County 0 Colwyn Bay 1 : Conference North 24.8.2013
After a series of depressing results in the opening games of their first season in the Conference North, it was abundantly clear that County supporters, who had thus far turned out in numbers, needed to see evidence that things just might change for the better. Was the visit of Colwyn Bay to Edgeley Park, the right occasion for such a turn around? I would have thought so especially as the Welsh side had not won a game so far this season. It`s true that County are winless as well, and that our visitors had a couple of familiar faces in their midst in Cameron Darkwah and Paul Ennis- a fact that usually works strongly against us, but even so surely it was time for County to roll up those metaphorical sleeves and give their supporters something to cheer at long last wasn`t it?
Well.....that was my and other supporters thinking in the immediate run up to the match, which was watched by an amazing crowd of over 2500. The supporters were ignoring all proffered advice, and doing their bit by getting behind their team yet again! It was a brilliant turn out, but one that got the bums rush once more from the players who couldn`t stop the Welshmen snatching all the points with a late breakaway goal. Yes.....the margin of defeat was less that it had been twice before, but there was little else to enthuse over from a game almost totally bereft of excitement. Verma hit the woodwork twice and Moke was by a country mile County`s best player , but having said that I think I have said it all as far as noteworthy performances are concerned- not as catastrophically bad as Saturday, but not that much better either!
Back to 3 o`clock then and I took my seat, circa 2.50, to the strains of ` I Predict a Riot’ to see the first two or three rows in the Cheadle End get the benefit of a cooling spray of water via the on-pitch watering system! If these happenings made me smile, I cracked one again upon seeing that both Moke and Turner were in the starting eleven for County, but was promptly brought back down to earth again by the sight of Michael Salisbury`s name in the programme as referee! No matter....I have been pleasantly surprised so far by the officials this season, and my reports thus far have been rant-less, so I opted for optimism!
It was disconcerting however, to hear Ormson booed by part of the Cheadle End, pre-match. I have bored you and myself before on this subject- just how does it aid the boo recipient or his team to do this? It patently does neither! On Saturday the unsettling heckling Ormson received in the second half from County supporters behind his goal probably contributed to the two goals that went in that period-we will never know of course and the booers meanwhile, just do not care!
The game got underway with an early free kick putting County under pressure. Nothing materialised from this, indeed the blues worked the ball clear through Moke who brought another smile to my face with a neat bit of trickery which he followed with an even neater pass. `Good’.....`great’....I thought until the next person in blue/white promptly lumped the ball in the vicinity of Hardcastle Road to totally ruin what had gone before. The throw that followed pushed County back on their heels and ex Hatter Paul Ennis wangled a corner off Verma, which flashed across goal before going out for a goal kick, as James Ellison tried to reach it whilst Ormson and the other ex Hatter on show-Cameron Darkwah, jostled for it in front of goal.
That was a slightly anxious moment, and another threatened within a minute as Ellison burst past Jacobs, but Ormson reacted quickly and advanced to gather the ball and thus deny the Welsh skipper a go at goal. I was looking for a response from County, but it was a long time a coming, and I winced to see full back Danny Taylor able to take the ball all the way to the by-line down the left. Fortunately Charnock tracked across and shepherded Taylor out of the danger zone, but it was already clear that both County full backs needed to tighten up a touch, but I looked around in horror to see Jacobs pass the ball to the nearest red shirt instead! Almost inevitably a free kick followed which fortunately the visitors wasted, along with another shortly after. Turner had conceded this one and gone into Mr Salisbury`s book for his pains. A bit early ( 7th minute) I thought for such a sanction ( for a bit of a tug of the shirt)as I tortured myself with fleeting images of times past with Mr S in control. It was time for me to snap out of it though as the free kick had been taken and Darkwah was on it down the right and almost at the by-line, but it was just too strong for him and there was to be no dream start for him on his return to EP, at least not yet!
At last, with 10 minutes gone, County replied through Moke who set things up nicely for Hand who stabbed his shot a yard or so wide of goal. That earned the odd ripple from the faithful as did the next action although it again ended disappointingly as Dennis found Verma`s through ball too strong for him. We just needed County to attend to the detail better...find their men with their passes.....not give possession away cheaply, but that was just what Jacobs did next allowing Gareth Evans chance to dart clear down the right. He did so as well, but the ex FCUM fullback redeemed himself by regaining possession and winning a throw to boot.
It was still clear that County had to tighten up, but the passes continued to go astray – even worse than this they just could not clear their lines with Rob Hopley and Ellison buzzing about in the box. One attempted clearance after another hit a red shirt, it was horrendous, and a mighty relief to see the last failed clearance thump into Ellison and fly out of play! That was distinctly lucky, and 18 minutes had now past with pretty much nothing of note for anyone to tweet to anyone anywhere!
The twentieth minute promised a change maybe, through Moke almost inevitably, but his initial sortie was repelled and O`Halloran did well to re-start the offensive pushing the ball inside to Turner. A tasty shot followed from the young forward, and Josh Ollerendshaw did well to dive to his right and push the shot out. From the long clearance that followed County were discomforted to the extent that Jacobs had to look lively to stop Hopley from getting to a decent cross from Tom Smyth. If that was good, from Jacobs view point, the next action wasn`t, as Darkwah went past him in a trice, and headed for goal. It was a definite chance, but Cameron lifted his effort over the bar much to our relief.
