The Mikes 2-3 Dunkirk
By The Mikes
Another worrying second half capitulation
A minute’s silence, in memory of recently deceased President Harry Peakman, began proceedings, the Mikes lining up in Harry’s preferred formation- the traditional 2-3-5. In the match itself, Boldmere’s recurrent frailty against teams well below them in the table showed itself once again, albeit with a team lacking some familiar faces, as the Mikes rested players before the following Tuesday’s Walsall Senior Cup semi-final against Sporting Khalsa. Harry Buttery made his First Team debut between the sticks; J’Cee Abraham made his first appearance since returning from Bedworth United; and “veteran” Jason Holmes reappeared in attack.
After an initial flurry from the visitors, Boldmere got going, a clutch of near misses marking the first ten minutes. Ben Usher-Shipway met a probing cross from Luke Shearer: soon afterwards, Rikardo Reid headed just over after a well worked move between Luke McGinnell and Usher-Shipway. With dangerous dribbler Ryan Ejezie prompting from mid field, the Boatmen were having occasional efforts at goal, but the Mikes were doing most of the pressing. With 29 minutes gone, Rikardo Reid couldn’t quite reach a fine Reece Mitchell cross, and the ball skied over the bar, the same fate awaiting a similar effort from Usher-Shipway four minutes later. The Mikes were tending to over complicate matters, while the men from Nottingham, perhaps noting this, kept things simple. A fingertip save by visiting custodian Richard Stainsby from a long-range Craig Milligan effort, kept things level with the half hour just gone, while at the other end Buttery needed two bites of the cherry to field a strong, low shot. An onrushing forward had to take late evasive action to avoid injuring him: a long discussion with the referee (but fortunately no booking) ensued. The deadlock was broken as half time beckoned. A well-judged Craig Milligan pass sent Usher-Shipway off on a run into the box which culminated in him dribbling past four defenders before side footing home from close range; a fine individual effort!
Beginning the second period in determined fashion, Boldmere were evidently hoping to put the game out of the visitors’ reach. Within five minutes of the restart, Holmes (twice) and Reid came close to scoring. The Boatmen, playing in old fashioned red shirts and white shorts, meanwhile, kept their heads, and on 52 minutes were level. A five man move ended with that man Ejezie firing home beating debutant Buttery at the near post. Perhaps if all our forwards showed the same commitment to tackling when the ball’s evaded them, the move wouldn’t have started in the first place. Four minutes later, the Mikes were back in front. Awarded a free kick just outside the box, in the absence of Owen Parry, Rikardo Reid took over, and a magnificent swerving shot evaded Stainsby. Substitutes now began to arrive, Kyle Byrne and Steve Simpson taking over the wingers’ roles on 66 minutes, Jack Burgess relieving Rikardo Reid seven minutes later. Meanwhile, McGinnell picked up the sole yellow card of the game after crashing into an opponent. Chances came and went at either end and, as the clock ran down, Mikes fans were hoping for another 2-1 win. Dunkirk, growing in confidence as Boldmere cleared twice off their line, kept to their passing tactics and, with three minutes of normal time left, gained their reward. Left winger George Bosworth surprised us all with a burst of speed from a ball out of defence, shaking off Brauns before firing past Buttery for the equaliser. The Mikes went looking for the winner, Joe Lyng heading wide and Simpson having a shot blocked. A point was looking a disappointing return but it got worse as the Mikes late vulnerability came back to haunt them. Harry Wakefield and Ejezie linked to free substitute Joel Howes on the right. His cross into the box saw a misplaced headed clearance by Abraham find the feet of Bosworth and he smashed in an unstoppable shot from ten yards.
Would Boldmere have won with a complete First Team on display? We may have to ask this question once or twice before the season’s over: with our League position secure, Stuart may give the youngsters more experience on the park. Certainly, Harry Buttery, Luke McGinnell (again) and Kyle Byrne certainly looked the part. It may be wise to sacrifice some end of season points as we build for the future. The worrying thing about the performance as a whole was that, without two examples of individual brilliance, the Mikes could have ended up goalless. Surprisingly after two home defeats in a row, in games that should have been put to bed, they have maintained sixth position in the league.
The Mikes: Harry Buttery; Luke McGinnell; Reece Mitchell; Craig Milligan; J’Cee Abraham; Joe Lyng; Ben Usher-Shipway (Kyle Byrne, 66); Alister Brauns; Rikardo Reid (Jack Burgess, 73); Jason Holmes; Luke Shearer (Steve Simpson 66). Subs not used: Harry Craven, Jack Skinner.