Nine Men Sports Take Heroic Victory

by Peter Scherer

Losing two players to red cars before half time would usually mean defeat in anyone’s eyes. But a tremendous effort from the Mickleover nine brought the most remarkable fight back, culminating in Rhys Dolan’s injury time winning strike.

Starting line-up: 1-Jonathan Hedge 2-Ethan Mann 3-Rhys Dolan 4-Joe Bateman 5-James Butler 6=Phil Watt 7-Jordan Fankwe 8-Mason Warren 9-Elliott Reeves 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Andy Dales. Subs: Elliott Walker, Jahvan Davidson-Miller, Marcus Marshall, Ryan Wilson, Ben Horleston.

The game didn’t start well as third in the table St Ives Town went ahead after three minutes. Jonny Edwards got the better of a tussle with Butler, and when the ball broke lose, Edwards got to the ball before the advancing Hedge and made it 0-1.

Four minutes later Hedge pulled off a great save to his left from another Edwards effort, with Butler clearing the danger before the striker followed up once more.

Fankwe was in the ref’s book after only nine minutes after a wild tackle on Cowling, as Mickleover were taking time to get into the game.

Warren sent the visitors keeper scurrying back to his line with a speculative long-range lob over the bar after 19 minutes, before Dolan joined Fankwe in the book three minutes later for taking down Saka.

There was worse to come when only 25 minutes into the game Reeves was given a straight red card after another wild tackle on Cowling.

The fact that they were down to 10 men seemed to galvanise Mickleover’s spirit and on the half hour Dales went close after a Beavon flick sent him on his trademark run.

It was another Dales and Beavon combination that brought a 36th minute equaliser. Dales had managed to dispossess Cowling, found Beavon, whose left foot drive had Goff in the visitor’s goal beaten, 1-1.

Mickleover continued to push forward and as half time approached Mann’s telling cross almost found Dales, but St Ives skipper Richens came to their rescue just in time.

With two minutes left on the clock Fankwe made another wild challenge on Cowling. A second yellow card brought out the red, and Sports were down to nine men.

A drastic reform was called up for the second half and Sports opted to pack the defence, with Beavon the sole striker.

Beavon was playing a brilliant holding role and set up Dales in the 63rd minute, but his shot was fired over from just inside the box. 

Not surprisingly St Ives had the majority of the possession, but their efforts were either blocked or off target from long range.

Edwards was close to his second after 72 minutes, when he just missed connecting with a Kaziboni cross to the far post.

But only six minutes later and the striker did make it 1-2 after a turn and shot from the edge of the box was just beyond Hedge’s reach and into the top corner.

Just before the goal Wilson had come on for Dales and with Warren having gone in the book too, he was replaced by Marshall after 82 minutes.

It was a defensive mix up from the visitors that kept Mickleover’s hopes alive, losing possessions down the right. Marshall quickly picked up the loose ball, cut inside and hammered it past Goff to make it 2-2.

Goff then had to make another save from Marshall to deny Mickleover a winner, but St Ives had a 90th minute chance too, but Nabil Shariff managed to put it over Hedge, but over the bar too.

The tide turned again when the visitors gave away a needless free kick in injury time, when Callum Milne fouled Beavon.

Milne had then attempted to clear the following free kick, which dropped at Dolan’s feet and allowed him to smash the ball home from 10 yards out. 3-2, a first league win of the season and an unbelievable comeback.

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