Monday, 3 August 2015

Player Profiles - RYAN ELLISON

The initial plan was to deliver these profiles of the new players in alphabetical order, but the recent signing of Ryan Ellison means going out of sequence this week. Ryan - not to be confused with his Stockport born namesake now at National League North rivals Stalybridge Celtic having previously been on the books of Manchester City and Sunderland - is the younger brother of the former County wingman Kevin Ellison.

He was one of a pair of former Oldham Athletic lads who have been involved throughout the pre-season games, the other being keeper Paul Tyson. Liverpool born, Ryan first made the headlines in his schoolboy days, playing, and scoring regularly, for Stansfields. He was also called up for Liverpool Schools U11s, representing them in the Vernons' League. His representative games included a trip to Spain, when the Liverpool Schools FA party travelled to play Barcelona. Their opponents were unbeaten for two years in home matches, but Ryan and his team mates recorded a memorable 2-1 victory.

For his secondary school education Ryan moved to the Aintree based Archbishop Beck School. He continued to get regular mentions in the school report columns of the Liverpool Echo. His school team regularly won local trophies but were also a threat at national level. They claimed the National U12 title in May 2009, and one year on the same group of players claimed the title again at Under-13 level. Ryan played a significant part in the win by scoring the late late winner at Everton's Goodson Park ground.

Aside from his school successes Ryan was also still a regular in the various age-group Liverpool Schools sides. In January 2013 he was called up to the Merseyside Schoolboys side, and helped them turn around recent poor results to claim a 4-1 win over Hertfordshire in the ESFA Under-County cup. Ryan, the "big bustling striker", scored one of the goals, set up another, and had plenty of chances throughout.

Having completed his schooling at the specialist PE College, Ryan was signed on by Oldham Athletic as a scholar for the 2013-14 season. Despite being in his first year Ryan was involved in some Central League games for the Latics, and scored occasionally, including notching Oldham's goal in a 3-1 defeat at his brother's club Morecambe; although Kevin was not in the opposition line-up that day.

Ryan part of the Oldham Youth Team set up, & 4-3 penalty king !

At the end of that first season with Latics Ryan, scored the decisive penalty as Oldham claimed the Lancashire FA Professional Youth Cup with victory at Blackpool.

Whilst at Oldham Ryan was always listed as a central-defender, rather than his schoolboy position in the forward line. Presumably he was converted from the striker's role after joining Oldham, a move many County forwards have faced over the years.

Last season Ryan suffered injuries which limited his playing time. He missed so much of the season that Oldham suggested his apprenticeship be suspended until he had fully recovered. However, in March Latics said Ryan had rejected this proposal, and had decided to move on, looking to make his way at a new club.

As those who have been to the pre-season games have seen, that new club is our own Stockport County;

.......signing on last week. In doing so he becomes one of the younger players in the first team squad - and is still of an age to get playing time in the Lancashire League side when not starting games for the first team. His early years as a striker should mean he will add an extra threat to opposition defences at corners and other set-pieces.

Ian Watts

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Stockport County 1 Manchester United Under 21`s 1 ( Pre Season Friendly) 28 July 2015

County gave the latest in a string of consistently good performances in coming away with a 1-1 score line against Manchester United Under 21`s at Edgeley Park last night.
 I almost used the word `held', but it would have been way wide of the mark as for the greater bulk of the game it was the side in blue that was attacking and looking good. Sure....the visitors came at us late on testing Hurst a time of two whilst about it, but NY`s County boys did not roll over and await the apparent inevitable, indeed they kept looking for the winner, that but for earlier heroics from United keeper Joel Castro  Pereira would have come their way before.
I hate to single anyone out from a thoroughly excellent team performance, but ....if pushed... I will point to a monumentally good performance from the classy Lewis Montrose, who kept amazing us with his cool play from first minute to last. Tireless 90 minute showings are usually the forte of Glenn Rule, and he did not disappoint with another belter. Sefton Gonzales looked a class act too, being particularly awesome after the break when he tore into Man U with a will- only that sliver of luck was missing from the mix!

