Firsts out of the Rhodes Cup, Thirds win to fight relegation

Mellor crashed out of the Rhodes Cup on Wednesday 3-2 after leading 2-1 with a minute of normal time left. Two avoidable errors cost them dearly after a performance which ranked with their best of the season. The match would have made a worthy final and contained some excellent football, drama and tragedy in equal measure. Injuries persuaded manager Pete Jamieson to go 4-4-2 and throw Mike Palmer up front. The plan worked brilliantly and for long periods Mellor dominated this game. Palmer worked hard throughout, scored one and might have sealed the win had his effort from 15 yards not been saved 10 minutes from time when he was one on one with the keeper. The first 20 minutes were spent feeling each other out but you sensed Mellor were building a foothold in the game. The first scare was an overly strong Matt Jamieson back header which needed a flying save from Gav Thornley to turn it away for a corner on 14 minutes. On 22 minutes Jamieson, who was to play a major part in the match, fed Liam Tottedell and his interchange with Mike Palmer almost led to an opening. Then on 31 minutes came a thunderbolt 30 yarder from Totterdell out of the blue which sailed over the Whalley Range keeper's head for 1-0. No more than Mellor deserved. On 40 minutes a Range attack looked like ending in a goal but Barry Dalby made a last ditch goalline clearance. Range started the second period the brighter and missed a real chance on 49 minutes. Two minutes later another excellent Jamieson cross set up Totterdell but his header from seven yards lacked pace and direction. On 55 minutes Thornley was yellow carded for dissent and referee Roy Bowden awarded Range a free kick just nine yards out. Despite all 11 Mellor players being on the goalline the home side found a gap for 1-1. Amazingly five minutes later Mike Palmer broke clear and although his first shot was saved he drilled in the rebound for 2-1. And on 80 minutes, with the home defence nowhere, he had a golden chance to seal a great win but the keeper smothered his shot when he might have squared the ball to a supporting player. Dave Whelan replaced the injured Criag Fairfield and Steve Jackson replaced Terry Boon. Range piled forward in the closing stages but Mellor's defence in which Ben Beer, Paul Swann, Mark Oldham and Fairfield had been immense, held firm. With a minute to go, however, Thornley misjudged a harmless cross and the ball slipped into the net. Range were reprieved and exacted full advantage by scoring what proved to be the winner four minutes into the first period of extra time. Mike Sharpe relaced an exhausted Palmer but could not find an equliser. It was a cruel result after all 14 players had given so much.


On Monday the Thirds beat Spurley Hey 3-0 at Wood Lane. All the goals came in a breathtaking first half when the Thirds proved it is possible to get the ball down and play a passing game on the sun-baked clay surface. On 15 minutes Matt Jamieson scored a wonder goal from 30 yards lashing the ball from the left wing high into the top right hand corner. A long ball from the impressive John Callaghan sent Danny Hayes sprinting away to drill home number two after 28 minutes. Four minutes later a fine move saw Steve Jackson released on the right and his low cross was turned home by Luke Jubb. John Callaghan was Man of the Match.


Mike Palmer and Liam Totterdell cause problems in the Whalley Range defence



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PIC 1 Mike Palmer...scored for Firsts
PIC 2 Matt Jamieson.... stalwart for the Firsts on Wednesday and a wonder goal for the Thirds on Monday.

PIC 3 Danny Hayes scored for the Third