Wednesday, 25 February 2015

County 0 Barrow 1 ( Conference North ) 24 February 2015

A depressingly lack lustre game, saw County go down 1-0 to league leaders Barrow , last night at Edgeley Park. The score line was close, but that was misleading as Barrow pretty much held the whip hand throughout the second half of what was, as I say, not a great game.
There was not that much between the two teams in the first half, and just about no excitement in a thoroughly uninteresting spectacle. Against a side that scores an average of very nearly 2 a game on trips out, to come away just one goal adrift is a decent showing I suppose, but home most County fans might have expected a better response after the nightmares at Bradford and Aggborough, and did Barrow really look a top of the table side ? The truth was however, that by the re-start Barrow had County sussed. Whilst we were trying to play football, there was no threat on the end of it all, and when passes started to go astray, as they did rather regularly, we were undone. Just one goal was enough to win the points for Barrow- a decent finish from substitute Lewis Guy with 17 minutes left, and thereafter the visitors were in cruise mode, and that was more than sufficient to see the job done.

The first five minutes saw Barrow push forward and probe the County defence, which held long enough for a counter to be sorted via Duxbury who sent Ryan clear with a decent ball. He was offside however and fared no better a couple of minutes later when another pass from Duxbury came his way- Andy Burns doing enough to see the threat off.

Things got a bit hectic next thanks to the stand side liner who looked on motionless as Lofthouse was mugged. The consequence was that Barrow had the ball through Andy Hawarth, and it took an excellent bit of work from Churchman to stop his run.
A run by Jason Walker, curtailed by the upraised liners flag, and 15 minutes had gone by, with neither keeper greatly troubled.

The game meandered soporifically on, until the 21st minute when Dan Pilkington darted through to the by-line. Hurst missed the cross that followed, but was relieved no doubt to see Todd in position to put the ball out of play, for a corner which Hurst did altogether better dealing with.
The 22nd minute actually saw County create a chance, and it was a decent one too, set up by a neat pass from Glover, but faced with keeper Aaron Taylor and a gaping goal, Ryan ballooned an awful effort high into the empty Railway End.
Mainly though it was the Cumbrians doing the attacking, and Lees did well at one point to prevent Cook from getting to a cross from Walker.

Glover did get a shot on target from a Ryan knock down, but it went straight to the keeper, ushering in another Barrow break that saw Todd earn applause with some excellent work preventing Haworth from making hay beyond the back post. Hurst joined Todd in garnering small ovations next grabbing a cross by Walker, who had again made it to the by line, before either Cook or Pilkington could get to it.
County did start to play a bit with the break almost on us.....a neat cross field ball by Glover setting Wilkinson up for a shot that took a deflection as he cut inside.  Wilkinson followed this by tracking back, a minute or so later, to block Haworth who was on the charge, but by and large he was mostly peripheral to the action, which was greatly disappointing from a player with obvious skills.

A Todd cross ,from Bakers pass, caused a minor flurry of excitement, before Livesey ushered the ball back to the keeper, but the cosh kept coming down on County heads in the minutes leading up to the break as Cook, Walker and Grand got in a lather attempting to force a corner home. One or other of said threesome did a naughty midst this action, but dear old Mr Salisbury was oblivious to all this, although I must say my least favourite custodian of the stringed whistle was by no means as agonisingly awful as I have oft times remembered him....I`m obviously mellowing with extreme age!

Half time arrived not a moment too soon as 1 minutes added time was heralded by a free kick  that Glover just managed to stop Cook from converting in the box. A corner followed and O`Halloran hooked it clear, and that was that for the first 45 minutes!
Barrow went straight for the County jugular upon the re-start, and Todd again earned his corn by denying Cook a shooting opportunity after Lacey had picked him out with a diagonal ball.
The leisurely tide of Barrow attacking continued, briefly abbreviated by a Wilkinson effort which he leaned back and sent way over the bar, and Lees did well to stop the rot and ensure that Cook did not prosper from a misplaced pass from Churchman.
A County break that saw Ryan beaten to the ball by Taylor, was the prelude to another sortie up the park, and near panic at the back for County as Hurst eventually managed to fall on the ball with all manner of mayhem threatening around him.