Glenn Rule.
A quick mention for Karl Ledsham, who scored a cheeky one and would have  notched another but for the keeper’s brilliance. Karl is rapidly forcing his way into the reckoning for a start when Boston come calling, but then he`s not alone in that is he?

Packed Away End.
There was a decent crowd inside EP at the unaccustomed start time of 7.30, and I had obtained entry without the irritation of a bag search for the first time this close season, so…..a state of relative happiness prevailed, one which almost multiplied off the scale when, within a minute of the off, Abs Baggie thumped a snap shot inches wide with the keeper scrambling to get to it.
The first 6 or 7 minute saw Baggie to the fore giving of his full repertoire of relevant football tricks. In response Man U were none too particular with the iffy tackling and County might have got that elusive first goal , 8 minutes in, had Danny Morton`s header enjoyed better luck from Jordan Thorniley`s free kick. 

County put pressure on....
Matt Wilcock enjoyed a tilt at the blues on the break ,some minutes later, but the end product was not there- his shot climbing over the bar to his disappointment.
Meanwhile the foul count against the visitors continued to climb with Baggie the receiver of attention from Sadiq El Fitouri this time. Again County had a go from the kick that followed, but Karl Ledsham’s shot went wide.

Ledsham & El Fitouri do battle.

All this time I had been quietly impressed with the input of Lewis Montrose for County and he was unlucky to see strength of red numbers in the box do for a determinedly excellent bit of work that took him into the opposition box.
Nearly 20 minutes had gone by, and, in a quite entertaining game, County were having pretty much all the possession that meant anything, and Ledsham saw another effort miss out narrowly after Roberts, Morton, Baggie and Odejayi had moved the ball about in superb style, putting the reds under the cosh.

Rule & Morton guard the fort.
This pressure continued to mount as Montrose controlled midfield along with Rule in textbook manner. United’s cover remained reasonably steady in response although they were a tad fortunate to see Lewis’s shot drift inches wide on the end of prodigious work from Kayode Odejayi.
This went on with Ledsham again going close, and Morton even closer with the second of two attempts on goal.

County press.

The half hour mark saw no change in the games pattern, or the Man U foul count as another free kick for a foul by Digby on Odejayi  heralded an almighty scramble inside the United six yard box. Eventually the ball was cleared way out to Ledsham who awaited its arrival just beyond half way. Pereira by this time had advanced some way off his line, thus…with the wags in the crowd advising “ shoot” ….Ledsham did just that….launching an improbable effort high into the air towards the United goal. For Pereira it was one of those dream time/ legs in treacle moments as he hurried back to his line, but it was too late and although he made contact with the ball he couldn`t prevent it crossing the line.
County had the lead and it looked like Pereira was in for a nightmare night as the blues buzzed around him like flies round a jam pot ….Digby just getting his head to the ball to prevent a second as Odejayi and Baggie threatened to run riot with an orgy of inspirational passing. Sadly…Odejayi strayed offside after much pressure, and United had relief.
With 7 minutes left of the first half, at last United replied. Ledsham had just ended a barnstormingly excellent run with a less than wondrous finish, when County were hit on the break by Wilcock and Sean O’Hanlon, who had central defence neatly sewn up all night alongside Thorniley, did well to concede a corner with the pressure on. 
Thorniley on the alert.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson stole in at the back post from the corner that followed, but the kick lacked accuracy and any chance the reds had vanished.

County have defending to do.
Two minutes on from that action and more followed at the County end, where Hurst did really well to push a decent effort from Devonte Redmond round the post. Again United had no luck as the kick fizzed over…….Wilcock made to force it home, but the County cover ensured this did not happen.

Hurst goal kick.
Oh……and the agricultural tackles were still testing Baggies’s patience( and laying him out)the latest from Liam Grimshaw earning him the sternest of rebukes from referee Tony Moore , who I thought had a  pretty decent game in charge.

