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7.5 C

Match Report: Arnold Town 1 – 3 Mickleover RBL

Bare bone Arna hold their heads up high


Saturday March 9

Kicks in the teeth are a regular feature for your long suffering Arna supporter. On February 17 in their last game the Eagles’ 16 man squad had put together one of their most fluid fast flowing performances for many a moon and things were looking decidedly promising.

Three weeks on and exactly half of that squad were suddenly “unavailable” for various reasons, none of which appeared to involve injuries.  Manager Ash White was thus forced to include Liam Black (actually nursing a long term serious injury) and recall veteran striker Stephen King who had not seen action since the beginning of September in order to come up with sufficient bodies to fill the eleven shirts. 

With ninety minutes stretched out before them the threadbare line-up suffered an immediate set-back conceding a soft goal from the kick off.

Mickleover’s opening move down the right rolled along unhindered all the way into the Oxton Road penalty area where the carefree winger simply looked up and passed across to Sam Vickers who calmly slotted the ball home as easy as you like.

In stark contrast to Arnold’s start the weather was bright and a fierce freezing Eagle Valley wind was fully behind the home side who thankfully soon began setting about their arduous task with surprising conviction given the circumstances. 

Seven minutes in a lofted cross from the left into the Colin End box saw Lenny Jenkins rising highest amongst a group of players but the skipper’s backward header over shot the crossbar by a foot or so. Multi player moves and a succession of corners soon followed as the Eagles clearly were not prepared to go down without a fight.

Indeed throughout the afternoon the visitors were displaying few signs of being a top four side and it was the beleaguered yellows making most of the running with RBL’s first half threats reduced to a couple of long range free kicks the last of which taken by Jordan Lee on the stroke of half time hitting the crossbar. 

Sadly for Arnold though their lively first 45 minute play through midfield (with Lewis Neville again having an excellent game whilst also carrying a knock) had often suffered from a unhappy mix of the ball being speeded up by the following wind over running an understandably less than mobile forward line. 

Above all however the contest as a whole was being severely hampered by an extraordinary performance from a totally inept card happy official who had clearly graduated with flying colours from the Brian Glover school of refereeing. 

The second half began fairly quietly with the Eagles again somehow managing to look the more threatening of the two sides and their efforts were duly rewarded nine minutes after the re-start.

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An Arnold move had created some chaos in Mickleover’s area and at one point Lewis Neville threatened to open his goal scoring account for the Eagles but his blocked shot bounced back to the edge of the box from where Owen Taylor launched the sweetest of volleys which rocketed into the roof of the net. RBL’s keeper Bran Meehan couldn’t have been better positioned for the shot but he simply didn’t have time to react as the ball whistled past him at blistering pace. 

Not content with getting themselves back on terms in such a spectacular fashion the Eagles carried on in a positive manner and some heroic performances were really beginning to blossom, not least from Stephen King who was proving to be a bit of a handful for the visiting defence as he tried his level best to carve out an opening for himself. 

From such unpromising pre-match beginnings the afternoon was taking an unbelievably positive turn for the Arna faithful who should have known it couldn’t last. With Arnold largely on top the Eagles were cruelly reduced to ten men on 66 mins. A promising Arna move down the right wing was brought to an abrupt holt by a dangerous flying tackle on Eddie Morgan.

Scything Morgan to the ground was clearly not enough for the Mickleover offender who then attempted to grab Eddie by the neck at which point Morgan understandably flew his arms up to defend himself. Queue our imposter of a “ref” who sprinted a full fifteen yards to gleefully show the Arnold winger a straight red. 

Mission impossible had just become even harder as the ten Arna watched Mickleover reloading from the bench whilst Liam Black was forced to transfer his brave display of nuisance value from one end of the pitch to the other. With Arna well worth at least a draw up to this point in proceedings it was now only a matter of time before a rejuvenated Mickleover moved in for the kill.

With about 13 minutes remaining RBL duly regained the lead after some toing and froing in the Arna box resulted in a half stop by Piotr Strycharz before Mickleover’s Ben Rushby found the net with a well directed punt from close range. 

Arnold refused to give up the ghost however and impressive left winger Callum Jones continued to demonstrate some slinky skills right up to the end and on 80 mins he almost created a goal from nowhere following a long run into and across the Oxton Road area. 

As the game came to a conclusion there was just time for a remarkable last ditch goal line clearance by Kyme Mason, a second yellow card dismissal for debutant Dylan Humphrey (who can look back with some pride on his first outing for the Eagles) and a rather tame penalty conceded by the limping Liam Black providing Mickleover’s Connor Livingston with the opportunity to make the final score an extremely flattering 3-1 following up after Strycharz had managed to save his initial spot kick.

At the end of the ninety minutes never mind the fully anticipated loss, never mind having to suffer the egotistical antics of a complete joke of a “look at me referee”, never mind the eight players who had more important things to do on a Saturday afternoon none of this could begin to scupper the fact that the home supporters had been privileged to be on hand to witness eleven players prepared to dig deep and put in a proper shift for the sake of Arnold Town.

Hats off to every single one of them!

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