Three Points… But It Was A Struggle

by Peter Scherer

Having beaten AFC Sudbury 5-0 at home earlier this season, hopes of taking three points from the strugglers was fairly high, but right from the kick off it was another story.

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

It couldn’t have started much worse for Mickleover, with the hosts awarded a free kick following a Bradley foul. The defence failed to clear the ball and with Ridd routed to his line, Joe Neal fired into the bottom corner, 0-1 with just 40 seconds on the clock.

The goal had given Sudbury extra confidence and they continued to try and push forward, but Sault had a shot blocked after three minutes, after both Ryder and Waite had tried too.

Gradually Mickleover began to fightback, with Sault again leading by example, until his 13th minute run ended when he was fouled. Bradley’s free kick came to nought but progress was made.

Dales had the first of his runs four minutes later, he cut in from the left and let fly, with home keeper Bradbrook getting a touch on the ball to send it wide of the left-hand post.

Midfield were struggling though and the defence came under more pressure, with Ridd having to save again from a Hunter strike, after possession had been lost in the middle.

Ryder and Bennett combined well but their 26th minute effort was blocked again, but on the half hour Waite should have scored the equaliser. Bradley was clear in the middle and found Waite in acres of space on the left. The striker cut in and shot, put his effort was wide of the right-hand post, with the keeper beaten.

Dales put in another cross from the left which was headed clear, before Neal had another chance for the hosts after 37 minutes, when he came out on top of a duel with Mann, but despite having a clear run on goal he shot wide.

Despite the growing flow of attacks, Mickleover were failing to create any clear-cut chances, but 39 minutes in and the game took a dramatic turn. Dales was clear on a break and keeper Bradbrook came charging off his line, wiping out Dales with a foot high in the air. It was a straight red card and with no sub keeper on the bench, Romario Dunne went in goal, having already had a yellow card himself a few minutes earlier.

Once play eventually resumed, Bradley’s free kick sailed high over the bar. Four minutes were added to the eight remaining, during which time Sports failed to test the sub keeper, so it remained 0-1 at half time.

Mickleover made two changes for the second half with Barnes and Greaves on for Bradley and Ryder.

It was Sudbury on the attack again however with Napa shooting just wide of the left-hand post, before Greaves hit the bar after 50 minutes, with Dunne beaten.

Barnes then ran clear on the left and fed the ball inside to Bennett, his shot hit the keepers leg bounced off the post and back into his hands.

Far too many yellow cards had been dished out to both sides, but Mickleover still hadn’t managed to really challenge the sub keeper and Sudbury continued to look dangerous on the breaks.

But debutant Tamen was looking more solid in the second half and forming a formidable centre back duo with Mann, while both Bennett and Dolan were trying to push forward.

Another Barnes cross from the right 69 minutes in found Waite in the middle, he placed the ball nicely into the back of the net but it was flagged offside.

Barnes was then tripped on the edge of the box but no foul given.

With 12 minutes on the clock Beavon came on for Sault, but is was proving hard work for Mickleover as their play just wasn’t gelling.

It was close again after 81 minutes, with a scramble in the crowded Sudbury goal mouth. Numerous attempts to shoot followed, before the defence cleared the danger.

Two minutes later Dolan was on a run from the left and brought down in the area. The penalty appeals weren’t that vociferous, but the referee pointed to the spot and Greaves duly converted, 1-1.

Barnes fired another attempt over the bar, before another Sudbury attack came close when Ridd missed a punch as he came off his line.

Into time added on Dales hit the far upright from a free kick after Dunne got a hand to it, but then in the 97th minute Dales crossed from the left and Beavon poached the winner from close range 2-1.

It was a poor all round performance from Mickleover, but so many times look has turned against us, but this time it certainly didn’t. 

We are now just one point off top spot again in third, with Tuesday’s visit to Coalville on the horizon.


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