Home form blues for Reds
By Paul Armstrong
How damaging this result will be should become evidently clear in the next three weeks, quite possibly before then, but it is the worrying home form in general which has left Reds flirting with relegation all season.
After a poor, almost inept, display against Nantwich, no one could fault the effort and commitment by beleaguered Reds on this occasion – they battled away with plenty of spirit until the bitter end.
It counted for nothing, ultimately, and a sixth successive home defeat suggests something needs tweaked as Reds continually get outdone by a variety of opponents and styles of play.
The percentage game is not working and good individual performances have to be sacrificed for a different style of play. They could have played for another ninety minutes and still not scored with a lack of guile in and around the box glaringly obvious.
There were many similarities between this performance and that at Whitby recently with Reds dominating large chunks of the game only for the opposition goalkeeper to emerge as man-of-the-match.
But this wasn’t a one-man show from Mickleover by any means – they had good players all over the pitch and the contributions from Lewis King, the evergreen John McGrath, Mason Warren, Shaq McDonald and the volatile Jack Storer helped Sports produce an almost perfect away display. And don’t forget Mr Mills who must have headed the ball a couple of dozen times keeping Reds at bay.
The all too predictable onslaught saw Conor Tinnion, Dav Symington, Scott Allison and Garry Thompson all denied an opening goal by ‘keeper King’s agility while Thompson, Symington, Tinnion and Josh Calvert had other efforts which missed the target altogether.
Then, on thirty-two minutes, Mickleover demonstrated the art of scoring a goal and, to be honest, it looked quite a simple task.
Reds were caught off guard by a quickly taken throw-in, McDonald turned his marker and moved the ball inside with the ball then moved on to Storer. He was left in acres of space and confidently guided the ball beyond Aaran Taylor and into the bottom corner of the Town End net.
The immediate response from the hosts after the goal was good but it was a case of more of the same until the half time break.
It was the ideal scenario for Mickleover, happy to defend balls into the box then counter-attack swiftly as Reds, pushing forward in numbers, were outnumbered on the break.
And after every futile effort at goal by Reds in the second half the frustration deepened.
A Tinnion effort soon after the restart was smothered by King and Reds’ ‘eleven’ almost matched his shirt number with efforts at goal throughout the match.
Cowperthwaite dragged another shot wide then, right at the end, Matty Douglas rose above four blue-shirted defenders to win a header but the ball, as it had been all evening, was smothered by King.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic and Taylor made three excellent saves, the first after sixty-three minutes, to prevent the Derbyshire outfit rubbing salt into the wounds. He denied Storer and Evan Garnett in one-on-one situations then pounced quickly on the ball after Javaun Splatt had given Gari Rowntree the slip along the goal line.
A word of praise for the referee who had a decent game, but booking King for time wasting seconds before the final whistle was a bit silly. A similar action five minutes into the game might have been more of a deterrent.
But Reds couldn’t capitalise on the five minutes stoppage time he did add and the frustrated support are now beginning to think that Brexit will be resolved long before they can conjure up their next home win.
Amidst the post-match depression, Lee Andrews remained positive.
“There are six games left and plenty of points to play for and if we win on Saturday, and our rivals lose, the gap will be down to one or two points again,” he said, adding, “It’s far too early to throw in the towel.”
Workington Taylor, Douglas, Rowntree, Calvert, Smith, Carroll, Symington (Joel, 62), Cowperthwaite, Allison, Thompson, Tinnion. Substitutes – Wordsworth, Carmichael, Holt, Maguire (not used).
Mickleover Sports King, Berry (Tvaroh, 71), Turner, McGrath, Mills, Yadolahi, Warren, Baxendale, Garnett, McDonald (Splatt, 54), Storer. Substitutes – Norcross, Phillips, Ravenhill (not used).
Referee Ian Walsh, Burnley
Bookings: Calvert, Carroll (Workington), King (Mickleover Sports)