HILLGATE 0 MELLOR 3
Mellor Firsts' Rhodes Cup campaign began with a comfortable 3-0 win away at Hillgate.
The Stockport side are in Division D, the same as Mellor Fourths but have maximum points from three league games.
They provided spirited and at times over robust opposition without seriously threatening Mellor's goal.
Mellor maintained a high degree of discipline and moved the ball around confidently.
But again they squandered enough chances to have doubled the margain of victory.
Dave Whelan's penalty
The handball incident that led to the penalty. Hilton's shot is blocked.
The game was played in unseasonally bright sunshine on a very dry, hard pitch that took Mellor a while to play.
Mellor were quick into their game and on two minutes Man of the Match Jack Hilton's cross was sliced behind for a corner by a panicked defender.
From the flag kick the ball was scrambled off the Hillgate line.
A second corner a few moments later saw Hilton head across the area for Bruce Clarke to leap and force a good save out of the home side's keeper.
On 15 minutes Clarke wriggled into the area and hit the side netting.
Bruce Clarke climbs high for a header that was well saved
The ball is scrambled off the Hillgate line
Mellor were rampant and soon after Hilton's shot was diverted by Clarke, lurking three yards out, but the keeper bundled the effort away for a corner.
Mellor then had a couple of scares, before Randle opened the scoring with a delightful chip after the keeper had again denied Clarke.
Coram then fed Hilton whose header was just wide.
Barlow drifted in a free kick from the right and Dave Whelan, at the far post, shot powerfully and accurately, forcing the keeper to parry the ball clear.
Randle then hit a sweet 50 yard crossfield pass to put Barlow clear on the right but his cross was blocked.
Matt Cotton shoots
Coram then created an opening for Clarke but his shot was blocked.
On 36 minutes Hillgate fashioned their first real chance but fired over.
Dan Byrne then shot just a foot too high with a free kick from 22 yards and Mark Oldham's free kick moments later found Clarke in a good position but the chance went away.
The first half ended with Jack Hilton sending two drives wide of the uprights.
The second half opened with Whelan forcing another fine save from Hillgate's busy keeper.
Then on 53 minutes Coram found Barlow raiding on the right. He brought the ball down superbly on his chest, cut inside the full back and sent an angled drive into the far left hand corner of the net for 2-0.
Adam Barlow scores
Randle, who was linking well with Coram, then had a close range effort headed off the line.
On 55 minutes David Campbell replaced Clarke.
Hillgate then hit the Mellor crossbar.
In the next attack Whelan squared for Campbell eight yards out but the ball ran under his foot and the chance evaporated.
On 63 minutes Ben Beer came on for Tom Byrne.
Jack Hilton sends a soaring header just wide
Whelan was then denied a certain penalty when he was body checked as he rounded the keeper.
Hillgate shot over from range on 67 minutes.
Four minutes later Mark Oldham hit the post from 25 yards.
Mellor were finding holes in Hillgate's defence at will now and on 73 minutes Coram set up Campbell but his shot flew wide.
Two minutes later Campbell powered through two tackles and let fly from 22 yards only to see his shot cannon off a post.
Whelan ended any Hillgate hopes of an upset on 80 minutes, coolly slotting a penalty low into the bottom left hand corner after a defender had blocked Hilton's drive with his hands.
Mellor will meet tougher and cleverer opponents this season. But this was a solid effort with plenty of good performances.
The Seconds lost 0-3 at home to Tintwistle in a friendly.
The Thirds lost to Bedians 2-1 away. Rick Axford scored.
The Fourths beat Moston Brook at Brabyns 2-0. Man of the Match Shane Cliffe scored and Rob Jordan also netted.
Pictures of the Fourths' match follow, courtesy of Mark Jordan.
There will be no reports for the next two weeks as I am away.
Danny Roberts shoots for the Fourths
Mellor on the attack