Thursday, 30 October 2014

County Development Squad 3 FC United of Manchester Reserves 2 ( Lancashire League) 29 October 2014

A visit from the league leaders, can sometimes be a traumatic experience for the host club- one laden with worry, among other things, about whether your side will get the expected tonking at the hands of perceived superior opponents.
Last night saw Lancashire League table toppers FC United of Manchester at Edgeley Park, but worry was not on the menu for a County team, without a single first team regular on show- quite the youngest team I can recall turning out this season in fact! But they performed magnificently, as sometimes only an untried young side thrown in there and trusted, can!

County lined up 3/5/2, but faced with an FC attack of real menace in the shape of prime movers Frank De Vils, Trude Owowabi, and Justin Johnson, who all had pace to spare, this quickly morphed into 5 at the back, but an effective one...Callum Cooke, Wesley Benjamin, and Connor Hancock central with Dean Hitchens and Jordyn Fitton on the flanks providing excellent cover for new keeper Billy Worthington. Wesley Benjamin in particular had an awesome game, in the old fashioned stopper mode- cutting moves off at source with a `no frills’ businesslike approach that oozed confidence and spread to those around him.
Michael Hampson.
 Further forward the engine room of Kieran Crosthwaite, George Blackwell and live wire Charlie Russell functioned well, particularly in the first half, providing ammunition in abundance to the dual strike force of Jordan Rogers and Mike Hampson who both had impressive games as a consequence sharing the goals, in a 3-2 County win, between them.

 The visitors went straight onto the attack from the whistle De Vils, Owowabi and Johnson darting about like Dervishes prompted by Liam Gibson who was managing to get forward to good effect down the left.
This lasted for 4 minutes or so....interrupted only by Crosthwaites run down the right that was cut off decisively by an intervention by Nathan Chorlton...... the 5th minute County hit their opponents brilliantly on the break as a terrific through ball from Charlie Russell sent Jordan Rogers clear. In a trice Rogers was past his marker and facing keeper Chris Taylor, the only obstacle to an early County lead. I have seen these missed ....many times have you......but Rogers put any doubters to shame with a lovely finish that gave Taylor no chance at all of saving it. Unexpectedly then.....County had a 1-0 lead......could they hold onto it though?

George Blackwell and FC`s Chas Doyle.
Well.....FCUM, urged on by Gibson, did their best to answer that one in the negative, but Gibson`s cross from the left found no one in red available so any chance was gone, as it was again  shortly after as Tom Brown lifted his shot over the bar when better was on offer. There was a lot to do for County`s defence at this stage as Crosthwaite and Russell leant a hand in the cause. Another great team effort was unfolding before our eyes with Benjamin providing the steel, whilst the equally promising Connor Hancock added unflappable coolness and an eye for a pass, as did Callum Cooke, who I was somewhat surprised to see given a deep lying roll, and I was impressed to see him step up to the mark and block the burly Tunde Owowabi as he prepared to convert a cross from Chas Doyle into a goal.

County defend !

It still remained largely FC doing most of the attacking, punctuated by two breaks that saw Taylor in last gasp dashes from his line to keep Hampson out, but the visitors finishing was woeful and Worthington only had to stand and watch as John Pritchard missed a real sitter, laid on by van Gils who had been left in oodles of space for once!
The first response to that escape from County came via George Blackwell, but a lively run by him, was cut short near the box when van Gils tracked back and stole the ball with a good bit of work. The County reply had not finished however, and following 
Jordan Rogers and Michael Hampson.
another attempted raid by FCUM, the blues doubled their advantage. It started with Callum Cooke whose nicely weighted pass saw Hampson and Rogers in and amongst it deep in FC territory. In a flash Hampson transferred the ball on to Rogers, but the first shot from the Stockport number ten was saved by Taylor. The keeper couldn`t hold it however and Rogers pounced again burying his shot deep in the net!
This stung the visitors into further action but van Gils found Benjamin growing in confidence and just impossible to pass. A free kick did offer the Lancashire side something of a chance, but Pritchard`s kick was pushed over the bar at the last second by Billy Worthington!
County kept their cool meanwhile......hitting on the break, but excellent work by George Blackwell , and Mike Hampson ended with the latter`s shot beating the keeper but missing the goal by a yard.
It was back to defensive work for County after this, with Jordyn Fitton getting a timely clearance in with red shirts snapping at his heels like hyena`s around a corpse. He kept his cool as did Benjamin who did enough to ensure that the dangerous Owowabi`s shot went the right side of the woodwork! Gibson headed over when well placed, and Benjamin was again on hand to make a decisive clearance as  Justin Johnson cut inside at pace down the left.
Jordyn Fitton.

