by Peter Scherer
Thirteen proved to be the unlucky number for Mickleover last Saturday, when aiming to make it fourteen games unbeaten, came the first defeat of the season to Stratford Town.
Starting line-up: 1-Oliver Bosworth 2-Jake Bennett 3-Ryan Wilson 4-Will Atkinson 5-Dan Bradley 6-Ethan Mann 7-Andy Dales 8-Ben Sault 9-Stuart Beavon 10-Marcus Barnes 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Joe Bateman, Sam Tomlinson, Fin Ryder, Brandon Ferron.
Mickleover took the kick off and were looking strong from the start, with a dangerous Greaves free kick being cleared over his own bar by Bards skipper McCone after just four minutes.
But five minutes later McCone tested Bosworth at the other end, after a series of corners had put the Mickleover defence under pressure.
With Fin Delap missing due to suspension, Mann had Bradley alongside in the middle of the defence, and as our hosts settled into the game, the pressure began to build.
14 minutes in and Ebanks picked up a Storer pass for the Bards, shooting just wide of the post. But three minutes later Barnes managed to round home keeper O’Brien, but the final shot went just inches past the post too.
It was Greaves that opened the scoring though after a 22nd break saw Barnes charge towards goal, finding Greaves in space, who buried the ball into the bottom corner, 1-0.
Stratford came back fighting and Bosworth was tested again after 26 minutes, when an Ebanks header from Storer’s cross was cleared off the line.
Mickleover went close again when Dales jinked his way through the defence just before the half hour mark. He found Greaves in space again, but O’Brien kept this effort out.
So at half time Sports had the lead, but the hosts had looked dangerous on a number of occasions and only a minute into the second half they were level, after Ebanks rose above the defence to head home, 1-1.
10 minutes later it was Mickleover seeking an equaliser, after Ison made it 1-2 for Stratford. Sports were pushing forward and Sault set up Barnes for a 63rd minute shot, but it was just wide.
With the push for an equaliser, the defence were caught out again, when Ison scored his second after a 67th minute corner 1-3.
Storer then had another shot just wide, before Ryder came on for Beavon. Barnes was then fouled to earn Mickleover a late penalty, duly dispatched by Greaves right down the middle, 2-3.
But sub Bateman was a late red card and time ran out, so the unbeaten record has finally gone and we look to next Saturday when we host third in the table Needham Market, who suffered only their second defeat last Saturday to.