Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Buxton FC 1 County 1 ; Pre season Friendly 22 July 2014

County pitched their pre-season tent at Silverlands last night, where they were met with a feisty Buxton side that made life decidedly difficult for them.

Martin McIntosh.
The crowd was smaller than the last time we were in these parts, but a nostalgic whiff of Flynny`s do last Friday lingered in the air nevertheless, with Martin McIntosh locking metaphorical horns in the tech area ,with Alan Lord.
The result was a 1-1 draw, which on the surface might seem disappointing, but in fact on balance County will feel reasonably happy with the result whilst their hosts would not, Buxton having been the livelier outfit throughout much of the game.
County fielded another pre season mix at kick off time , on this occasion featuring a defence loaded with experience with Fagbola, , Gregson , Lees and O`Halloran lining up in front of Ormson, with Tunji Moses parked in front of them.
The only other remotely familiar faces at the start for the white shirted blues, were Lofthouse , Sharp, and Danny Murray, with strangers Adam Baker and Franny Smith getting a run out .
The fact that much of County`s fire power ( Lazenbury, Spencer, and Dennis) was on the bench , rather showed, as home keeper Stuart Jameson, was hardly troubled in the first half- a free kick by Lofthouse being his sole action in the first half and on through the second, until County rallied rather late in proceedings.

First half action.

County defended well enough, but in response Buxton just would not go away and a number of miss placed passes only added to our discomfiture and Buxton`s growing confidence.
For the home side I thought Shaun Tuton was the key player, being constantly in County`s faces, and it was fitting that he should open the scoring in the first half with a neat strike.
Eventually County found their feet and hit back with a close range effort from Dennis after Spencer had hit the bar, but it was not very pretty and they had a scare or two to cope with before they could head back up the  A6.
The start was decidedly frenetic as Buxton looked determined to run the legs off County, but faced with a series of home raids, County emerged intact if not in charge, with Ormson much busier than his opposite number.

Ian Ormson...kept busy....
It was 15 minutes before County managed a shot in reply, but Danny Murray was off balance when the chance arrived ,and he sent his shot wide.
This only served to encourage Buxton, and a break by Tuton, followed by a decent through ball saw local hot shot , Mark Reed through on goal. He was also 3 or 4 yards offside but ,with the near side liner a similar distance and more behind play, this fact ensured Reed ran on ,and a rant was only avoided when he beat Ormson but put his shot inches wide!

County defend.
Hmm........there was food for thought there alright as, irrespective of whether or not it was offside( it was!)our previously serene defence was starkly filleted by a simple through ball........ and within a couple of minutes it happened again as Tuton slipped one to Neil Stevens  who was in the clear. Thankfully, this time Ian Ormson did the biz and Buxton were denied, but , this was not a great start.
Did I say it was not a great start? Well....it got worse quickly, as with just 29 minutes gone Buxton took the lead when Tuton darted through the middle before drawing Ormson, and firing a decent finish home!

Tuton opens the scoring......
That was  not a great surprise based on the run of play, but County did move to give us reason to hope for better shortly after , when Moses was fouled just outside the box, and Lofthouse fired in a tasty free kick.

Jameson prepares to save Lofthouse free kick !
 Yep...it was a good one alright, but so was the response from Jameson, who rose to push the ball over the bar. He caught the incoming corner too, and that was that, as far as County chances were concerned until the 38th minute when a cross from Lofthouse set Murray up with a bit of a belter at the back post, but somehow he fluffed it and the chance was gone.
That was about it for the first half, and with Dennis, Lazenbury, Duxbury, Spencer, Hurst and Churchman on at the re-start I was tempted to  cheer up!
I was still wondering just what our defensive line up was a couple of minutes into the second half( it was Lees RB, O`Halloran and Gregson CB, Duxbury wide left)when Hurst, who had replaced Ormson, spilled the ball to Tuton who somehow managed to shoot wide!
This was not the improved display I was wanting to see, and with Jamie Green taking the ball to the by-line, things looked about to get worse. They didn`t simply because when Reed took the pass from Green, his shot failed to hit the target. But the pressure from the home side continued unabated with County just able to contain Tuton on another surging run, and it took a decent bit of work by Franny Smith to stop Reed moments later, when the forward was presented with a real chance by some loose play.
With Lees and Sharp pushing forward down the right, County did start to look for a decent response, but they were still being undone by a loose pass here and there and ,as a result, pressure was on them down the flanks,

