Pinxton lose promotion battle at Mickleover Royals

Mickleover goalscorer Steve O'Connell
Mickleover goalscorer Steve O'Connell

Mickleover Royals won the top-of-the-table clash against Pinxton 2-0 on Saturday.

Pinxton went confidently into this game with a strong squad as only keeper Gareth Briggs and Luke Walker were missing from their last game.

Pinxton started with a 3-5-2 formation to combat Royals direct style, but it seemed their opposition had changed the way they play as they too seemed more cautious and deployed a lone striker up front.

This resulted in a scrappy opening exchange where Mickleover got in behind the Pinxton back-line on a couple of occasions, but their attacks came to nothing. Dan Martin was pulling the strings for Royals in midfield and anything of note came through him.

It took a good save by debutant keeper Chris Butt to wake the visitors up and Tom Ellis, Jake Vernon and Pete Stubley sprang to life.

In a period of 15 minutes, Pinxton had four chances to get the opening goal.

The first was a direct run down the left from Ellis. He was fouled, but stayed on his feet and the referee played an excellent advantage.

Ellis then sent a ball flashing across the box only to evade both Stubley and Vernon.

Almost immediately Ellis beat the right full-back again and this time headed for goal. His effort was parried by the keeper and again it somehow eluded a blue shirt for the follow up before being cleared.

A free-kick 35 yards out was taken by Joel Smith, whose inch perfect ball fell to Jake Vernon on the penalty spot.

The striker had to be unsighted as the Pinxton fans were already on their feet preparing to celebrate, but he failed to connect.

And the final opportunity of this glut of first half chances came from tidy work and good interplay from Stubley and Vernon.

A neat one-two on the edge of the area saw Stubley fail to test the keeper as he shot wide.

At half time, Pinxton felt they were the better side and decided to change shape to a 4-4-2.

The second half was difficult for them, kicking into a strong head wind and Mickleover, clearly used to this, began launching the ball to the impressive Steve O’Connell.

The opening goal came when Pete Stubley was caught offside. A long high ball from the free-kick wasn’t dealt with, allowing the ball to bounce into the area and the final touch was applied by O’Connell who left Butt with no chance.

Pinxton were still reeling when a long kick from the Mickleover keeper was again allowed to bounce and that man O’Connell was again on hand to help the ball into the net.

The goals seemed harsh and not the prettiest to grace a game of such importance, but goals win games and Mickleover got the goals to win the game.