It was a decent game, and both sides had a go next....Owowabi again for FCUM.......Rogers for County, but despite all the visitors pressure, it was County who troubled the scorer next, and it was something of a gift. But.......I have seen such largess spurned more than once in the past, but thankfully not on this occasion! The gift came via keeper Taylor who, with the predatory Mike Hampson looking interested, in the vicinity, contrived to make a complete hash of an attempted clearance, allowing young Michael to snatch the ball and dispatch it into the empty net! over think not!
OK....County did put FCUM under some pressure immediately after the third goal.....Rogers being foiled by Taylor, who looked no worse for his recent experiences reinforced by a mass of red shirts called in to defend as Hampson and Rogers in particular  pecked away at FC`s apparent corpse. 

Michael Hampson / Justin Johnson.
But the presumed cadaver twitched as County won a corner thanks to Blackwell, but then allowed their opponents to mount a counter attack. It was a good one too, and County were in disarray as Owowadi prepared to head home in an untidy melee in front of the County goal. The forward`s attempt to score failed.....but Gibson was at his shoulder and his header was spot on and it was 3-1, and game on!
I lost count of the good defensive work that followed from County in the period to half time....Blackwell...Fitton.....Russell...Benjamin all did a good job, and one such example involving Benjamin, who had just blocked Owowabi, resulted in a break by Rogers that took a brilliant bit of defending by goal scorer Gibson to deny the County striker. That was the first half over ....the second 45 minutes awaited us ,and the prospect was eagerly anticipated.
A decent effort by van Gils opened the second half- it missed out, but as a token of intent from the visitors it was suitably chilling, and Billy Worthington had to pull off a good save to deny Owowadi as he and Pritchard threatened!

Charlie Russell.

Jordan Young was now on for Dean Hitchen as County prepared for a concerted rearguard action to keep FCUM out. To be sure there was a lot for the blues to do in this respect and County were grateful for the offside flag more than once in the next 10 minutes or so that passed with blue backs largely pressed up against the wall, but that said the closest the visitors came to a second goal in this period was via a shot from Brown, and this thudded into Billy Worthington`s chest reassuringly, so it stayed 3-1.
The visitors kept the pressure on, but County, with Benjamin and Hancock growing ever more confident, were standing up to the test really well, but on the hour the almost inevitable happened and FCUM scored. A run by Brown won his side a free kick just outside the box. Brown took it lifting it into the cool night air towards the far corner of the net. It took a deflection en route off one or other of the County wall, and thereafter looped in an alarming ark into the net!
Now it really was game on at 3-2, with the league leaders on full revs and giving it some, and with 30 minutes or more remaining to play!
Thankfully however the FCUM finishing remained way short of their approach play and twice Johnson missed the target when well placed. County in contrast had fewer chances arguably, but always looked more likely to.......with Hampson and Rogers around. But it was neither of these  two who featured next it was George Blackwell and his shot crashed into a post with Taylor nowhere after Young and Hampson had prized the FCUM defence open nicely.
County were shipping free kicks with growing regularity now which was increasing the pressure, and it was good to see Worthington on his toes stopping the rot as Owowadi threatened.
A Russell shot signalled that County were by no means a spent force attacking wise, but as another raid developed an awful `tackle’ on Rogers laid him out. 

Jordan Rogers receives treatment.
It was a clear foul and one perpetrated right under the refs nose, but with he and the near side liner unconcerned, the ball was transferred up the park by FCUM and a break was on. Surely the ref would call them Rogers was still down.....but no.....the counter attack was very much on- the danger being eventually averted when Cooke headed clear from a corner! That was a truly appalling example of refereeing......ANOTHER appalling example, and the potential seriousness of the incident was underlined when goal scorer Rogers was promptly replaced by Will Hartley.
A further period of defensive angst would surely now beckon, but instead Taylor almost gave away another gift – unnerved no doubt seeing the white`s of Mike Hampson`s eyes not far away! Mainly though time passed with County defending as Benjamin got in mighty tackle after mighty tackle...joined by Fitton who headed out under pressure, and Young who put his body on the line to hold FCUM up.
Into the last 6 or 7 minutes we went with no strikers on board the County boat , as the busy Hampson was replaced by Connor Thompson, and it was good to see Billy Worthington in position to keep a Ryan Saxon strike out with only 5 minutes left to play.

