Our Junior Journo’s View: Witton Albion (H)

Super-sub Niven grabs late goal as Mickleover beat Witton 2-1

by Sports’ Junior Journos

An 88th minute winner from substitute Callum Niven earned Mickleover a late victory against Witton Albion in front of 312 fans at the Don Amott Arena.

Niven’s goal gave Mickleover their 7th win of the season to move them onto 27 points.

The home side started brightly with a couple of early efforts from long range. Witton goalkeeper Greg Hall saved Mason Warren’s long-range chip before getting fingertips on Stuart Beavon’s excellent curling effort from the edge of the box a few minutes later. 

In the 22nd minute, Mickleover made their early dominance count by breaking the deadlock. Rhys Dolan cut inside from left-back, before beating his man and arrowing a pinpoint pass to the feet of Beavon. The former Burton Albion forward set up debutant Shaquille McDonald who hit a fantastic half-volley that curled into the far top corner from 20 yards, before pulling out a spectacular backflip in celebration.

Just a minute later, Mickleover were on the attack again, with Beavon cutting in from the right and firing a low shot on goal that was well held by Hall in the Witton Albion goal.

Three minutes later, Beavon came close once more when he met Joe Bateman’s long, floated free kick, however the header sailed agonisingly wide of the far post.

Witton managed to withstand the Mickleover onslaught and settled down again in the last 20 minutes of the half, with neither side creating much as they headed into the break.

Witton began the second half strongly, with right-back Joe Ferguson driving from deep to the edge of the Mickleover box, before drilling a shot just wide of the far post.

Despite the away side’s strong start to the half, Mickleover looked dangerous on the counter-attack, as McDonald picked the ball up on the halfway line before beating his man and hitting a powerful strike against the crossbar. Beavon smashed home the rebound, but the linesman quickly raised his flag to disallow the goal for offside.

Mickleover were pushing hard for a second goal, as centre-back Phil Watt came close twice in three minutes. The captain met an Andy Dales cross with a looping header that hit the top of the crossbar, before having a shot blocked on the line following a corner just moments later.

Mickleover’s failure to double their lead inspired Witton to push forward and, in the 62rd minute, they came close as Rob Hopley rose highest to meet Isaac Baldwin’s long ball, but the effort sailed over the crossbar.

Just one minute later, Hopley had another chance, and this time he made the most of it. Callum Saunders flicked on a long ball to Hopley who poked the ball past Jonathan Hedges and into the back of the net to equalise for Witton.

Witton now had the momentum as they looked to make it a quickfire double. James Lawrie’s curling effort went just wide of the post before Saunders and Baldwin had close-range efforts blocked well by the Mickleover defence. 

The 73rd minute introduction of Andrew Wright almost paid off immediately for Mickleover as he met a fantastic long ball by Germaine Agustien and put the ball back across the face of goal. Unfortunately for the home side nobody was there to score an easy tap-in. 

Beavon should have put Mickleover back in front in 77th minute as he brought down a superb McDonald cross but fired the ball wide of the left-hand post from 12 yards out.

Just as it looked like it could be a frustrating day for the home side, substitute Callum Niven, who had only been on the pitch for four minutes, found a late winner in the 88th minute. The super-sub picked up the ball on the edge of the area, before cutting onto his left foot and drilling a low shot across the face of goal that Witton goalkeeper Hall couldn’t keep out. 

Despite two late penalty appeals from Witton that were ultimately waved away by the referee, Mickleover survived injury time to secure all three points. 

Starting Line-ups:

Mickleover: Hedges, Bateman, Watt ©, Mills, Dolan, Agustien, Radcliffe, Warren (Wright 74), McDonald (Niven 85), Beavon (90), Dales

Witton: Hall, Ferguson, Baldwin, Wardle ©, Hopley, Agboza, Owens, Lawrie, Jones (Jebrin 62), Saunders, Foley (McKenna 56)

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