The Mikes 3-2 Loughborough University
By The Mikes
Mikes manage to hold on to the points
The Mikes recovered from an embarrassingly somnolent start to garner another three points in their quest for a top six finish. Team selection reverted to “normal” as both the starting eleven and the substitutes’ bench were filled with familiar faces.
In the opening period, Boldmere were looking decidedly hung over from Tuesday’s triumph. The Students, in need of points to stave off possible relegation, looked far keener to gain them. Noticeably stronger in the tackle, with left winger Matty Olapo looking almost unstoppable, they penned their hosts into their own half for the first quarter of an hour. Seven minutes in, the home defence struck an artistic pose - “Still Life” - giving an easy chance to Connor Smith to establish an early lead. It was, perhaps, significant, though, that Boldmere nearly scored with their very first attack. Luke Shearer, who had an impressive game, fed the ball to Owen Parry, who moved it along to Ben Usher-Shipway. Only a fingertip save from visiting custodian Jake Hilton turned the shot on to the bar. From now on, the Mikes got going, and the half chances began to appear, while the Students’ foul rate (particularly on their right flank) went up as their hosts caused them more problems. With half an hour approaching, a tremendous solo run from Shearer took him past four defenders to bulge the net for the equaliser. There were alarms in the Boldmere rearguard when Lewis Fenney, having to sprint to the edge of his box, spilled the ball, leaving it at a visitor’s feet. This time, the defence was smartly into action and scrambled the ball away, a fluid break giving Boldmere a chance at the other end. Two yellow cards appeared as half time approached: Loughborough’s Ryan Burt for deliberate hand ball, Ryan Shaw for simulation, going down in the box rather too easily. The Mikes had got themselves back into the game: could they now give a consistent second half display, to go on to a win?
The Students lined up for the final period in a 5-0-5 formation, and had to endure persistent Boldmere pressure, as the hosts remembered Ben Usher-Shipway was out on the right, and fed him continual service, from which he gave Loughborough plenty to think about. Meanwhile, it needed Fenney to palm away a Sean Williams blaster to keep things level. Two men were now marking Shearer, and on the hour both sides brought on fresh legs. The carded Burt was replaced, while Craig Milligan and a limping Joe Lyng gave way to Jason Holmes and J’Cee Abraham. The Students’ Connor Smith was next in the book: our Official was not having any simulated diving! The visitors survived more Boldmere pressure, and the match evolved into an even, end to end affair. The breakthrough came with just over a quarter of an hour to go. Ryan Shaw fed a ball to Jason Holmes in the box, and the recently restored forward put the Mikes ahead. Immediately, Steve Simpson came on for Shaw: Boldmere now had three mazy dribblers on the park. “Simmo” had hardly got going when he was thoroughly clobbered by Charlie Lewis - who consequently picked up the next card. The tide was flowing the Mikes’ way now, and Jake Hilton did well to push a Rikardo Reid shot around the post, after the striker had sailed down the middle. He didn’t have too long to wait for his thirtieth goal of the season, however. With five minutes of normal time left, the Loughborough defence got in a terrible tangle, resulting in Hilton comprehensively upending Shearer. Playing the advantage, Mr. Stott let the ball cross to Reid, who slotted home neatly. At this point there arose another Prophet in the land. Behold, the prophet Richard Harris quoth “It’ll make for an interesting finish if they get a second.” With two regular minutes left, Luke McGinnell earned the Mikes’ third yellow of the afternoon, his over vigorous challenge giving Loughborough a free kick just outside the box. A five-man wall barred the way to the net. Connor Smith then amazed us all with a magnificent shot which Fenney didn’t see until it was flying past him. Were Boldmere going to undergo another last gasp capitulation? Three minutes of added time were signalled by Mr. Stott. Reid and Usher-Shipway now took an intelligent hand, running the ball down to the corner flag and holding it there to run out time. Opposition frustration at this resulted in Loughborough substitute Kitan Sorunke putting in a very late tackle on Shearer - the ensuing slight delay enabling the Mikes to cross the line with another three points.
The Mikes: Lewis Fenney; Luke McGinnell; Reece Mitchell; Craig Milligan (Jason Holmes 60); Harry Craven; Joe Lyng (J’Cee Abraham 60); Ben Usher-Shipway; Ryan Shaw (Steve Simpson 75); Rikardo Reid; Owen Parry; Luke Shearer. Subs not used: Harry Buttery, Brandon Williams.