by Peter Scherer
Something had to give with both Mickleover and Barwell Town on winning streaks, but unfortunately it was Sports who ended the game pointless.
Starting line-up: 1-Oliver Bosworth 2-Ethan Mann 3-Rhys Dolan 5 James Butler 6-Phil Watt 7-Andy Dales 8-Mason Warren 9-Elliott Reeves 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Oliver Greaves; 15- Ryan Wilson. Subs: Pablo Mills, Marcus Marshall Jonathan Hedge; Jake Bennett, George Atwal.
Right from the kick off Mickleover were on the attack, with a Wilson cross into the box almost connecting with Dales in the opening minute, before Sports earned their first corner two minutes later.
The visiting defence continued to face an early barrage and a crossfield ball from Mann on the right, split them, but although it connected with Reeves, he lost his footing.
It was all Mickleover until Barwell got a break in the seventh minute. Skipper Brad Hickey put the ball through into the box after outpacing Watt and Beck-Ray Enoru lashed it past Bosworth into the left hand corner of the net, 0-1.
Dales was almost through again but his path was blocked, as was Beavon’s rebound shot, before Greaves strike was straight at keeper Andy Wycherley.
Barwell had an attempt wide following a corner, but despite being a goal down, Mickleover continued to have more of the possession, albeit restricted to the left wing.
Much of the reliance in Sports attacks came from Dolan and Dales and after 15 minutes Dales earned another corner after cutting in from the left.
Two minutes later Wilson lined up to take a free kick just outside the box, following a handball. His curling shot struck the bar before going clear, just inches from an equaliser.
Barwell continued to rely on tight defence and looking for a break. Reeves was a couple of inches shy of connecting with a Warren cross after a long series of passes and possession 22 minutes in, but a lack of pace in the home defence once again brought success for Barwell.
Despite the run of play Enoru tore through on the Mickleover right, found Josh Flanagan in the clear by the far post and it was 0-2 after 26 minutes.
Watt was yellow carded on the half hour, but with the right wing almost redundant, Dolan again attacked down the left wing, but his cross missed both Beavon and Reeves after a deflection.
Flanagan had a header straight into Bosworth’s hands after 37 minutes and Hickey had a random shot for the visitors a few minutes later, but was well off target.
As half time approached, Dales and Beavon led a further bombardment of the Barwell defence, but each attempt was blocked.
Jahvan Davidson-Miller then picked up a loose ball and fed it straight through the middle, with Enoru on the end of it he outpaced the defence again for his second of the match and Barwell’s third, 0-3.
Davidson-Miller had another half chance but fired over, while on possession Mickleover had the advantage, but still went in 0-3 down.
With Bennett on for Watt as the teams re-appeared, Mann moved into the middle of the defence alongside Butler, and the balance across the back line brought almost immediate results.
48 minutes down and Dales got a cross in, Beavon’s shot was blocked , but ran loose to his right, where Reeves slid in to pull one goal back, 1-3.
Kyle Rowley headed over from corner, but there were Barwell appeals for a penalty when Enoru hit the deck, but they were waved away.
Mickleover began to look stronger on both wings and the whole team began to show more drive and confidence, pegging the visitors back in their own half.
Warren floated in a corner after 57 minutes which was headed away and on the hour Dolan was felled in the box, but neither the referee nor his assistant saw it and no penalty was awarded.
Marshall came on for Beavon after 63 minutes, but some telling crosses were starting to come in from Bennett on the right, as Reeves slid in again to see his deflected shot pushed inches the wrong side of the post for a corner.
Butler hit the bar with the following header, but Barwell still looked dangerous when they were able to make a break, though less often in the second half.
Dolan battled through to have a 73rd shot straight at the keeper and a minute later Reeves was through on goal before being a tripped in the box again, resulting in a second clear penalty appeal being ignored.
Dolan had another shot tipped away by the keeper, before Enoru broke clear. His pace put him clear but fortunately on this occasion his aim let him down.
Time was beginning to run out but hope of salvaging a point came closer when Dales cut in from the left again, sending a lovely curling shot out of Wycherley’s reach into the far corner 2-3 with 12 minutes left.
Mann had an attempt into the side netting and after some good work between Bennett and Dales on the right, Reeves was through but his final shot was just painfully inches wide of the left hand post.
Warren tried to chip the keeper after 87 minutes, but he was able to catch the effort at full stretch. A couple of late corners followed, but the elusive equaliser failed to materialise and Barwell went home with all three points.