County duly took their place in Round 2 of the FA Trophy with a 3-2 win against Marine FC of the Evo Stik Premier League, at Edgeley Park today.
|The Away Support.|
The action was book ended twixt a couple of penalties- one for each side. Marine’s came first, within 7 minutes of the start, and was distinctly debatable, whilst County’s came at the death after Lloyd’s latest run had been ended by a peremptory challenge in the box.
Between the two pens there was not a lot to write home about. Marine came to defend…did so in numbers, but their play was also crassly negative at times and laced with little scams to waste time, which varied from taking a couple of minutes over a throw to indulging in theatricals that would have earned applause at the Garrick, but only attracted derision at this venue.
They must have been gobsmacked to get an early Xmas gift from Mr Copeland in the form of a penalty, that Mitchley put away with the minimum of fuss.
|Big K- big influence....|
County equalised via a splendid header from Odejayi, late in the first half, only to go behind again to another gift on the stroke of half time. Mitchley was well offside( precise measure later) when he received the ball, but neither liner nor referee thought this point to be valid enough reason to not award a goal, when the number nine put his shot away. OK…the referee seemed to be not too sure, and consulted his liner, only to trust his judgement in the end.
County stayed 2-1 down until the last 5 minutes when, with Marine down to 10( they had 7 men booked and 1 red carded) , Lloyd stepped up to win the tie with a late brace- both net bursting crackers!
Marine came to Edgeley Park on the crest of a wave, having beaten Darlington on Tuesday after trouncing Halesowen 4-0 just 7 days ago. That said, notwithstanding the visitors form, my thoughts were that whilst County might have work to do, they should have enough about them to see off the Lancastrians challenge.
The team sheet indicated that JG was not taking anything for granted and a strong line up showed an attacking intent, with Felix and Marsden recalled to a front line that also contained Kayode Odejayi and the formidable Danny Lloyd.
The attacking possibilities this line up offered, were showcased early doors, but Adam Hughes did exceptionally well to block Lloyd ‘s efforts to get on the end of the first of many glorious balls from Odejayi.
|Odejayi -again in top nick!|
Marsden looked interested and alert early on, but his radar was off- his shot climbing over the bar with 3 minutes gone after good work by Duxbury.
|Lloyd, Odejayi, Montrose in amongst Marine defence.|
Marsden was in the mix again, within a minute, setting Lloyd up with a neat pass, but the ex Fylde ace found too many bodies between goal and himself to make any progress.
|Incoming for County defence....|
We got a slight warning of what might be about to befall us, 6 minutes in, as James Short made it into County’s last third with a run, but this was cut off by Clarke who put the ball out for a throw.
|Clarke watches Mitchley/ Stopforth tussle.|
Well…..this took an age to take, and the home specs were going AS by the time the set piece was actioned. There did not seem too much trouble afoot when eventually said throw materialised, but when Stopforth’s challenge on Short saw him go down, the referee instantly pointed to the spot.
This looked a poor call to me, but it got worse as Mitchley sent his kick to Hinchliffe’s right as he dived left and Marine had the lead!
Free kicks came and went for both sides next in 5 minutes or so of really frustrating play. Frustrating……. because for much of the time one or other of the visitors would go to ground when little or nothing had happened to justify same, wasting time and tempting the referee to buy into the cunning stunt.
The referee appeared to acquiesce in this nonsense, but it was County’s job to ignore this, if they were wise, and take what chances came their way, but after Marsden had been hacked at by 3 or 4 players en route to the box, when a free kick eventually County’s way, it was wasted, as Lloyd lifted the kick into the empty Railway End.
Marsden was still having a go, and must have been irritated to see keeper Calvin Hare save his shot with his legs some 17 minutes into proceedings.
|That Lloyd free kick.|
By the 20th minute we were being richly entertained, as Marine were giving us the full RADA treatment ,Bill Smart showcasing his undoubted talents to the full – launching himself to ground seconds after the referee had spotted his gruesome foul on Montrose.
|Montrose still standing !|
The ruse was a crude one…but it worked a treat….the referee was suitably distracted from waving a card in his direction. . County tried to make something of the free kick, but although Minihan and Marsden worked at it, the latter again saw his shot blocked.
Frustration mounted, when Montrose was booked for a `dive’ after numerous examples of the genuine article( perped by Marine) had thus far gone un punished.
Ho…hum….it was ever thus- I tried to cheer up as Marsden fashioned a shot, with 26 minutes gone, only to be in deep despond once again as someone stuck out a leg and kept it out.
The Pop Side at this point were making a very decent noise indeed in support of County.........................
|Top Pop Side support !|
..................... but the home contingent were given a slight shock ,30 minutes in, as Hinchliffe’s busy dive just kept Mitchley’s snap shot out. Clarke saw the corner off, but County were none too precise with some of their passes from the back, and this offered a rather modest Marine outfit the oxygen of possession, which was definitely not good, particularly with us still 0-1 down.