O`Halloran- a busy lad !
 and O`Halloran was in regular gainful employ heading and kicking a succession of crosses and corners out. Smith tried to break the mould with an enterprising through ball, but it proved too strong for Spencer and the score stayed 0-1.
The first 70 odd minutes had seen but one shot on target from County, the Lofthouse free kick, and in the 75th minute they nearly went further behind as the white shirted back line failed to clear the ball allowing Alastair Taylor to steal clear down the right and blast a corker of an effort against the bar with Hurst well beaten!
Bugger.....that was very nearly bad news, but.....hey...ho...., the happy pills suddenly became a none requirement barely 60 seconds later, as Spencer ran at the home back line to set up a strike for Dennis. Things didn`t quite happen as planned however ,and the ball ricoceted back to Spencer whose header rattled the bar and bounced downwards ,where a clutch of blue shirts flailed about at it in real desperation. It looked over the line anyway to me, but any debate was immediately rendered useless when Dennis latched onto the ball and slotted it home!

Dennis at the double !
Another Dennis effort...a header just over the bar....signalled a possible improvement in County`s play, as another new face, Michael Brewster came on for a late County cameo. More decisively I thought was the fact that Shaun Tuton was also subbed, leaving the scene to a decent ovation.

Sub keeper under the cosh!
Buxton had their sub keeper on now as well, so there was perhaps a renewed need for County to test his metal.
They certainly tried, but then so did the Derbyshire side and a terrific run from Josh Davies received scant reward when Stuart Ludlam sent his shot wide.
Pressure and corners followed from County , and the keeper did look a tad flustered at one point, but it stayed 1-1, and pre season hurdle had been surmounted by AL`s charges.
Two more to come before Saturday`s encounter with Airbus. See you at E.P tonight!

County line up:

Ormson, Fagbola,O`Halloran, Moses , Lees, Gregson, Sharp, Smith, Baker, Murray, Lofthouse.

Hurst, Duxbury Lazenbury,Spencer, Dennis, Brewster, Churchman.

Buxton lione up:

Jameson, Ludlam, Green, Niven, Palmer, Young, Stevens, Williams, Reed, Tuton, King.


Taylor, Davies, Ryan, Amesbury, Reay.

Ian Brown

Saturday, 19 July 2014

County 6 Legends 0 ; Mike Flynn Testimonial Match 18 July 2014

For weeks there has been a growing sense of anticipation about the football match arranged to honour inspirational former Hatters captain Mike Flynn.
Mike Flynn-Captain Courageous!
 Last night the moment arrived and the event lived up to its billing at Edgeley Park, where a brilliant turn out enjoyed themselves enormously.
For once you got what you paid for in these affairs as the plethora of former heroes turned up in droves to pay tribute to Flynny , and stretch limbs that in some cases you felt had not seen such exercise for yonks!
The first team squad was on duty for County, but for the Legends there was Lee Jones in goal, and he looked every bit as good a keeper as he ever did! Fullbacks were Alli Gibb and Shane Nicholson, whilst Flynny took on the centre of defence with a trim looking Martin McIntosh. The midfield had true legend Chris Marsden running the show, and seemingly enjoying every minute, flanked by Paul Cook( who managed a shirt waving moment) and Kieron Durkan.
Martin McIntosh takes time out to sign!
 Up front Ian ....now Thomas Moore showed he still could do a thing or three, as did Stuart Barlow who I fancied to score at any moment due to a typically energetic showing.
Luis Cavaco- top top man!
 Spearhead was the wonderful Luis Cavaco, who looked no older, or less fit than way back when. It was a joy to see all the players but a particular pleasure in Luis case- a fine/ fine player not blessed with the best of luck!
I could go on forever about the Legends......so I will.....there were decent run outs for Tony Dinning and Alun Armstrong, both of whom came on to terrifically rousing receptions.....Tony Barras( complete with new hip recently installed).....Lee Todd who was simply excellent – still getting well timed saving tackles in, in the 88th minute- top man! Little Willow played as did Andy Preece  , Peter Ward, Rob Clare, Gaz Owen, Paul Jones , fans favourite Alan Finlay, and Andy Mutch, but the place erupted in a storm of sound when everyone`s favourite County player Kevin Francis came on. 

