Category: First Team

Sports’ 2019/20 Season Review


by Peter Scherer

Back in August and full of optimism the 2019/20 Northern Premier League season kicked off with a home win against Stalybridge Celtic thanks to a Jack Storer penalty.

Although there were 1-0 defeats at both Witton Albion and Warrington Town, the home form was good with Mason Warren’s penalty securing a second win at the expense of Stafford Rangers, before a thrilling 4-2 win at home to Buxton had two more penalty successes for Warren and two goals for Declan Bacon on loan from Alfreton Town.

Sports took their first away point with a 1-1 draw at Grantham but then came the first home defeat at the hands of Ashton United.

But three consecutive away games netted a magnificent eight points, 3-1 at Atherton, 2-2 at Gainsborough and 3-2 at Hyde. Veteran striker Lee Hughes hit three goals and new signing Stuart Beavon two, with Warren, Nathan Modest and Doncaster Rovers loanee Max Watters also on the score sheet.

Sports completed a five game unbeaten run with a win and a draw at home with Scarborough Athletic and Morpeth Town, with Hughes and Warren again the scorers.

But four successive defeats at Matlock, then at home to Lancaster, Witton and Radcliffe put them on the back foot.

Beavon scored his third league goal in a 1-0 win at Buxton at the end of November, but as December arrived so did the beginning of the wet and soggy times to follow.

There were disappointing away defeats at Bamber Bridge, Scarborough and Stalybridge to see off 2019, with the notable absence of any home games.

The New Year had gone well though initially, Paddy Webb scoring on his debut for a 1-0 win at Buxton, and three days later a rare home game brought a 2-1 win over Nantwich Town with Beavon netting both.

It was off to visit table toppers South Shields next and for much of the game Sports held their own with goals from Andy Wright and Webb again.

The biggest win of the year then followed with a 4-1 home win against Grantham. Karel Tvaroh and Ryan Nesbitt joined Wright and Beavon on the score sheet.

Although it wasn’t a win at FC United, it was one of Sports best performances of the season. They went ahead on three occasions but United kept coming back to finally settle on 3-3 with Webb hitting two and Beavon the other scorer.

After a string of postponement’s it was back home for the visit of Whitby Town. The gale force winds played havoc with Sports game plan and they came away as 3-1 losers and didn’t get to play again for over three weeks.

It was then a return match at Whitby and 1-1 with Aman Verma’s strike, before United FC came to the Don Amott Arena for what turned out to be the last home game of the season.

United were a class apart and Sports were inflicted with a 4-1 defeat, but worse was to come for their final match before the Corona Virus brought everything to a halt.

Sports were well on top at Ashton with a first half goal from Webb, but just before half time the referee was injured and replaced by one of his assistants.

Two penalties followed for Ashton and both Remy Agustien and Warren were red carded, in one of the most appalling displays of officialdom ever seen on a football pitch.

For a while Sports had hovered just outside the play-offs, but as the waterlogged pitches intervened, the games in hand caused an ever increasing backlog, before the whole season came to an abrupt and disappointing conclusion.

In the FA Cup it was a first qualifying round exit away to Stafford, after seeing offer Coventry Sphinx 3-0 at home in the Preliminaries.

It was 3-0 defeat at Basford that ended their FA Trophy hopes, while the Derbyshire Senior Cup Challenge ended when Long Eaton United visited and went home 4-2 winners.

There was a home win in the first round of the Integro Cup 3-2 against Loughborough Dynamo, but after the first attempt was postponed, Buxton were the visitors and Sports went down 3-2.

The league is due to start again in August for the 2020/21 season, by which time Sports were due to be playing on a brand new 3G pitch. Decisions on both are now eagerly awaited.

The 2019/20 Season is Now Over

Confirmation of the end of the 2019/20 season

The following statement has this afternoon been released by the FA.

We have been working collaboratively with the National League System (NLS), the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game since the outbreak of COVID-19 on how to conclude the 2019-20 season in the most appropriate way possible.

These are challenging circumstances for English football and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game and in consultation across key stakeholders. Our primary concern will always be for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff, officials, volunteers and supporters during this unprecedented time.

Today’s steps take into account the financial impact during this uncertain period, whilst considering the fairest method on how the sporting outcomes for the season will be decided with the integrity of the leagues in mind.

National League System

The NLS and the women’s football pyramid were able to build a consensus amongst their leagues and, where possible, aimed to create a consistent approach across all leagues, whilst taking into account the unique characteristics of each individual league.

