Saturday, 18 October 2014

Leamington FC 0 County 2 (Conference North ) 15 October 2014






I am a simple soul, but I must confess that neither the overly enthusiastic cry in my direction, on Friday, of “ and there`s 00.09 off your next purchase”  from the easily excited Tesco till person, or the small slip verifying my good fortune,  could lift what had been an above averagely annoying and confusing week for me.
 You will know, of course, that I am easily confused and annoyed, but those `scientists’ had been at it again and.....having absorbed, with difficulty, the existence of `Dark Matter’( It passes through solid objects such as planets apparently), and `Dark Energy’( covers 75% of the universe, but cosmologists don’t know what it is).....I was dismayed to get `Dark Flow’ ( an unseen force, quaintly referred to previously as `something moving incredibly fast, dragging whole galaxies into itself) thrown at me by those apparently not that `in the know’, but gamely staring at the stars! I was barely hanging on to the last vestiges of sanity.....

 
Philomena Cunk.
 I lay claim to these days, and far from consoled by the knowledge that Philomena Cunk ( “ Is Professor Brian Cox on acid?”) hadn`t given forth on the subject as yet! I set off for the Flyer and onward transportation to the New Windmill Stadium, still in a state of perplexed angst- the only conceivable antidote I knew of, being a victory for the boys in today`s game, any sort twixt great to slutchy would do!
In the event, County obliged fully and without so much as a sliver of slutch anywhere to be seen. In fact it was a pretty decent win with no one not doing a job! Forced to give a M.O.M award I would look in Churchman`s direction, but it could quite easily have been any one of the other 10, as County stormed into an early lead....added to it with a smile inducing wind hugger from Churchman, before shutting Leamington out fairly comprehensively with a most professional performance.

 
David Cairns- off to assist the Pure team....
Just before the off I was pleased to make the acquaintance of exile and long time County fan David Cairns who was hot foot to assist Jon Kieron and company with the Pure match commentary, before it was time for the  the start that saw 5 at the back for County, which I was by no means unhappy about, the only changes being Stevenson and Spencer in for Baker and Sharp who was on the bench.

 
Spencer and Lees ready for the off....
There was a tricky wind whistling around the New Windmill ground as County headed our way at the kick off. Hurst`s first kick sent the ball out of the stadium, so it  was clear some skill would be needed in order to prosper under the prevailing conditions. Two early Leamington throws pushed County back on their heels, but the first real flurry of excitement came at the other end where keeper Neil Collett had to look sharp to get to a long ball before Dennis. Seconds later Collett was in action again keeping a decent strike from the same forward out.

Early action.....

The first 5 or 6 minutes passed without major alarms really, but the 7th ushered in the glimmer of a chance for Leamington, needing Hurst to pull off a fair old stop to keep the ball in play after Stephan Morley had crossed from the left. Morley seemed to fancy his chances going forward, but his execution was not as good as the approach play, and the 8th minute saw him lift a shot well wide after he latched onto a loose ball.
Gradually County started to get their game together after this, and 3 minutes later it paid off as a surging run from O`Halloran earned his team a corner. This was a typically brilliant County classic as well....as Milligan finessed it into the crowded box where Spencer rose to head home. We are so ...so good at set pieces these days, and it`s great to see!

 
Spencer heads home from Milligan`s corner.
Leamington were minded to respond, but Danny Newton, who had scored twice against us last term at this venue, headed over the top from Morley`s free kick. Already it was apparent that Leamington were getting a fulsome share of free kicks, and I was by no means happy  at the end of the game that 100% of these were justified, that said...there was another for County to defend next, and Hurst did just that keeping it out nicely.

Dennis on the ball.....

Both teams were having a go, it must be said, but County seemed the most likely team to......as a Dennis run only just failed, and keeper Collett snaffled Milligan`s cross after Fagbola and Spencer had linked up to turn defence into attack. Lees then followed Fagbola`s lead snuffing out the tiniest hint of a break by our hosts, setting Spencer up for a run that took him to the by-line. From Spencer the ball quickly moved on to Stevenson, who fired off a shot, but Collett had it covered and it stayed 1-0.

