First Team vs. Mickleover Sports (2 : 2)
Evo-Stik League First Division South
A late spectacular goal from Vill Powell saved Sheffield’s blushes, writes Stuart James, and earned a valuable point this evening at the BT Local Business Stadium. On a heavy pitch, it looked as if all the toils of recent weeks would be forgotten, as Club took a 14th minute lead through a very fortuitous Chris Adam strike. But Mickleover showed bags of character and responded with two goals of their own, through Ellis Storey (24 minutes) and Alex Steadman (30 minutes), and if not for some outstanding keeping from Liam Flynn could have rattled up a hatful in the first half. In the end they ran out of steam, and with the hosts piling on the pressure, Powell was there to save the day in the 86th minute.
Having only managed one shot on goal in the entire game on Saturday, Club were obviously stung into action to make amends for such a bad performance, and came out of the blocks looking a completely different side. Chris Adam threaded Warren Burrell through, with the Mickleover defence looking decidedly bunched an unorganised, and it took a decent save from Tom Gutteridge to deny Burrell a certain goal.
With the pressure seemingly relentless, it seemed obvious a goal was going to come, but not in the fashion in which it arrived. Sheffield once again stretched the visitors playing the ball wide out on the right, and when ADAM whipped the ball across, it carried over Gutteridge and dipped just inside the far post for a very lucky goal. Lucky or not they all count, but it had the worst possible effect on the game as far as Sheffield were concerned, as Mickleover piled on the pressure and Club fell into familiar bad habits.
Far too often the hosts invited Sports to attack, sitting off the ball and letting the attack come to them, and when you have players with the calibre of Alex Steadman and Martin Smythe it isn’t a wise idea. The writing was on the wall when Steadman got the better of Ben Turner and tricked his way through the box with a few fortunate bounces, and when his shot took the most wicked of deflections, Sheffield were thankful the spin took it inches wide of the post.
Liam Flynn was the one who was keeping Sheffield’s nose in front, as he started to turn in a fantastic display to deny Mickleover, as the shots started to rain on his goal. Darren Ruston produced an excellent drive, with Flynn producing a better save, whilst seconds later John Guy thought he’d try the same with another good shot with the exact same outcome of the ball being tipped round the post. It was from the resultant corner that the resistance was broken, Robert Ritchie-Smith fired the ball across, and powering home a bullet-header was STOREY to give Sports their just desserts.
This obviously gave the visitors the confidence, they were the team in the ascendency and were piling the ball forward with abandon at this point, with the Sheffield defence looking quite beleaguered. The hosts weren’t helping themselves with some defensive indecision, and an inability to clear their lines saw Ruston produce another fine volley, with Flynn having to come to the rescue once again.
A second Mickleover goal was imminent, and it duly came on the half hour mark as the ever dangerous STEADMAN was allowed the freedom of the left side of the park, and having weaved his way through a statuesque Sheffield back-line he stabbed the ball under Flynn to give them the lead. It could easily have been worse, as skipper Eric Graves was at the end of a break from defence, with his shot turned round the post by man-of-the-match Flynn.
Club were able to hold on to get to the break without any further alarm, and when Andy Gascoigne was able to unleash a shot to test the keeper, the was a bit of hope things might improve after the break. The introduction of Vill Powell at the interval gave a different dimension, and in the second period Mickleover didn’t have things all their own way, either that or they were unwisely content with sitting on a one goal lead.
With Club now the attacking force, the majority of the action was unsurprisingly in the Mickleover half, yet they still produced very few chances. The best move in the early stages came when Chris Adam worked some space for Shaq McKenzie, who eventually got the ball from under his feet to tee up Tyrone Thompson, whose drive was whipped over the top of the bar. Mickleover still posed a danger, and although they weren’t as threatening in this half as they were in the first, the threat was still there and quite evident as Graves sent a drive inches over Flynn’s bar.
It was all Sheffield now though, and despite all the pressure, it really looked like it would be another frustrating night with no end product. The perfect example of this was shown when Andy Gascoigne went on a solo run down the left, before driving what should have been the perfect cross into the box, but as expected there was no-one to get the vital touch.
As time looked to be running out the equaliser came in spectacular fashion, as with four minutes to go the ball was lumped into the area, and showing poise, balance and dare I say a bit of elegance, POWELL leaped above everyone to execute a beautiful bicycle kick that left everyone cooing in admiration. It really was a great goal befitting a better performance, but having rescued a point it could have even ended better for Sheffield as McKenzie was put in after some good work from Gascoigne, in the end though the shot was blazed over the bar and they had to settle for a single point.
Overall this was a much better display than the one at Romulus, but sadly it is still a way from where the team need to be if something is going to come from this season, with several improvements needed throughout the side. Next up on Saturday is the visit of Market Drayton, and with their manager Jimmy Mullen doing a bit of scouting in this game, let’s hope that Mr Mullen underestimates us and we get that improvement we so desperately need.
More photos from the game, courtesy of Ben Webster, can be viewed here.
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