by Peter Scherer (Images by Steve Ingers)
It was a cruel blow, when having led from the ninth minute, Mickleover succumbed to a late penalty and had to share the points with rivals Needham Market.
Starting line-up: 1-Oliver Bosworth 2-Jake Bennett 3-Ryan Wilson 4-Will Atkinson 5-Fin Delap 6-Ethan Mann 7-Andy Dales 8-Dan Bradley 9-Marcus Barnes 10-Ben Sault 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Kian Ryley, Stuart Beavon, Sam Tomlinson, Fin Ryder, Brandon Ferron.
With Delap back in defence after a one match suspension, Bradley moved into the defensive midfield position, as Mickleover faced Needham Market.
It was a positive start for both sides, as Needham’s Jacob Lay’s layed off a nice through ball, intercepted by the Mickleover defence, just before it reached Jamie McGrath.
Only nine minutes in and Bradley then managed to get a clear run and set up Dales for the opener as Sports began to take charge, 1-0.
Visiting striker Dylan Williams tried his luck after 16 minutes when he thought he had caught keeper Bosworth off his line, but his lob was still comfortably collected by the Mickleover man.
The possession was going in Sports favour, but before the half hour mark there had been numerous chances. They hit the post after 23 minutes, had another shot blocked and then Barnes was just inches from planting the ball in the top corner.
Sault was brought down just outside the box, which earned the Needham defender a yellow card, but Greaves free kick then curled just wide.
Despite Mickleover’s dominance, they had been unable to add to the goal tally and it was Needham’s McGrath that had the final shot of the first half, again just wide.
It was the visitors that started the stronger in the second half, but after 51 minutes Greaves tried a long range effort, heading for the top left hand corner until Garnham saved at full stretch.
Only four minutes later a defensive error handed Mickleover another chance, forcing Garnham to tip the final shot over. The pressure was on again and when Barnes broke through the defence on the hour, Garnham raced off his line to narrow the angle sufficiently for the shot to go wide of his near post.
But the visitors were looking for the break and the equaliser, but Kieran Morphew’s shot was just wide of Bosworth’s left corner after 62 minutes, before McGrath put a ball inside with no one following.
Greaves then tried a long range shot after 70 minutes, but was just wide before Lay went close for the visitors, with a shot just wide of the right hand corner.
Mickleover had just bought on Ryley for his league debut in place of Sault, when Needham were awarded a penalty after McGrath was brought down. Luke Ingram stepped up and scored, but Bosworth was unlucky having got a hand to the shot, 1-1.
Ingram went close again two minutes later firing over the bar, but now it was Needham Market looking for a winner.
Beavon was a late sub for Barnes and in time added on Garnham still managed to beat out a Sports effort heading for his bottom left corner, before Morphew went close to for the visitors almost on time.
So it remained 1-1, the chances were there to take all three points, but we are still top of the league table by five points and have a game in hand over most other teams.
Next week it’s FA Trophy action again at Spennymoor, before we return to league action at Kettering on Tuesday 21st.