Thursday, 21 August 2014

County 2 AFC Fylde 6 ( Lancashire League) 20 August 2014

A Fylde side toughened by a sprinkling of first teamers, proved too strong for County`s young Development Squad side last night at Edgeley Park, where the visitors ran out comfortable winners 2-6 .

Danny Lloyd
It was a funny old game, and with Karl Noon, Dave Hankin and ex A.L product Danny Lloyd, fresh from first team duty, in the visitors` side, it always seemed likely that County would struggle.
Amazingly though...they didn`t and quickly went 2-1 up, but after an equaliser had pegged the blues back, 2-2 seemed a fair reflection until a dubious penalty ,on 36 minutes, awarded  for a perceived foul on Lloyd by Fagbola, changed things. It was put away with little difficulty by Fylde, who quickly ran in two more goals within another 2 minutes as County heads went down.
A half time score of 2-5 against, seemed to point to another 45 minutes of angst for County, along with a further avalanche of goals, but this never materialised, and a plucky display by AL,`s young side, in which Josh Powell, Scott Hughes , Charlie Russell and Anthony Oliver stood out, kept it down to 2-6 at the end, which under the circumstances was a good second half effort.
There were changes in the County side, from the 11 that started against Stalybridge. George Gray, Callum Cooke and Bobby Lofthouse gave way to Leon O`Malley, Elliot Dickson and Anthony Oliver, whilst the absence of Connor Hancock brought Jordan Fagbola into the side.

Leon O`Malley
Fullbacks O`Malley and Dickson did well at times, but with Dion Charles and the experienced Danny Lloyd bombing in at them down the flanks they were always under pressure, as indeed were the whole defensive unit, and apart from that 3 minute spell when they conceded 3 goals they stood up to it well. It was game over however when the last of the 3 went in, and no matter how they tried there was no way back.

Charlie Russell disputes matters with Danny Lloyd
Charlie Russell had another good game in the engine room, and Scott Hughes did well in the centre of the defence later on, but it needed some response at the other end to dim the Fylde light, but Jordan Lazenbury, so lively last week, found the powerful Dave Hankin a massive hurdle to surmount, and despite 2 neatly snaffled goals from Anthony Oliver it was pretty much always a losing battle for County after the penalty blow.

Dave Hankin puts himself about for Fylde.
Straight from the off, the scale of County`s task was writ large as , within a minute Matthew Todd had to pull out a terrific saving tackle to prevent Dion Charles from getting a shot off. Charles had another go from the resultant corner, but this was dealt with neatly by Josh Powell, the County keeper.
A couple of minutes of pressure from Fylde was then turned on its head by Danny Murray who sent a glorious shot in from somewhere back on Greek Street, which keeper Tom Goodwin did well to tip over the bar at the very last gasp!
This prompted some attacking from the blues with Goodwin keeping a shot from Joe Noblett out, but then struggling with a corner. Unfortunately County struggled to take advantage of this and the score line stayed blank.

Hankin gets a cross over.......
By this time Lloyd and Charles were warming to their tasks and Leon O`Malley and Elliott Dickson both produced decent tackles to keep their man out, when worse seemed on the cards.
Meanwhile.....Dave Hankin was finding time to push on up the park and one such sortie saw County`s back line in difficulties- sorted thankfully by a foul by Tommy Lang which the referee spotted.
It still looked nothing other than an uphill battle for County, but ,on 15 minutes, the Fylde defence were filleted neatly by a ball in from the left . The defence were slow to react.....Anthony Oliver wasn`t, and in a flash he was past the last defender, and in another he had picked his spot and made it 1-0.

The pass for the goal.......
That was terrific, but there was absolutely no time to bask in the glory of it all, as Fylde promptly went to the other end of the park where Rob Hutton forced the ball home from close in.
Hmmmmm....1-1......,that was interesting stuff, but another 5 minutes and County sprung a surprise once again as the predatory Anthony Oliver capitalised on a defensive blunder to score another cool one at the Cheadle End.

