by Peter Scherer
Although it was a home defeat for Mickleover FC in their first home Northern Premier League game of the season, Callum Hawkins heroic double penalty saves, kept the score to respectable 1-2.
There were two changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday’s FA Cup win at Leek Town, with Callum Hawkins in goal and Pablo Mills in for Phil Watt in the centre of the defence.
1-Callum Hawkins 2-Jake Bennett 3-Alex Morris 4-Mason Warren 5-Pablo Mills 6- James Butler 7-Aman Verma 8-Andrew Wright 9-Paddy Webb 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Declan Bacon Subs: George Milner, Josh Satchwell, Ben Gowing, Jordan Walshaw, Joe Slinn.
Mickleover had an early chance to gain the advantage over the visitors, when Beavon almost connected with a Butler header just inside the box.
But the attacks soon seemed to turn in Morpeth’s favour, with Hawkins forced into a spectacular save from Liam Noble’s close range effort after six minutes.
It was only four minutes later that Morpeth had a penalty appeal turned down, after Hawkins clashed with Morpeth striker Jack Foalle.
The attacks from the visitors continued to threaten the Mickleover defence and they went close again after Liam Henderson volleyed a 13th minute free-kick just inches over the bar.
Although the defence held out, it finally succumbed in the 17th minute when Noble’s shot was deflected, sending Hawkins the wrong way 0-1.
Callum Williams had another long range shot just over the bar for the visitors, as Mickleover were struggling to retain possession to move forward.
Wright had a blast from outside the box after 33 minutes, before Hawkins had to make a double save as Andrew Jonson and Henderson tried their luck.
Just before half time the defence was split again, but Morris was on the line to clear the danger.
There were two changes for the second half with Milner and Gowing on for Webb and Bacon.
The game had only be back under way two minutes when Sports were able to strike back. Beavon’s first attempt was saved, but he buried the rebound in the roof of the Morpeth net, 1-1.
The momentum quickly went back in the visitors favour, with Hawkins having to save again from a quickly taken 51st minute free-kick.
Two minutes later Foalle was brought down in the area and this time a penalty was awarded, only for Hawkins to magnificently save Henderson’s effort.
The save seemed to spur on some positive attacks from the Sports players, but after 58 minutes another penalty was awarded, with a handball in the area.
Noble took the kick and unbelievably Hawkins saved it again to keep the scores level.
With Walshaw on for Verma there was another spell of positive Sports attacks, with Gowing heading just over from inside the box and Milner making Morpeth keeper Dan Lowson earn his keep with two saves in close succession.
But after 68 minutes Morpeth grabbed the winner when Johnson connected with a header from Noble’s corner.
Warren had a free kick tipped over for Sports and Gowing had another good effort from outside the box saved, while Joe Walton went close again for Morpeth in the last few minutes, before the whistle went to secure all three points for the visitors.