by Peter Scherer
Following their 1-1 at Hanley last Saturday, Mickleover FC made their annual pre-season trip to United Counties League Division One side Clipstone.
It proved to be a dominant performance for the Sports squad, with four goals in each half to return home as 8-0 victors.
Starting line-up: 1-Jonathan Hedge 2-Ethan Mann 3-Rhys Dolan 4-Joe Bateman 5-James Butler 6-Phil Watt 7-Andy Dales 8-Callum Chettle 9-Elliott Reeves 10-Stuart Beavon 11-Mason Warren, Subs: George Milner, Jahvan Davidson-Miller, Louis Pennington, Fin Bowen, Ben Horleston.
Mickleover earned their first corner in the second minute and four minutes later Dolan charged through on the overlap, found Beavon whose shot was blocked, before firing his own shot over the bar from the rebound.
With both Mann and Dolan attacking on the wings, and the push from midfield by Warren, Chettle and Bateman, it was only a matter of time before the first goal arrived.
11 minutes in and following a sustained attack, Reeves had reeked havoc in the box and Dolan followed up 1-0.
But Clipstone had a rare chance three minutes later after possession was lost on Mickleover’s right, Hedge had to make a diving save at full stretch to his left.
Beavon and Chettle fought hard to combine on the edge of the box after 18 minutes, with Reeves on the receiving end to make it 2-0.
There was no respite for the Clipstone defence with Dales and Beavon roaming the pitch at will. 23 minutes and a Mann cross found Beavon’s head, with Warren following through to make in 3-0.
There could easily have been a fourth only two minutes later when another cross from Mann found Reeves again, but his shot was blocked.
Dales fired another shot over after 30 minutes, before Beavon found Reeves again, who then created the space for Beavon to shoot against the post.
The fourth goal arrived only a minute later with Chettle hitting a debut goal, 4-0.
Clipstone managed to make a rare break but found the side netting, before Butler came charging through from defence to earn another corner.
With half time approaching Mann was almost through on goal too after a long run, and Bateman found Beavon again with the half time whistle poised, his final shot was just wide.
Gaffer John McGrath made one change for the second half with Pennington on for Butler, which meant Mann moved to the centre of defence to join skipper Watt.
The opening minutes of the second half didn’t quite flow although Reeves did fire another attempt over the bar after 47 minutes.
Clipstone had a shot only just wide two minutes later, as the hosts began into break in the Mickleover half more often.
Davidson-Miller came on for Beavon after 53 minutes, but Dales finally got his reward for an outstanding performance, with goal number five after the hosts keeper almost saved with his legs, 5-0.
More subsitutions followed with Horleston on for Chettle, Milner for Warren and Bowen for Hedge.
Reeves’ aerial supremacy saw another attempt off the post, before Davidson-Miller’s 74th minute header made it 6-0.
Having been subbed earlier, Warren came back on for Dales and was instrumental in goal number seven. Warren combined with Bateman on the left and found Horleston in acres of space on the right. The youngster made no mistake and smashed it into the roof of the net 7-0.
Dolan had opened the scoring back in the 11th minute and capped an excellent performance with goal number eighth a minute from time, 8-0.
A good all-round performance from the Mickleover squad which bodes well for the season, showing the determination, drive and eagerness that no ball was ever truly lost.