Emirates FA Cup fever was rife in Derbyshire as Mickleover Sports faced Alfreton Town

Sunday 07 Oct 2018
Our reporter Connor Whitley was at the tie between Mickleover Sports and Alfreton Town
Connor Whitley-FA-Young-Reporters-Club

By Connor Whitley is a 22-year-old politics and international relations graduate from the University of Nottingham. He recently started to explore film photography and as a lifelong football fan the next logical step was to merge these two passions. It led to his creation of @footballon35 which has a strong Instagram presence and a new blog for the 2018-19 season – footballon35.wordpress.com. He is a member of The FA Young Reporters' Club.

As the days get colder, the Emirates FA Cup just keeps heating up.

The more serious the competition becomes so does the prize money, with £15,000 at stake for the winner of this tie.

Mickleover’s club secretary Tony Shaw explains the money will go a long way for the club, quite literally on the pitch, as they are looking to replace the turf with a 4G alternative which would mean less postponements due to bad weather.

Mickleover Sports 1-2 Alfreton Town
  • The Emirates FA Cup
  • Third Round Qualifying
  • Saturday 6 October 2018
  • Don Amott Arena, Mickleover
  • Winners receive £15,000 from prize fund

Of course, the FA Cup is not all about the monetary reward and Shaw sees the competition as key to bringing in and, most importantly, keeping new fans. 

Yesterday’s local derby led to a bumper crowd with the main stand at the Don Amott Arena packed. With one side of the ground virtually closed off, the stands felt packed leading to a great atmosphere reserved for FA Cup ties.

Shaw was correct in saying the Cup brought in new fans and among the other clubs’ colours on show were Derby County, Leicester City, Burton Albion, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest.

Fans visiting Mickleover for the first time could not have been disappointed with the amount of action on show in the first half, with Alfreton winning two penalties. 

The first came in the 24th minute when Curtis Bateson picked up a loose ball and passed it out wide to the right. He then chased his pass and after some quick exchanges it came back to him before he was fouled just inside the box.

The resulting penalty was taken by Bobby Johnson who forced a fine save from Lewis King down to his right, before he then pushed the follow up over the bar even more impressively.

Just seven minutes later, Alfreton had another penalty for a challenge that led most in the ground to question what had gone on and call for VAR!

The crowds were out in Derbyshire for the Emirates FA Cup

According to those closer to the action it was nothing more than a brush of boots. Nonetheless, Alfreton didn’t make the same mistake and this time it was Jordan Sinnott who finished to King’s left as he dived the same way as the first penalty.

Alfreton doubled their lead in stoppage time of the first half from a well-worked corner routine that was stabbed home by Richard Peniket in the six-yard box. 

Mickleover were the better side in the second half. However, they lacked the quality to create clear-cut chances. They gave themselves hope of forcing a replay late on after they scored a penalty of their own in the 82nd minute.

Pablo Mills, their veteran centre-half, was fouled by Josh Gowling after a floating free-kick. Isia Marsiella converted down the middle. After this, Mickleover threw the kitchen sink at Alfreton who, like an experienced plumber, knew exactly what to do with it.

On another day, Mickleover could have found an equaliser but Billy Heath’s side’s class shone through. Heath, himself, has seen Wembley glory with his former side North Ferriby United who won the FA Trophy in 2015.

Perhaps the Emirates FA Cup final might be a step too far but they are now only one win away from a potential tie with Sunderland who are surely in the sights of every non-League side who make it past the final qualifying round on 20 October.

By Connor Whitley FA Young Reporters' Club