by Peter Scherer
Two first half goals returned Mickleover to winning ways, seeing off form team Nuneaton Borough to consolidate our top of the table position.
Starting line-up: 1-Oliver Bosworth 2-Jake Bennett 3-Lewis Cunningham 4-Will Atkinson 5-Fin Delap 6-Ethan Mann 7-Andy Dales 8-Ben Sault 9-Fin Ryder 10-Narcus Barnes 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Will Trueman, Stuart Beavon, Dan Bradley, Kian Riley, Matty Bowman.
It was a lively start to the game with Nuneaton earning a corner in the second minute, before Barnes got on the end of a Mickleover break, with a shot just wide of the right-hand post.
Sports were almost through again two minutes later, after a scramble in the Nuneaton box, was finally cleared.
Both Cunningham and Bennett were soon making progress on the overlaps and after a good build up down the right, the cross missed everyone, before Cunningham followed up but shot well over.
Barely 15 minutes into his debut Cunningham was down injured and had to be replaced by Bowman, making his home debut.
The confidence was visibly building though with Atkinson in more of a playmaker role, setting Sault, Dales and Greaves on telling runs.
17 minutes in and Dales cut in from the left, let fly with a hard shot, saved by keeper Jezeph, before rebounding clear. Bowman then had a quick one two with Dales, but the final shot was over the bar.
As the completion of the first half hour approached, a lovely build up down the left again with Bowman and Dales found Greaves in the box. He managed to create a shooting opportunity, but it was straight at the keeper.
Ryder had been holding the ball well, but when he was fouled on the edge of the box, Greaves’ following free kick was straight at the wall.
The pressure on the visitors defence had continued to build and after 32 minutes, Jezeph had committed himself and both Dales and Greaves managed to get shots in, before the keeper recovered the situation.
Only a minute later Barnes had almost broken through. He still got shot in but it was just wide again, before Dales charged in to have another crack over the bar.
Finally the ball went in after 36 minutes, but it followed a another scramble in the Nuneaton box, before Bowman got his foot to the ball and it was 1-0.
Ryder had held the ball for Dales to have a 39th minute shot, but it was over again, but goal number two followed in time added on, when a nice through ball found Barnes on the right, as he cut in and slotted it neatly past the advancing Jezeph 2-0.
“A nice half turn and slotted it in, great adrenaline rush after that and I need that to carry me into the next few games,” said Barnes.
Nuneaton had a late shot wide of the mark to conclude a first half, which had been a positive all- round performance from Mickleover.
Although Nuneaton seemed to up their pace at the start of the second half, Mickleover were soon on the attack again, and went close after 49 minutes.
After a few minutes of Nuneaton pressure had been capably dealt with my Mann, Delap, Bennett and Bowman in the Sports defence, Ryder latched onto a 52nd minute break, but his shot was straight at the keeper.
Barnes had another attempt high and wide, before Mann charged out of defence, but his long ball was just a bit too long for Ryder.
Into the final half hour both Sault and Greaves found themselves hacked down just outside the box. Greaves took both free kicks, the first was on target and well held by Jezeph, the second was layed off to Sault, whose powerful shot was palmed away by the keeper.
Mickleover continued to press for a third, but mindful of any breaks from the visitors. But each attempt Nuneaton had to break free, was dealt with by positively by Delap and Mann.
An 85th minute cross from Bowman, just missed Ryder’s head and a minute later Sault had another shot saved. Greaves then put another free kick into the wall, but with one minute of normal time left, Nuneaton did get a break, crossed from the left, before Lita fired it well over the bar, leaving Bosworth untroubled.
Into injury time there was more chance for Mickleover, when a Bowman cross to Ryder, was nicely layed off for Barnes, but a unco-operative bounce caused the striker to miskick and the chance was gone.
Trueman played a short cameo role after subbing for Ryder, but the whistle went securing the 2-0 victory, leaving Sports five points clear still.