Sports Dominate… But It’s Goaless!

by Peter Scherer (Image: Steve Ingers)

Following last weeks Cup Tie thriller at Oldham it was back to the league campaign for Mickleover, as they took on third placed Leamington at the Don Amott Arena.

Starting line-up: 1-Oliver Bosworth 2-Jake Bennett 3-Rhys Dolan 4-Will Atkinson 5-Finn Delap 6-Ethan Mann 8-Dan Bradley 9-Stuart Beavon 10-Will Trueman 11-Oli Greaves 14-Andy Dales. Subs: Ben Sault, Leon Clarke, Fin Ryder, Brandon Ferron, Sam Tomlinson.

As early as the second minute Dales tested keeper Callum Hawkins with a powerful shot, that had to be tipped over the bar.

Dolan then had the first of his long runs down the left, cutting inside to try his luck, which was blocked by the defence, with the rebound similarly.

Leamington had their first attempt on goal when right back Dan Meredith shot from outside the box. His shot was blocked, but it earned the visitors their first corner, eight minutes in.

After a brief rally from the Leamington strike force, Hawkins again denied Dales the opening goal after 12 minutes. Bennett and Greaves had worked together on the right and as the ball came over the ex Mickleover keeper made a diving save at point blank range.

Sports were dominating the possession, but had to face a packed defence, with Leamington looking somewhat reluctant to break from their own half at times.

A long ball out defence almost saw Beavon clear, but the pace of the ball proved just too much for last weeks double goal scorer.

Bosworth had barely had a touch in the home goal, but after 14 minutes a Henry Landers cross found Meredith again, but his shot was blocked again, before Mann cleared any danger.

10 minutes later Dales’ shot was blocked again, after Bradley and Dolan had combined to set him up, but Bradley then had a crack himself, just wide of the left-hand post.

Bennett had a dangerous cross headed away then the  combined pace of Dales, Greaves and Trueman continued to trouble the visitors.

Just after the half hour Leamington had a free kick just wide, before Beavon sent Dales on a run, but the advancing Hawkins just managed to beat him to the ball.

Trueman showed his pace again with a 36th minute charge, but Dales pursuit just ran out on him, as Mickleover did everything but score.

But Hawkins came to Leamington’s rescue yet again, when Dales got hold of a Greaves cross from the right, once again saving at point blank range.

Greaves then put a free kick well off target, before another Dolan run from the left, earned a corner as the cross was headed away with half time approaching. Leamington had another corner too just before the whistle blew, but it remained a frustrating 0-0.

Into the second half and Dales combined with Greaves again, before Hawkins narrowed the angle to force the effort just wide.

The possession was still in Mickleover’s favour, but Jack Edwards and Theo Streete began to look more controlling in the middle of the visitors defence, while at the other end Delap and Mann had been virtually untroubled in the entire match.

Greaves was close to setting up Beavon as the hour mark approached, but then Beavon was fouled and Hawkins punched away Greaves’ free kick.

Bennett went down in the box after chasing a Greaves pass, but penalty shouts were waved away and after 68 minutes. Hawkins then made another save, as Beavon managed to get a shot through a crowded box.

Mickleover made their first change when Clarke came on for Beavon after 72 minutes. Shortly afterwards Ewan Williams had a golden chance for the visitors, almost unmarked facing goal, but his tame effort failed to trouble Bosworth.

Bradley and Atkinson had been playing similar roles, as defensive midfielders, but having already been yellow carded, Bradley received a red, leaving Mickleover with 10 men for the final 17 minutes.

Sault then came on for Trueman, but Sports continued to dominate, despite being a man down. A long ball from Bennett on the right in the 75th minute, left Sault chasing, but Hawkins just beat him to the ball.

Bennett followed up again a minute later, with his cross just inches from finding Clarke on the left of the box. Clarke then went close again following a Greaves free kick.

78 minutes down and a nice lay off to Clarke again, but the shot was saved by Hawkins, before Dales made a run, but Clarke’s final flick was just behind him.

There were shouts for another penalty after 87 minutes, when Dales was tripped in the box. He stumbled but stayed on his feet and the referee again waved the appeals away.

Leamington had one more chance before the final whistle when sub Jiah Medrano intercepted a cross field ball and was clear, but failed to maximise the opportunity.

There was one final twist in time added on, when Dales was taken out by Edwards. It was a third penalty appeal, and a third to be ignored, with two out of the three looking a clear cut in Sports favour.

So 0-0 it remained, but with top of the table Needham Market drawing 0-0 too, the one point gap at the top remains, as we visit Stamford on Tuesday night.

“It was two points lost, but 100% a penalty when Dalesy was fouled,” said Sports boss John McGrath.

“We knew they would beat us on possession, but the defence did well and it’s not many teams that come to Mickleover and keep a clean sheet. I was surprised they still dominated so much after the red card though,” added Leamington managed Paul Holleran.

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