by Peter Scherer
It was another disappointing day for the Mickleover FC team, going down to fellow relegation threatened Ashton Utd by three second half goals.
Starting line-up: 1-Tom Smith 2-Ben Radcliffe 3-James Butler 4-Phil Watt 5-Pablo Mills 6-Kemy Agustien 7-George Milner 8-Rhys Dolan 9-Jahvan Davidson-Miller 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Dexter Walters. Subs: Ethan Mann, Bobby Battisson, Roger Lee, Dempsey Arlott-John, Josh Scott.
After a quiet opening 10 minutes, Sports had the first chance when Mills struck a long range free kick just wide of the target after 13 minutes.
But it was the hosts who upped the pace, with a number of first half opportunities, which were fortunately off target.
Ben Hardcastle tried a right foot shot from outside the box after 16 minutes, just over the bar as Mickleover’s debutant keeper Smith had it covered.
Four minutes later it was Hardcastle again cutting in from the right to fire a left foot shot over the bar again.
Osebi Abadaki was next to try and break through the Mickleover defence after collecting a loose ball, but Butler made sure his threat was blocked.
Agustien was booked after 37 minutes and the resulting Sam Sheridan free kick was punched clear by Smith.
Mickleover had posed little threat to the Ashton goal and their last chance of the first half came from a 39th minute Hardcastle corner, with Coates just failing to connect, so it remained 0-0.
Both sides were initially unchanged for the second half, with Abadaki causing more problems with a 48th minute cross into the box, but there was no one to collect.
Sheridan then hit a shot on the bouncing half volley four minutes later, whistling past Smith post.
As the hour mark approached Hardcastle was just wide with another left foot attempt, after he picked up the loose ball when Florian Yonsian was challenged.
Mickleover made their first change when Arlott-John replaced Walters after 62 minutes and shortly afterwards Ashton had a penalty shout rejected when Hardcastle went down.
Mickleover had their first best chance of the game when Davidson-Miller was one on one with keeper Greg Hartley. Unfortunately the keeper won the challenge and remained 0-0.
Hardcastle had probably been the biggest threat from Ashton and it was his cross from the right that was met by Liam Tomsett’s head making it was 0-1 to the hosts after 68 minutes.
Radcliffe was so close to securing the equaliser within three minutes, when his long distance strike bounced off the bar, but in the 73rd minute the penalty appeals for Ashton proved decisive, after Smith had brought down Yonsian. He took the kick himself and it was 0-2.
Battisson came on for Davidson-Miller, but with five minutes of normal time left Tomsett was down in the box and Yonsian made it 0-3 from the following penalty.
With only a few minutes to go Scott replaced Agustien, but it was another game with no points on the board, as the gap to safety in the NPL continues to widen.