O`Malley & Lazenbury battle it out with Lloyd
With County`s fuse apparently now lit , Fylde came under the cosh a bit and Goodwin  needed a top rank stop to keep a strike from Joe Noblett out. But this did not last long and the pendulum swung violently with Lloyd and Charles tearing into County`s flanks. Charles should have scored after linking up with Noon, but didn`t.....his shot going wide, and Josh Powell made a great save to deny Jack Williams on the end of a cross from Hankin.
It was hairy stuff for a while and the referee did well to ignore a risible `fall to earth’ by Lloyd executed under pressure from Fagbola.
The pressure kept mounting however and, on 30 minutes, County cracked. Dickson had just made a crucial block, and Todd had kicked another effort off the line, when the ball ran clear to Charles, who lashed it home brilliantly from outside the box!
That was a blow, and another was avoided a couple of minutes later when a loose ball saw Charles shoot wide when well placed.

For sure.....the pressure was on, but County were coping OK, and if they could just make it to the break without conceding again.......... didn`t quite happen like that did it, but the avalanche of goals that came shortly after, was started via  poor decisions by the referee, and PS liner! Lloyd was on his umpteenth run into County territory. The fact that he was clearly offside was ignored by the PS liner, thus he was able to cut inside the box where Fagbola had tracked him. Lloyd then went down, much as he had done previously, but this time the referee pointed quickly to the spot. County had been hit by a dubious double whammy, but this fact counted for nothing as Lang fired the spot kick home.
The flood gates opened after this as ,with County heads down, Fylde tore into them.....Noon slamming the Lancashire sides fourth home after a defensive mix up from County, and Williams doing likewise moments later.
In a 10 minute spell County had gone from 2-1 up to 5-2 down, and you would not bet against it being ` game over’.
Credit to County though, they came out fighting after the break and Goodwin did well to prevent Russell from scoring from a pass by O`Malley. Then the ball rattled the post with Goodwin beaten- it looked to possibly have gone in, but the absence of goal line technology in the Lancashire League counted against the blues on this occasion!
It went on for some time in the same vein with County doing well, but without any luck, and Hughes was particularly unlucky arriving late at the back post with a diving header that deserved better.
With Mike Hampson on for Jordan Fagbola, County re-grouped with Hughes taking over in central defence, and kept up their encouraging up surge in form as Oliver and then Noblett went close to pulling one back.

County ring the changes late on.
That was Noblett`s last contribution- he was replaced by George Blackwell, as were Lazenbury and O`Malley by Will Hartley and Jordan Arklie-Young. Gradually Fylde got the upper hand again, shots from Lloyd, Hankin and substitute Aaron Fleming giving Josh Powell plenty to do, and the County keeper was on top of his game saving a certain goal with his legs with Williams bearing down on an open goal!

Josh Powell.
There was plenty of fight left in the County side, but the power was all Fylde`s and Powell could do absolutely nothing to prevent Lloyd from adding a sixth ,with 7 minutes left to play, as he slinked clear down the right to score with calm and assurance.
On it went with Fylde thirsting for more goals, but County dead set on not conceding another. Russell was particularly prominent at the point, as was Powell who again pulled off a terrific save in the dying embers of the game to keep a strike by Fleming out.
A late flurry from County saw an Oliver shot carry the bar, and a late /late combo from Will Hartley and Mike Hampson induced a spill from the Fylde keeper, but despite the close attendance of Anthony Oliver, there was to be no late consolation goal for the blues.

Two goal Anthony Oliver
There is no league game next week for the Development Squad ,but Alan Lord has arranged a friendly ,away at Atherton Colliery. The kick off is 7.45 p.m ,and it would be good to see  a few there in support.

County line up:

Josh Powell, Leon O`Malley ( Will Hartley 79), Elliott Dickson, Matthew Todd, Jordan Fagbola ( Mike Hampson 56), Scott Hughes, Jordan Lazenbury ( Jordan Arklie-Young 79),Danny Murray, Anthony Oliver, Charlie Russell, Joe Noblett ( George Blackwell 71).

AFC Fylde line up;

Tom Goodwin, Cane Pickering, Dave Hankin, Jack Swindlehurst, Callum Morris, Alex O`Rourke, Dion Charles, Oli Wilkinson, Karl Noon, Jack Williams, Danny Lloyd.