Pereira on his toes.......
From the free kick County turned the screws again….Baggie ‘s shot taking an unlucky deflection- the subsequent corner seeing Pereira flapping alarmingly whilst trying to reach a testing ball into the box from Morton. A jinking run from Baggie, ended on the edge of the box, and ended the first half which had been pretty good pre season fair.
It had also been a pretty good showing from County’s team who had, to a man, done a days work before reporting for duty tonight, rather than spent the time polishing their bling!

First off following the re-start, we saw United go on the offensive through Redmond, who dragged a poor effort well wide after what had been a promising run.
This only served to ignite County’s desire to respond, and they did…via Gonzales whose first time cross caused momentary panic in the Man U ranks. Gonzales was on a roll now, but sadly inches from putting Roberts probing diagonal ball home at the back of the box.

Gonzales....on fire !

That was Roberts’ final contribution as he took a knock and had to be replaced by Ryan Ellison.
The force was still with County as the hour mark approached, but Pereira was putting my earlier doubts as to his ability, to bed as a neat bit of work by him saw off a goal bound whiz bang from Ledsham. O’Hanlon was a fag papers width away from glory when the kick came over, and I look forward to seeing him have better luck throughout the Conference North season.
County replaced Baggie with Micah Evans around this time , which was like for like, but within a couple of minutes Man U were level as County failed to tidy up at the back allowing Redmond to set Tim Fosu- Mensah up with a scoring chance which he put away with aplomb!
Match over……cue United blitzkrieg ? Not a bit of it…..back came the blues and O`Hanlon was not far away with a header after Gonzales had run the red defence ragged. The corner saw more angst for United and Guillermo Varela was happy to hurriedly hack the pill towards Hardcastle Road with Odejayi  combining neatly with Ledsham.

Borthwick-Jackson gets to grips with Odejayi!
It looked just a matter of time before County would get that second goal, but not if Pereira had any say in it, and his dive dished Gonzales, keeping his goal bound effort in play. The keeper was in tip top form and was there again shortly after, taking two goes to sort another from Gonzales and keep it at 1-1.
Thorniley on the charge.....

The Edgeley Park crowd were warming to Gonzales’ terrific skills and more magic from him saw Rule go within an ace of picking Ledsham out in front of goal.
County were keeping their game nicely together and kept commendably on the front foot ….Rule using his powerful engine to keep the supply going…... Odejayi doing his best to add a finish to same. United’s cover held though and you would expect their younger …full time legs to start to take control at some point soon, but we were way past the hour now and there was no sign of this happening yet, although Hurst did have to make a stop at his near post from Redmond who had been sent clear by Fosu- Mensah.
Lamin Colley was now on for Odejayi, and he and O’Hanlon almost gave County the lead from Rule’s free kick……it was now the County players’ turn to go `treacle legs’ as once….twice…three times either Colley or O’Hanlon saw shots come back out off Pereira almost on the line. The ball just would not go in, and…almost inevitably the referee `saw something’ and Man U were saved.

Pereira to the rescue for Man U.
We were into the last 20 minutes now, and Pereira was in inspired form for Man U, just keeping Colley from Rule’s pass at the back post.
At this point Evans ( who was to be subbed later due to this knock) took a fearsome limb threatener from Don Love. The kick had United in panic mode and the fouls just kept on rolling this time via Varela who went straight through Gonzales from behind. Not great that from the visitors, but thankfully( from their point of view) Pereira was in good nick still and his firm punch midst the mother of all melees in the box , with 15 minutes left, kept the red cause afloat.
The visitors might have improved on ` kept afloat’ had James Weir done better on the break, but instead he wasted good work by Fosu-Mensah and Love by lifting a poor effort high over the bar.
On it went with Rule in the van pushing County forward as Gonzales and Colley had efforts blocked.
There were just 10 minutes left now and I was impressed with the fact that County were still very much in there with a definite shout.
So were United I guess but, despite a lively break by Grimshaw, neither Redmond or Wilcock could put head to ball when the cross pinged over.

