Vodkat Premier Division
New Mills 1, Stone Dominoes 1
By Duncan Hibbert
It was a case of ‘after The Lord Mayor’s Show’ last Monday evening (March 7) as New Mills were held at home by Stone Dominoes.
Ally Pickering retained the same outfield players who had played so superbly against Ramsbottom on Saturday and only rotated the goalkeeping position with Ben Procter replacing Dominic Ingram-Hughes.
The expectant Church Lane crowd was stunned into near silence when the visitors from Staffordshire took the lead in the sixth minute.
Defender Richard Rowe gave away an unnecessary free kick wide on the right hand flank and when the cross was whipped into the box, Procter should have cleared the danger, as should centre half Liam Coyne immediately after. So when the ball fell into the path of Leon Ashman, the Dominoes striker wasn’t going to waste his luck as he netted for the third consecutive game.
Although with them having the lion’s share of possession thereafter, the home side could not gather any momentum in the attacking third of the pitch as Stone’s packed back-line defended their unexpected lead.
It was from a set piece that the Millers went closest to grabbing an equaliser when Adam Mather’s looping header from Mike Bowler’s corner was superbly cleared from under his own crossbar by the back-pedalling Ryan Connor.
As half time approached, skipper Carlos Meakin stabbed a shot just wide of the target when well positioned. The Millers conjured up an equaliser in stoppage time with undoubtedly their best move of the half. Luke Horrocks’ diagonal through ball was inch perfect to find Mather whose pace saw him tear through the heart of the Stone defence and, after drawing keeper Barry Weston, he finished with aplomb.
Weston got his revenge five minutes after the interval when he denied Mather with a superb reflex save. Meakin’s cross found his team-mate stealing in on the blind side at the back post but the Stone keeper denied him brilliantly.
The Millers started the second half with tempo and energy which had been lacking in the opening 45 minutes, and they thought they had taken the lead in the 54th minute when Meakin expertly rounded off a move involving several players. However the assistant referee’s flag had been raised for offside despite the naked eye suggesting that Meakin had timed his run to perfection.
While creating very little up front, the Dominoes defended very well and probably didn’t deserve to lose.
New Mills: Procter, Bowler (K Grandison), Mather, Swirad, Coyne, Rowe, Meakin, Pickford (Moore), L Grandison, Innes, Horrock. Unused subs: Barras, Monaghan, Ingram-Hughes (GK).