Tom Lang, Sam Girven, Rob Hutton, Aaron Fleming, Josh Smith.      

Ian Brown   

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Away Grounds Guide 4- Hednesford Town ( Saturday 6 September 2014)

Club Name: Hednesford Town
Nickname: The Pitmen
Founded: 1880
Ground Name: Keys Park
Ground Capacity: 6,500
Admission Price 2014/15:    Adults   :         Main Stand   £13
                                                                         Terrace         £12 
                                               Concessions :    Main Stand : £8
                                                                           Terrace        £7
                                                    Adult +1 Child*  (Terrace) £13
                                                    Adult + 2 Children   ( Terrace)    £14
                                                    Family ( Terrace)  2+2    £24  

                                               Note: Child = Under 16

Away Accommodation:

Away End...good view  under cover!

Covered terrace behind the goal gives a good view.
The refreshment facilities ( The Food Junction)are more than adequate for travelling supporters, but be preparedfor a menu largely made up of burgers, of a darkly mysterious hue. There were no pies on sale last season, although it was a Tuesday night game, so things might be different for this season`s Saturday match.
For the musical ones in our midst, be aware that the P.A is loudly locked into a 70`s time warp- you have been warned!


Directions :

  1.  M6 South
  2. At junction 12, take the A5 exit to M54/Cannock/Wolverhampton/Telford/North Wales
  3. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto A5
  4. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Eastern Way/A460
  5. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Hemlock Way
  6. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Keys Park Rd
  7. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit.

Estimated Journey Time  -  1 Hour 20 Minutes

Post Code for Sat Nav :      WS12 2DZ

Nearest Real Ale pubs ;  

 0.4m      The Cross Keys,    ,  on Hill Street

 0.6m     The Windy Wheel   , on Heath Way.

Coach Travel :  Fingerpost Flyer.
                           Ring Lou on 07896536757 to book.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Tamworth 0 County 1 : ( Conference North) 16 August 2014

Plague struck Tamworth in 1563, 1579,1597, 1606 ,and again in 1626- the population apparently recovered from these ravages, only for another to strike them down today, and it was resplendent in white shirts and black shorts, and it hit them late on....too late for anything resembling a recovery this time around.
Yes......say it loudly, and be sure everyone hears you.....County won their first full haul of points of the season, with a hard earned and not undeserved win at the home of perhaps the most parsimonious club at this or any other level of football- Tamworth FC.
The margin was only 1-0, and it was a penalty, won by Sharp and Ryan ,and put away splendidly by captain Jamie Milligan, who had a decent game, but we`ll take that after all the traumas of recent time.....wont we?
The mood at the Lambs was interesting to say the least. Tamworth`s overnight  machinations over Pure FM ,probably affected the numbers turning out( numbers were somewhat down on previous visits), and made those who did make it there not overly inclined to think kindly of our hosts. Indeed some, myself included, took a lead from the Supporters Cooperative, and resolved to buy absolutely nothing once inside the stadium. But the angst never got any more revved up than that and a few naughty chants- all it needed to set us all smiling again, was for County to win!

Glenn Belezika.
There were several changes at kick off time, for County, who had Belezika, Moses, Spencer and Ryan back in place of Woolfe, Churchman, Sharp and Dennis. There was an altogether more solid look about this 11, even on paper, and A.L`s ploy of playing Moses AND Milligan from the start, was a winner in every sense. Moses went about his business quietly, but his presence seemed to free Milligan up to put himself about, and he did so impressively- still in the thick of things minutes after slotting the winner home! By no means did this solidity completely eradicate small crises or chances for Tamworth, but the sheer weight of numbers and weight of those individual numbers did seem to discourage County`s opponents from being too free with the adventurous stuff- so that was a nice change!
It looked like a fluid 5 at the back for the white shirted blues( Belezika, O`Halloran, Lees, Gregson and Duxbury )in front of Hurst, and shielded by  Milligan/ Moses . Though there were only 3 forwards on show ( Baker, Spencer ,and Ryan), the effect of the new found solidity , amazingly did not mean County defended and did little else.....they produced a fair number of chances here and there. To be did Tamworth, but both sides missed most of them. Thankfully County put the crucial one away when it counted to give us all a fantastic lift!