Stevenson battling for the ball....

A minute later and Newton found himself clear only to shoot straight at Hurst....then a right wing cross reached Lee Chilton, but despite looking reasonably well set a yard or so out, he lifted his shot over the bar.
That was a bit of a let off for County....could they now capitalise on this? Well just a minute on from the previous action and we had our answer, initially via Spencer who was working like 2 men and about as skilfully as four as he probed the home back line looking for a weakness. Finding the way through blocked Spencer slipped the ball inside and eventually it landed with Churchman who sent a lofted drive off into the swirling maelstrom above the players` heads towards goal. Collett looked to have it covered....he certainly seemed to think he had.....but then it was clear he hadn`t as the pill smacked into the back of the net to his utter embarrassment! County meanwhile were now 2 up, and Churchman no doubt was getting ready to dine out on that one for the next month or so!

Neil Collett

This might have signaled a rout .....for a moment or so I thought it just might do, as Spencer again powered forward stinging Collett`s hands with a neat drive. The keeper did well with that but was nowhere when Spencer dived to head wide moments later....the effort missed goal by a bit however, and County`s goal hunger, at least for now, would have to remain unrequited!
Indeed ...Leamington came back at County –Hurst saving brilliantly to keep a strike by Stefan Moore out after Lees and Gregson had got in decent defensive headers, and then having to fashion a punched clearance as Moore again put him under pressure. 
County defenders at work.....



Yes.....Leamington were certainly working at getting back into the game, and Fagbola earned applause with a mighty blocking tackle to keep them out. Some decent passing was being put together at this stage by our hosts, but their finishing remained not at the same level instance the next effort from Morley which again climbed up and over the top.
Kristian Dennis - a forward in prime nick !


The half ended with both teams having a go.....County first via Dennis who was unlucky to not make better progress with Newton and Mace in tow, and then through excellent work from Spencer and Dennis  which saw James Tank in position to head a cross from the rampaging O`Halloran out. It only remained for Chilton to waste a neat flick by Moore, by firing weakly wide, and that was it for the first half!  
The re-start saw Collett in action to deny Dennis as Churchman threaded a neat ball into the box, and Hurst at the other end had to smother Matt Dodd`s cross. Most of the early action though was at Collett`s end, and County were unlucky to see a shot from Dennis just miss out after the sweetest of moves. Collett followed this with a good catch, under the bar, as Dennis lifted the ball over from the left.

Add caption

County were in the ascendancy for about the first 8 or 9 minutes of the half before Leamington replied , lifting the ball into the turbulence above  with the intention of doing County a damage. It might have worked, but it didn`t thanks to O`Halloran who stayed calm and saw the threat off. But I looked up to see that the threat wasn`t seen off as the referee had awarded Leamington the cheapest of free kicks ,thus putting the pressure back on County. The kick was in a scoreable position too, and my late Gran would have fancied it, but Newton sent another poor effort thudding into Milligan mere feet away, to gales of ribald laughter from the small covered terrace to my rear!
The terrace......


There was no doubt that Leamington were of a mind to get back into the game, but try as they might they found progress slow in coming, and County for their part ,with Fagbola and O`Halloran  possibly the stars in a star studded back 5, were defending brilliantly!

Stephen O`Halloran to the fore.....

 Add to this the poor finishing from our hosts that continued with Newton again lifting one high and wide, and Moore seeing an effort charged down by Gregson.
All this did not mean that County were not still working at adding to their goal tally, and Dennis was distinctly unlucky to see a neat chip clatter the bar with Collett a spectator.


 
Something makes Dennis smile !
There was a moments hilarity when a strike from Moore thudded into Gregson`s mid section only for the home specs to unite in appealing for a penalty. It wasn`t given and rightly so, which brought County on the offensive once more through Spencer, who did brilliant work to set Dennis up for an explosive finish that Collett somehow managed to keep out! The pressure was on again from Milligan`s corner, and Collett again had to pull off a brave save, this time to stop Stevenson from getting onto the score sheet.