Kevin goes out of his way to acknowledge fans!

To just make the journey from Calgary in Canada was great, but for him to turn out as well late on was simply too good for words.

Chris Marsden, Kevin Francis and Mike Flynn pre match!
So.......with so much football royalty about, it was tempting to think that the match was going to be an irrelevance, but this was simply never going to be the case. Everyone on board was determined the thing would fly and it did.
Martin Bellis ,doing P.A, flew higher than most with perhaps the most hyper performance with a mike since the heyday of The Who!

PA..Martin Bellis.
Before the off there was much to get through. SCAN presentations and one by the Supporters Cooperative of Life Membership to Mike Flynn and big Kev

Supporters Cooperative presentation to Flynny and Big Kev!
.........Mike Flynn`s honour guard welcome........Kevin Cooper`s letter read out by Vernon......sorry Martin , which tugged at the heart strings big time . Then with the introduction of Jan Bergara it was time for a couple of Danny related chants /songs, and I must admit to fighting back a tear at this point, and another emotional moment came  when Paul Ware`s daughters Laura and Amy were introduced in another moving tribute to their father.Add Flynny`s amazingly generous gift to County of 50% of receipts from the days proceedings, and anyone still in doubt now knew that this was indeed a very special  skipper and an extra special Club!
 The initial formalities over the game got underway rather later than expected and I was still busily trying to identify the players some 10 minutes after the names had been announced- the County regulars with their fresh tans and hair cuts being just as much a challenge in identification terms as the now older Legends, and the additional fact that three Legends wore number 8 , two wore 7 and 4 rather added to my difficulty.

Gregson foils Legends attack.
No matter ...it was soon clear that AL had told his players to treat the game with all seriousness – evidence a thumping great drive from Chris Sharp that thudded into a post before coming out to safety. County kept pressing and 13 minutes in it was 1-0 to the current team when Scott Spencer drilled a fine strike in from outside the box.

Shane Nicholson on the ball.
It was 20 minutes in before a response of note came from the Legends and it came via Stuart Barlow down the left, but Hurst kept the cross from Cavaco, which I must admit disappointed me!

Paul Cook watched by maestro Marsden.
Barlow was looking in good nick, and Paul Cook tried his best to emulate him, but he failed to test the keeper with his effort, whereupon he acknowledge the crowds sympathetic cheer by whipping off his shirt , doing his “ go on then book me” bit! Great stuff!
The applause from that last action had hardly died down when the ball was at the other end and the County lead was doubled when Kristian Dennis , found himself well clear , and slotted the ball home.
Nathan Woolfe was looking in good trim again at this point, confirming the favourable impression he has made on me so far, but his shot on 25 minutes went just wide.
This set the Legends off, but Ian Thomas-Moore rather spoiled a neat bit of approach play by him, by firing his shot wide when well placed. Then a peach of a ball from Marsden saw Stuart Barlow scurrying clear, and likely to score, but with the crowd willing the scouser to rattle the ball in the net, the main stand liner ruined the occasion with a ridiculous offside flag. What a complete ########( insert expletive to taste).
Tony Dinning came on at this point to a terrific reception, and the Legends push for an opener continued, but was foiled by Hurst who robbed Luis Cavaco at the last gasp on the charge!

A Kieran Durkan special!
Alun Armstrong meanwhile was warming up and treated to another roof raiser from the EP faithful, as a Kieron Durcan free kick pressurised County ,and a Barlow effort just missed out at the back post!

Martin Mc Intosh goes close!

Luis and Stuart Barlow late in first half.