As a result, The FA and NLS steps three to six have reached a consensus that their 2019-20 season will now be brought to an end, and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS steps three to six, and no promotion to NLS step two.

These decisions will also apply to the leagues and clubs who play at NLS step seven.

We will continue to assist and support the National League (NLS steps one and two) to determine the outcome of its 2019-20 season as quickly as possible. The planned implementation of the restructure of the NLS will also now be deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season.

Furthermore, we can now confirm that we have decided that all grassroots football is concluded for the 2019-20 season. This will allow the game to move forward and to commence planning for next season. Our County Football Associations (CFAs) will be supporting grassroots leagues over the coming days to determine how they should close out their current competitions.

Where appropriate, the above decisions will be put to The FA Council for ratification.

Throughout this period we continue to seek guidance in respect of the government’s financial support packages relative to COVID-19 and how they are applicable to clubs in the NLS, the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game.


Mickleover Sports Club’s Chairman, Don Amott, has made the following statement.

The world has never experienced anything as extraordinary as this terrible Coronavirus. The voiding of the season is the most sensible thing to do with the safety of all people in Non-League Football – players, officials and supporters – being the most important thing to consider. Our aim will be to try and overcome the problems we face and come back stronger for next season.

All NPL Games Postponed Due to COVID-19


by Peter Scherer

So the Northern Premier league lasted one week more than the superstars in the Premiership, but once Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for the Coronavirus, the inevitable came to suspend all football until April 3rd.

Sadly a waterlogged pitch last Saturday claimed yet another of Mickleover Sports home fixtures, when Hyde United were due to visit. But where does that leave things?

Originally Sports final game of the season was due on April 25th away to Radcliffe, to allow time for the play-offs. But currently having played 29 games out of seasons 42, there remains eight home games and five away games still un-played

We are 15th in the league with games in hand due to the torrential rain over the last couple of months though.

There are talks of the season being void and just starting again for 2020/21. Others have suggested just finishing off the remaining games when the all clear is given, but there is no definitive answer that would satisfy everyone.

Looking on the bright side and the future with a 3G pitch, which should end the waterlogged postponement that have plagued this season.

It’s been a tough year for Sports first team, but before the rain and storms intervened, they were on the edge of the play-offs.

The reserve side top the Central Midlands League Division One South, and are in the Divisional Cup Final and still in contention for the Presidents Cup.

Not forgetting the Academy, where Sports have two sides, one top of their league and one in second place, but both in the Cup Semi-finals, which could easily provide an all Sports final.

So April 3rd is the next review date, so it’s no football until then, but any further news will be forwarded as soon as it is known.


You can read the NPL’s official statement here

Hyde United (H): Match Preview


by Peter Scherer

Following Tuesday nights farcical defeat at Ashton Utd, and the postponement of the home game against Basford On Thursday, Mickleover Sports will be hoping that the pitch is fit, no health warning limit’s are applied and they take away three points from the visiting Hyde Utd.

Hyde lost 2-1 at Morpeth on Tuesday, but took three points off Matlock Town last Saturday and currently lie 10th in the Northern Premier League, five points ahead but having played four games more.

So let’s take a look at our visitors. Former leading goalscorer Tom Pratt captains the Hyde Team, which has a mixture of youth and experience.

Lloyd Allinson is currently their first choice keeper. The ex Huddersfield player has also had spells at Chesterfield, FC United and Nantwich, before being signed from Gainsborough Trinity.

He has competition from James Hodges though, back in his second spell at the club after resigning from Tadcaster.

Defender Bradley Roscoe started his career at Preston North End and also played for Fleetwood before Hyde picked him up from Buxton.

He is joined in the defence by the well-travelled Ashley Young. A signing late last year from FC United, Young is another returnee, but has had spells in the Welsh League with Bangor City, Rhyl and Aberystwyth.

Tom Dean is also a defender they signed from Clitheroe, but had previously seen action with FC United, Mossley and Buxton too.

Kyle Brownhill had been at Hyde a number of times, but the experienced defender starting off at Stockport County and Burnley, before a spell at Ramsbottom preceded his last move.

Jordan Fagbola is another defender that came from FC United about a year ago. He started at Rochdale but arrived via Stockport, Colwyn Bay and Solihull Moors.

With a number of injuries and suspension, Hyde have taken ex Fulham midfielder Will McCamley on loan from Huddersfield Town, as well as promoting juniors Sam Summerbee, Max Pritchard, Joshua Churchman and Hamid Addai to the first team squad.