Cooke prepares a County response.
To their credit, County kept looking for an opportunity to relieve the pressure and put some on FCUM, Cooke and Hancock doing particularly well at one point combining with Will Hartley to push the visitors back. The resulting throw brought Cooke to the fore and his cross teed Thompson up nicely only for him to be denied by Gibson at his most determined. Russell had a decent run.....Thompson an even better one, only to be denied by the same linesman who had gazed myopically at the assault on Rogers not 20 minutes earlier!
Yes......County were taking the game to their opponents rather well and Gibson did brilliantly to stop Young as he ran onto a neat pass by Thompson. County weren`t done after this either, and Taylor did extremely well to stop a Thompson shot, smack on 90 minutes, with his legs!

Late action involving Will Hartley & Jordan Young.

This was heart warming stuff, and again a fourth County goal looked on as a Blackwell run ended with Taylor clawing another shot, this time from Young, out.
A Cooke tackle did enough to keep van Gils at bay, as a blast of the referee`s whistle told us that that was it and that the points were County`s.
That was a really good game and a credit to both teams, and County should be well pleased with their performance!
Next week`s  Cup game at   Warrington being cancelled ( not good news for Chris Sharp) ,the next Development Squad game now will be the League Cup match v Curzon Ashton  next Wednesday at E.P. k.o 7.45!

County line up:

Billy Worthington, Dean Hitchens( Jordan Young 50),Jordan Fitton, Callum Cooke, Wesley Benjamin, Connor Hancock, Kieron Crosthwaite, Charlie Russell, Michael Hampson ( Connor Thompson 82), Jordan Rogers ( Will Hartley 72), George Blackwell.

Substitute not used:
Daniel Havern.

FC United of Manchester Reserves.

Chris Taylor, Charlie Doyle ( Jason Fowles 83), Liam Gibson, Mike Brewster, Nick Truglove( Ryan Saxon 27), Nathan Chorlton, Frank van Gils, Tom Brown , Tunde Owowabi( Sam Sumerbee 66), John Pritchard, Justin Johnson.

Substitutes not used:
Leo Magnone, Gareth Moore. 

Ian Brown

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Headliners Booked for Band Night on 15 November !

Super Fuzz 

The Mantells

Both the above headliners  are booked for the Supporters Cooperative Band Night on Saturday 15 November  after the Hednesford home game. Doors open at 7p.m and its a case of pay on the door at a great admission price of £5.

In addition Roger Wylde and Tom Bennett will be performing a 3 song set on a bill compered by Chris Ridgeway of Pure FM.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Help the Hatters Update 47

Well.....what a week......a momentous one really in which County supporters gained a shareholding in their Club , and boosted Alan Lord`s push for promotion with the first transfer of funds from the fans Players Fund to A.L`s playing budget. 

Bung W.P. 5( note new signage!)
This has added to the buzz already reverberating around SK3, and is in no small measure due to the joint efforts of supporters organisations Help the Hatters, and the Supporters Cooperative, who continue to work together productively and constructively to prove `Stronger Together’ to be much more than a nifty tag line!

The Vicar, up a ladder !
Prior to today, there have been 4 previous Working Parties at the Bungalow adjacent to Edgeley Park, and much has been done to transform the club and make it somewhere that County supporters are happy to spend time in. Loads more needs to be done in addition, but be assured with Fitzy in the mix these issues will gradually get tackled. If you dear reader are in doubt....think Manor Farm, and the outstanding job Help the Hatters did with a team of volunteers- we can and will do it again!
Furrowed Brow & County 1883 hard at work!

Initially we would like to transform the area around and to the rear of the Bung into something akin to a picnic that fans can relax in. The work has already started and today`s joint Coop/ Help the Hatters W.P 5, made a substantial start ,doing more painting along with some clearing up of rubbish from the car park and around the back......

Mike Hopper on a mission !
..........and the new signage is up as well....and it looks great !

 Ideally we would like it to be ship shape for Saturday 8th November( the day of County v Brackley at E.P.) when it is the intention to hold a Bonfire Party after the game- FREE TO COUNTY FANS AND THEIR FAMILIES. 