The passes were going astray wholesale now from the blues, and Hurst just managed to get a touch to a shot by Grand, keeping it out. Corner after corner followed this- Todd eventually on hand to hoof clear after Hurst had spilled the ball under pressure.
Twice after this Ryan was sent clear, once by O`Halloran and then Baker, but both times Grand had too much nous for him and the breaks were nullified, pretty much before they had materialised. In short....there was almost nothing interrupting the flow of Barrow possession- Lees outstretched leg keeping Cook from a through ball just beyond the hour mark. Todd followed suit saving the day with Haworth bearing down on goal, as the visitors started to build up a head of steam, by introducing 2 substitutions....ex Hatter Sam Sheridan for Ledsham, and Lewis Guy for Walker.
Chris Sharp for Glover, was A.L`s reply, and initially it seemed to offer a possible solution as Sharp`s energy, seemed to ruffle the odd Cumbrian feather a time or two in the minutes that followed. It did not last though and the 73rd minute saw Barrow break down the left where Pilkington`s cross was met by Guy and fired home first time! Barrow had the lead, and but for an intervention from Hurst might have doubled it within a couple of minutes, but the lively Cook was denied by the County keeper.
More pain followed for the blues as loose balls abounded offering tempting half chances to a Barrow side that thankfully did not look that able to take advantage of them. They liked to show boat though, and Lacey luxuriated in doing so heading for the County box, but was borderline apoplectic to see the liners flag up as Cook darted clear.

It was not great as Lees was forced to make a last gasper as passes continued to go anywhere but to a blue shirt.....Sharp got a good block in with Cook threatening menacingly.
Hurst had a save or two to make late on, but Barrow by this stage, with their fans noisily singing “ We are top of the league”, looked to be in cruise mode and more concerned with ending the game than getting a second.
A blast of Mr Salisbury`s whistle and they had their wish, and County supporters have to wait until Saturday`s trip to Brackley for the chance to see their team try to put things right.
There were too many passengers today.....we needed 90 minute players and those were not thick on the ground.....Todd.....Lees....O`Halloran for sure, but the rest flitted in and out of the game alarmingly- A.L. will be working to secure a decent top half finish now, and he needs his team to buck up and support him!

County line up:

Hurst, Todd, Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Churchman, Baker,Wilkinson, Ryan, Glover ( Sharp 66), Lofthouse.

Subs not used:

Ormson, Russell, Moses, Hancock.

Barrow line up:

Taylor, Burns, Cowperthwaite, Lacey, Livesey, Grand, Pilkington( Ray-Harvey 78), Ledsham( Sheridan 65), Walker( Guy 65), Cook, Haworth.      

 Subs not used;

McWilliams, Gorman.

Attendance: 1962

Ian Brown

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Worcester City 2 County 0 ( Conference North) 21 February 2015

Well......the hot dog was excellent......but the football.........
No......this was another day to forget for County, who again failed to score - all the available points going to a Worcester City side that took full advantage of some rank bad refereeing on a glue pot pitch at Aggborough.
Once again ,County found themselves reduced to 10, and up against it, when Jack Ryan`s undeserved second yellow saw him walk around the hour mark. But.......the up-hill climb had started somewhat earlier than the 37 th minute to be precise, when Symons was allowed to sneak one.
Ryan`s dismissal  added to County`s difficulties, and with Evans and Dunkley terrorising County down the flanks, particularly the one patrolled by Jacobs, it was only a matter of time before we leaked a second, the only surprise being it took Worcester until 73 minutes in to get it.
Make no mistake this was a monumentally disappointing performance from County.......defensively Jacobs looks anything but 100% match fit, and matched against the likes of Evans and Dunkley this was a major impediment. Russell and Moses worked hard, but generally our midfield struggled to make an impression the whole game long- good work by Lees and O`Halloran constantly going to waste. Up front was almost totally bereft of ideas, with little or nothing going the way of home keeper Ryan Boot, who, apart from a brief spell in the first half, had as quiet a day at the office as he could reasonably have hoped for!

Not that many in the stand.....
Back to 3 o`clock then, as about 150 County fans divided between the seats and the terrace, giving their team a decent welcome, 

or on the terrace, but they made a noise!

and despite the dismal team performance ,this small band, particularly those behind the goal, gave their team great support throughout the 90 odd minutes.

And one young County fan was least at 2.45 !

The starting 11 for County was another slightly shuffled pack. The defence was un-changed, whilst up front Dennis and Sharp gave way to Ryan and Russell. I was glad to see both Ryan and Russell back, but I thought that Sharp was due a run up front down the middle , and might just have been the man we needed on a really heavy playing surface.

County under pressure.
No matter.....the game was in motion and County opened on the attack via Glover, but within a very short passage of time County were in difficulties as Jacobs was almost caught out by Tristian Dunkley. Jacobs salvaged a corner from this problematic situation, which straightway seemed to get worse, when County made heavy weather of fashioning a clearance.  A throw added to County`s issues, and they were relieved when a foul by Dunkley on Duxbury gave us a free kick.
County defend......

