MELLOR 5 CHEADLE TOWN RESERVES 3
Mellor Firsts progressed to the semi-finals of the Stockport Senior Cup by eliminating the holders in a thrilling match.
It was full revenge for the 3-1 reverse in the same competition last year at Cheadle's ground.
There were plenty of bragging rights at stake with ex Mellor players Tom Fletcher (in net) and Lewis Smith (centre back) in Cheadle's colours.
Mellor's success was rooted in manager Si Dalby's decision to switch to a 5-3-2 formation.
Cheadle never fathomed the system and their inability to break down Mellor's blanket defence gave the home side the confidence to launch piercing counter attacks.
Cheadle had planned to thwart Matt Peck and Jack Hilton on the flanks but were confused to see them raiding down the middle.
The result was also, in part, due to the game being switched to the Third Team's home venue, the 3G plastic pitch at Newall Green.
It suited Mellor's quick passing game but especially the pace of Peck up front.
In the days before the game Mellor's cause was hindered by an injury to Chris Coram who was ruled out of midfield.
But Joe Dalby prooved a highly competent replacement.
The game began with Cheadle trying to make an impression on the wings but Mellor's wing-backs Ben Beer and Dan Byrne were like two locked and bolted oak doors.
And when they tried to go long the three centre backs, Swann, Oldham and Fairfield were more than a match for Cheadle's undersized attack.
In midfield Dalby, Adam Barlow and Dave Whelan were picking off every miscontrol and winning the lion's share of possession.
One exchange ended with Whelan being kneed in the head by a Cheadle midfielder who earned a yellow card for the offence.
The first big chance fell to Hilton on a slight angle 10 yards out in the inside left channel.
He might have shot across the keeper left footed to the far post. But instead he opened out his body and put a right foot shot just wide of the near post.
Mellor's midfielders were feeding Hiltion and Peck quickly at every opportunity and the two strikers were causing havoc.
On 19 minutes Joe Dalby fired just wide from 22 yards.
Then Hilton carved another shooting chance but opted to pass to Peck who - instead of pulling the trigger - tried to cut inside and the move broke down.
Hilton and Whelan then combined only to see Whelan's powerful shot go too high.
On 36 minutes Jamie McGregor, who had been untroubled, produced a wonderful double save, parrying a powerful shot away and then leaping to push clear a chip that might have found the top corner.
On 40 minutes Mellor took a deserved 1-0 lead, Hilton sending a dipping shot into the top right hand corner of the net.
It was no more than Mellor deserved. But two minutes later it got better. Barlow was scythed down in the area and Dave Whelan calmly slotted home the penalty, sending Fletcher the wrong way.
The half time team talk centred on Mellor's ability to keep focussed.
The strong wind that Mellor had battled against first half was becoming wilder.
But within five minutes of the restart Peck virtually killed the game, dancing through the centre, outpacing the defence and slotting underneath the keeper for 3-0.
On 57 minutes Cheadle pulled a goal back, Adam Marsden heading in a deep cross after Ben Beer had pulled up with cramp.
Jack Kelly replaced Beer and moved up top with Joe Dalby slotting in at right back.
Cheadle thought this might have been an opportunity to exploit Mellor but Dalby was as resolute as Beer had been.
On 60 minutes Peck (with a suspicion of offside) got beyond Cheadle's back line again. Fletcher parried his initial shot but Peck rammed home the rebound for 4-1.
The visitors finally produced their best form of the match at this stage and on 64 minutes a corner was headed in at the far post by Barry Lawson, creeping over the line despite a crowd of defenders.
The men in racing green tried to rally.
But Mellor's defence held firm and on 68 minutes Whelan unleashed a 35 yard exocet that thundered back off the bar.
Two minutes later Peck, who overcame a bout of cramp, chased a lost cause and pressured the left back into a back pass.
Keeper Fletcher choked his clearance straight to substitute Kelly, who, ice in his veins, chipped the ball back in the net from 25 yards. 5-2.
Bruce Clarke then replaced Hilton.
Cheadle netted again on 88 minutes, with another header from a deep cross.
The referee played a full five minutes of added time but there were no further scares for Mellor, who now meet Stockport Georgians Reserves on March 8th at home.
The Seconds had no game. The Thirds' game was rained off.
The Fourth lost 2-3 at home to Old Strets, Dunc Bray netting twice.