The Mikes 3-1 Romulus
By The Mikes
Win secures fifth position
After the balmy sunshine of the previous Saturday, the season’s final League game took place in gusting wind, showers and uncomfortable cold. Following the dismal showing seven days previously, Cameron Gayle started, whilst Craig Milligan, Rikardo Reid and Ben Usher-Shipway were restored after a bench warming spell at Lye a week earlier. Former Mikes Reiss Wagstaff, Andre Gonzales and Harry Harris featured for the visitors, Callum Rudd being one of their substitutes. Once our enthusiastic mascots had been persuaded to leave the field, the constant draught from the west made the game difficult to play, simple passes constantly going astray, while referee Mr. Palmer had to work out how to keep the football flowing without letting things get away from him.
With the tempest in their faces, Usher-Shipway was lying deep and prompting from mid field as the Mikes came to terms with early pressure. Gaining momentum was signalled on 11 minutes by Reid, whose twenty five yard lob just skimmed our guests’ bar. Three minutes later a faulty clearance by Wagstaff gave the ball to Owen Parry who passed to the unmarked Reid. A goal looked certain but the leading scorer placed his effort wide of the right hand post. It came as no surprise when the Mikes went ahead on 18 minutes, Luke Shearer, Reid and Parry were all involved before Reid coolly slotted home from a Parry’s pass. Midway through the first half the feet of Wagstaff’s stopped a Joe Lyng header doubling the score from a Ben Usher-Shipway corner. Lewis Fenney was taking short goal kicks into the wind, and Boldmere were looking increasingly confident as they worked the ball up the park. On the half hour, Shearer looked to be hauled down in the box; but the foul was given the other way. As the first half was closing, Boldmere were resisting a couple of corners, and from the second a fine second goal resulted. Milligan brought the ball out of his own penalty area before finding Reid on the left flank, he outpaced his opponents before finding Usher-Shipway who in turn found Milligan who had continued a field length run. The skipper passed first time beyond the covering defenders and Ryan Shaw completed the move by scoring clinically past the despairing Wagstaff. The two goal interval lead was reward for a fine display in the conditions.
Initially, the second half replicated the first, Romulus now finding it easier to play into the wind than the Mikes did to have it at their back. Chances came and went at both ends as the game swung to and fro in a freshening breeze, and Boldmere were fortunate to be given three fouls in a row as the Roms tried to get back into the game. By now, Mr. Palmer was realising that not all the bumping and barging was accidental, and Shaw was spoken to for catching an opponent’s ankles. In the end, something had to give, and a weak header by Gayle back to Fenney put in Ethan Delaney...who was flattened by our onrushing keeper. A moment of tension arose as the referee reached for his book. Since Delaney had had a clear scoring chance, would the red card be waved? With no Harry Buttery on the bench, the whole tenor of the game could now change. Mercifully (and quite correctly) a yellow was produced, since Fenney had no option but to come out and make a challenge. Luke Keen effortlessly slotted home the penalty, and at 2-1 it was “game on”. A moment of pure comedy followed at the three quarter mark, as Keen produced “the hand of God” going forward...and received a yellow card for his pains! A couple of minutes later, the game’s outcome was sealed. Reid and Shearer both dribbled their way round a massed Romulus defence, without finding any way through. The ball was fed out to Usher-Shipway...who hit it hard and low, to bulge the net from an acute angle. Substitutes now appeared for both teams, Steve Simpson making his usual appearance in place of Shearer. With a quarter of an hour left, Boldmere made a double change, Jack Skinner coming on to replace Reid, who’d run tirelessly across the visiting back four to stop them developing any rhythm, and Jason Holmes taking over as mid field grafter from Craig Milligan. Nothing much happened as the Mikes ran the clock down comfortably enough, except that Shaw went into the book for a clumsy late tackle.
The middle of the table has been a closely fought contest throughout the season, and with results going their way - Quorn drew, and Sphinx and Shepshed both lost - the Mikes finished the term in fifth position. One was left wondering: had their performances been more consistent over the campaign, what could have been achieved?
The Mikes: Lewis Fenney; Cameron Gayle; Reece Mitchell; Craig Milligan (Jason Holmes 79); Harry Craven; Joe Lyng; Ben Usher-Shipway; Ryan Shaw; Rikardo Reid (Jack Skinner 79); Owen Parry; Luke Shearer (Steve Simpson 72). Subs. not used: J’Cee Abraham; Harry Crook.