Jacobs got forward next, sending Woolfe on a run, but getting as far as the by-line, the Stockport number 11 was seen off by Shabir Khan.
The  5th minute saw a Baker/ Ryan move bring a save  from Boot, in the home goal, but not long after this, Boot was in real difficulties dealing with a couple of corners, the ball slamming into his post at one stage. The up-shot however was that somehow........City survived, sufficiently intact to see Dean Waldron run at us on the break. His shot was charged down by one of a row of yellow shirted County defenders, so it stayed 0-0.
Worcester pushed on after the last action, and Jacobs did well to concede a corner as Symons sent Evans darting through the middle. Moses and O`Halloran dealt with the corner, and the Irishman was on hand, thankfully, not long after, rescuing County  as the loosest of balls allowed Dunkley a sight of goal.

More defensive work for Lees and company.....
It was beginning to shape up into a real test for County, with Evans and Dunkley looking real threats with their pace and ability to switch positions. In response.....whilst Duxbury was in a contest on the left....Jacobs was struggling on the other flank, being forced into error by Dunkley. The only error on show next however, was one by liner Daz Russell, who kept his flag down as Dunks ran clear whilst obviously offside. The shot went wide, but ..........
The nineteenth minute saw  Boot in trauma mode again from another Woolfe corner.......there seemed to be a moment when County thought the keeper had allowed the ball to cross the line....they certainly appealed vigorously, but the referee was not impressed and instead gave City the welcome relief of a free kick.

Boot under the cosh !
County`s next attack saw Ryan go down in the box under pressure. I would of course have given it, but not Mr Coggins , and as a result Lees had to be on his toes to deny Symons a shooting chance as he tried to hit us on the break.

Storm raging.....
Worcester looked to be on firmer ground next thanks to Evans who beat Jacobs, and his minder Lees with a tasty run down the right. He then picked  out  Sean Geddes with a neat pass, but his shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by the diving Hurst.  A foul by Dunkley on Lees stopped the rot when the kick came over, but County clearly had to produce something to counter these lively raids by City! Instead.....I looked around to see Hurst in position to hold a strike by Symons, and not long after tussling with the none too fussy Jacob Rowe( who spent most of the afternoon with his elbow pressed into Glover`s neck without redress). On this occasion Rowe`s misdemeanour was spotted and Hurst`s angst ended with the resultant free kick.

Work for Hurst to do.......

I took heart a bit, as a superb bit of work by O`Halloran saw him win the ball and send Ryan scooting clear. From Ryan it went via Russell to Woolfe, but he had to be content with a corner, which City cleared easily. A Ryan pass allowed Baker to get a header in, but this did not trouble Boot, who quickly set up a counter attack that ended with Geddes shooting over the bar with the goal gaping, after Lees had done well to block the initial run by Dunkley.
That was the 36th minute......if I was at all tempted to think that the angst was now over.....I was wrong, but it did not immediately look to be so.....O`Halloran did really good work to stem the tide of Worcester attacking heading Hurst`s way. The danger was averted and then it wasn`t as slack work allowed Symons to turn on the ball just inside the box. He had oodles of space.....and made no mistake....burying his shot way past Hurst`s attempts to keep it out. That was disappointing, but it was also 1-0 to Worcester and County had another uphill battle on their hands!

Thomas clears his lines.......
I was looking for a response from County, but after winning possession well, in the 
 next action, Moses then gave Ryan an impossible pass to chase.

A free kick to City then gave Wayne Thomas a chance to shine, but he lifted his shot a foot over the bar, as did Kyle Haynes shortly after.

Up and under........
The half ended with me in rant mode as the same Kyle Haynes launched himself on a determined run that took him deep into County territory past man after man. County cleared his eventual cross, which was good....what wasn`t good was the fact that again liner Russell kept his flag down despite Haynes clearly taking the ball out of play! I seethed the referee offered respite with the half time whistle!

Jacobs and Symons.
The re-start opened ominously with Hurst tipping a shot from Waldron around the post, and then having to rely on Lees` help as Symons threatened to get to a through ball in the box.