Rule drives forward !
Ellison and Evans……..Rule and Ledsham…….  County continued to put neat combinations together, with just a touch of good fortune missing.
The last 5 minutes or so saw Man U push on a bit and Hurst did well to make the save and keep a shot from Redmond out at one point.
The visitors looked to be fancying their chances right at the death but there were no takers when a cross whizzed over from the right.

The free kick....

And Ledsham goes close from another....
It was by no means all over as far as County were concerned and Ledsham went close with a header after United had conceded a free kick .
A late …late United free kick……a rather poor shot…..then another from Wilcock that Hurst met with a confident save, and that was the game over…a very decent game and one that had featured another top notch County performance.

Off to Cheadle Nomads then on Thursday for another look at NY`s squad, meanwhile my sole complaint from last night concerns those numbers on the County shirts which are ridiculously unreadable. Can we please sort this one?

County line up:

Hurst, Morton, Roberts( Ellison 52), O’Hanlon, Thorniley, Montrose, Baggie( Evans 56/ Holsgrove 84), Rule, Odejayi( Colley 65), Gonzales, Ledsham.

Subs not used:


Manchester United Under 21 line up:

Pereira, Love, Varela, Borthwick-Jackson, Digby, Fosu-Mensah( Mitchell 83), El Fitouri, Grimshaw, Redmond, Wilccok, Weir.                      

Subs not used:

Henderson, Fletcher, Riley, O’Hara.

Attendance: 2278

Ian Brown

Monday, 27 July 2015

Player Profiles - LAMIN COLLEY

Striker Lamin is a bit more of an unknown compared to Abdulai Baggie, the first player whose profile was featured. This is despite the fact he was playing in the National League North last season.

He started out with Farsley AFC as a youth, under player coach Mark Jackson. He also played in the Leeds City Colleges team, run in partnership with Farsley, where Jackson was Head of Football. His appearances for the student side earned him a place in the England Colleges representative team, with Lamin making his England debut in a 2-0 victory over Wales at the TNS ground, coming on as a second half substitute.

The honour came a few months after his first ream debut for the North East Counties side, in Farsley's 2-1 victory over Selby Town on 11 September 2010. Further reports of appearances for Farsley have proved impossible to track down so far but Lamin was loaned out to league rivals Liversedge.

His spell at the Clayborn Ground began in March 2011, with his debut probably coming in a 2-2 draw with Winterton Rangers. His time at Liversedge didn't start too well, as he managed to pick up double yellows in two games, including that Winterton match. In one case a booking came for celebrating a team mate's goal. Despite the suspensions, and further calls by England Colleges, Lamin managed three goals as the Cleckheaton based side moved clear of the relegation. One of his more impressive performances, going off the reports, came in a narrow League Cup defeat to his parent club.

As I mentioned, it's unclear how often Lamin was involved with the first team at Farsley, but last summer he definitely signed for his former manager at Liversedge. Bill Miller signed him on for Northern Premier League Harrogate Railway Athletic, the neighbours of regular County opponents Harrogate Town.

Railway made an attacking start to the 2014-115 season with Colley scoring regularly, including goals in the FA Cup as his new side made it through two rounds before going down 2-3 at Colwyn Bay in a close fought game. In what was to prove his final game, Lamin scored a goal in North Wales to make the score 2-3. Bradford Park Avenue manager John Deacey had already agreed a deal to sign the striker. The agreement was to put the transfer through when HRA were out of the cup, so the following week Park Avenue signed the 6' 4" tall striker for a small fee.

He made his debut in a 4-1 defeat at Solihull Moors on 4th October. Lamin was replaced during the game, and from then on he had to be mainly satisfied with a place on the bench, although he was brought on more often than not. However, he was not included in either of last season's games against County. By season's end Lamin had played 23 games in all for Avenue, 7 of them in the starting line-up. The lack of starts meant his chance of making a significant contribution to the goal scoring tally was severely hampered, but Lamin did score in the FA Trophy victory over Leamington in November, the match that gave him his second spot in the starting lineup. This would turn out to be his only goal for Avenue as Neil Young made him one of his first signings as County manager.