 
Stevenson on the rampage....
On it went.....Stevenson again threatening at one end, before the Brakes replied bringing the best out of Gregson ( two fine headed clearances)Fagbola ( a great block) and Lees who was positioned nicely to hook clear as a cross pinged in from the flanks.
With less than 15 minutes left A.L replaced Milligan with Moses, as we watched transfixed to see excellent work from Churchman send Spencer clear- the forward unlucky to  find Collett snatch the ball off his toes at the very last gasp. County were piling it on now, and Collett almost went apoplectic as an appalling back pass by Tank( who had been comprehensively spooked by Spencer) almost undid the keeper.
County headed in Collett`s direction now....Churchman urging them on, whilst OHalloran joined Spencer and Stevenson playing some excellent stuff just feet away from us.
If it was looking all up for Leamington....they might have sneaked a late consolation, had Newton been tuned in, but he wasn`t and his shot went straight to Hurst  when better was called for.

 
Sharp, on for a late burst prior to enforced break.
There were just 2 minutes left when Sharp came on for the excellent Spencer, but the pattern was the same up until the end really as Stevenson and O`Halloran joined forces to play a superior form of `keep ball’ near the corner flag.

 
A superior form of `keep ball'
There was time for a  snap shot from Dennis to be deflected narrowly wide, before it was time for County to soak up the applause of their supporters in the knowledge that 3 more excellent points were theirs!
This was a good win......the work rate of the County team was just excellent, and well deserving of the win.
For me I enjoyed my second visit to  Leamington....angst forgotten....scientists forgiven !

County line up:

Hurst, Todd, Lees, Fagbola, Gregson, O`Halloran, Milligan( Moses 77), Churchman, Stevenson,Spencer( Sharp 88), Dennis

Substitutes;
Ormson, Lofthouse, Belezika.

Leamington line up:

Collett, Fry, Morley,Magunda, Tank, Mace, Dodd, Edwards, Moore, Chilton, Newton.

Substitutes;

Wint, Moore L, Goddard,Pierpoint, Maher.

Attendance: 855


Ian Brown

           



Conference North Review - County close in on play offs

A good day for County as although the win at Leamington left their League position unchanged the Hatters closed on the three teams now directly above them in the table.

Two of the teams in the play off places were quick of the mark today with Guiseley going ahead on 2 minutes through Adam Boyes and Barrow scoring after 6 minutes through former County man Sam Sheridan. Oxford City and Chorley were not far behind in a first 15 minutes that saw 8 goals scored in the Vanarama Conference North. Thankfully the majority of sides above County could no maintain the pace.

Chorley took the lead at Solihull Moors through James Dean (13) but it did not last long as Rob Elvins (19) restored parity for Solihull Moors. Right on half time the score improved even more from a County point of view as the League's top scorer Omar Bogle (45) put the home side ahead. Moors added a third Darryl Knights (65)

Oxford City were looking to protect their third place in the table and on 16 minutes Kynan Isaac gave them the lead on their visit to East Anglia. Just twenty minutes later there was good news for County as Jake Reed levelled things for Lowestoft Town. Just like second placed Chorley, City were then behind at half time thanks to Chris Henderson (44). Oxford's chances of pulling anything back were not helped with 16 minutes left when they were reduced to 10 men after Alesandro-Adrian Santiago was sent off.

Fylde, with cousins Jamie and Richie Allen in the starting line-up together for the first time took their time - relative to the other top 6 sides - to take the lead in their game. It was another ex-County man Danny Rowe (34), with his sixth of the season, who set them on their way. With 2nd and 3rd placed sides both losing a second goal from a Ritchie Allen penalty (79) looked to ensure an increased advantage for the west coast side; and so it proved despite a late scare when Darryn Stamp (87) pulled one back for Gainsborough Trinity and the home keeper had to make a great save from the same player in injury time to prevent the equaliser.