Striker Paddy Lane is a product of Hyde’s own Academy, along with defender Jack McConville.

Sheffield United loanee Reece York is in line for a place in midfield, he started his career at Fulham, while the Blades have also loaned out Senegalese midfielder Iliman Ndiaye, who began his football at Boreham Wood.

Jack Dyche and Liam Tongue are also midfieders.  Dyche came from Leeds United Juniors and Scunthorpe, before his non league career started at Ashton. He came to Hyde from Guiseley. Tongue signed from Stalybridge Celtic after an apprenticeship at Stockport.

Star striker Chris Sharp has scored a Champions League goal against Anderlecht when he played for TNS in the Welsh League. He also represented England C and played for numerous North Western and Welsh clubs before joining Hyde from FC United.

Finally Kielen Adams is another loanee striker, but from Oldham, after they had signed him from Bradford City Academy.

Basford United (H): Match Preview

by Peter Scherer

With Sports smarting from the defeats against United FC and Ashton Utd in the last week, they face a Basford Utd team tomorrow night that have also hit a rough patch.

Having gone into last weekend’s game at home to Buxton, their 2-0 defeat dropped them to fourth, with only one win from the last five games for Steve Chettle’s men.

Former Derby County Junior Kane Richards has been scoring regularly for our Nottinghamshire visitors, while among the rest of the Basford line-up are Scottish goalkeeper Kieran Preston, an ex Bristol Rovers player, who was signed from Grantham.

Callum Chettle, son of manager and ex Nottingham Forest favourite Steve, began his career at Forest, but also numbers Peterborough Utd amongst his former clubs.

Midfielder James Reid also started at Forest and since played for NPL side Gainsborough Trinity, similarly Matt Thornhill, who after leaving Forest played for Hibernian, after loan spells at Brighton and Cheltenham.

Polish born Stefan Galinski came from Grantham, but started his playing career at Derby County and has played for Alfreton Town too.

Defender Brad Gascoigne came in from Barwell last season, but has been on the injured list recently, while Courey Grantham is a longer serving player in his fifth year at the club, having signed from Heanor Town.

Ex Derby County Academy player Zak Goodson has also returned to the club after a loan period at Newark to join their striking force, he should be joined by ex Coalville ace Nat Watson.

For Sports it should be a home debut for Jordan Young, the former Swindon Town midfielder is on loan from Coventry City.

Also Harrison Davison-Hale could be between the sticks, if Nathan Broome is unavailable. Davison-Hale debuted at Ashton and is a former Huddersfield Town Junior.

Ashton United 3-1 Sports: Match Report


by Peter Scherer

It may be cliché but Mickleover Sports Northern Premier League visit to Ashton United was certainly a game of two halfs.

In the opening minute of the game Jordan Young, Sports Coventry City loanee shot just wide.

Ashton had their early chances too, with a free kick sent high over the bar after four minutes, followed by shot’s from Sheridan and Brewster both blocked by the Sports defence.

Stuart Beavon then made a break but lacked support, before Hardcastle came back for Ashton, sending his shot well wide.

The partnership between Beavon and Webb continued to cause problems for the Ashton defence, but a through ball although splitting the defence, was just out of Webb’s reach.

Ashton’s Ludofu was first in the book, but Hardcastle followed up with a couple of random shot off target.

But Sports began to take control of midfield, with Beavon going close after a corner. Karel Tvaroh was then sent on a telling run by Mason Warren, Webb collected the ball but a shout of handball as the defender challenge went unrewarded.

A minute later Kemy Agustien was brought down, before a Webb managed to chip Ashton’s keeper Hartley, only for Sass-Davies to clear his effort off the line.

But after 21 minutes Sports pressure finally paid off, as Beavon and Young moved the play forward, Webb chested it down, turned and volleyed into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

Ashton almost equalised a minute later, when Durrell Berry cleared, before Wilson’s shot on the rebound went wide.

Webb was continuously causing problems for Ashton, with long balls providing excellent service. Scott was the first Sports player in the book, but on the half hour Ashton seemed to rediscover their attack.

Hardcastle, Wilson and Rowney all went close for the home side, before Webb went just wide from a Scott cross for Sports.

Turner and Freeman combined well to keep the Ashton strikers out, and after 36 minutes Webb was just short of collecting a rebound from a Beavon shot, beaten away by Hartley.

The momentum was back in Sports favour as the half time whistle approached, with Webb’s shot onto the roof of the net from another Beavon cross, but a couple of breaks saw Hardcastle hit the Sports post, before play was held up with the referee requiring treatment.

