Stand-in keeper Amos stars for Mangotsfield
ALL the goals came in the first half as AFC Mangotsfield United maintained their 100 per cent record this season in an enthralling derby at Pomphrey Hill.
In doing so, they ended ground-share rivals Cleeve Colts' own perfect start to the campaign, thanks in large to the exploits of stand-in goalkeeper Lewis Amos, who pulled off a string of superb saves, including one from the penalty spot, to earn The Post's Star Man accolade and the plaudits from his team-mates.
How Mangotsfield claimed victory by such a sizeable margin is a mystery, although their trio of centre-backs, Ryan Dyer, Kane Smart and brother Nathan Smart, excelled in front of the terrific Amos, who is more accustomed to performing as a right wing-back and was only keeping goal for the second time this term in place of the unavailable James Boulton.
Cleeve were left bewildered by their failure to net at least once, having squandered a penalty opportunity of their own. The men in red dominated the early exchanges, Mo Carraway stooping to steer Dean Channell's cross wide from a tight angle at the near post, while the busy Channell's well-caught strike flew straight into the midriff of Amos.
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Ross Williams was a regular threat, too, on the Cleeve right and he was disappointed to see his rasping left-footer fizz wide after jinking infield to make space.
Carraway also directed Channell's driven free-kick goalwards, only for Amos to push the ball behind for a corner.
Mangotsfield had created nothing of their own by the midway mark of the half, yet it was they who snatched the lead. Ben Harris, who was a willing runner up front throughout, floated the ball into the middle, where strike partner Mike Summerhayes managed to steady himself before squeezing a deflected effort just inside the far post.
The breakthrough sparked a frantic spell of activity at both ends. Amos shot out a leg to prevent Williams' goalbound strike flying past him, while Harris was a whisker away from scoring for Mangotsfield after he surged across the 18-yard box before lashing a left-footer a fraction past the far upright.
The forward was, nevertheless, soon celebrating Mangotsfield's second goal 12 minutes from the interval. Midfield playmaker Zac Zabek – brother of former Bristol Rovers star Lee Zabek – clipped the ball into the danger area. Skipper Nathan Smart's flick-on was fumbled by Mark Collins and fellow centre-half Kane Smart pounced to easily nod the ball home.
It got even better for the leaders on the stroke of half-time. Cleeve midfielder Paul Davis felt he was harshly adjudged to have tripped Zabek inside the area, but referee Richard Bush pointed to the spot and Zabek confidently buried the penalty.
Cleeve boss Marc Williams did his best to rally his charges with a stirring interval team-talk and they began the half just as they had started the match, with purpose. Amos acrobatically tipped over Carraway's dipping free-kick and did well shortly after to get firmly behind defender Ollie Carter's piledriver.
Davis' angled attempt then flashed just past the far post after Ross Moorhead had teed him up with a cross, all of which came before the 58th-minute mark when the Colts pressure appeared to have paid off at last.
Carraway was felled inside the box, but Moorhead's spot-kick was too close to Amos, who did well to beat it out.
Five minutes later, Harris squandered a golden chance from 12 yards to put the game to bed for Paul Smart's pacesetters after he was bundled over inside the area by covering Cleeve right-back Aksar Miah, who otherwise enjoyed a good game.
The forward picked himself up, but saw his own penalty attempt brilliantly pushed behind by Collins to his left.
Collins was soon at it again when Harris, determined to atone for his miss, sprinted past a series of stationary defenders and into the penalty area, before seeing his close-range strike tipped away by the Cleeve custodian, who, moments later, did equally well to bravely get in the way of another point-blank Harris thunderbolt.
Cleeve Colts: Mark Collins, Aksar Miah, Ollie Carter, Sean Kellett, Russ Milkins, Paul Davis (Lee Morgan, 34), Ross Williams, Mo Carraway (Aaron Anderson, 59), Joe Newman, Dean Channell (Matt Wright, 34), Ross Moorhead
AFC Mangotsfield: Lewis Amos, Nathan Smart, Kane Smart, Ryan Dyer, Oliver Fowler (Jason Base, 59), Tom Millard, Oliver Randall, Zac Zabek, Luke Carter (Tom Ferris, 50), Mike Summerhayes (Ryan Jones, 69), Ben Harris