BOOTHSTOWN FIRSTS 1 MELLOR RES 1
Mellor Reserves went to high flying Boothstown FC Firsts and came away with an excellent 1-1 draw, thanks to Luke Jubb's strike in the last 15 seconds.
It was no more than Mellor deserved after matching their illustrious opponents in almost every department.
Boothstown have lost only once in the league all season and are favourites to win Division 2. They also memorably beat Premiership Whalley Range 2-1 in the Rhodes Cup.
But on a flat but in patches sticky surface Mellor restricted the home side to very few clear cut chances.
Indeed, with more luck, Mellor might have snatched all three points.
The game began cautiously with both sides trying to develop a passing rhythm, working the ball through midfield.
Mellor opted for a strategy of moving forward as a team, if possible. This meant that Boothstown enjoyed more possession and the supply to forwards Carl Brindley and Luke Jubb was limited.
Brindley on the attack
Against taller and physical defenders Jubb tried manfully to hold the ball up and thread the decisive ball through to his strike partner.
But he was often crowded out by sheer weight of numbers.
Joe Dalby hardly misplaced a pass all game in midfield and protected the ball well. Mark Oldham and Craig Fairfield were resolute in defence, ably supported by Mike Barlow and Christian Hynes at full back.
The first real danger came after 10 minutes when Boothstown fired over from long range. Four minutes later Mellor faced a greater threat when a hasty clearance from keeper Andy McFall fell to a Boothstown forward and only a timely tackle from Fairfield prevented a damaging shot on goal at the expense of a corner.
Hynes then executed a similar last ditch tackle to rob a Boothstown forward of a shooting chance on 18 minutes.
McFall made a routine save from another long range effort. Mellor's first substantial threat came on 27 minutes when Steve King got round the back on the left but he was fast running out of room and his attempted cross was easily gathered by the keeper.
A minutes later, following a Mellor corner, Scott Cassidy sent in a ferocious shot which was deflected for another flag kick.
On 33 minutes Jubb and Brindley exchanged passes to work a good opening but Jubb was caught in possession.
On 37 minutes Boothstown were awarded a free kick 10 yards from goal for an alleged back pass offence. Mellor put 10 men in the wall and the thin blue line held firm as the kick cannoned to safety.
Mellor survive a free kick
On 40 minutes McFall made his best save of the game and as the ball spun clear Mark Oldham had to block a follow up shot with his body.
Fairfield then produced a second text book tackle to rob Boothstown of another shooting opportunity.
Joe Dalby squeezed out
On 42 minutes Dave Moss shot a foot wide from the edge of the box.
Mellor almost took a shock lead on 46 minutes, again Jubb providing for Brindley whose shot was saved with some difficulty.
On 50 minutes Boothstown might have done better from a free kick, a forward sending his header over from 12 yards.
Boothstown head over
A minute later Mellor squandered another chance. Joe Dalby fed Fairfield whose chip was guided goalwards on the volley by Moss but just wide.
Boothstown then got to the byline and cut the ball back. McFall got a hand to the cross and it fell kindly for a Mellor defender to clear.
This was Boothstown's best period and they exerted a lot of pressure.
They broke through twice but shot wide both times.
Mark Oldham then had a free kick 22 yards out which he blasted into the home side's wall.
Oldham hits the wall
On 65 minutes Jerome Rouse replaced Brindley up front in a straight swop. Four minutes later Danny Hayes came on for Cassidy on the right flank.
On 70 minutes Rouse chased what appeared to be a lost cause but the keeper's hasty fly kick rebounded off the Mellor forward and went a foot wide.
On 75 minutes Boothstown broke the deadlock when Mike Barlow was harshly adjudged to have fouled a forward in the area and the home side stroked home the penalty.
Dave Moss heads clear
This was the signal for Mellor to throw men forward for the first time in the match and the tactic immediately caused the home side problems.
On 82 minutes King had a long range shot brilliantly saved low down. Four minutes later Hayes shot over from a good position.
With four minutes of injury time already on the watch, King danced down the left wing and crossed. Jubb headed the ball against the bar and when it dropped was on hand to poke home the equalizer despite a defender's frantic efforts to block.
Jubby hits the bar
Jubby pokes in the equaliser
The Thirds lost 1-4 away at Staly Lions Firsts. Rick Axford scored a late penalty. The Fourths lost 2-3 at Wood Lane against top of the table Trafford United Reserves, with an own goal and a strike from Jon Cosgrove. Some pictures from the Fourths' game courtesy of Mark Jordan.