Early action.
Pre match traumas set aside, it was time to concentrate on the game, and the action came thick and fast with Tamworth attacking the away end ,where Kayden Jackson volleyed over .Some early pressure followed from Tamworth but County looked nicely organised and quite unruffled as O`Halloran and Gregson did good work.
The first real attack of note from County came 4 minutes in, when Ryan saw a shot go un-rewarded, but it was the home side that were getting the lion`s share of the early chances, and Hurst got down well to deny Rob Purdie who threatened down the middle.
 On it went 9...10...11 minutes with Tamworth still on the front foot, forcing County, through the busy O`Halloran, to concede a corner, with Jackson poised to shoot. This could have signalled a familiar decline in fortunes for County, as Dave Hibbert hauled his lanky frame into the air and met the incomer with his head. 
Hurst gathers., as the forward sent his header wide!
Next.....James Belshaw, the home keeper, had to dash out and head clear with Spencer in the vicinity and on the lookout for trifles, but again it was mostly the midland side on the charge, albeit that County looked comfortable combating same. O`Halloran typified this comfort stopping Jackson for the umpteenth time, and winning a free kick as well! Then Lees joined in ,preventing Leon Mettam from reaching a decent through ball in the box......O`Halloran and Gregson made fine blocking tackles midst a blizzard of red shirts just outside the County box, but Hurst did better than all with  a neat catch to keep Jackson`s header out following one of several crosses from the left by Dan Sleath.
Twenty minutes had gone, and it had been mostly Tamworth on the offensive,  and it went on into the 21st  with Brendan Davies lifting one into the box , where Hibbert played it sideways to Shane Clark. He maybe should have done better....but he didn`t- instead shooting tamely wide with Hurst exposed.
A minute later however, and we saw a glimpse of what just might be, as after a free kick and corner....a second kick from Milligan clipped the bar with Belshaw comprehensively beaten. Hmmm.....I liked that!

Milligan prepares FK ( top) it hits the bar ......
But this brief contentment did not last long before Tamworth hit us on the break again through Davies who again picked Hibbert out with a neat cross. A shot was on, and Hibbert obliged, but Hurst would have none of it, and his dive saw him beat the shot out and keep it 0-0.
 This last action probably served to inspire County, as a powerful run by Belezika set them up for a series of corners that seemed to set the home side problems that bordered on the insoluble! The period ended with Spencer unlucky to see a header narrowly miss out, but it was encouraging stuff none the less!

Heads up, as County defend !
Yes.....County started to gradually get more into the game, but 36 minutes in and Tamworth hit back via a free kick  that saw Daniels clear down the left. A cross was very much on the cards and Daniels did the biz, lifting a beauty into the box where, arriving late, Clarke met it sending his shot very much on target, but a magnificent one handed diving save by Hurst kept it out as the away end erupted in a wall of joyous sound!

Hurst on the alert!
It was high time that County replied, but this thought was again put on hold as Sleath pinged another belter into the box, where yet again Hibbert lurked menacingly. Once again though the chance was spurned, and I began to think that it was County`s day, as almost immediately after Jackson picked Mettam out sending him clear, only for the shot to limp tamely wide.
More of the same threatened to follow, but Belezika`s diving header tidied up nicely after Jackson had again got in the box with malign intent.
Surely......surely.....County would respond soon, but when they did Ryan did no better than Jackson and others before him, lifting his shot high over the bar.
County defend.......
Milligan managed to get a corner....and generally look dangerous next, but Tamworth held out ensuring it stayed 0-0 at the break.

A Man on his stag do....Alan Gaskin  !

After early pressure from Tamworth in the second half, County at last showed us what they could do and Milligan went one on one with keeper Belshaw ,and was only just short of making something decent out of the enterprise. Baker got forward too, but he failed to get a shot off when well placed smack in front of goal.