After that 6 minute opener Barrow increased their lead early in the second half through Alex-Ray Harvey (46) and any prospects of a Gloucester City response were ended when Jason Walker took over for the last 15 minutes. Walker became Barrow's joint top score for the season wioth three goals on 76, 83 and an injury time penalty. All in all a pretty miserable day for Gloucester's debutant keeper Jamie Stephens, who had joined on loan from Newport County in the week.

The North Ferriby United v Guiseley game saw the clubs either side of County in opposition and things soon swapped around with the lower placed side taking the advantage. The initial lead lasted one minute as Liam King (3) scored United's first, then Tom Denton (32) put them ahead. This time it was Guiseley's turn to come up with a quick response with Adam Boyes (34) making it 2-2. The attackers continued to be on top in the second half with the home side building a two goal lead through Jason St Juste (49) and Denton's second on 52 minutes. Guiseley responded through Danny Lowe then yet another former County man to hit the back of the net this weekend saw substitute Oli Johnson (86) make it 4-4 to keep his side ahead of County on goal difference.

Bottom club Hyde looked to be going well as they held Boston United to a goalless first half but it all went wrong soon after the break. A Dayle Southwell hat-trick (48 51 73) gave Boston a comfortable lead. Joe Conchie (84) scored a consolation for Hyde after which Boston had keeper Sam Vince sent off for kicking him whilst he tried to retrieve the ball. Midfielder Greg Tempest kept Hyde at bay for the remaining minutes and Boston kept pace with County.

Third bottom Tamworth increased the lead over the bottom two thanks to a 0-0 draw at Brackley Town, although it was insufficient to take them out of the relegation places.

Apart from Lowestoft the only other team in the bottom half of the table to win today were Colwyn Bay. Of all the early scoring sides the Welsh club outdid the rest with two in six minutes at Bower Fold. Rob Hopley (13) and Anthony Stevens (19) really knocked back Keith Briggs' Stalybridge Celtic side. The visitor's survived a late scare when despite a double yellow sending off for Briggs - in his first game of the season - Celtic pulled a goal back through Anthony Malbon (78).

Marvin Robinson (4) gave Hednesford Town an early lead at home to Bradford Park Avenue. The Yorkshire side took 71 minutes to level the scores with the equaliser coming through Billy Priestley, and the game finished 1-1.

Harrogate Town suffered a 2-0 defeat away to Worcester City despite City losing their goalkeeper through injury for the last 15 minutes. The Worcester goals came from Nick Wright (58) and Jordan Murphy (67).

TOP SCORERS

Listed by total League goals, FA- shows any goals scored in FA Cup ties.

11
Omar Bogie (Solihull Moors)
10
Dayle Southwell (Boston U) FA-1
9
Adam Boyes (Guiseley) and Stefan Moore (Leamington)
8  
Ritchie Allen (AFC Fylde) FA-1, James Dean (Chorley) FA-2, Kristian Dennis (COUNTY) FA-1, Charlie Griffin (Gloucester C) FA-1, Adi Yussuf (Oxford C) FA-1.

CURRENT TABLE
Pos Pld W D L F A GD Pt
1 AFC Fylde 13 10 1 2 34 8 26 31
2 Barrow 12 8 2 2 30 14 16 26
3 Chorley 13 7 3 3 22 15 7 24
4 Oxford C 15 7 3 5 30 29 1 24
5 Guiseley 13 6 5 2 25 16 9 23
6 COUNTY 13 7 2 4 25 18 7 23
7 Boston U 13 6 3 4 21 21 0 21
8 Solihull Moors 12 6 2 4 29 17 12 20
9 Worcester C 14 5 5 4 14 15 -1 20
10 North Ferriby U 13 5 4 4 19 16 3 19
11 Colwyn Bay 13 5 4 4 22 21 1 19
12 Hednesford T 14 5 4 5 17 17 0 19
13 Leamington 13 5 1 7 18 20 -2 16
14 Lowestoft T 13 4 4 5 13 19 -6 16
15 Gainsborough Tr 13 4 3 6 14 19 -5 15
16 Brackley T 12 4 3 5 8 14 -6 15
17 Bradford PA 14 4 3 7 19 30 -11 15
18 Harrogate T 13 3 4 6 10 19 -9 13
19 Stalybridge Cel 13 3 2 8 15 21 -6 11
20 Tamworth 13 1 8 4 11 19 -8 11
21 Gloucester C 12 1 5 6 17 29 -12 8
22 Hyde 14 1 3 10 18 34 -16 6


