Wolverhampton Sporting Community 1 The Mikes 4
Back to winning ways
With three players (Luke Shearer, Joe Lyng and Cameron Day) suspended, and Ben Usher-Shipway still out with hamstring trouble, the Mikes had to regroup. Craig Milligan started at the back, while Ryan Shaw, newly returned after his brief sojourn at Keys Park, joined the mid field. Youngsters Luke McGinnell and Kyle Byrne were included in the bench party, while former Mikes Daniel Dubidat and Kieron “Kizza” Clarke appeared for Sporting.
Apart from the opening goal, little could be said about the first half hour, except that play was shapeless, as Boldmere had to contend with Sporting’s vigorous, bumping style of play - though, mercifully, the teak tough tactics that epitomised their approach at Church Road last month were absent. As often happens nowadays, it took Boldmere a quarter of an hour to get going, by which time they’d already conceded. With eight minutes gone, four passes went unchallenged as Sporting worked the ball into the box, eventually getting it to Dubidat, who finished from close in. Two minutes later, Bilal Yafai headed wide when unmarked on the penalty spot. Boldmere managed to create a couple of half chances as the game progressed; but their only achievement in this passage of play was to have Alister Brauns booked for a two-footed tackle, after 35 minutes. Kieron Clarke was causing the Mikes some difficulty, and eight minutes before the interval nearly doubled Sporting’s score, lobbing over the bar from ten yards at the end of a flowing move from the hosts. With half time looming, Clarke was hauled down just outside the box by Brandon Williams, who became the second man to have New Year’s greetings recorded in the referee’s book. From the resultant free kick, centre half Matthew Vaughan, who was adding his sizeable presence to corners and free kicks, fired into the side netting.
Having been slightly outmuscled in the first period, how would the Mikes respond after the break? Fortunately, they’d obviously decided to be true to their own game and, despite having Ryan Shaw booked on 47 minutes for an over enthusiastic challenge, after a bright start their reward soon arrived. Five minutes in, Cameron Gayle had got himself into a good position, and was tumbled from behind. Rikardo Reid put the resultant penalty away audaciously as Faultless dived to his left, despite cries of “miss it” as he ran up to take it. Alister Brauns was having an absorbing duel with his marker Ray Facey, resulting in the full back being booked for a foul with 57 minutes gone. The Mikes were beginning to look the team more likely now, timing their interceptions well and, with the hour just gone, saw Reece Mitchell sending in a lob that home keeper Dale Faultless had to turn over the bar. On 65 minutes, Lewis Fenney had to scramble for a weak shot which deflected off a defender; but Sporting attacks were becoming rarer now. As the game entered its final quarter, Steve Simpson came on for Brauns, giving Facey new problems to contend with. On 71 minutes Brandon Williams worked his way down the right flank and into the box hitting the inside of the post with a good shot. As the ball rebounded to him, he was clearly impeded, no foul given, but behind was Shaw who was also tumbled. The match official awarded a second penalty and Reid made no mistake with his second penalty firing high into the top left corner of the net. Two minutes later, the Mikes were two ahead. Play was stopped for a foul near the half way line when, with Reid in a good position, the Mikes would rather advantage had been given. Reece Mitchell’s excellent free kick penetrated the home defence, and was pushed home by Harry Craven at the far post. Sporting made a determined attempt to get back into the game, but superior fitness was now making itself felt, and the Mikes were starting to flow, while in defence the off-side trap was working efficiently once again. Five minutes from the end of normal time, a searching pass found Steve Simpson. He left Facey for dead, and the pink booted Cameron Gayle followed up on the cross to make the score 4-1 to the visitors, thus scoring his first goal for Boldmere. Kyle Byrne had come on a minute earlier, replacing Jack Skinner, and with his first touch of the ball nearly made it five, hitting the foot of the post at the culmination of another good move.
Thus it was that history uncannily repeated itself: the same final score line, and the same pattern of play, as had unfolded at Church Road a fortnight earlier. The Mikes had been on the back foot in the first half; but found the resilience and self-belief to put in a winning performance as the game progressed.
The Mikes: Lewis Fenney; Brandon Williams; Reece Mitchell; Rico Taylor; Harry Craven; Craig Milligan; Jack Skinner (Kyle Byrne 84); Ryan Shaw; Rikardo Reid; Cameron Gayle; Alister Brauns (Steve Simpson 66). Subs. not used: Luke McGinnell; Harry Buttery; Owen Parry.