THREE injuries compounded Warrington Town’s woe as they were beaten 1-0 at Mickleover Sports.
A second half goal from Andy Dales was enough to end Town’s five game unbeaten run in the league.
But perhaps more concerning than the result were the injuries sustained, with striker Ben Deegan suffering a suspected broken jaw in an unpunished first half challenge, while both Michael Grogan and James McCarten limped off after the break.
Mickleover, who included former Premier League striker Clinton Morrison in their starting line-up, controlled much of the first half with their possession orientated style of play.
Kick-off had been slightly delayed due to concerns over the line markings around the pitch, were very faint, especially under the average lighting at the Dom Amott Arena.
The hosts didn’t waste any time getting going, and created a chance in the opening minutes, with striker Adam Baskerville blazing wide after he was able to drive forward from halfway.
Playing with three attacking midfielders marshalled by the excellent John McGrath sitting deep, Mickleover were causing problems for the Yellows between the lines of play, and after Dales had flashed a cross along the goalmouth, Morrison had his first shot of the game well blocked by McCarten.
Perhaps the best chance came on 19 minutes when Pablo Mills’ fierce drive from 20 yards bounced off three plays and fell kindly for Kevin Grocott in the box and he was denied one-on-one by Karl Wills.
Wills was at his best five or so minutes later when he adjusted mid-flight to deny a goal from Mills diverted shot.
In between those chances, the Yellows had lost striker Deegan to injury, with him receiving treatment on the touchline for several minutes before departing the ground early to get to hospital.
With no recognised striker on the bench, it forced the Yellows in to a formation change, with new signing, former Leeds and Rotherham midfielder Simon Lenighan coming on for his second appearance for the club.
For all of the hosts possession, they struggled to mount anything meaningful until the closing stages of the first half.
The Yellows were slightly fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men when ‘keeper Wills spilled a ball outside of his box and then was penalised for handling outside his area, escaping with a yellow card when a red would have left the visitors in all sorts of trouble without a goalkeeper on the bench.
From the resulting free kick, Wills made a fine save to stretch and tip the ball around the post.
The second half saw a debut for Peter Wylie, a right-back signed from Stalybridge, as he replaced a hobbling Grogan five minutes after the restart.
Mickleover got the decisive goal on 54 minutes, Wills’ kick was intercepted in midfield and with the Yellows defence fractured, Morrison found the right ball and Dales was able to finish off the inside of the post.
Strangely, that marked the end of Mickleover’s almost exclusive control of the game.
The Yellows started to mount meaningful pressure of their own and were almost level within five minutes when Ciaran Kilheeney’s header was cleared off the line.
Renewed positivity for Stuart Mellish’s men was perhaps most evidence when the hard-working Gerard Kinsella charged down a goalkeeper’s clearance shortly after the hour.
Another injury forced Mellish’s hand again, this time bringing on winger Scott Harries for centre-back James McCarten with 25 to play.
As has often been the case this season, Warrington’s best chances at goal came from set pieces.
Kilheeney ran to the front post to flick on Metcalfe’s corner and force a decent save out of the ‘keeper, who minutes later clawed away an in-swinging effort from Lewis Codling.
But gradually the hosts started to break up the play more regularly, and in the end they held out for a relatively comfortable win.
Warrington are away in the Midlands for the third time in the week again on Saturday, as they travel to Coalville.
Mickleover Sports: Tolley, Bennett, Turner, McGrath, Mills, Broadhead, Dales, Grocott, Morrison (Litchfield), Baskerville, Schofield. Unused subs: Belgrave, Lansdowne, Burgin.
Warrington Town: Wills, Grogan (Wylie), Nicholas, Ventre, McCarten (Harries), Shaw, Codling, Kinsella, Kilheeney, Deegan (Lenighan), Metcalfe. Unused subs: O’Donnell, Winder.