BY CIARAN LAVENDER
Mickleover Sports scored a dramatic late winner to take a deserved three points against Stalybridge Celtics.
Evan Garnett converted from a rebound after Andy Dales missed his penalty to give Sports their second win in as many days.
Mickleover made a bright start and were pushing the away side back from the off and it was almost the perfect start when the ball fell to John McGrath, who volleyed the ball first time, forcing the Stalybridge goalkeeper to tip the ball just over.
Stalybridge managed to weather the early storm and started to threaten themselves, leaving themselves more vulnerable at the back. The red’s caught the visitors on a counter attack and had the ball in the back of the net but Garnett had run too early and saw his goal ruled out.
The home side’s confidence seemed to be on a high and they were starting to regularly threaten the opposition with Matthew Barnes-Homer being unlucky to see his clever flick from a cross just miss the target.
George Sykes-Kenworthy, the Stalybridge goalkeeper, was keeping his side level in the first half as the ever-dangerous Garnett found himself free in the penalty area but had his shot saved by the resilient ‘keeper.
Heading into the break the score remained 0-0 with Mickleover having the best of the play but the reds couldn’t break the deadlock and needed to improve their finishing going into the second half.
It was a tight opening to the second half with neither side creating many chances. Stalybridge almost fortuitously took the lead however after Lewis King misjudged a cross forcing Pablo Mills into a great goal line clearance.
Mickleover struggled to maintain the pressure from the first half as Stalybridge started to dominate play in the midfield. Chances were still at a premium with King successfully managing to handle the long balls the visitors were pumping into the box.
After a quiet 45 minutes there was drama right at the end as Garnett was pulled down in the box before he could poke the ball into the net, with the visitor’s centre back being sent off for the foul. Andy Dales stepped up to take the penalty and saw his effort saved but luckily for the reds, Garnett was first to the ball and smashed in the winner.
McGrath spoke after the match about the amount of games his side have had to play in recent weeks due to the season ending on Saturday. He said: “It was a typical end of the season game, you could definitely tell that we’re about 50 plus games into the season. Small squad, the lads are tired and it’s the same for Stalybridge, they’ve had to play the same as us. But I think we deserved the win, in the second half we huffed and puffed but I can’t remember them having too many chances.”