Friday, 17 October 2014

Leamington preview


Leamington FC BadgeIt's back to Vanarama Conference North action on Saturday with a visit to one of those sides whose current aim is to close ground on the Hatters.

OPPOSITION FORM

A draw last Saturday meant that, unlike County, our hosts Leamington had to play in mid-week. They faced Worcester City in a replay and went behind early on, then in the second half diminutive ex-County man Danny Jackman finished their cup hopes for 2014-15 with a headed goal! In the league the Midlands side have been in to the top half since the start of September scoring in all their last 6 games and hitting four in two recent home matches.

LAST FIVE RESULTS:

DateOpponentResult
27 SepH v Wroxham (FAC 2q)Won 4-1
4 OctH v HydeWon 4-0
7 Oct A v North Ferriby UnitedLost 1-3
11 Oct H v Worcester City (FAC 3q)Drew 1-1
14 OctA v Worcester City (FAC 3q)Lost 0-2


OPPOSITION PLAYERS

The Leamington team who went out of the cup on Tuesday, including positions and known previous clubs, was:

Neil Collett G Coventry C, Nuneaton T, Mansfield T, Nuneaton T(L), Nuneaton T, Barwell
James Fry D Birmingham C, Leamington(L)
Stephan Morley D Kettering T, Corby T(L), Rugby T, Banbury U, Rugby T, Halesowen T, Hinckley U, Brackley T(DR)
Joe Magunda D/M Leicester C, Woking(L), Kings Lynn, Brackley T
Jamie Tank D Walsall, Wolverhampton W
James Mace D Atherstone T, Hinckley U
Matty Dodd M Sutton Coldfield T, Worcester C, Halesowen T, Sutton Coldfield T
Jack Edwards M Coventry Sphinx, Barwell
Richard Batchelor M Romulus, Solihull Bor, Bedworth U, Highgate U, RC Warwick, Alvechurch, Studley, Romulus, Solihull Bor, Romulus, Chasetown, DR to Brackley T(DR)
Stefan Moore F Romulus, Aston Villa, Chesterfield(L), Millwall(L), Leicester C(L), Queens Park R, Port Vale(L), Walsall, Kidderminster H, Halesowen T, St Neots T, Brackley T(DR)
Danny Newton F Hinckley U, Nuneaton T, Hinckley U(L), Barwell(L), Barwell, Brackley T, Leamington(L)
Lee Chilton W Alvechurch, AFC Telford U, Hinckley U, Willenhall, Tividale, Stafford R, Halesowen T
Aron Wint F Coventry C, Scunthorpe U, Belper T(L), FC Halifax T(L), Hinckley U, Solihull Moors


Their side has been fairly settled since the start of September with defender James Fry coming in on loan as the only recent addition. As with last weekend County are up against a new goalkeeper as Neil Collett has never faced our first team previously.

 
Neil Collett

 Neil is yet to miss a game this season and has conceded just 8 goals at the Brakes' New Windmill Ground.

Stefan Moore's 8 goals heads the Leamington scorers list but Danny Newton will also need watching carefully having scored four goals in the five games listed above.


Stefan Moore.
The 21-year-old top scorer has only had one chance previously to score against County, coming off the bench in our goalless draw at his then club Brackley Town back in April. Newton was on the bench - alongside Stephen O'Hallorahan - when County beat Nuneaton in Feb 2013. After kicking his heels again when Brackley visited last season he finally got his chance at the third attempt. As can be seen below he was the main factor in last season's result at Leamington.