Help the Hatters rep on Coop Board- John Gaskin.
With the Bonfire` do’ in mind, there will be a sixth Working Party next Sunday 2 November commencing at 9 a.m. at the Bungalow. In addition we invite donations of fireworks if you are in a position to assist with this. We have a truly spectacular event in mind, where fans can meet...relax with friends/ family enjoy a drink and some food. So make a note of the above mentioned dates for starters and make a note to drop in on match days, as already the agreement with the Bungalow for them to make regular contributions to the Players Fund from match day drink takings, is working well! Oh.....and don’t forget the branded pods that are placed around E,P. ( 2 main stand/ 2 Cheadle End) where you can make a cash donation to the Fund to help the push back to F.L. status!
Lots being done......lots more still to do......, and all this action requires funds and whilst Help the Hatters have been successful in attracting ( largely unsolicited) donations from supportive individuals and companies in the past, we have always insisted on being self reliant and thus been vigorous in our attempts to generate our own funds!

Final Gate Crew of 2014 ( +1)
The  bedrock of the above strategy has been the Car Boot Sales  we organise on a regular basis. Sunday 19 October saw the final Car Boot Sale of a busy year held on the Booth Street Car Park, and despite the impenetrable darkness prevailing in the area, the queues of booters wanting to gain entrance and pitch up, thronged up to and beyond Greek Street, an hour before the allotted start time of 7 a.m.

Pilot Chris on Terra Firma....
In the event the whole thing went off magnificently well though- a team of just 9 Help the Hatters volunteers ensured that organiser Angela Moore`s meticulous action plan was carried out to the letter. Well done Angela.....well done everyone who made the effort!  

Organiser feeding troops( top)a man working with his wife( below)
As I say then.....much done.....plenty more to do, so with this in mind Help the Hatters have called a business meeting of their supporters for this coming Tuesday 28 October commencing 7 p.m. at the Bungalow.

The agenda for those interested is:-

1. Treasurer report (Mike)
2. Players fund update
3. County young players initiatives
4. Car boot
5. Community bonfire at the bungalow on Saturday 8th November
6. Christmas ideas and initiatives
7. Saturday 22nd November local rock band at the bungalow
8. AOB

The blog  continues to go from strength to strength ,having passed 155000 hits earlier this week. We now have over 250 articles, on a range of subjects, for the discerning County fan to peruse, and by golly ...are you perusing –the monthly average hits ( page views) now regularly around 14500( over 3500 a week), so I hope this is an indication that the published items are of value and interest!

And finally........

................. I was too late, unfortunately to put in a bid for that pair of majestic knickers previously belonging to Queen Victoria, that went for a snip price of £6000 this week....but I note that I still have time to get tickets for the following upcoming events organised by the Supporters Cooperative.......

Friday 12 December. Xmas Party at the Magnet Freehouse on Wellington Road North.

Cost ; £ 6.50 for members/ £8.00 non-members ( includes a mystery present!)

Tickets can be obtained via

Saturday 15 November.  Band Nite  at the Bungalow ( 7p.m.)

Cost £5- pay on the door.

Ian Brown

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Weekend Review 25 October

So that's the FA Cup run over for another season and the County management now have more idea of the standard their team needs to reach to have any chance of fitting in at Conference National level should we get out of this division. I'll take a brief look at the other Conference North clubs' FA Cup efforts later but first there were five games in the league on Saturday.

It was Solihull Moors who claimed the points in the battle between the sides directly below County. Omar Bogle (27) added to his impressive tally of goals this season to give the visitors the lead but Zac Mills (41) levelled things for Boston United before half time. Moors winner came with 11 minutes left when Rob Elvins put Solihull up to 5th in the table.

County's next opponents Harrogate Town warmed up their scoring boots for our visit with a 5-0 victory over Brackley Town. The points were wrapped up in the first half hour as a James Walshaw's brace (6 &29) sandwiched a Craig Nelthorpe (22) effort. Both scorers were to add another to their tally before the end of the game. Walshaw completed a first half hat-trick on 40 minutes and Nelthorpe got his second with 6 minutes left.

Two sides in the play off places were in action and had mixed fortunes. Barrow played their game in hand on AFC Fylde and closed within two points of the leaders. After a goalless first half Andy Cook (47) gave them an early second half lead and Colwyn Bay were unable to respond.

Meanwhile Oxford City, who have now played three games more than most of the teams around them, suffered a bad defeat at home to Hednesford Town. Richard Batchelor, who joined them on Wednesday having played for Leamington earlier in the season,had a very happy debut getting two of the goals (45 & 85). Tom Thorley (55) also scored for the Staffordshire side who are now just behind County in the table.

