by Peter Scherer
It was a second time lucky for the Derbyshire Senior Cup tie at Matlock Town, following the postponement at the first attempt.
It was virtually a full strength side from the Gladiators, whereas as Mickleover gave some of the youngsters a start.
Starting line-up: 1-Lewis Ridd 2-Mayy Bowman 3-Rhys Dolan 4-Dan Bradley 5-Blaine Rowe 6-Ethan Mann 7-Sam Tomlinson 8-Will Trueman 9-Fin Ryder 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Marcus Barnes. Subs: Toby Smith, Harry Atwal, Andy Dales, Oli Greaves.
From the kick off it was Matlock that began to dominate possession and after just four minutes they went close, with a Nathan Whitehead header just over the bar from a John Johnston cross, earning the first corner.
Two minutes later Barnes then tried a long shot, which failed to test keeper Saul Deeney as it rose over the bar.
But after eight minutes it was a lucky escape for Mickleover, when Joe West hit the far post with a shot from the right, after he was almost unchallenged as he collected an Alex Duhameau lay-off, after Sports defence lost possession in their own box.
For the first 15 minutes it was all Matlock and against the run of play Mickleover went ahead with a Beavon goal after 21 minutes, after Deeney had palmed away Ryder’s initial effort, 1-0.
It wasn’t long before it was 2-0, when Tomlinson led a break, outpaced the defence to find Beavon on the left. His cross found Bowman in acres of space on the right, running in to pick his spot in the far corner of the net.
Despite the lead it was still Matlock winning most of the possession, but Barnes had a header just wide 27 minutes in, after Beavon fired in a cross from the right after another break.
Ridd had to pull off a save from Harry Wood a couple of minutes later and although the hosts kept Mickleover pegged back in their own half, the defence of Bowman, Mann, Rowe and Dolan was holding out.
The defence was finally breached though after 34 minutes. There was a cross from the right and a scramble with both Ridd and Bowman appearing to have it covered. But West managed to make contact and Finley Almond pushed it past the keeper to make it 2-1.
Wood had a chance for the visitors to equalise four minutes later, when after a poor clearance from Rowe, he fired both wide and high of the target.
Some clumsy defending from Matlock continued to give Mickleover chances on the break and after 39 minutes Barnes, Ryder and Beavon combined, but the final cross was blocked again.
With two minutes left in the first half there was another chance, when Barnes charged down the field following an interception. His crossfield ball found Bradley on the right, but the cross just missed Ryder’s head and Barnes, who had followed up.
The action then moved to the other end when Bowman headed a Whitehead header off the line, before another Mickleover break saw Tomlinson take a knock and was replaced by Dales.
Mickleover made one more change at half time when Smith came on at right back for Bowman.
As the second half got underway Dolan was quick on the attack, and after a long run he was almost poised to shoot when he was fouled. But Dales’ following free kick sailed over the bar.
Mickleover had a corner on the left, but Dales’ ball into the box just missed Ryder.
It was another poor clearance that finally gave Matlock the equaliser, with quick retaliation from the hosts, West got a shot in, which again seemed to be covered initially by Ridd. But the ball bounced off him and just inside his right hand post 2-2.
There was a brief shout for a penalty when a lovely cross from Smith on the right was met by Ryder. There was contact and he did go down, but the referee waved play on.
Mickleover were trying hard to push for a third and began to have more possession, with by Smith and Dolan effective on the wings, but a barrage of shots were fired in and blocked, before the pressure on the home defence eased.
Deeney made another save, before Barnes fired the rebound over the bar, and then as the hour mark approached Ridd palmed away a low shot from Duhameau, with Mann then heading clear any chance of a rebound shot.
But 62 minutes gone and Wood fired in the winner from long range, leaving Ridd with little chance as it hit the top corner, 2-3.
Greaves came on for Barnes, but despite Mickleover trying to push forward, the following efforts were all blocked.
Ridd had to make another save with three minutes left, as Clark tried a header, but on the night it was better side that move into the semi finals.