By Phil Mathews
HEDNESFORD TOWN 1 SPORTS 0
Hednesdford: – Crane, Williams, Bramall, Thorley, Mutton, Flanagan (Geddes 81), Logan, Maye, Glover (Dunkley 68), Carline, Singh.
Subs: – Ransome, Wright, Sammons.
Sports: – Eastwood, Bennett (Burgin 45), Turner, McGrath, Mills, Broadhead, Dales (Belgrave 75), Grocott, Morrison, Baskerville (Litchfield 61), Schofield.
Subs: – Lansdowne, Tolley.
Referee S Postin
48 hours after the exertions of Saturday afternoon when Sports battled well and hard to pick up three well deserved points against local rivals Matlock Mickleover were back in action, but with a different challenge ahead of them.
Hednesford may have suffered relegation at the end of the previous season but whatever hangover they had experienced had long been blown away, and on this night showed themselves the best side that John McGrath’s men had come up against this term.
The hosts played a slick, pacey attacking brand of football that you felt few sides would be able to cope with.
That Sports came out of this game with only a one goal defeat was much to their credit.
The visitors could have been washed away by their opponents in the first half, and although they had to clear the ball from off the line after a quarter of an hour made it to half time with their defences unbreached.
There was even the possibility of a penalty after an Andy Dales goal bound shot was cleared as far as Ben Turner whose effort on goal bounced away off a home defender. The shout was for a penalty as the ball appeared to strike his hand but the referee was unmoved.
Hednesford’s attacking became more insistent as the second half, though how much of that was down to the withdrawal of Jake Bennett at the break. Bennett had suffered a nasty kick to his ankle in the first half, and replacing him meant three positional changes, with Tom Burgin coming in at centre half, Pablo Mills moving into midfield and Kevin Grocott moving to right back.
George Carline was proving a major threat and must have thought that he had broken the deadlock as he burst into the box, picked his spot; beat Jake Eastwood in the visitors goal only to see the ball cannon away off the foot of the post.
The goal, when it came was unlucky. A cross from the right into the box went past everybody only to hit the leg of centre forward Danny Glover who rightly took the plaudits for being in the right place at the right time, but had little deliberate involvement in the strike.
Mickleover refused to cave in, and saw quite a lot of the ball without carving out any real chances.
They were saved by the woodwork again before the game ended,
For some of the players this is their first experience of playing at this level, and they can only come out of a game like this with the benefit of knowing that they are learning all the time, and it will benefit them further down the line.