THE COUNTY SIDE

Alan Lord got chance to give some of the weekend's substitutes a decent run out on Wednesday as the reserves beat Ashton Athletic 3-0. With Ian Ormson having to leave the field due to sickness at half time it was a particularly good test defensively as Glenn Belezika and his team mates had to protect an outfield player in goals.


Glenn Belezika.
Hopefully Ian will have recovered sufficiently to take his place in the squad. Unfortunately there was no sign of Scott Duxbury re-appearing yet.

PREVIOUS MATCHES

One game, one defeat is the complete record for County at Leamington. It's the man who has kicked into goalscoring form in recent weeks who sent County to defeat last season as Danny Newton struck twice in response to Iain Howard's opener. This was one of a handful of games last season where County didn’t use a substitute.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Skrill Conference North (att: 1,038)

Leamington (0) 2 Newton 73, 83
Stockport County (0) 1 Howard 66

Leamington: Tony Breeden, Ryan Higgins, Stephan Morley, Craig Owen, Liam Daly, James Mace, Matty Dodd (Aron Wint), Josh Hawker (Rickie Johnson), Danny Newton, Lee Chilton (Joe Magunda), Peter Till.

County: Ian Ormson, Nicky Platt, Scott Duxbury, Tunji Moses, Adam Cowen, Mark Lees, Mark Battersby, Chris Churchman, Rhys Oates, Phil Jevons, Iain Howard.

Read the match report on All things County

MATCH PROSPECTS

Looks like one of those games where priority is avoiding defeat Whilst a draw would not improve County's position relative to the play-off places it may well be enough to keep them in sixth. However, County seem to be at their best when they go on the attack so hopefully we can press Leamington back early on and go for the early goal that can relax the whole side. With the teams records this season it certainly seem unlikely that the game will end goalless.

Planning to travel, check All Things County's Ground Guide - including details of Park and Ride scheme for those travelling by car.

OTHER MATCHES

The other Vanarama Conference North games this weekend are shown below along with the portion of the table that directly affects County's position when the final results come in.

AFC Fylde v Gainsborough Trinity, Barrow v Gloucester City, Boston United v Hyde, Brackley Town v Tamworth, Hednesford Town v Bradford Park Avenue, Leamington v Stockport County, Lowestoft Town v Oxford City, North Ferriby United v Guiseley, Solihull Moors v Chorley, Stalybridge Celtic v Colwyn Bay, Worcester City v Harrogate Town.

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pt
4 Barrow 11 7 2 2 25 14 11 23
5 Guiseley 12 6 4 2 21 12 9 22
6 COUNTY 12 6 2 4 23 18 5 20
7 North Ferriby U 12 5 3 4 15 12 3 18
8 Hednesford T 13 5 3 5 16 16 0 18
9 Boston U 12 5 3 4 18 20 -2 18
10 Solihull Moors 11 5 2 4 26 16 10 17
11 Worcester C 13 4 5 4 12 15 -3 17

Thursday, 16 October 2014

County Development Squad 3 Ashton Athletic 0 ( Lancashire League West) 15 October 2014







It was a grim night.....one of those nights when a certain type of pro- footballer might be tempted to hide! I am no pro.....no footballer either, but have hidden away on rain lashed Cringle Fields more than once in my `footballing’ past, way back when ( around the Napoleonic Wars as I remember), but I saw no one on either side hiding last night as the rain bucketed down on SK3, where County`s Development Squad secured 3 points at the expense of Ashton Athletic thanks to goals from Connor Thompson, substitute Will Hartley, and George Blackwell.

 
Thompson in action watched by Woolfe.
It was a nicely crafted win, one grounded in first principals- namely` get the defence right and the rest will surely follow’, plus decent football. Set up with a back three of Leon O`Malley, Glenn Belezika and Connor Hancock, County had indeed got it right with all three putting in top notch shifts, contributing hugely to a 3-0 shut- out, which is doubly praiseworthy bearing in mind County`s second 45 minutes saw Centre Forward and goal scorer Connor Thompson between the sticks, Ian Ormson having gone off ill at the break. Others to shine for County were the hard working George Blackwell, Jordan Lazenbury who made a fair few intuitive passes over the 90 minutes, and Will Hartley who was the pick of 3 excellent second half substitutes for the blues!

