Mann Power!!

by Peter Scherer

It was single goal from Ethan Mann in the 66th minute that secured another three points for Mickleover, their fourth successive victory.

Starting line-up: 1-Yusuf Mersin 2-Jake Bennett 3-Ryan Wilson 4-Will Atkinson 5-Kyle Rowley 6-Ethan Mann 7- Andy Dales 8-Will Trueman 9-Tyrell Waite 10-Ben Sault 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Ethan Fitzhugh, Stuart Beavon,Dan Bradley, Will Tamen, Will Bapaga.

It was all out attack from Mickleover from the first whistle, with a Dales cross from the left, beating everyone waiting in the middle.

Reece Michell and Ryan Wynter both had to make clearances from in the middle too, before Halesowen had their first strike on goal after eight minutes, when JakHickman crossed from the right before Kieren Donnelly headed wide.

The visitors were playing the ball well out of their own half, and proving a match for Mickleover. Mitchell managed another cross from the left, before Miracle Okafor headed just wide after 12 minutes.

Wilson then tried a distance shot which was just over the visitors bar, before a Dales run after 13 minutes, earned a corner, but sent him into the perimeter fence, damaging his right hand.

As the corner came in Rowley headed over, but three minutes later Okafor had a great chance, in the clear only to shoot into the side netting, with Mersin unchallenged.

It was proving to very tight in midfield, with little give or take from either side.

Dales earned another corner after 34 minutes, but that came to nought and then Halesowen earned a free kick for a foul on keeper Platt.

Despite his hand injury, Dales was still getting stuck in and outran Luke Redfern after 26 minutes, before his cross cleared everyone in the box.

Bennett headed away a dangerous cross from the left, before Donnelly picked up the ball from a Mitchell throw, shooting just wide of the left hand post as the half hour mark approached.

Greaves then forced Platt into a save 31 minutes in, creating his own space he cut in from the right and fired the shot in, saved by the keeper with Dales just inches away from connecting for a rebound effort.

Mersin had little to do but had to earn his keep, saving a shot from Caine Elliot, which had taken a slight deflection.

Trueman had been busy both attacking and defending and after 35 minutes, his long run, just failed to reach Waite.

With 20 minutes on the clock until half time, a cross from the right wing by Bennett fell nicely in the centre of the box. But Greaves was already on his knees and couldnt respond to the pass, as the ball rolled away.

For a while it looked as if Halesowen had broken the deadlock, when after 41 minutes a free kick was met by Okafor and had Mersin beaten on his left side. But the referee ruled it was offside and play continued.

The disallowed goal seemed to spur the visitors on and after 42 minutes Elliott shot wide again after Mitchell and Ryan Boothe had set him up.

But the pressure was building again on the Halesowen goaland with a minute left before half time, Wilson sprinted down the left and put in a cross for Greaves, meeting it first time to force Platt into another great save.

The half time whistle was primed, when Sault charged forward, was had his heel clipped by a defender, but thereferee failed to respond to penalty appeals.

With Sports kicking off the second half in attack mode again, Dales made space on the left, cutting inside to have a shot saved after 55 minutes.

Only a minute later Dales tried again, picking the ball up from a Waite lay off, only for his strike to rebound off a defenders leg.

Hickman then got a cross into the Mickleover box, which caused some unease, before a break by Sault almost broke the deadlock. As he charged down the field, he had outpaced the defence and managed to chip the advancing keeper, only to see his shot bounce off the bar on the hour.

It had built up to be Sports most intense spell of pressure, with the visiting defence pegged back in their own half.Dales and Wilson combined before Wilsons cross from the left just missed Greaves head. But Halesowen had packed their defence and were holding out.

Dales was clearly in discomfort and was replaced by Fitzhugh after 64 minutes, but shortly afterwards the deadlock was finally broken. Greaves floated a corner in from the left and Mann charged in to fire the ball homeinside the lefthand post, 1-0 after 66 minutes.

Only a couple of minutes later Greaves tested the keeper again, when his cross from the left had to be punched clear by Platt from just under his bar.

There was a series of corners for Mickleover too, with Mitchell heading the first one clear, before Rowley tried a toe poke just wide of the lefthand post.

But 78 minutes in and there was another scramble in the Mickleover box, but the combined forces of Rowley and Mann in the middle held firm and cleared the danger.

Beavon became the second sub when he came on for Waite with seven minutes to go, just before another corner earned by Wilson, saw Mann head just wide.

There were a couple of late breaks which could have given Mickleover a second, but some over zealous flagging by the assistant seemed to anticipate off side, before it actually happened.

Bradley replaced Sault for the final four minutes, after an excellent performance linking with Atkinson, Trueman and Greaves in the main.

Donnelly had a late shot just wide for Halesowen and they had a corner just wide.

Another dubious offside decision saw Beavon in the book, after the referee took offence to him shooting after thewhistle.

So three points and a fourth successive win consolidates second place and a play-off place. Job done, it was like eight cup finals in a row for us and after today now its seven, A great cross for the goal and a great strike from Manny, brilliant, said gaffer John McGrath.

Disappointed, but I think we were outstanding in the first half and had more chances. We knew we were up against the best footballing team in the league and respected that. Mickleover defended very well too, but I was disappointedto concede a goal from a corner, Halesowen manager Russ Penn replied.

Theres another break now, before facing Coalville away on the 26th before we face them again at home only six days later, with a visit to Alvechurch in between.


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