The final Vanarama Conference North game saw Batchelor's previous club held by bottom club Hyde. The bottom placed hosts led twice thanks to Connor Hughes (30) and an own goal from Leamington's substitute Jamie Tank (50). However they let the lead slip on both occasions as a penalty from Matt Dodd (47) was followed by a Jordan Goddard goal (75) to leave things all square.

1 AFC Fylde 13 10 1 2 34 8 26 31
2 Barrow 13 9 2 2 31 14 17 29
3 Chorley 13 7 3 3 22 15 7 24
4 Oxford C 16 7 3 6 30 32 -2 24
5 Solihull Moors 13 7 2 4 31 18 13 23
6 Guiseley 13 6 5 2 25 16 9 23
7 COUNTY 13 7 2 4 25 18 7 23
8 Hednesford T 15 6 4 5 20 17 3 22
9 Boston U 14 6 3 5 22 23 -1 21
10 Worcester C 14 5 5 4 14 15 -1 20
11 North Ferriby U 13 5 4 4 19 16 3 19
12 Colwyn Bay 14 5 4 5 22 22 0 19
13 Leamington 14 5 2 7 20 22 -2 17
14 Harrogate T 14 4 4 6 15 19 -4 16
15 Lowestoft T 13 4 4 5 13 19 -6 16
16 Gainsborough Tr 13 4 3 6 14 19 -5 15
17 Bradford PA 14 4 3 7 19 30 -11 15
18 Brackley T 13 4 3 6 8 19 -11 15
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 15 1 4 10 20 36 -16 7


There will be at least three Conference North side in Monday's First Round proper draw although two could well have been eliminated in replays the following day. Of the 6 Conference North teams who were drawn against teams from the national division none managed to win at the first attempt. The best result probably came at Chorley where 2nd placed Vanarama Conference National side FC Halifax Town were held to a goalless draw. The result was all the more impressive as Chorley lost two men in training ground injuries two days before which meant manager Gary Flitcroft had to look for a new goalkeeper by the Friday lunch time deadline. Burnley's Danijel Nizic was the man he turned to and the loan signing kept a clean sheet in front of 2,333.

Tamworth also go to a replay after drawing 1-1 with Southport. A foul on Dave Hibbert allowed Tamworth to take a 3rd minute lead through Shane Clarke's penalty. The Staffordshire side held their advantage for 67 minutes but Southport took the tie back to Haig Avenue thanks to James Belshaw's goal.

Copying County by going out of the Cup to Conference National sides were Gainsborough Trinity, Gloucester City and Guiseley - and all three had fairly comprehensive defeats. Gloucester City hosted Forest Green Rovers. And after Luke Rodgers (21) had given the visitors the lead City responded quickly through Tom Webb (23). Jon Parkin (30) restored Forest Green's lead and a late double from James Norwood (86 & 88) left the final score at 4-1.

Gainsborough Trinity travelled up the country to 4th placed Gateshead and came back on the end of a 4-0 hiding. It was injury time of the first half before the Heed took the lead through Tom Allan. Then three goals in 11 minutes just after the hour mark through Danny Wright (64), Alex Rodman (66) and Jon Shaw (76) wrapped up the tie.

Guiseley had no response to Grimsby Town's three goals in their away tie. They managed to keep Grimsby out until half time but there quick goals from Nathan Arnold and a Lenell John-Lewis’ brace meant no first round game for Guiseley.

North Ferriby United also went out, suffering a shock defeat at Warrington Town - repeating their giant killing act over Colwyn Bay in the previous round. Lewis Field (66) got the only goal of the game 11 minutes after the visitors lost Matt Wilson to a red card.

That leaves the only side certain to be playing in the First Round Proper in a couple of weeks and its League leader AFC Fylde. They got the better of a 7 goal thriller at Northern Premier Leaguers Kings Lynn Town. George Thomson (33) put the home side in front and there was no further scoring in the first half. Fylde then established a 3-1 lead thanks to a Richie Allen brace (50 & 61) and Michael Potts (55). Thomson's second 12 minutes later gave King's Lynn hope but on 72 minutes Allen completed his hat-trick. Stephen Spriggs (85) completed the scoring for Kings Lynn and there was lively finish as just like at Edgeley Park both sides had a man sent off.

On Sunday Worcester City became the second Conference North side to claim a definite place in the first round when they beat Greenwich Borough 2-1. City took a first half lead through Ellis Deeney (20) but Greenwich substitute Billy Bennett (60) levelled the scores just four minutes after being introduced. The winner came from Worcester substitute Daniel Nti (83).

Ian Watts