A local derby (in a geographical sense) this ain’t but there was plenty of interest as Mssrs Antony Trucca and Chris Seaton - once at the helm at Park Road - now find themselves in similar roles at New Mills.
There were some familiar faces in the Millers playing ranks as well as Danny Wood and Luke Cotton were on the team sheet.
Thankfully the rain that had battered the Church Lane pitch all day hadn’t had a bearing on its playability; hats off to the New Mills ground staff for managing to get the match on…
…and thankfully said rain eased just in time for the kick off of what turned out to be a fairly entertaining contest.
The first chance fell to us as early as the first minute; a corner from the right was spilled by the Millers keeper but we just couldn’t bundle it home.
Straight back up the other end a neat Millers move down the left saw Aaron Dwyer cut inside and arrow a shot inches over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, the first goal of the evening. Tabby Magida looked to have run out of room on the right as he travelled along the byline but he found enough space to squeeze in a shot inside the near post.
The action didn’t let up as Ollie Hatfield-Banton had to cut out a dangerous low cross from the right just two minutes later before a lull in play was broken on 14 minutes when Ben Christopher found space on the left but his well-taken shot was excellently palmed away by the Millers keeper.
Aaron Dwyer then scooped a shot just wide of the post moments later for the Millers, Rhys Clooney had a close-range shot blocked by the keeper and Danny Whiting had to claw an awkward looping header from under his crossbar.
On 28 minutes New Mills got their equaliser as Ed Driver converted a penalty.
This heralded a good spell for New Mills as they put us under considerable pressure.
From our own mistake in midfield we had to hurriedly thwart a dangerous-looking counter-attack and were let-off when a cut-back found an unmarked player in the area who thankfully pulled his effort wide.
On 41 minutes we delivered a counter-blow. Tabby Magida, working down the left-hand side this time, drilled the ball across for an onrushing Rhys Clooney to ram home from close range.
Our tails were up again and minutes later Rhys almost added to his evening’s tally as he raced clear on a counter-attack and was prevented from netting by a world-class saving tackle.
The second half was less to-and-fro as we dominated a large proportion of the play.
Substitute Sheriff’s first touch was to fire just wide from the edge of the area on the 46th minute with Ben Brooks then being set free down the left, only for him to stab his effort inches wide of the post.
Ben’s turn of pace would turn profitable on 66 minutes as he was upended in the box; Tabby Magida stepping up to net his second of the evening from the spot and give us a 3-1 lead.
It could have been more. Matty German delicately dinked Ben Brooks in on the right on 70 minutes but he slipped at the vital moment, Sheriff just couldn’t stretch his legs long enough to get onto the end of a cross, Rhys Clooney latched onto a pull-back from Naughton but just couldn’t get enough purchase on the shot and Rhys again a minute later was put through on the left but allowed the keeper to get the slightest of touches on it; the ball squirmed loose and we couldn’t scramble it home.
New Mills were reduced to two late chances in the final minutes.
A shot from the edge of the box deflected just wide (with Danny Whiting rooted to his spot) with a free header then fizzed over from the resulting corner.
Just the one league defeat in five now and the biggest test of all coming this weekend as top-of-the-table Rylands come to Park Road.
Our thanks to New Mills for their excellent hospitality and our best wishes to Mssrs Trucca, Seaton and Bradburn for the rest of the season. We’ll see you again next term!
TEAM: Whiting, Neild (Ratican), Wallis, German, Hatfield-Banton, Huynh, Magida, Christopher (Sheriff) (Russell), Clooney, Naughton, Brooks. SUBS: Ratican, Russell, Ntalu, Sheriff, Dunn.