by Archie Brown
Coming off the back of a sweltering couple of days in England, Mickleover hoped their football would match the fabulous weather conditions at the Don Amott Arena in their Pre-Season encounter with Derby County U21s in front of 407 fans.
Before the 90 minutes of footballing action went ahead ,a minutes applause was spared for former Derby County Player Jack Parry who’d sadly passed away recently.It was Derby who kicked off the game but Sports who presented the first real opportunity when a cross by Stuart Beavon was cleared away for a throw-in. The opening five minutes showcased a great display of pressure from the home side, forcing mistakes from the youthful Rams.
Possession then became equal for a good 10 minutes with neither side able to create any solid chances. Sports then saw their moment to attack but a good cross by Mason Warren ended up being caught by the Rams keeper. The opening third of the first half was more memorable for its scrappy football with both sides frustrating each other and their fans with poor displays of passing and lack of attacking movement.
It was in the 20th minute where Sports opened the scoring. After a beautiful long ball over the top and a header back across goal, Elliott Reeves slotted the ball home for 1-0! Mickleover were then awarded a free kick on the right side of the 18-yard box two minutes later and after a low driven cross, what looked to be a simple catch for the Derby keeper was subsequently spilt into the path of Reeves to grab his second goal in as many minutes!
Other than the two moments of magic from youthful Sports striker Reeves , it was a pretty flat 10 or so minutes following the goals ,with Mickleover dominating possession but failing to do anything with it. Soon after this poor spell from both ,a much needed drinks break for the players was signalled by the referee.
Two separate incidents a minute apart and five before Half Time had car owners around the Don Amott Arena nervously sweating as two of the match balls were recklessly hoofed over the main stand roof and towards the direction of the car park ,let’s hope none of the cars surrounding the stadium suffered any dents on them!
A third for Mickleover just before Half Time! A hat-trick that is now for Reeves, he’s made a stellar impact on the first team. In the aftermath of the goal, tempers flared between Sports Captain Phil Watt and The Rams Number 9 who both received yellow cards after an altercation. In the dying minutes of the first half,Sports nearly produced another moment of brilliance with a great run and pass by Mickleover midfielder Ryan Wilson finding Hat-Trick hero Reeves however, despite a promising run to the by-line, the strikers’ cross couldn’t find a team mate in the middle.
HT: Sports 3-0 Derby U21s
The second half pretty much started with an instant free kick for the home side as Wilson’s cross was comfortably caught by the Rams goalkeeper. Reeves was then put through on goal with time very much on his side but his dink was poorly executed and rolled behind for a goal kick.
Soon after, an impressive shot by Beavon was parried by the goalkeeper but the follow-up was cleared.You may be wandering why their isn’t much coverage on the Rams in this game but quite honestly, they struggled to get into the game with Mickleover controlling possession for most of it.
The visitors finally attempted to recover their composure as the opening third to the second half displayed equal amounts of possession from both.Mickleover then attempted to make it four as a great ball freed sports Full-Back Rhys Dolan but once again the final product wasn’t there and the cross was poor.
Mickleover were able to sustain their lead for a good period of 15 or so minutes with neither side able to control the game or create any goalscoring chances. In fact the second half was quite a scrappy affair as Derby began to get frustrated with themselves for not creating chances and Sports getting frustrated for not putting their chances away.
Although Mickleover didn’t have the attacking spark in the second half, James Butler was particularly impressive in defence with good blocks, tackles, clearances and forward runs. Sports midfielder Wilson also deserves a mention for creating multiple attacking chances and displaying great work-rate in the centre of the park.
Then in the 90th minute a great run from Jahvan Davidson-Miller found fellow substitute Marcus Marshall at the back post who tapped the ball into an empty net for 4-0!
FT: Sports 4-0 Derby U21s
A great win for sports then in their third win in their last four pre-season games as preparation for the start of the season in the Southern League Premier Central continues and nobody can argue that the confidence of Mickleover is sky high going into it!