With half time nearing, Lee Jones was called on to make two really good saves to keep it at 2-0, the second from Dennis being excellent, but despite the arrival of Alun Armstrong ( for Kieron Durkan) it was soon 3-0  as a free kick teed Dennis up to rifle home a beast of a shot!
Final minutes of the half saw Martin McIntosh go close with a shot.......Lee Jones tip a great try by Woolfe over the bar.........Tony D drill a free kick inches wide, and Tony Barras ( complete with new hip) replace Mike Flynn ,who went off to a rousing ovation!
That had been a decent half, and with Lee Todd, Little Willow, Andy Preece, Rob Clare, Gaz Owen and Peter Ward on for the Legends things looked set for another interesting 45 minutes.
Lee Todd was a revelation....his tackling being as sharp as ever- if his son is half as good he will definitely do us!

Tony Dinning in control!

Cross coming ,as Tony tracks back!
Straight off Toddy got a saver in.....then...as the pressure mounted so did Tony Barras heading a goal bound screamer from Jordan Lazenbury out off the line!
Churchman and Dennis went close a time or two after this as with pressure mounting Alan Finlay came on for Tony B.

Jordan Lazenbury tees up a shot!
That was the hour mark reached and passed, and shortly after it was 4-0 when a cross from the left found Lazenbury in space and he buried a shot way beyond the keepers attempts to save!

More pressure on Legends.

Lazenbury again.
This served to bouy new signing Lazenbury, who  had a couple more efforts on goal to his credit shortly after, but the attention of the crowd rapidly switched elsewhere as true legend Kevin Francis came on. 

Kev on at last!
If the place had a roof......it already would have been off and somewhere south along the A6 at this point....it was loud believe me!
Almost inevitably though, with legendary legs tiring and County still determined to treat it seriously, it went 5-0 when a fine drive from Churchman beat the keeper.
Andy Mutch came on late on, but still the pressure was on the Legends who thankfully had Lee Todd in continued good nick still dishing out the saving tackles! A flood of thoughts from yesteryear invaded my consciousness at this point, only to be interrupted by a shot from Sharp that the keeper pushed over at the last gasp. Then it was 6-0 as another Sharp effort, parried by the keeper, went to Lazenbury, who buried his second in a trice.
Paul Jones saw a worthy effort climb over the bar late on, and Toddy , to no one`s surprise was still tackling as true and as hard as ever in the dying moments.
We just needed the Legends to score one, but with the liners taking matters as seriously as if it were a Champions League affair, this happy turn of events never materialised.
Still.....it was a great event and a worthy way to honour a fine skipper from our former great days.

Legends respond to crowd !
The evening ended with some time spent in the Insider Suite where more SCAN presentations were made.

Ali Gibb gets his SCAN cert from Mary Gibbons.

Marcus Heap presents to Kieran Durkan.

I am sure there was more that happened later, but just after 11 I was ready to go and did, but the whole day had been a cracker for me, and even though the early morning rain of Saturday did away with any dust still about, nothing could ever diminish or rob me of the memories, which were brilliantly re-kindled last night, and that I will keep with me until I pop!

This is my best effort at the team line ups:-


Hurst, Lees, Duxbury,Moses, Gregson, O`Halloran, Sharp, McKenna, Spencer, Dennis, Woolfe.

Substitutes; Ormson, Fagbola, Lofthouse, Churchman, Lazenbury, Murray, Barraclough.


L Jones, Gibb, Nicholson, Cook, Flynn, McIntosh, Marsden, Durkan, Cavaco, Barlow, Thomas-Moore.

Dinning, Armstrong, Barras, L Todd, P Williams, Preece, Clare, Ward, Owen,Mutch, P Jones, Francis , Finlay.    

Ian Brown

Additional Gallery:

Peter Ward

Tony Barras

Flynny`s honour guard.

County players & staff pre start.

and finally..............