With several months experience under his belt at this level, County fans will be looking to see Lamin pressure National League North defences with his pace.

Ian Watts

Player Profiles - MICAH EVANS

Micah first came to prominence as a member of the Wright Robinson High School triple winning side, who were awarded the Aviva & Daily Telegraph School Sports Team of the Year in 2009. Also in the Manchester school's Year 11 side that season was Curtis Jones, the former County schoolboy player, who Celtic signed along with Josh Thompson for a significant compensation payment in August of 2009. As captain of the team Micah was given the honour of attending the gala awards event in London, where, along with two school staff, he collected the award from England Rugby player Brian Moore.

Whilst Curtis headed north of the border, Micah stayed a little closer to his Manchester home, being an Academy player at Blackburn Rovers. Playing in the Under-18 side Micah and his team mates took Rovers to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals the following season. He made good enough progress to be offered a professional contract in 2011 and at the start of the 2011-12 season Micah got the chance to match his skills against first team players, in Rovers' pre-season Friendly games against non-league sides.

Like many players with top flight clubs his senior debut came when loaned out to a Football League side, in this case Accrington Stanley. Despite the fact that Stanley were struggling towards the bottom of League 2, the interviews with Micah made it clear it was a challenge he relished. As always during his career it was his pace that was a big part of the attraction for Stanley.

His temporary spell started in November 2011 and it was a great debut for the winger. Micah opened the scoring in a 2-1 victory over Bristol Rovers, ending a run of three defeats on the trot. The goal came after just 5 minutes. He got some good practice with Stanley as his initial month's loan was eventually extended until the end of the season and playing 24 games in total, managed two more goals.

Further loan spells were to follow, beginning with Chesterfield in September 2013.

Debut game was 1-1 draw with Torquay United as a substitute. Of the four games Micah played for Chesterfield only one would see him in the starting line-up. The original plan was for the player to be with Chesterfield fort he rest of the year, but a change of manager meant this did not happen. Former County man Paul Cook, who was in charge for part of Micah's Accrington spell, took over in October and decided to end the loan arrangement.

This meant a couple of months of Under-21 football but in January Micah was able to go out on loan again. The move came just as the transfer window closed and he was borrowed by last Friday's opponents Macclesfield Town. Micah was effectively a straight swap for outgoing loanee Amari Morgan-Smith and he made his Macc debut in a goalless draw at home to Tamworth, when Micah came off the bench but could not break the deadlock. He was to make just one more appearance for the Silkmen, that came 10 days later when he started their 4-0 defeat against Gateshead, when he was one of the few players to get a positive post match report from his manager. He returned to Rovers a few days later.

None of these moves provided the key to breaking through into Rovers' senior side and soon after he returned it was announced the winger would be released at the end of the season. Initial interest seemed to be from Oldham Athletic, but in the end Micah made the short move to Burnley, initially on trial. It took a fair while before he was awarded a contract - FA Registration records indicating that finally happened in mid October. The contract was a reward for hid displays in their Development Side.

As at Blackburn Micah could not break into the first team. His chances were not helped by the fact the Turf Moor side were on their way to promotion to the Premier League as Championship runners-up. So, he went off again, this time to the now sadly no longer with us, Hereford United, officially on a youth loan.

He was to play for the old Edgar Street side, now home to the newly formed Hereford FC, in six Conference games without scoring. However match reports generally praised his contribution to the side. Incidentally, Hereford suffered a season of struggle eventually being demoted to the Southern League despite finishing in a position of safety. This decision meant County manager Neil Young's previous club Chester escaped the drop. United's difficulties played a significant part in ending Micah's spell after those six games, as a transfer embargo following a winding up order meant the Bulls were not allowed to extend the deal.

So it was against back to the under-21s for Micah and he helped Burnley to the Semi-Final of the Under-21 Premier League cup. His release by Burnley, along with ex-County man Kyle Brownhill amongst others, saw Micah drop to National League level with another Lancashire club, Southport, the next entry on his football CV. It was his manager at Hereford, Martin Foyle, now in charge at Southport, who signed Micah.

