Hednesford Town made their first visit to Mickleover in four years on Saturday afternoon for their opening away game of the Southern League Premier Central season. The Pitmen with new signing Nathan Cameron making his debut looked to get off the mark following the opening day defeat at home to Redditch United, while Mickleover were hoping to build on their 2-2 draw at King’s Langley. John McGrath’s Mickleover side finished in 12th place last season in the Northern Premier League, before their close season lateral move into the central division.
Mickleover struck in the 2nd minute when Mason Warren picked up a loose throw from goalkeeper Lewis Gwilliams, setting up Stuart Beavon to strike home from the edge of the area. Soon after Andy Dales had a shot on Hednesford’s goal that was deflected for a corner. Lewis Hayden attempted to play the ball to Leroy Lita who appeared to be pushed to the ground, with the referee waving play on. Kyle Bennett sent a free kick to the far post, Nathan Cameron’s header was stopped by Mickleover keeper Johnathan Hedge. Elliott Reeves rounded Gwilliams but from a tight angle angle hit the side netting. Elliot Walker’s fierce tackle on Harvey Portman resulted in the first yellow card of the game. A Sports’ corner saw Gwilliams make a good save from James Butler just before half time.
At the start of the second half Phil Watt became the second Mickleover player to recieve a yellow card for a shirt pull. The Pitmen improved vastly on their first half performance as they searched for an equaliser. Kyle Bennett hit the ball over the crossbar from 10 yards, and Nathan Cameron showed his danger at set pieces when he headed the ball just over from a freekick. Todd Parker’s defence splitting pass allowed Riley O’Sullivan weaved past Walker and threaded an inch perfect ball to Leroy Lita who duly equalised with a tap in on 69 minutes. In response Warren drilled a shot over the bar for Mickleover in the 91st minute Elliot Reeves narrowly missed with a header. A draw was a fair result in a hard fought encounter between two strong sides, on an incredibly hot day with temperatures reaching 34 degrees at pitch level.
After the game manager Keenen Meakin-Richards commented; “In two games this season we have played two good halves of football, the first against Redditch and the second half today. We have to make these spells when we are controlling the game last longer, be mentally strong and pay attention to details. Mickleover are a good strong side and will not lose many games at home this season.”
Mickleover; Hedge, Walker, Dolan (Chettle 65), Wilson, Butler, Watt, Bateman, Warren, Reeves, Beavon (Marshall 65), Dales (Fankwe 62). Subs not use Davidson-Miller, Mann
Hednesford Town; Gwilliams, Hayden, Portman, Cameron, Ison, Wilding, O’Sullivan (Manton 90), Parker, Lita, Bennett (Morley 84) Ebbutt (Rowe 60) Subs not used; Rashad, Williams
Report by Oli Chamberlain