 
Early action.
It was a lively start by both teams as Belezika opened his account by ushering Chris Webster out of the danger zone, and Sam Gibson missed the target with an early effort for the visitors, whilst Nathan Woolfe and Joe Mswaile pecked away at Ashton down the left and through the middle without causing keeper Patrick Loughin to be troubled.



 
Joe Mswaile
County`s midfield diamond( if that was what it was) had Charlie Russell  and Jordan Lazenbury in central roles with Jordan Young and George Blackwell in wider positions. On the whole  this worked well and denied Ashton the oxygen of too much possession, but....that said ....in the 11th minute Ian Ormson had to pull off an instinctive one handed save to deny Ashton after Darrell Hyde and Chris Webster had sneaked clear.
The first of a series of neat moves followed from County and Ashton did well to keep them at bay after good work from Mswalie had allowed Blackwell to set Thompson up with a fine cross. Thompson swerved beyond his man nicely, but the weight of numbers eventually did for him and Loughlin`s goal remained intact.

 
Connor Thompson
Mswaile and Woolfe were getting forward to good effect at this stage , and when the impressive Leon O`Malley joined the duo , and a brilliant cross field ball from him teed Mswaile up for a cross nicely- it seemed to be game on for the blues, but Woolfe hurried his shot and lifted it over the bar.
Twice after this, Lazenbury saw decent passes not get picked up. Hancock fared better picking Thompson out with excellent precision only to see the far liner`s flag waving in the dank evening air- offside apparently, which rather failed to address the overly robust tackle by Adam Ahmed in the build up!
County were warming to their task now, and Ashton did well to keep them out as Lazenbury`s free kick whizzed wide after Mswalie`s run had won his side a corner. On it went with a  neat one/ two twixt Lazenbury and Woolfe setting the latter up for a pot at goal, but the keeper kept this out and somehow the follow up was scrambled clear when the opening goal looked on!



More and more of the ball was coming County`s way , but thus far nothing was materialising at the sharp end where Woolfe wasted a good chance when a loose ball came his way in the box with Loughlin exposed. Add a Lazenbury cross that found no one in blue on the end of it, and I was tempted to worry somewhat, especially as Mswalie lost the ball to Paul Watson who set Ashton off on the charge. Corner became a scramble on the line after this but County survived , and did so again shortly after when Hancock kept his cool to deny a move initiated by Reece Broadhurst and Darrell Hale.
For a time after this Ashton looked capable of causing an upset, and might have had Hancock not been on top of his game, and he had to be as Hale again burst through after Russell had lost the ball. Applause rang out from the small crowd as Hancock`s work ended with a corner which Ormson gobbled hungrily under the bar!
Eventually though County restored their grip going into the lead with 5 minutes remaining of the half ,thanks to a lovely through ball from Lazenbury that had Thompson`s name written all over it. Young Connor duly obliged  slamming a lethal finish past Loughin into the net.
After this....Lazenbury was unlucky with an effort after Blackwell had kept a move alive with some excellent work, but the half ended with Ormson in action saving bravely with his legs as Gibson threatened to spoil the party for the blues. The follow up shot from Watson went wide, but there was perhaps something for County to think about for the second half, certainly there was no room for complacency despite the 1-0 score line.       

 
On come Will Hartley and Jordan Rogers...
The re-start saw changes in County`s line up. First off Ian Ormson was ill, and  with no substitute keeper named, County were forced to put Connor Thompson in goal. In addition Mswalie had picked up a groin problem bringing Will Hartley on, along with Jordan Rogers.
Quickly County`s new line up got into gear, only for Woolfe to latch onto a Lazenbury pass but shoot wide. That was Woolfe`s final contribution of the evening as Kieron Crosthwaite came on to replace him 5 minutes into the half.
Have I said that County were now getting into gear? Well.....they were, and a characteristic `dash from the back’ by Belezika set things nicely on the move and Will Hartley was only stopped by a foul by Webster who was seen to hobble off shortly after.
 
