub Ben Cassidy beating the whole of the defence to the ball, to hit home a close range winner 1-2 in the fifth minute of injury time!
There was barely time to kick off before the final whistle, but in those final minutes a secure three points turned to unbelievable defeat.