Close call for County.
Fifty two minutes were up soon, and by this time I was getting heartily sick of seeing Rowe`s elbow pressed into Glover`s neck without sanction, but.....hey ho.....after the earlier blizzard of sleet and hail.....the sun was now shining, and all was well in referee Coggins` world and he saw no fouls.
It was at this point that the running battle twixt Ryan and Thomas saw them both booked.
Twice after this half chances fell to Woolfe....both occasions saw him not put them away, whilst at the other end Hurst had to make another excellent saver to stop Symons doubling his and his team`s tally with a fine shot from a pass by Deeney.
Worcester pressed a bit after this without being able to force the ball home, and it was massively annoying to see liner Russell strike again . The referee saw nothing wrong as Ryan shaped and failed to get a tackle in on Evans. A frantic wave of the flag and a curious tail later and the referee had shown Ryan a second yellow, and we were down to 10, with not much less than half an hour left to play.      
2nd Half Action.

Worcester piled forward  urged on by their supporters-Moses twice doing well to salvage things as County`s right flank shipped water . Geddes and Denney both had efforts blocked, and Duxbury earned applause by stopping a run by Evans.
The problem was however, that the Worcester tactic of going to ground to order ,backed by their cardboard ultras in the stand and on the terrace, was having an effect and Mr Coggins was not slow in them a free kick in a decent position as Dunkley went down  in what I viewed as a transparent attempt to get Jacobs, who had just been laughably booked, sent off.
Thankfully the kick was sent straight at Hurst, but the very next attack saw him unable to respond as Evans` cross from the right picked out Geddes who promptly slammed the ball home from the edge of the box!

Pre- handbags skirmish
Things threatened to get worse in the last 15 minutes as Worcester got ever more eager to add goals to those already obtained, but Geddes  cross was thwarted by the County cover and it was still 2-0 to the home side as we went beyond the 90 minute mark with the handbags flying at a rate of knots at the far end, where at one point , with everyone bar Hurst involved ,I looked on in astonishment to see  Russell  lifted up and body slammed head first down onto the ground....ala Mick McManus ! It was diabolical, and the referee took an age to give an impression he was in control and knew what had happened and what to do about it! Well someone surely had to go, and apparently it was Khan ( the slam dunking defender) who fitted the bill.

Late free kick.

So.......City had possibly 4 whole minutes to be on level terms, personnel numbers-wise, with County. They were not that impressive in doing so it must be said, but neither were County.......Glover and Spencer missing with varying degrees of inaccuracy in the games dying embers.
Soon enough the game was over and I could head for the Flyer and thereafter head home.
This was a big disappointment, but I stick with my previous position which is that to panic would be a mistake......we badly needed a consolidation year, following season after season of relegation battles. The play-offs have always been a possible bonus....not an expectation, at least for me.
See you at Edgeley Park on Tuesday then, when I expect us to turn Barrow over with some style!

County line up:

Hurst, Jacobs, Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury( Lofthouse 83), Moses, Russell( Todd 90), Baker, Glover, Ryan, Woolfe( Spencer 64).

Subs not used:

Ormson, Churchman.

Worcester City line up:

Boot, Haynes, Khan, Rowe, Thomas, Waldron, Evans( Wright 83), Deeney, Symons( Brown 83), Geddes( Jackman 90), Dunkley.  

Subs not used:

Veiga, Lynch.

Attendance: 731

Ian Brown


Friday, 20 February 2015

Away Ground Guide 18- Brackley Town ( Saturday 28 February 2015)

Club Name: Brackley Town
Nickname: The Saints
Founded: 1890
Ground Name: St. James Park
Ground Capacity:3500( 600 seated)
Admission Price 2014/15:    Adults            £10 
                                                Concessions : £5
                                               Child ( under 16):free

Away Day Accommodation : 

No segregation can mix with the locals,and  drink in the bar on site.
Intriguingly good catering unit selling great chips.....huge sausages.......but no pies last year!

Directions :

1.    M60
2.   M56
3.    M6
4.    M6 Toll [Toll road]
5.   Continue onto M42
6.   At junction 3A, exit onto M40 toward London/Warwick/Stratford
7.   At junction 11, take the A422/A361 exit to Banbury
8.   At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto A422 Going through 1 roundabout
9.   At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Banbury Rd Going through 2 roundabouts
10.               Turn right onto Bridge St
11.               Take the 1st left onto Churchill Way

Estimated Journey Time   -  2 Hours 20 Minutes

Post Codes for Sat Navs :    NN13 7DZ

Nearest Real Ale pubs:

  0.2m    Loco Inn on Bridge Street.
  0.2m    Red Lion  on Market Place.

Coach travel ; The Fingerpost Flyer again will travel to Brackley and take you there. For details or to book phone Lou on 0789 6536757

Ian Brown