County were trying to square this particular circle, none more so than Lloyd whose latest run saw him chewing mud in the box. “ Penalty” I playfully mused, but it wasn’t, and it stayed at 0-1.
Not for long though, and more good work from Lloyd saw him cross the ball into the box where Odejayi( who was again having a fine game) met it, heading home to resounding cheers from the Blue & White Army.
The equaliser came with 3 minutes left of the first half, and although we were now in 3 minutes added time and thus into the `Trilight Zone’ I was not fully cognisant of the danger- Odejayi’s goal having dulled my sense of impending doom!
|More work for County defence.|
That was unfortunate, because the very next attack from Marine saw us wading in the brown stuff! The angst started with another free-be from Mr Copeland to Marine in the form of a ludicrous free kick. I had given up wondering just why it had been awarded when County cleared the ball up the park, but it came back…route one….and Mitchley was on the end of it! He was also 6 or 7 yards offside, but the liner’s flag stayed down as he struggled to rev up enough pace to get up with play! Mitchley meanwhile was ahead of everybody…..literally……and he made light work of beating Hinchliffe as he advanced from his line!
It was 2-1 to Marine, and within a minute or so it was half time also!
County opened the second half brightly- Minihan winning a corner which Hare did well to smother. Lloyd joined in, dining hungrily off some great work from Odejayi, but Lloyd’s final ball to Marsden saw him lift his effort over the bar.
|Hare grabs ball u/p.|
On it went with a run from Stopforth severely stretching the Marine defences. The visitors were sitting back and inviting County on, and Lloyd did just that receiving from Stopforth, but seeing Hare in position to save with his legs at the last gasp.
As Marine sat back….so County piled forward, but Lloyd’s next effort cleared the bar, and Clarke watched his header fly past the upright not long after.
|County go close again.|
The hour mark was heralded by Josh Brizell taking Marsden’s legs…arms..the lot…with a truly brutal challenge. Yes….it was a bad one…and thankfully the referee saw it as such issuing a straight red to the miscreant! County played the free kick wide to Duxbury, who pinged the ball over, but this only provided catching practise for Hare
|` It wasn't us guv...honest!'|
By this stage the referee was beginning to suss the Marine approach out and as a result their card count was steadily rising- but some off the ball stuff from Short on Lloyd was totally missed by the officials, and would have seen him off had they been more alert.
With barely 15 minutes left to play , at last Hare got his….as the referee waved a card his way following some elaborate indulgencies whilst taking a goal kick- it was awesome stuff , and thoroughly deserving of a card.
|Ooh....arr...Hare again !|
County were still doing the bulk of the attacking but without ever looking likely to equalise- I would not actually say that I would take a Tuesday night replay at Marine’s place…….but…….
By this time, Ball and Amis were on for Felix and Odejayi as County set about getting that equaliser- Lloyd lifting one over the top, and Marsden forcing Hughes to locate Hardcastle Road in extremis.
|Amis on for Big K....|
Close but…..seemed to be the order of County’s afternoon as Amis headed inches wide.
The outstretched leg of substitute Zac Thompson on Marsden, gave County a free kick and almost that equalising goal, as having been played sideways to Clarke, the ball then went to Amis who was unlucky to see Hare go full stretch to push his effort around the post.
Corners followed …Stopforth saw a shot charged down, and another run from him saw Hare grab the ball to foil Lloyd with County queuing to shoot.
There were 5 minutes left now , and County were still pushing on, but Ball’s run ended abruptly when Denzel Williams handled the ball on the edge of the box. County had a free kick and it was pretty much central. I fancied that Ball might take it, but I was wrong and how….as Lloyd slammed a thunderous drive home to thunderous applause and cheers!
It was 2-2, but time was running out and that Tuesday replay at their place still offered itself up as a possibility! Hmm……enter Danny Lloyd with a terrific run that took him to the by-line and then past 2 men into the box where a third brought him down.
The referee pointed to the spot, and Lloyd did the rest slamming another sizzler beyond Hare’s dive into the net.
|Best I could do in the excitement....|
It was 3-2 …but not yet game over!
Lloyd kept running…….. running…… in the 5 minutes of added time we had to endure, but with Meppen-Walter on for Marsden County were well able to resist anything Marine could throw at them.
It was a good effort in the end, and another business like showing from JG’s boys- `a typical James Gannon team performance ‘ I heard it described, and I cannot demur on that one!
No report unfortunately next week folks as I am under the knife on Friday next.
I hope to be back for Harrogate on the 26th .
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe, Minihan, Clarke, Smalley, Duxbury, Montrose, Stopforth, Felix( Ball 74), Odejayi ( Amis 74), Marsden( Meppen-Walter 90), Lloyd.
Subs not used; Ormson, Ross.
Marine FC line up:
Hre, Field, Short, Brizell, Foley( Thompson 67), Hughes, Monaghan, Smart, ,Mitchley, Anoruo( Williams 62), Bellew( Horgan 84).
Subs not used: Richards, Porter.
Attendance : 1411