by D.Mac, Reserves Manager, Mickleover F.C.
Having come through the group stages, a quarter-final against Dinnington and a tough semi-final against Rowsley, the reserves should have seen us in good shape to face the challenge of Retford Utd in the final of the Chairman’s Cup.
Unfortunately, the cumulative fixtures of the Academy, Reserves and First team took its toll and we went to Sheffield with several players carrying injuries or knocks and also Jacob Ferdinand had a previously booked engagement.
The team that started the final was Tom Smith, Larrel King, Matt Fuertado, Tom Eccleshall, Ash Elliot, Jacob Lucas, Lopes Massampo, Surafel Tefera with Will Monteiro and Jude Ayetine up top. On the bench were Fin Barker, Devon Smith, Josh Satchwell, Bobby Battisson and George Williamson.
The team started off strongly and only brilliant agility and fortuity from the Retford goalkeeper maintained the stalemate. Good chances were being created almost every time Mickleover went into the Retford half. Will, Jude and Surf all thought they had scored but for the aforementioned quality of the goalkeeper. Tom Eccleshall then put in a great cross met by the head of Jude Ayetine, only for the ball to connect with the underside of the bar and clear.
It seemed that a goal would come soon and it did, sadly at the wrong end for us. It was a similar goal to the one we lost at Rowsley, with a player dribbling across our box and striking a shot low into the corner at the left-hand post. A good goal to score but defensively one that could have been prevented.
Worse followed! You ask for consistency from referees and we certainly got it on Saturday. Retford took advantage of leniency on the referee’s part by stealing several yards at throw-ins. The ball went out of play right beside the right-hand side corner flag but the throw-in was actually taken almost in line with the 18 yard line. From that point Retford worked the ball well up the park and an excellent cross was put in from the right-wing. The cross was met with a great header back across the goal high into the side of the net. A goal of great quality.
Into the second half and Mickleover continued to press without creating the same level of chances. Then Ash Elliot drove into the box beating a couple of players and was brought down by a desperate challenge – penalty awarded. Surf unceremoniously struck the ball low to the keepers right 2-1 game on.
Five minutes later Ash again was in the box and in the action of shooting was caught from behind – a stonewall penalty in the eyes of everyone bar two- the ones that mattered. Ash said afterwards that the second challenge was worse than the first.
Mickleover made another couple of chances which we snatched at which was understandable given the pressure.
Missing fouls was to prove the final nail when Tom Eccleshall was fouled some 30 yards out. The game carried on and what followed was a goal good enough to win any cup. The Retford sub found himself to the right side of our penalty box and hit a sweet ferocious drive into the roof of the net.
The game finished with a well struck shot that missed the target – the story of our match.
If football mirrored life there would have only been one winner but it’s a cruel game and whilst Retford scored three excellent goals and in the main defended well Mickleover should have won the game in the first 20/25 minutes. Congratulations to Retford Utd and also thanks to Sheffield FC for their organisation and hospitality.