He was initially hampered by injuries after joining the club and eventually made his debut on 16th August in 1 0-0 draw at Torquay United. Paul Fairclough's scouts had obviously been keeping an eye on Evans as mid-September saw him named in the contingency squad, effectively the list of players on stand-by for first choice drop-outs, ahead of an England 'C' training camp. . October saw a change of boss at Southport when ex-County midfielder Gary Brabin took over. Micah was out of the side at the time with re-occurrence of his earlier hamstring injury, but he returned during November, in time to help Southport on their run to the third round proper of the FA Cup. Micah made no small contribution, scoring the winning goal in their second round 2-1 victory over Eastleigh. He missed out on the third round tie as Southport lost to an injury time penalty at Derby County.

January saw Brabin leave Southport for a job with Everton, and the following month his third manager of the season loaned Micah, along with teammate Johnny Lynch, to our National League North rivals Worcester City. He had a winning debut for the Mainlanders as they beat Colwyn Bay 2-0 on 14th February 2015. Micah had a decent spell at Worcester scoring twice in 7 games, just three of which he started. He finished off with a goal after coming off the bench as City won 4-1 at Solihull Moors. It was whilst with Worcester that Micah faced the Hatters for the only time. He was in the starting line-up when we visited City's out-of-town home back in February. Micah and his team mates inflicted a 2-0 defeat on his future employers that day, with Micah described as a menace to County's backline.

After returning from Worcester, Micah was back in the Southport side. His last game at the Merseyrail Community Stadium (better known to many of us as Haig Avenue) saw Grimsby Town hold Southport to a 2-2 draw. This appearance left Micah with 18 National League and FA Cup appearances, half as a substitute.

With a fair number of appearances at clubs in higher tiers of football it will be interesting to see Micah's contribution. If the 22-year-old Manchester born player continues his scoring rate from his spell at this level last season we should be looking at him contributing double figures in the goals chart.

Ian Watts

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Macclesfield Town 2 Stockport County 1 ( PreSeason Friendly) 24 July 2015

Macclesfield Town 2 County 1…….nah……that is assuredly the detail that the referee will have in his notebook, but in mine I had written two words …Progress maintained…….. together with an exclamation mark, and a corrected score line of 3-2 to County.

County filled the away end(see above) so the terrace was opened!
To explain this state of affairs it is necessary for you to be aware of the parallel universe I visit occasionally when my stress mountain is at its zenith. In this other place the liner and referee had not hallucinated at all and County had not had 2 perfectly good goals ruled out.
Alas, last night hallucinations were rife and strikes by Gonzales and Ledsham were unaccountably ruled out which was a massive shame as County’s performance at the very least merited a draw- evidence the massive ovation accorded the pink shirted blues at the end of proceedings. This was a decent performance against a side which had been close to promotion last term  to Division 4 of the Football League, and the large County following knew it!
In the first half Danny Hurst was the busier keeper but play was fairly even until the 44 th minute when an aberration from the otherwise tidy debutant Jordan Thorniley gifted a goal to Kristian Dennis. 

Jordan Thorniley directs traffic !
Chris Holroyd added a top rank second 10 minutes into the second half, but Ritchie Branagan in goal for Town, rather kept the Silkmen in it with a number of vital saves as County pushed forward impressively.
Charlie Russell pulled one back late on for County, opening his first team account with a bit of a cracker that had him and the County contingent cock a hoop….first of many I hope Charlie, but Macc held on for the victory they probably fancied was theirs as of right pre-kick off.
Plus points from the game for County for me were the continued excellence of Rule, who was the busiest man around once again, and nearly took the keeper’s hand off with one effort. Confident showings from the two new men Thorniley and Montrose, who showed a willingness and ability to get forward which he did with smooth regularity. 

Lewis Montrose- got forward regularly !

That was good stuff……Baggie added occasional danger to the mix….Garvin industry …. all the big forwards, Colley, Gonzales and Odejayi  were a handful....

