by Peter Scherer
Mickleover went into their home game against Grantham Town in a must win situation, but after dominating the play, it was only two late goals that salvaged a draw after Grantham led 0-2.
Starting line-up: 1-Arlo Doherty 2-Ben Radcliffe 3-Jordie Gough 4-James Butler 5-Phil Watt 6-Kemy Agustien 7-Andy Dales 8-George Milner 9-Josh Scott 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Dempsey Arlott-John. Subs: Jahvan Davidson-Miller, Roger Lee, Pablo Mills, Dexter Walters, Rhys Dolan.
Mickleover started with strength and commitment, with Arlott-John firing the first shot of the game just wide after two minutes.
Grantham managed a retaliatory attack but failed to get a shot in, before Butler had another shot just wide of the left hand post after good work from Arlott-John.
But another run from the Sports striker was thwarted on the halfway line, giving Grantham a chance, before Smith missed the ball and it rolled out of play.
Both Radcliffe and Gough were pushing forward on the wings, with Milner’s runs as Mickleover sought the opening goal.
After 14 minutes Dales twisted and turned on the right to fire in a cross, with Scott connecting but shooting just wide again after a deflection.
Arlott-John and Beavon battled hard in the box but couldn’t get a clear shot in, before Dales was taken down on the edge of the box after 16 minutes.
Dales recovered to take the free kick, bringing out a spectacular diving save from Grantham keeper James Pollard, earning another corner.
Grantham had a slight foray at the Mickleover end, but Butler headed clear and the Sports attack was on again.
The chances continued to flow for Mickleover, as Radcliffe dropped a teasing cross into the box after 21 minutes, with Gough’s header just wide, but the wing back had taken a knock to his head.
Only a minute later Dales had a long run intercepted, before Beavon’s shot hit the post.
Beavon tried a chip from outside the box, saved by Pollard, before Grantham managed to take the lead against the run of play.
It started with a cross, which Doherty came out for but failed to collect. Miller put in a header just over, before sustained Grantham pressure saw Doherty make a partial save, before the ball was cleared off the line, only to fall at Smith’s feet who hit a powerful shot for 0-1 after 31 minutes.
Mickleover continued to try and push forward, but the midfield suddenly seem to collapse and left the defence looking very vulnerable.
Only three minutes after the opening goal, Gough was beaten on the left but the shot went high and wide.
The frustration was showing in attack as despite the dominance of play, Mickleover couldn’t find the net.
Arlott-John tried his luck again from outside the box, firing just wide to the right, but there was much worse to come.
Gough was beaten again and this time the low cross into the box, found Clark, who comfortably made it 0-2 as the first half came to a massively disappointing end.
Only minutes into the second half Milner had a shot just wide again, before Radcliffe’s cross found Dales unmarked, but his free header went over the bar.
The possession was still in Mickleover’s favour, with no real impact, but the capitulation of the midfield from the first half, had fortunately not re-occurred.
Dolan had come for his first team debut to replace Gough and Dales managed to put in a nice cross, but no one was in the box to receive it.
Two more substitutions followed just after the hour with Walters and Mills on for Arlott-John and Scott.
Dales then tried a long range shot which was over the bar and after 71 minutes he was on another run when he was hacked down on the left.
Walters free kick was well saved by Pollard, as the constant rain and wind intensified too.
Milner received a yellow car after pulling back a Grantham attack and despite the increasing push forward, there was still no sign of a goal for Mickleover.
Pollard’s confidence in the Grantham goal even saw him run well out of his area like an extra defender to thwart an attack. But with 10 minutes left on the clock his confidence was soon to be tested.
Walters fed in a tight corner after 81 minutes which the keeper managed to punch away, only for the visitors to make a break, before it was cleared following a scramble in the box.
Having impressed on his debut, Radcliffe was placed just right to volley between Pollard’s legs to make it 1-2 after 87 minutes, but there was more to come.
Straight from the kick off the next attack was on. It was headed away as the Grantham defence floundered and Milner found the ball at his feet and made no mistake in making it 2-2.
Grantham still scented a win, but the final attack of the game was comfortably cleared by Mickleover skipper Watt and it remained 2-2.