by Peter Scherer
Following last weekends home win over Nuneaton, Mickleover were looking to make it two in a row as they visited Halesowen Town. But with a goal in each half from the hosts, it proved to be a second successive away defeat.
Starting line-up: 1-Oliver Bosworth 2-Jake Bennett 3-Matty Bowman 4-Will Atkinson 5-Fin Delap 6-Ethan Mann 7-Andy Dales 8-Ben Sault 9-Leon Clarke 10-Marcus Barnes 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Stuart Beavon, Kian Riley, Dan Bradley, Fin Ryder, Will Trueman.
Despite the sub-zero temperatures, the Halesowen ground staff had done a remarkable job to get the game on.
It was the hosts who were first on the attack, with a first minute effort just past the right-hand post. Six minutes later there was another break with Miracle Okafor chasing, but Bosworth was quick off his line to intercept.
Barnes had a slight chance 11 minutes in, but managed to earn a corner, but possession was fairly even, with both sides seeking to push forward.
Mickleover’s first real chance came after 17 minutes, when keeper Dan Platt was still out of his goal following an earlier save, when Dales tried to lob the ball over the keeper. Unfortunately it was over the bar too.
For a moment it looked like Mickleover had the lead, when after 20 minutes Greaves dispossessed a defender on the right, crossed to find Clarke who tucked it cleanly away, only to be flagged offside.
Sault then burst through from midfield and almost found Barnes in space on the right, before Barnes was in the thick of it again, shooting well off target after a nice turn.
Both Bennett and Bowman were finding their overlaps well marked, but both Greaves and Sault were trying to progress, but lack of success provided little contact with the twin strikers.
There had been some sustained pressure on the Mickleover goal and after 33 mins Bosworth had saved a free kick but in the scramble to clear, Todd Parker scored from close range, with Bosworth already committed. 0-1.
Our hosts had another header over the bar four minutes later and they went close again just before half time, when Okafor beat Delap, but was closed down by Mann and shot well wide.
With the whistle poised Clarke made a nice flick left, and although Greaves and Barnes were in the box, it came to nought.
It was Halesowen on the attack again as the second half got underway, earning a corner one minute into the restart. But it was the 48th minute that caught out the Sports defence. A cross from the right was headed back and Caine Elliott smashed the ball beyond Bosworth’s outstretched left hand into the top corner, 0-2.
The hosts went close again with a 50th minute free kick, earning another corner from Bosworth’s save.
Trueman then came on for Sault, but Bosworth was forced to palm away another powerful shot from Donnelly, which was followed by a succession of corners.
Bennett managed to break free and pulled a telling cross into the box from the right, Greaves was almost on it but it was cleared for a corner. But as the hour mark was reached, Bosworth was again in action, with two excellent saves from distance shots.
It was another Bennett led attack that came close to pulling one back after 65 minutes, but the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the right-hand post.
Trueman almost found Clarke’s head from a 67th minute corner and then Delap pushed forward, connected with Barnes, but the shot was wide.
Apart from a couple of first half errors the home defence were coping with anything Mickleover could throw at them, but they were still looking dangerous on the break. Donnelly went on a charge after 71 minutes, but fired wide of the right-hand post, and went close again from a corner two minutes later.
Bradley came on for Delap, before Dales managed to pull one back, with a nice tap in by the left-hand post after some dogged work down the right by Greaves. 1-2.
Halesowen continued to attack and despite hopes of an equaliser, Mickleover continued to lose out. Okafor had an easy chance in front of goal and missed completely, while Sports last chance came from a low driving cross from the left by Clarke, which missed Barnes and went straight to the keeper.
Unlike the defeats at Stratford and Kettering, Sports never really got going in this encounter and we now go back into Cup action, with Belper Town at home on Tuesday and our FA Trophy visit to Oldham Athletic next Saturday.