Ellison. Montrose & Morton.

..... and I liked Ryan Ellison’s work too, he did well faced with Kristian Dennis , Chris Holroyd and the likes of Theo Bailey-Jones. No one disappointed …in what was another good team effort
Minutes Silence- Beautifully observed !
There was a minutes silence which was beautifully observed prior to the start, for the Bosley disaster victims, and within seconds of the game starting  I was mouthing incoherent oaths as the dangerous Chris Holroyd was allowed to surge clear down the right whilst a yard or so offside. Nothing came of it but………
Theo Bailey-Jones took to his heels on the other flank and looked well capable of causing County issues, but early doors Dan Morton did well and matched him for pace and resolve, stopping him neatly.

Morton deals with the tricky Bailey-Jones.
Garvin and Rule meanwhile were busy organising mid field, the former getting forward and pushing Macc back. With freshly recruited Lewis Montrose pushing forward too, County had options for sure.
By the tenth minute my regained state of tranquility was thoroughly banjaxed as Dennis went to ground under almost no pressure from anyone in a pink shirt, getting a free kick courtesy of Mr Philbin on the far line. This was the third iffy free kick Macc had obtained in that 10 minute period , whilst an almost constant buffeting( and worse) by Tony Diagne on Lamin Colley , got no redress at all- I was not alone in my angst. I was soon assuaged ….the kick hit the County wall and Dan Cowan’s follow up missed by a distance, but I looked for something better from the officials!

Good work from Ellison and Thorniley followed, both of whom did well to keep Dennis quiet.

Ellison keeps tabs on Dennis.
Garvin was unlucky…being pulled up for offside with the break very much on, and Evans was more so being inches from a Baggie cross after a rare County free kick( Diagne foul on Colley) had set the move up.
An early attempt at a shirt exchange by Diagne on Colley followed, and Macc broke when the referee chose not to penalise the errant defender. In a flash Dennis was clear and in on goal, but Hurst’s dive saw him stop the goal bound effort- Danny Whitehead being unable to force the loose ball home.
On it went, and County replied with a veritable screamer from Garvin that whistled an inch or so wide from a tasty knock down by Colley. Evans then won the ball well and fed Baggie, but his shot missed the target by a yard and it stayed 0-0.
Montrose gave us a hint of his potential next with a powerful run that was only just cut out in the box, and Ellison earned more applause for neat work in stopping John Marsden and the dangerous Bailey-Jones as they threatened mayhem down the right.

County take game to Macc.

County had a fair bit of defending to do in the first 30 minutes or so, if some of it was not greatly pretty for the most part it was coolly confident stuff. The tactic for us seemed to be to hit Macc on the break, which was perfectly reasonable, but we were having absolutely no luck… Baggie darted clear to be penalised for…..err…..any clues anyone?
Although Dennis went close with a header after this, things generally were beginning to look up for County- just that luck factor was missing , as a Garvin shot was deflected wide from Colley’s lay back after the young County forward had shrugged off the umpteenth foul on him en-route.
The County forward push continued, but with less than 10 minutes of the half to go Hurst had to act swiftly to deny Holroyd whose shot on the break had power and accuracy.
County were more than holding their own……there was only a minute remaining of the half….Roberts and Garvin had just stretched the home defences down the left, when it all suddenly went pear shaped as Thorniley was caught in possession by Dennis who promptly took the ball past Hurst to give Macc the lead on the stroke of half time!
That was real bummer, but County’s general play augured well for a second half response!

Odejayi to the fore......
The re-start saw Gonzales and Odejayi on for Colley and Evans, and Odejayi was quickly on Tony Diagne’s case winning a corner straight off.
Nothing came of the kick, or an excellent cross that came next from the pacy Gonzales- Garvin being just short of latching onto it at the sharp end.
The introduction of Gonzales and Odejayi had clearly undermined the Silkmen’s confidence, so much so that County equalised 5 minutes into what had been a one sided half. Well……I thought that they had……Odejayi’s run had comprehensively opened the Macc defensive cover , clearing the way for Gonzales to add the finishing touch by beating Branagan, and the ball was in the net, but the liner’s flag was up and it stayed 0-1 in Macc’s favour and my displeasure was shared by many in the away end.