Keeper just wins duel with Milligan.....
If that was both encouraging and disappointing, the next bit was a tad worrying as, following a rather dubious free kick ,gained by one of Brandon Daniels flamboyant forward rolls  County had two chances to clear the ball...didn`t.....and watched whilst full back Lee Hildreth lined up a shot. Fortunately , it was a fullback and not a forward , because an awful slice from Hildreth sent the ball spiralling wide to the accompaniment of hoots of derision from the away end. had been a lively start to the half alright, and the fact that the teams were still on level terms was encouraging, and more encouragement followed as Baker went down under pressure from Don Preston in the box. The referee would have none of it though, and he was correct, and I must say he had a decent game in my view.
County were now getting forward more now, and Belshaw did well to deal with a shot from Baker at the foot of his near post. He was less confident shortly after however, having to punch clear under pressure as a Milligan free kick whizzed over.

Close call for Belshaw......
After the hour, Tamworth revived somewhat, but when they worked an opening, the finish on the end of it would be poor. County were therefore presumably buoyed by this and Spencer went close to getting an opener on 64 minutes, being foiled by good work by Paul Green.
As I say...Spencer was unlucky with that one, but within 6 minutes, another chance came his way, and this time he really should have scored. Played in nicely by Ryan`s pass, it looked merely routine for him to despatch the pill past Belshaw, who was doing stranded whale impressions several yards off his line. A lob was certainly on, but when Spencer tried it his execution was off and the ball missed the goal by a bit.

Spencer rues a lost chance.
Spencer was clearly bereft at this turn of events, but it did not affect County`s play....they still kept pressing, and within a couple of minutes another chance appeared, not from nowhere, but from the boot of Baker who sent a lovely looping ball onto Ryan`s toe in the box. The defence was split, but despite the fact that Ryan had darted beyond a defender prior to latching onto the ball. The far liners flag turned fact on its head, and the move was halted!

By this time Churchman was on for Belezika, and traffic was starting to build in the area of Belshaw`s goal, with Spencer and Baker trying their best to snatch something from nothing.

This by no means signalled the end of hostilities from Tamworth, indeed Lees did well to ensure he did just enough to see Hibbert send his shot wide, with about 10 minutes left to play.

County put Tamworth under pressure.
It was at this point that A.L. sent Sharp on in place of Spencer, and possibly crucially gave him a central striker roll. Within a minute he was in the box to the right of Ryan, harrying the home defence. It looked promising!
Tamworth came back at County though, and the home side were assisted more than once in this period by a miss placed pass or two, after some excellent defending. This must have encouraged Tamworth and Jackson went close twice, forcing the previously reliable Hurst to flap at a cross...he recovered well enough to grab the eventual shot, from Jackson, but there were about 5 minutes left now, and whilst 0-0 would be fine, to leak a late one would be the precursor to a call to Dignitas for me and others!
Five minutes became 4...then 3.....2 , and County had themselves a corner won neatly by Sharp after Milligan had kept a move alive brilliantly near the by-line. The kick was a peach from the County captain, and Churchman leathered a shot goal ward, but somehow Belshaw managed to keep it out. It was nail biting stuff, and soon enough the ball was with Sharp and then it wasn`t as he had slipped it sideways to Ryan who headed for goal. Out came Belshaw......down went Ryan, and County had a life line because the referee was pointing to the spot!


 Penalty on its way in.....

After a modest delay Milligan stepped up and smacked the ball home, and pandemonium broke out in and around the away end....I say around because a number made it onto the pitch to briefly congratulate their team. The moment past without any incident of note, but the feeling of elation didn`t- but the referee did not blow for time for probably 3 minutes more ,during which time both teams tried their best to change the score line, but it stayed 1-0 to County and a famous victory was ours!

Goal celebrations abound!
That was worth travelling and waiting for, let`s hope it`s the start of a turn in fortune for County who should be pleased having  managed to put a neat dent in Tamworth`s otherwise decent start to 2014/15!

County line up:

Hurst, Belezika ( Churchman 74), Lees, Gregson, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Milligan, Moses, Baker, Ryan, Spencer ( Sharp 79).

Substitutes not used:

Ormson, Woolfe.

Tamworth FC line up:

Belshaw , Green, Hildreth, Mettam, Clarke, Daniels, Preston, Purdie, Sleath, Hibbert, Jackson.

Attendance ; 795

Ian Brown