Didn`t the old scoreboard look ace- well done Ralph!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Nantwich Town 0 County 0 ; Pre season Friendly 16 July 2014

Well......I have had a sleep , and it`s now some 12 hours since County`s pre season game against Evo Stickers Nantwich Town, and I still do not quite know what to make of it.
The game ended 0-0, which is decidedly better than the 0-1 reverse that Ian B`s outfit managed last term, at the same venue. That loss came via a dubious penalty, and this was a second clean sheet in two, but after saying that I am struggling for many positives.
It`s far.... far too early for rush judgements , and I am absolutely certain that AL will sort chaff from wheat and get us buzzing before the season starts, but....hey...as a match this one was pretty much a none event, particularly after the break where a host of changes ruined any flow there was.
County fielded another mix of established first teamers and new signings with the odd complete stranger in for added interest.
The complete stranger, in this instance was bean-pole Vinny Mukendi, who put himself about a bit in the first half until he was replaced by another new face Kurt Willoughby on the hour. We will probably want to see more of Vinny, whilst I am not sure about Willoughby and Jay Barraclough who similarly appeared for the first time in the second half.
The back four at the start had Jordan Fagbola at right back and Scott Duxbury left. Duxbury tackled everything that moved and covered every inch of available green, whilst Jordan`s game was the usual curates egg, and he looked better when left to roam up the park looking for trifles rather than when defending, although he was never really in difficulties.

Danny Gregson.

Central defence was covered by Glenn Belezika and Danny Gregson in the first half and there were no alarms to report at all really. The dual between Gregson and Jordan Johnson was an interesting diversion as the pair disputed matters, but Gregson had the forward pretty much in his pocket from early doors having welcomed him on the park with a clutch of limb warmers. Johnson did respond in kind but only managed to concede free kicks in doing so, so bragging rights went to Danny!
Stephen O` Halloran played the first half in front of the back four, before reverting to central defence after the break, where he looked at home, as you would expect, so competition for the CB places is going to be hot and there is no mistake in that, although I would expect Belezika to slot in at RB when things get serious, although I admit that this is only based on my view of his game at Flixton, and this one.
  There were starts for Jordan Lazenbury, an interesting addition and neat performer from Saturday, and Danny Murray. Both did nothing wrong, and will no doubt feature prominently in AL`s plans for the season, whilst up front I felt that Kristian Dennis and Scott Spencer worked hard ,albeit without conspicuous reward, in Dennis`s case for pretty much 90 minutes again! I was eagerly awaiting Chris Sharp`s appearance, but he got no change from the home back line, despite trying hard when he came on.  
Ian Ormson.
Both County keepers were never really troubled although when the Dabbers clicked into gear late on there was the odd scare or two to point to, and the odd worry, but County held out and move on to other challenges.
Harry Clayton forced an early corner in the first minute of the game, but Scott Spencer went closest at the other end, seeing keeper Steve Phillips, push his free kick around the post.
Nantwich continued to get forward, but Belezika twice did for them with decisive work.
Mukendi and Dennis combined nicely, and if this work came to nought, an energetic piece of opportunism by Dennis almost snaffled one from nothing as he nearly bamboozled Phillips to turn indecision into calamity! The shot went wide, but it was already clear that Dennis fully appreciated the need to fight for a place in the team!

First Half action.

Fagbola & O`Halloran in thick of it !
Gregson meanwhile was taking no prisoners as a series of strong interventions meant that Jordan Johnson was constantly picking himself up off the deck!

