Super Sub Barnes Double Strike

by Peter Scherer

It was a typical top of the table duel, as second placed Mickleover faced third placed Redditch at the Valley Stadium. But after a superb all round team performance, it was super sub Marcus Barnes with two late goals that cliched al three points for Mickleover.

Starting line-up: 1-Lewis Ridd 2-Jake Bennett 3-Ryan Wilson 4-Will Atkinson 5-Kyle Rowley 6-Ethan Mann 7-Andy Dales 8-Will Trueman 9-Tyrell Waite 10-Ben Sault 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Stuart Beavon, Dan Bradley, Marcus Barnes, Ethan Fitzhugh, Rhys Dolan.

The opening 10 minutes were fairly even in bitterly cold conditions, but it was Mickleover that had the first real shot. Wilson picked up the ball after Bennett and Trueman had exchanged on the right, following his own free kick after 12 minutes when Waite had been fouled.

Redditch then shouted for a penalty when Johnston went down, but the pleas were rightly ignored.

But it was Mickleover continuing to apply most of the pressure, with Rowley and Mann looking supreme in the centre of defence.

Mickleover earned a 17th minute free kick when Dales was tripped, Flanagan was booked for the offence and as Bennett prepared to take the kick, he was barged by Cameron who also went into the referee’s book.

Wilson eventually took the kick which fell to Rowley, who shot wide.

Ridd had to palm away a cross come shot from the right a couple of minutes later, before Trueman tried his look from a Sault pass on the left, but he fired wide of the left-hand post.

Sports went so close to opening the scoring when a 24th minute corner saw the home keeper completely miss a punch. Sault picked up the loose ball and fired at goal, but Fulloway managed to head his effort away off the line, so it remained 0-0.

The pressure continued to build on the hosts, but Ridd had to receive treatment after a knock following a Redditch free kick.

Despite the pressure from Mickleover, Redditch were still dangerous on the break and after 32 minutes Ridd blocked an effort from Soleman and followed up with a save from Concannon before the ball was cleared.

Dales had a shot blocked after 38 minutes following a powerful run and cross from the right from Waite, but as the ball went loose Greaves took a knock from the home keeper.

The chances and possession had both favoured Mickleover, but it was still stalemate as the half time whistle blew.

Redditch started the second half with increased pace and briefly pegged back Mickleover in their own half.  Ridd saved a low shot from Concannon after 46 minutes and two minutes later Cranston put a cross into the box, which missed everyone.

Sault had another powerful shot blocked after 51 minutes to earn a corner, but the initial flourish from Redditch had past and it was back to stalemate.

Atkinson had been a strong force in both defence and attack and both Bennett and Wilson seemed to be cutting inside, rather than playing their more familiar overlapping wing back role.

Barnes was the first sub on the hour, coming on for Sault and after 68 minutes both he and Waite had shots blocked, before Trueman collected the rebound and tried his luck again.

With 20 minutes left on the clock. Mickleover really began to turn the screw, with continuous bombardment of the home defence.

Dales cut inside to shoot again after 75 minutes, but it was blocked again and led to a Redditch break, again well intercepted by the defence.

But 80 minutes in and Barnes charged out of defence, ran and ran before cutting in from the right, firing in a rocket shot beyond the keepers left hand, to finally give Sports a well deserved lead. 1-0.

Fitzhugh had come on Dales and with six minutes left Beavon came on for Waite. With three minutes to go Beavon headed just wide from a Greaves cross and Redditch had a corner right on the 90 minute mark.

The hosts had to push forward in time added on, but Beavon collected to find Barnes again, who split the defence wide open and charged forward to another superb strike 2-0.

The final whistle soon followed and it was all three points coming back to Mickleover, a third successive win and consolidation of second in the table.



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