Hartley`s throw.......
The free kick from the last action was defended well by Ashton, but County came back via Kieron Crosthwaite, and it took Loughin two goes to hold Kieron`s shot , and an almighty scramble ensued as Will Hartley tried to force the loose ball home. Somehow Ashton managed to settle for a corner, when far worse threatened, but far worse quickly came back to bite them when the corner pinged over and the visitors couldn`t handle it. County could...in particular Will Hartley who nipped in and slotted County`s second home!




 
2nd half action.....
That was excellent, but it also seemed to sting Ashton into action and the plucky substitute keeper Thompson did well to keep a shot by Watson out, and O`Malley did even better to deny Ashton again by clearing the follow up effort off the line!
About 5 minutes of solid effort followed from Ashton, but without reward, before County eventually reasserted themselves as a great one/ two between Hartley and Young saw the latter denied by a decent save from the Ashton keeper. Hartley and Young were getting forward well, and with just over 20 minutes left Young`s forward run drew a foul from a defender, and another save by Loughlin to keep Lazenbury`s free kick out.
Four times though Ashton might have pulled one back after this...on each  occasion Gibson was in the van......first off being denied by a good save from Thompson, and then twice by determined work from Belezika at the heart of the blue defence, and finally via brilliant work by O`Malley who combined with Lazenbury to deny the visitors number ten.

 
Thompson between the sticks......
Add to this another save by Thompson that kept a strike by Hale out, and one from a hospital type back pass, and  you could see that Ashton wanted something out of this game as all barring Loughlin piled forward for a corner that ended with Watson`s header carrying the bar!
Slowly ...with time ebbing away, County applied the brake to Ashton`s efforts, but there were no takers as Blackwell`s cross pinged over from wide. County kept at it however through Young and Blackwell who bamboozled the opposing defenders with some neat sleight of foot which saw Young in on goal but brought down! It was smack in front but centimetres outside the box, and we have all seen these missed haven`t we! Not this time though....as George Blackwell stepped up to drill an excellent kick into the net!
It was 3-0 and might just have been 4, next as Lazenbury slung a decent ball into the path of Will Hartley. Will seemed to hesitate, thinking he was offside, but he was not and before he could react the chance was gone. 



 
Late push by County

The game was ending with County in top gear again and a foul on Jordan Rogers ushered in Lazenbury`s free kick that sent Hartley clear again. In an instant he was to the by-line and Loughin had advanced to meet him doing just enough to keep the forward`s delicate chip out.
Hartley headed over from the corner, and Russell went close on the end of a pass from Hancock and that was that, County had secured a decent victory.

County line up:

Ian Ormson( Jordan Rogers 45), Leon O`Malley, Glenn Belezika, Connor Hancock, Charlie Russell, Jordan Young, George Blackwell, Joe Mswaile( Will Hartley 45), Jordan Lazenbury, Connor Thompson, Nathan Woolfe ( Kieron Crosthwaite 50).

Ashton Athletic line up;

Patrick Loughin, Reece Broadhurst, Adam Ahmed, Matthew Rochford, Phillip Curran, Dave Norbury, Paul Watson, Chris Webster, Darrell Hale , Sam Gibson, Lewis Walker.

Substitutes:

Louis Mc Grath, Kyle Ross,Mark Kelly, Paul Bramhall.

Upcoming Dev  Squad Fixtures:

Thursday         23 October        Hyde FC             away   7.45 (at Abbey Hey)
Wednesday    29 October        FCUM                 home  7.45
Wednesday     5 November   Curzon Ashton    home 7.45 ( League Cup QF)
Thursday        13  November   Ashton Athletic  away    7.45
 Wednesday  19 November    Colne FC       home     7.45
Saturday         29 November   FCUM         away    2.00  

Ian Brown