Goalmouth action- Town end.
If Spencer was emerging as free kick taker of choice, his luck was not improving however, and his second effort , following a foul by Steve Jones, was comfortably saved by Phillips, and the home keeper shone again shortly after this to prevent Mukendi, who had stormed into the box, from scoring.
  Clayton was seeming to be Town`s preferred option down the right, but whilst he made some progress, and it took a foul at one point by Duxbury to stop him, he was ultimately thwarted by O`Halloran who tracked back to put in a massively good tackle that earned him a goal kick and applause!
Back came County though as Murray slipped a pass to Mukendi . The lanky forward surged past 2 defenders with consummate ease, only to slam his drive a yard wide.
Still......we were attacking, and perhaps something of note would emerge sooner rather than later, at least I was encouraged to think so as the next action saw the lively Dennis do great work to keep a seemingly dead ball in play. On it went instantly to Spencer, and he was one on one with the keeper, but Phillips kept the County forward`s shot out at the near post and it stayed 0-0.
Dennis and Spencer continued to look good together, but despite the pair working well and winning a couple of corners, that was the sum of their reward, as Phillips continued to  deny County, doing particularly well to deal with Spencer`s intended chip , after Jordan Lazenbury had set him up nicely.
County continued to press, but that lethal finish was missing unfortunately, and I groaned to see Adam Pepper on the line to head clear as County pinged the corners over.
The half ended with a chance at each end......
Pepper brought a save from Ormson, after Duxbury had fouled Clayton just outside the box, but the better chance came at Phillips`s end, where a neat dummy by Dennis teed Spencer notionally up with a chance. Spencer hit the target, but Phillips was equal to the situation and made the save.
A plethora of changes then ensued with Churchman, Hurst, Sharp, Lofthouse and Barraclough all on for Ormson, Lazenbury, Belezika, Spencer and Murray.
My initial fears that things would get all meaningless and shapeless, were not immediately reinforced as Mukendi put pressure on the Dabbers with a couple of efforts, but for Town, there was early disappointment too as ,having been put through by Steve Jones, Andy White lifted his shot over the bar when reasonably placed.
O`Halloran clears his lines!
This encouraged the home side to keep trying to get forward, but two almightily meaty tackles by O`Halloran did more than a bit to make them reconsider!

Fagbola launches one........
Fagbola then almost snatched one as he harried the keeper into nearly spilling a lulu of an opener his way. The keeper won out eventually, but this only served to encourage me in my long held contention ( indulge me dear reader.....and.....no .....no...I have not been at the hallucinogenic substances!) that Jordan would be worth trying as an old fashioned barn storming centre forward. I think he would be a storm at it- he scored a belter, away at Southport I think a bit back and I think he fancies the spot too. Before you dismiss this out of hand and point to his apparent diffidence and lack of bite, think back to Billy Haydock in the 1960`s. Billy came to us as an inside forward and he pussied his way about the park no end for his first few matches –winning nothing, until he was converted to full back and became the fastest/ hardest thing on two legs down the right! Improbable switches sometimes work.....I rest my case, whilst expecting no one to agree with me!
After the hour Lees came on for Mukendi, and Willoughby for Gregson, as a through ball by Peter Green allowed Danny Hurst to confirm he was fully functioning.
At the other end things stirred a bit as Fagbola sent a decent cross over that Sharp met with a flick of the head sending the ball inches wide!
If that was good, the next bit wasn`t as Green`s extravagant dive in the box failed to earn him a penalty!

County press.
Willoughby had a shot saved by the keeper, as slowly but surely the pressure started to increase on County as Town put together some neat play switching positions in a nippy fashion that was now eluding County. 

Duxbury throw.
Thankfully Duxbury was in prime form at this juncture and County needed him to be as the Dabbers surged forward, forcing O`Halloran to head clear off the line.
It was slightly worrying to see how neatly and swiftly substitutes Green and Cohan Bramall made headway, and more so when the latter`s shot flashed inches wide! Bramall looked very lively indeed and he was joined by Louis Callaghan whose run to the by-line put County in difficulties with time running out.

Late, Late action.......
The final minutes continued with County trying to hit their opponents on the break, but coming under increasing pressure, but the referees whistle ended the angst, and we could all go home!

County line up;

Ormson, Fagbola, Duxbury, Lazenbury, Gregson, Belezika , Dennis, O`Halloran, Spencer, Murray, Mukendi.


Hurst, Lees, Lofthouse, Barraclough, Churchman, Willoughby, Sharp.

Nantwich Town line up:

Phillips, Lycett, White, M Jones, A Jones, Bailey, Clayton, Blake, Johnson, Pepper, S Jones.


Wilson, Meaney, Harrop, Clarkson, Green, Bramall, Callaghan, McLennan, Smith.

Attendance ; 237  

Ian Brown