After a very busy week of fixtures in the ESPFA which saw all eight teams in the North Cup take to the field as well as four teams in South Cup, we review all the action from #MatchweekTwentyTwo.
Carlton Town v Mickleover
This week the key matchup saw Carlton Town host Mickleover in the North Cup. Going into the fixture, Carlton were hoping to win back-to-back games in the North Cup whereas Mickleover were still searching for their first three points in this competition.
On a blazing hot day, the game had a very high tempo to start with as both sides looked to get ball down and keep possession of the ball. Mickleover saw more of the ball early on but could not make their possession count until just before half-time when they broke the dead lock from a set piece. A wonderful ball was whipped in from a corner kick taken from the right-hand side and Conley Bowman nodded the ball home at the back post.
After a well-deserved break after a tough first half in the hot sun, the players re-emerged ready for the second half. Carlton Town knew they had to answer back quickly and got on the front foot immediately. Some good play through their tricky winger, Tiago Mata got the home side into good areas and a change in formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 saw Carlton apply more pressure in the second half. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it count and whilst throwing men forward and chasing an equaliser at the end of the game, the Mickleover press caught them out and Francisco Santos was able to latch on to a loose ball and double the visitors lead in the dying moments and seal a 0-2 win.
After the game, #ESPFADerybshire student Dylan James said his side deserved the win. “We played quite well, we were better on the ball and off the ball [than them] and we took our chances when we needed to. We wanted it more and we put in as much work as we could because we didn’t want to end up drawing this game.”
On the flip side, #ESPFANottinghamshire student and Carlton Town academy player Maddy Pipe thought his team had a lot they could improve on from the game. He said: “I felt like we could have done a lot better. We were a bit shaky, we could’ve gotten the ball on the floor a bit, we played it in the air too much and we didn’t keep to the game plan.”
As we get to the end of the season and the fixture list starts to congest, we saw the first Monday game of the season when Frome Town travelled over to Oxfordshire to take on Kidlington. It was a tightly contested affair with the sides sharing the points in a 1-1 draw. Zak Rice opened the scoring and gave Kidlington the lead in the first half, but his opener was cancelled out just six minutes into the second half by a Xavier Hampton. The draw for Kidlington meant the South Division title is no longer and reach and Rushall Olympic (Amber) were crowned champions.
Belper Town picked up another win in their hunt for the top as they took down a strong Skelmersdale United side who finished second in the North Division. Jay Wilkinson and Connor Easom scored for ‘The Nailers’ in the first half to pick up a win that takes them up to fourth. Elsewhere, in a spectacular game to watch for the neutrals, Brighouse Town drew 2-2 with Witton Albion. Witton Albion were quick out the blocks in the first half and found themselves 0-1 up after seven minutes thanks to a goal from Dan Williams but Brighouse Town got back into the game through Eliel Zouogbo before half time. The home side picked up their performance in the second half and got themselves in front thanks to Casey Munthwick who scored his first goal of the season. It looked like the game was heading for a Brighouse win before a free kick was awarded to Witton in the dying moments. The ball was crossed in, and Isaac Shaw managed to turn the ball home to earn Witton Albion a point. In the final game in the North Cup this week, Runcorn Linnets continued their impressive season and picked up their 14th win of the season in all competitions after beating Ossett United 0-5. Adam Moseley and Kai Philpott both scored braces and Jak Nuttall added another to seal the victory for the Linnets.
Rushall Olympic (Amber) may have been crowned as the South Division winners last week but their South Cup campaign took a dint after Kidlington romped home to a 0-4 win. The captain and leader of Kidlington’s academy side grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and scored a hat-trick to help his side to their first win in the cup competition. In the final game of the week, Chesham United continued their hot run of form in the South Cup with a 1-0 against Frome Town. Abdul Zaman scored the only goal of the game that ensures Chesham United remain at the top of the table in South Cup.