It was getting slightly worrying and not a little irritating by this stage. Almost 30 minutes had gone and apart from one shot, Ollerendshaw had not been tested at all. Indeed it was the much maligned Ian Ormson who was looking under threat the most as a series of long throws pushed the blues further and further back. There was just no indication coming from anyone, barring Moke, that County had the armoury to offer a coherent response! Oooh....errrrr.....no sooner had I opined that last thought to myself than Moke went on another run releasing the ball on the end of it to Verma. On it went then to O`Halloran and that previously mentioned tester for Ollerendshaw duly arrived as the Irishman unleashed a powerful drive that the keeper tipped over the bar in brilliant style! At last......at long....long last.....and the kick that followed was a decent one too as was Fagbola`s header on the end of it, but someone in red managed to flail a foot at it and kick it off the line and it stayed 0-0.
We needed County to sustain that last action and give us more of the same, instead however Colwyn Bay came back at us with a welter of long threatening throws and worrying free kicks, which brought the best out of the likes of Charnock and Ormson, but did not see the threat off. Evans as a consequence was able to charge clear, his surging run ripping County`s left flank to shreds. Corner after corner followed, County`s torments only ending when Sinclair`s rather lack lustre shot was held by Ormson.
A raid by Moke and Howard down the left was halted by a bizarre decision to award Bay a free kick, the quirkiness of that last decision being immediately trumped by Mr Salisbury`s next one, or lack of one, as Fagbola bundled Darkwah over as he tripped his way ( literally) into the box. The referee waved play on and I couldn`t resist a smile!
A late effort on goal, involving Dennis and that was the first 45 minutes finished.
There was a surprise at the re-start as Dennis was replaced by Jevons, followed by another when Moke let fly with a bit of a ripper that headed for the bottom left of the net, following good work from Turner. It was a stonker, but Ollerendshaw somehow managed to push it around the post-the corner skidding clear off Sinclair`s head. We needed more of the same and County tried to oblige but despite a series of throw ins nothing materialised other than a hoofed clearance from Sinclair, until a neat move involving Moke and Jevons ended with the ball reaching Verma in the box. A terrific header followed ,but this thudded into the post with Ollerendshaw a helpless spectator, and was somehow scrambled clear.
That was disappointing, but maybe County would build on this and turn these near misses into the gold dust of goals. Howard certainly tried- his pass sending Turner clear, but Smyth and Taylor combined to see young Rhys off.
Then we received a warning....a clear warning.....as, with the County attack spent......Colwyn Bay had the ball on the break and we were in headlong retreat as a consequence! The back door was well and truly ajar, and Evans was through it like a ferret up a drain pipe! So too was Hopley, to Evans right, and the ball found its way to him, in double quick time. It was a fairly easy chance , or it looked so to me from the Cheadle End, but Hopley dragged his shot wide of the far post much to County`s relief.
This ushered in more attacking moves from the Welsh side and Smyth was not far away with one shot . Neither was Darkwah moments after this, but he was thwarted by Ormson after the referee had halted another County raid by allowing Sinclair to get away with a foul on Turner. The visitors kept the pressure on and when a headed clearance by Hand came back via Darkwah ,I was relieved to see the ex Hatter`s shot pushed over the bar by Ormson. The County keeper`s long clearance after this allowed Turner to send Howard dashing clear, and it took a mightily good punch out from Ollerendshaw to stop the rot with a bevy of home forwards looking to force the ball home.
A fair bit of attacking came from County next ....Moke sending Jevons in.......Jevons doing likewise for Turner, who was just stopped by Sinclair , his second skin. Back the blues came again and I simply did not know quite how Jevons shot( set up by Moke) managed to stay out of the net- somehow it did and the ball wasn`t cleared yet either , instead it bounced to Verma who was again unlucky to see his header thud into the woodwork and somehow fly clear!
pic by Joan Plimmer
That was an awful moment, but a worse one followed as again that County back door gaped again allowing Evans through it. Ormson was exposed big time and although he managed to keep Evans` shot out he couldn`t prevent it running clear to Mathews who show boated it home with an overly flamboyant back heeler! No matter it was 1-0 to the visitors and that is all that matters!
It was inspiration County needed now , but this was in short supply as half hearted efforts failed to extend Ollerendshaw at one end whilst a series of switched off passes offered Colwyn Bay thoughts of further goals at the other! Colwyn Bay were clearly no better than they should be at the back, but County were simply bereft of ideas as to how to put them to the sword.
One blast of Mr Salisbury`s whistle and the game was over. For the supporters , the torment continues. Is there no end to it? Time will tell and the eternal optimist in me rattles off the old bromide ` its early days yet’ and I do not have the energy left to tell myself I am talking rubbish.
Harrogate`s a lovely Town, with some nice coffee shops, but I will be watching County next Saturday.....will you? Young Lewis King will not sadly, as he parted company apparently with the Club after the game. One of many sad departures of recent times and probably not the last!
County line up:
Ormson, Jacobs, Fagbola, Charnock, O`Halloran, Verma, Hand ( Craney 60), Howard( Windsor 71),Turner, Dennis ( Jevons 45).Moke.
Subs not used; King, Tunnicliffe.
Colwyn Bay line up:
Ollerendshaw, Taylor, Lee, Sinclair, Smyth, Moss, Evans, Ennis, Hopley, Ellison, Darkwah.