MELLOR 3 OLD STRETFORDIANS 1
Mellor Firsts recorded their 12th win in 15 games with a 3-1 victory over Old Stretfordians.
It was an impressive performance for a side reshuffled at the last minute when Adam Barlow broke down in the warm up.
Bruce Clarke was promoted from the bench to lead the attack and rewarded manager Si Dalby's faith with an excellent display and two goals.
The side was already missing Chris Coram in midfield and the makeshift middle three of Randle, Dalby and Hilton didn't always purr.
But the workrate was high and supported by solid defending and a cutting edge attack Mellor always seemed to have enough to win the game.
the side is showing good balance and a resilience whoever wears the shirt.
The Firsts are sixth in the Premiership with 10 wins and a draw from 17. In the last 15 games in all competitions Mellor have lost only twice, with a goal tally of 45 to 24. They could conceivably finish third in the Premiership, given a reasonable points haul on the run in.
Whelan chases down his man
Ben Beer dubiously given offside as he is about to shoot
With Mellor employing wing-backs again and three centre-backs, Old Strets, who won the corresponding home fixture 4-2, started the brighter of the two sides.
In the second minute they hit Jamie McGregor's left hand post from nine yards after an incisive move.
Mellor struggled to find an early rhythm but on 11 minutes Peck went on a 45 yard run which ended in a shot saved by the Strets keeper.
On 18 minutes Peck was brought down in the area. Dave Whelan's penalty was underhit and the keeper saved to his right. As the ball came back off the keeper Mellor seemed sure to score but Whelan and Clarke appeared to get in each other's way and the resulting shot sailed over the bar.
Mellor might have been given a second penalty on 24 minutes as Bruce Clarke was clipped in the area in full flight.
The striker stayed on his feet to pull the ball back for Peck but his co-forward missed his kick and the chance was gone.
Whelan then snuffed out a dangerous situation deep in his own penalty area with a well timed tackle, conceding a corner.
From the flag kick McGregor punched the ball clear but only to the edge of the area. Strets could not take advantage and a volleyed reply went over the bar.
Mellor, by now, had steadied the ship and were playing with their usual assurance.
On 33 minutes Hilton shot over.
But three minutes later Dom Randle sent Clarke clear and he buried the chance for 1-0.
Dom Randle on the attack
Randle then found Peck with a laser guided pass but the ball was on the striker's weaker left foot and the shot went wide.
Strets sent over a dangerous free kick which McGregor elected to punch again, this time getting substantial distance on the clearance.
McGregor was called upon to make a full length save on 52 minutes.
But Mellor took control minutes later when Whelan found Clarke with a free kick and the striker sent a looping header over the keeper and into the net for 2-0.
Strets rallied and in the next attack sent in three shots in quick succession all blocked by Mellor defenders, the last effort resulting in a corner.
This was Strets' best spell of the match and on 62 minutes McGregor was at full stretch to tip away a cross from the right.
Two minutes later he stood up well to save a point blank shot near the byline in a one-on-one showdown.
Dalby and Hilton were called upon to make telling defensive headers, then Swann produced a terrific tackle to snuff out a further Strets' chance.
On 67 minutes Strets' pressure was rewarded when an attacker wriggled past two Mellor players and let fly from 30 yards, finding the top of the net for 2-1.
Clarke then worked a shooting chance for Peck but the ball flew wide of the far post.
Peck was then put clean through but the referee - immediately admitting his error - wrongly blew for offside.
On 74 minutes Jack Kelly replaced Clarke and made an important contribution, holding up play well, retaining possession and linking the midfield and forwards.
Hilton elected to shoot on 78 minutes when he might have passed to a better-placed Peck and the ball went over the bar.
With time running out Kelly sent Peck clear and the forward clipped the ball past Strets' keeper to seal the win at 3-1.
Strets then produced a similar move to their goal, a player ghosting past two Mellor men but this time McGregor smothered the shot.
Kelly's efforts were almost rewarded with a goal in injury time when Peck fed him in the inside right channel but his powerful strike flew wide.
Mellor's graft-till-the-final-whistle workrate was admirable, Joe Dalby running 40 yards late in the game to close down a Strets attacker on the right.
Strets hit a post
Bruce Clarke's looping header finds the net
McGregor punches clear
Mellor Thirds lost 3-1 at Aldermere, James Rayner netting.
In Division D Mellor Fourths are well clear of the relegation zone after a second consecutive win, this time 4-1 over Moston Brook. They are now five points ahead of their nearest rivals and with a game in hand. Kyle Davidson, Sy Gleave, Jimmy Archer and Rob Jordan scored.