Stockport County`s table topping Youth team came a cropper yesterday at the Cumberland Arena, where in form MMU, coached by former County favourite Nigel Deeley, stormed to a well deserved 5-1 win.
It was an uphill struggle from the start, in fact before the start for County who were short of key players in key areas, and against a side that had rattled in 8 recently , the game was always a big ask for the blues.
MMU pretty much bossed matters throughout, going into an early 2 goal lead. If we thought, and we did, that this was typical County and that they would make one of their usual high octane come backs, we were wrong, and despite a man of the match performance from Ben Spibey , who scored County`s goal and peppered woodwork and keeper with shots galore , and energetic displays from Kiarno Samms, Kameron Palmer, Leon Murphy and others, there was always ever going to be one winner, despite late heroics from keeper Adam Rigby, and that was the team from Newcastle.
A much changed County side were quickly under the cosh in pleasant conditions on an excellent( grass) pitch, and as early as the 6th minute, we could see we were in for a game, when the ball hit the back of the County net and Adam Roberts turned in triumph. His joy was short lived however as the effort was ruled out for offside.
Murphy did manage one shot- a side footed effort that missed out by half a yard, but in the main it was Rigby who was the busier keeper at this stage and he did particularly well to deny Declan Fulton,whose header was on target and threatening.
Twelve minutes in, a move engineered by Albert Keeling and Leon Murphy foundered as the MMU right back stood firm to good effect. This saw MMU work the ball up the park and a speculative effort from outside the box from Connor Perrie deceived Rigby to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
That was something of a shock but more followed and within a minute or so. At first, when the lively number 11, Henry Blundell, slotted the ball home, we assumed that it was a repeat of our earlier experience, because the near side liner`s flag was up and had been from an early stage in the move. No goal then, but....hey...what`s this....the referee had pointed to the centre circle signalling a goal, and was now ear bashing his liner with the reasons why!
Ho hum.......2-0 to MMU it was, but maybe..... surely......County would re-group and come back to ultimate victory! It was however another 15 minutes before anything like this idyllic situation was triggered by the blues, and it came via Ben Spibey, who had just moments earlier set Nick Williams up for a strike on goal that almost did for ace camera person Sue Corden who was in attendance for County Life. The next action was altogether better from County`s view point. Spibey started things rolling latching onto the ball before picking captain Leon Murphy out wide on the left. Murphy returned the favour with speed and accuracy, for Spibey to turn on the ball before blasting a stunner past the otherwise brilliant home keeper Callum Spencer.
|Spibey to the fore.|
Samms , Murphy and Spibey were attacking with intent ,but the MMU defence was brilliantly resilient and organised to a tee, and the blues struggled to work openings, and even when Spibey got through the guard his bullet header thundered into the bar before heading off out of the danger zone.
At the other end Rigby was busier than normal – saving from Blundell, and again from Josh Ansor, who was the best player on the park for 90 minutes, even shading Spibey.
|Samms goes close.|
Kiarno Samms and Murphy both went close with shots when the 2nd half started , but even when Samms followed this up with a fine run down the left and an even better cross, it ended badly for the blues with Albert Keeling sliding in mere inches from putting the half chance away.
With Samms thwarted again by the keeper and County`s keeper doing well to deny Brad Tabener, it looked anything but a shoo in, that County would manage to square this circle.
Indeed, the MMU defence continued to look well nigh invulnerable, whereas County were finding defending hard work, and it was only a minor surprise when, just before the hour, MMU scored again. It started down the right where the Tabener 7 beat his man before pinging a beaut of a cross over. Rigby went for it with Steve Jenyons-Buckley, but the forward won and it was 3-1.
Credit to County they did respond, through Spibey but a ferocious shot from him brought a brilliant save from keeper Spencer,to keep it unbelievably at 3-1.
|Spibey header thuds into the bar.|
But ......on the hour a loose ball at the back from County, increased their discomfiture, as the ball quickly sped from Amson to Jenyons- Buckley who made no mistake.
Josh Amson by now was running riot, and County just could not handle him, and Rigby did well to come up with the ball after one particularly tasty move from the home team.
With Nico Brown on for Charley Mather late on, County went 3/4/3 in an effort to claw something back from the wreckage. Spibey led the charge, but a header from him just went wide and another thunderous shot thudded into the gloved hands of the diving keeper yet again! Spencer, in the home goal, was inspired, and even when less so.....with Samms taking the ball around him, County could not put the ball into the net- Brown seeing his shot blocked.
|County push forward....|
Inevitably MMU waited their chance to hit on the break and they did it to perfection, and Rigby did extremely well to keep the initial shot from Jenyons- Buckley out. He did not hold it however and, following up, the excellent Amson slotted goal number 5 in for his team!
Lots of action followed....shots from Samms.......Williams.....Spibey.....Murphy....saves from Rigby who was left increasingly exposed by the need for County to get forward.
|Murphy goes close ( top) while Spibey has another shot brilliantly saved( below)!|
In the end one blast of the referee`s whistle told us the game was over and, deservedly, MMU had won.
Good luck to them and let`s look to County bouncing back from this ...along with one or two favourable results elsewhere in the league.
Keep the faith.....get to Knutsford next Wednesday for 1.30 for the fight back!
County line up;
Adam Rigby, Charlie Mather ( Nico Brown 68), Kristopher Livesey, Wesley Barker, Kameron Palmer, Nick Williams,Albert Keeling, Kiarno Samms, Ben Spibey, Rodney Ajayi, Leon Murphy.
MMU Line up:
Callum Spencer, Kieran Sandland, Jack Flaherty, . Kyle Stubbs, . Connor Perrie, . Declan Fulton, . Brad Taberner,Adam Roberts . Steve Jenyons-Buckley, . Josh Amson, . Henry Blundell
Subs; Andy Dufty, Jack Johnson, Jamie Lucas.