A strong County team played really well tonight , progressing to the semi-final stage of the Cheshire Senior Cup against Football League side Crewe Alexandra at Edgeley Park, with a degree of comfort, correctly suggested by the 4-1 score line.
There was much to praise in the County display......Karl Ledsham put in a prodigious shift, as did Jamie Menagh who continues to grow on me.
|Ledsham & Anoruo ,ready to go......( by Andrew Machin )|
Elsewhere County's back four of Morton, O'Hanlon, Smalley and Roberts coped with everything our Cheshire rivals could come up with, barring an extremely iffy one from Callum Saunders who was allowed to proceed goal ward unhindered on 21 minutes when at least 5 yards offside, courtesy of Mr Magoo the nearside liner.
Oh...and have I mentioned Brodie and Anoruo yet? Well....I should have because they were in decent shape throughout. Brodie nicked one again, whilst Anoruo didn`t ,but he did just about everything but, and was given a rousing ovation by the largish crowd when subbed late on!
Back to 7.45 then and with Mark White , Assistant Manager for the day via his County Auction triumph, safely ensconced in the dugout, the game was in progress with County doing the attacking.
It was Obi Anoruo in the van early doors, but it was not him but Karl Ledsham who earned the plaudits, with only 2 minutes on the clock, as he spanked a belter past the groping hands of David Richards in the Crewe goal, to make it 1-0 to County.
A series of probing free kicks from Menagh then pushed Crewe back on their heels after this, and Brodie was unlucky from the last of these seeing his header fly inches wide.
Past the 15 minute mark we went with County in control ...... Ledsham carrying the general's baton..... and Crewe again on the back foot. The pressure was on for sure, and with an almighty melee in progress on Richards line,.....Montrose popped in to slot the ball home and double County's lead.
The 18th minute saw Crewe's first attacking move, which was easily dismissed by the County back line. The next minute however saw the visitors cash in on some rank bad officiating by the near side liner who stood to attention as Saunders sped away after receiving the ball when some 5 or 6 yards offside. He scored of course, but it was a bum deal though ...one that Crewe did their best to capitalise on in the minutes that followed.
Their best was nowhere near good enough though and it was Obi Anoruo who was to come closest to scoring- his shot being kept out by a decent save from Richards.
The procession continued with runs by Roberts and Garvin not getting the reward they possibly deserved. Anoruo again went closer than most- his shot taking an unlucky deflection, and Brodie followed suit being thwarted at the last gasp by a terrific diving save by the keeper.
Fed tenaciously by Menagh and Ledsham....Anoruo and Brodie continued to cause Crewe major difficulties in what remained of the half , and it was something of a surprise that the score stayed at 2-1 as the teams went in at half time.
The re-start saw Garvin and Morton replaced by Connolly and Marsden.
County kept the pressure on through Anoruo and Marsden both of whom went close .
Saunders did make a break around the hour mark for the visitors, but he was forced ever wider by O'Hanlon and eventually the chance vanished.
On it went....a dipper by Montrose went close, and another from County's number four, again tested Richards, thanks to Marsden's good work, but it stayed 2-1 which was frustrating ,and somewhat iffy should Crewe put their act together and sneak one!
I didn't fancy the night concluding with penalties, and thankfully this thought rapidly vanished from the darker recesses of my mind, as Brodie combined neatly with Menagh before slamming County's third past Richards.
County piled it on after this, and the free kicks racked up at a prodigious rate as the speedy Anoruo drew foul after foul from County's opponents. Menagh kept pinging the kicks in ,bringing more than one decent save from the Crewe keeper.
Anoruo was replaced by Smith with 5 minutes left and he received a good reception from the fair sized crowd.
It was not entirely all County....substitute Owen Dale and Tom Lowery did try a bit to snatch a late one, but County's back line held together well, with Henderson continuing to make a good impression as County's last line of defence.
Brodie's persistence almost earned County a fourth ,with 2 minutes left, but his shot drifted just wide which was a disappointment. The next action however was anything but...as Richards was forced to make yet another heroic save to keep Smith's strike out.
Danger sorted......not a bit of it......the ball landed at the feet of Marsden who promptly thumped the ball home to make it 4-1 and see County into the semi- finals!
|Richards keeps another out !|
That was a decent effort from County who seem to be taking to Jim's methods, as did the largish crowd who I am sure will be back again for more at the earliest opportunity!
Stockport County line up:
Henderson, Morton ( Connolly 45),O'Hanlon, Smalley, Roberts, Montrose, Menagh, Ledsham, Brodie, Anoruo ( Smith 85), Garvin (Marsden 45).
Subs not used:
Crewe Alexandra line up:
Richards, Baillie, Neal, Finney, Kearns, Ng, Howell( Dale 80), Ainley, Saunders, Lowery, Kirk.
Subs not used:
Mullarkey, Harrison, Dowsett.