STRETS 4 MELLOR 3
Mellor Firsts regularly under perform away at Strets and so it proved on Saturday.
Too many defensive errors, a sometimes casual attitude to ball retention in midfield and profligate shooting cost Mellor dearly in a 4-3 reverse.
Mellor scored the goal of the game, a worldie, over-the-shoulder volley from Dave Whelan to make the score 2-2 just before the break.
But the home side's deadly finishing proved crucial and only an awful and untypical miss right at the end prevented a bigger loss.
Mellor were without key players again but still fielded a side well capable of winning.
Dave Whelan's wonder strike
After a lacklustre start Mellor went behind to a penalty on 16 minutes awarded for a penalty area push by Ben Beer as an innocuous right wing cross came over.
On 22 minutes a Dave Whelan free kick, for handball on the edge of the box, was saved with difficulty by Strets' keeper.
Strets were making plenty of errors at the back and on 24 minutes a mistake saw the ball arrive at Jack Hilton's feet. The striker's cross was not good enough.
But the ball rebounded to Chris Coram who drove a foot wide from just inside the area.
A minute later Whelan robbed a defender and fed Jack Hilton in a channel but his shot lacked sufficient power.
Jack Hilton leaps for a header, with Swann and Cotton supporting
But on 33 minutes Whelan's clever pass put Hilton clear again and this time the lanky striker made no mistake, sliding the ball under the keeper's body for 1-1.
Jonny Cooke had a good run and cross on 37 minutes.
But on 40, Ben Beer's right footed pass to the right wing was intercepted and the winger's resulting cross sailed over keeper McGregor's head to nestle just inside the far stick for 2-1.
Strets score with a penalty
The lead lasted just a minute.
Paul Swann got his head onto Mark Oldham's free kick and sent the ball back across the Strets' penalty area for Dave Whelan to volley one of the best goals he will ever score. Van Basten-esque.
On 44 minutes Hilton headed Chris Coram's dangerous free kick over the bar when he might have done better.
This was Mellor's best spell and Whelan then wasted a good chance, fabricated by Cooke, firing wide from 12 yards.
There was still time for Cooke himself to drive on and shoot wide from 16 yards when he should have hit the target.
Chris Coram fires just wide
Mellor were definitely dominating and the start of the second half saw Cooke fashion another chance for Paul Swann, arriving at the back post, only to be denied by the toe of a defender.
Cotton then headed a Joe Dalby free kick over the bar.
On 52 minutes a surging run down the left by Swann saw the big attacker cut inside and drive the ball into the side netting from a tight angle when a cross might have been the better option,.
Inconceivably Strets then scored two almost identical breakaway goals in two minutes against the run of play to go 4-2 up.
Both strikes began with Mellor losing the ball high upfield.
But incisive passes and deadly finishing undid Mellor's back line.
Dom Randle replaced Dan Byrne on 62 minutes, with Paul Swann going to left back.
On 70 minutes Hilton shot wide again after a Paul Swann knock down.
The match became bad tempered as Mellor's understandable frustration showed.
Swann and a Strets attacker were booked for a heavy challenge and retaliation.
And a few minutes later a Strets forward was red carded for a kung fu revenge lunge at Swann which reminded me of Eric Cantona.
On 75 Lee Power replaced Cooke and might have scored with his first touch but produced a fresh air shot from a left wing cross.
Coram had a free kick saved on 80 minutes.
Then Luke Jubb had to replace substitute Randle whose thigh problem came back to haunt him.
It was all Mellor in the closing stages.
Cotton finally forced the ball home in injury time for 4-3 from a Joe Dalby free kick.
But Strets again proved dangerous on the break and deep into injury time they went clear again, a forward for once firing wide when it seemed easier to score.
The Seconds' game was off.
The Thirds lost 3-1 to Abacus Media Seconds away. Fred Keyte scored.
The Fourths are up to 7th in Division D after a great 3-1 away win at Milton.
Danny Roberts, Dunc Bray and Chris Millward, who lobbed the keeper from 50 yards, did the damage.
Adam Sidebotham was Mellor's Man of the Match.