A cross coming from Garvin.
Garvin to Baggie after this saw Branagan do altogether better in keeping the latter’s shot out.
That was a disappointment……another disappointment…but more and worse followed on quickly when Whitaker’s break up field went unchecked allowing him to pass to Holroyd who promptly beat Hurst with the sweetest of strikes.
From being level( in my book) and playing well….County were now 2 down with their feet on a potentially increasing upward incline.

County compete....
That may have been so, but NY’s boys showed no inclination to bow down to the perceived inevitable, and I was astonished to see Branagan somehow do enough to keep the most lethal of strikes from the excellent Glenn Rule out! Fantastic shot…..amazing stop, but the ball had run loose and landed at the feet of Karl Ledsham who, despite only having been on the park for seconds, lashed the ball home in brilliant style.
Great…..2-1….we can set about getting an equaliser…..but no….with County fans and players still celebrating ,they were  again crestfallen to see liner and referee combine to rule the goal out!
We were clearly not meant to win this one, but nobody had told County and only a foul stopped Baggie, after Odejayi and Gonzales had worked their magic in the build up. The keeper just kept Garvin’s kick out next, and the Lees ( on for Morton) attempt to ghost in a la Jim at the back post went un-rewarded.

Branagan saves Macc !
If you are at all tempted, dear reader, to think I was back all calm and collected, please think again, as the referee by the 70th minute was going through his repertoire of duff decisions, stopping a flowing County move….you guessed it… award County a free kick!  Garvin went direct with this kick and Branagan performed more heroics for his side somehow making a vital save after the mother of melees in front of goal, to keep the hedgegrower angst topped up.

...and again.....
The score line simply did not reflect the action on the pitch… is true that Whitaker had a shot ,on 71 minutes, but this went well wide, and Garvin did really well to get back and stop Marsden who had sneaked clear with County concentrating on matters at the other end of the park.
But…as I say… it was mainly County, and Branagan pulled off save after save to deny Odejayi, Garvin and Gonzales after this.

Byrne tries to keep Odejayi quiet !

It was massively frustrating to be having so much of the game and getting absolutely nothing back from it, but the 85th minute saw this change. Charlie Russell had been on about 10 minutes when he received the ball. It appeared that another County raid was about to end unhappily when Charlie brought the County contingent to its feet by leathering a ferocious drive past the keeper! It was an absolute belter as all around me went AS in response!

Great work from Charlie !
Were County content to leave it at that?
Well…..not so you would notice……and Cowan nearly turned himself inside out to stop Ledsham reaching the umpteenth tasty flick on from Odejayi.
A corner followed…..then another Branagan save ….then another as Odejayi  failed by the narrowest of margins with a lob when played clear through the middle.
Right to the whistle County kept the positive stuff going- Rule ending proceedings with a header from Ledsham’s cross that went close.
Soon it was time for the whistle to end what had been a decent display by County , and the travelling support were quick to acknowledge their teams performance at the end, staying on to applaud them loudly.
Man U Under 21 `s next then on Tuesday at Edgeley Park….are you at all tempted to miss that one? I thought not…see you there! 
Oh.....and good to see some readable numbers on the pink shirts tonight, lets hope the same is true with the other two kits going forward.

Macclesfield Town line up:

Eve( Branagan 56), Cowan, Haynes-Brown, Byrne, Diagne, Turnbull( Marsden 18), Bailey-Jones, Whitaker, Holroyd( Gnahoua 56), Whitehead, Dennis( A N Other 71).

Subs not used:


County line up:

Hurst, Morton( Lees 60), Roberts( Ledsham 55), Ellison, Thorniley, Montrose, Baggie ( Russell 71), Rule, Colley( Odejayi 45), Evans( Gonzales 45), Garvin.

Subs not used:


Attendance : 720    

Ian Brown