The referee was replaced by one of his assistants, while one of Ashton’s media men ran the line. But little would anyone have realised how the game was to take a sour turn.

Sports had a dangerous free kick in the early minutes of the second half after Webb was fouled. The kick was put out for a corner, which Scott took and put back into the box before his shot was saved by Hartley.

Freeman was the first booking for the stand in referee, but after Webb a shot straight at the Ashton keeper, Scott put the ball across the face of the goal and Thomsett then went close for Ashton.

But on 63 minutes a Rowney cross seemed to confuse the defence and found its way passed debutant keeper Harrison Davison-Hale into the back of the net.

Ashton’s McHale tried a spectacular bicycle kick which went just wide of the post and Freeman won the ball from a Warren corner, but his effort easily collected by Hartley.

Hardcastle was then on the attack again and had touch with Freeman, which the referee decided was a penalty. Agustien led the barrage of Sports players disputing the decision and received a double yellow card, before Wilson put the penalty away to give Ashton the lead.

With Marcus Calderone on for Freeman and Andy Wright on for Scott, there was another penalty appeal from Ashton. Turner was then pushed in the Ashton penalty area and despite appeals they were turned away and Turner joined the yellow cards a few minutes later.

It wasn’t long before the referee did award another penalty, but for Ashton again, after McHale went down easily from a Calderone challenge. Wilson scored again and despite a desperate effort from the 10 men of Sports, it remained 1-3.

Just to add the card collection Mason Warren was straight red carded for an innocuous challenge

So three yellow cards two red cards, two penalties concluded a second half of less than memorable non-league football.

Ashton United (A): Match Preview


by Peter Scherer

The welcome dry spell has been most welcomed, but now it means Mickleover Sports have four games in eight days.

Following the disappointing defeat at home to FC United last Saturday, Sports travel to Ashton Utd on Tuesday evening.

Ashton are currently 18th in the Northern Premier League, five points behind Sports, following their 2-0 home win last Saturday against Scarborough Athletic.

Ashton have a number of ex Oldham Athletic players and a great deal of experience in their squad.

Goalkeeper Greg Hartley is ex Manchester City and won the FA Youth Cup during his 10 years with them. He then played in the US including semi pro with Chattanooga, before returning to the UK as Oldham’s goalkeeping coach and joined Ashton from Atherton Collieries.

Defender Stavros Tserpes is Australian born and had trials with AFC Bournemouth. He has played most of his football in the North West, including Tranmere and Accrington.

John Pritchard is one of the ex Oldham players, but has rejoined Ashton for a second time from Chester. He is a midfield or defensive player.

Starting off at Stockport County Gianluca Havern was signed last year from Bradford Park Avenue. The defender played at Mansfield too plus a number of the North Western clubs.

Defender Jonathan Hunt was a long serving player at Curzon Ashton and rose to being the clubs captain, before signing for Ashton, while Billy Sass-Davies is one of the younger players, currently on loan from Crewe Alexandra. The defender has been out on several loan spells during his time at Gresty Road.

Michael Brewster is another ex Oldham midfielder. He came in from Atherton Collieries, but again spent most of his career with various North Western clubs, but did have a spell at St.Mirren!

Chris Rowney is ex Oldham midfielder too, he had six years at Curzon Ashton, before returning to Mossley, prior to his current move to Ashton.

Sam Sheridan is in his third year at Ashton, the midfielder came in from Altrincham, but has played at Stockport, Southport, Chorley and FC United too.

Blackburn Rovers Academy set Louis Almond on his way, before joining Blackpool from where he had a number of loan spells. The striker was signed from Chorley in 2018.

Steven Tames even tasted Europa League football during his time at Bala Town. The prolific goalscorer has also played for a number of the North Western clubs, before leaving Bala for Ashton.

In last Saturday’s win Josh Wilson scored both goals. He joined Ashton from Chorley in July last year, having started at Northwich.

Midfielder Liam Thomsett was signed from Curzon Ashton, but had a number of loans whilst on Blackpoll’s books.

Ben Hardcastle came through Morecambe’s youth team and was team manager Michael Clegg’s first signing’s when they both joined Ashton from Atherton Collieries.

Finally Rumanian Casian Anghel played his early football with FC Voluntari and Dinamo Bucharest, but has now settled in the North West.

Kick-off is 7.45, with Sports keen to come away unscathed, with home games against Basford Utd and Hyde Utd on Thursday and Saturday respectively.