County 1 Bolton Wanderers 2
I was confused about this one...more confused than I usually am.....
Was the game on ?......What time was the kick off?.....was it a first team or Development affair?
In the end it was pretty much the first team who turned out and the end product was a very decent performance from County in a fairly watch able match that they were unlucky to lose.
For much of the match, County ...held together solidly at the back by the resurgent James Tunnicliffe and the ever trustworthy Stephen O`Halloran and Kieran Charnock, took the game to their opponents with Jamie Hand putting in an impressive shift in front of the back four. Jamie looks just the lad for the rough and tumble of Conference North to me, although one knee high tackle just might have got him in deep doo doo had a less lenient referee been in charge.
If Jamie dealt with grit, the silky smooth skills were provided by Aman Verma who was particularly impressive, only a goal was missing. He missed one sitter in the second half it must be said, but his general input throughout the 90 minutes was top of the range, and he must be in Bogies thoughts now in terms of a contract. Add a lively showing, capped by another goal, from Kristian Dennis and you just might understand why 200 or so County supporters applauded their team off at the end and walked home smiling!
The game opened with Bolton pressing in lively fashion forcing O`Halloran and Tunnicliffe to make a series of strong interventions. The first real chance however fell to County ,more specifically to Kristian Dennis who was unlucky to see his rasping drive beat Lynch ,the Bolton keeper, but just miss the goal by a whisker.
That was the 9th minute.......5 minutes later County were a goal down as they failed to clear their lines allowing Wilkinson`s shot on the turn to beat King comprehensively.
Credit to County...they replied quickly but although O`Halloran`s volley cleared the bar at the Railway End, his next contribution , on 15 minutes, was altogether more decisive as he played the ball sideways to Craney. A decent strike followed and Lynch allowed the ball to come back out off his chest, and Dennis was on it in an instant and it was 1-1!
Lester then put County under some pressure forcing a couple of corners with some penetrating running, but with Tunnicliffe superbly cool , and Bolton prone to the odd indiscretion- the blues held out OK.
Past the half hour we went with Coppin putting Bolton under pressure with a cross, and Verma going close with a fine shot that Lynch somehow managed to push around the post.
Bolton then pushed County back, but although County defended well eventually some loose play was their undoing. Hand was working the ball clear ,and had Craney immediately in front or Howard just beyond as options. Craney was the obvious one really but he hardly moved when Hand released the pass and Lester was away with the ball. It was an awful moment and it got worse as Lester reached the edge of the box because he gave King no chance with a fine strike that went past the young keeper`s dive low into the far corner of the net.
Bolton had the lead 2-1 and that is how it stayed at the break following which we saw Fagbola and Lama on for Jacobs and Howard.
I thought we might have had a penalty 2 minutes into the half as Gregus fended the ball off with his hands but it was seen as a free kick smack on the edge and Craney sent this flying out of play.
Hand by this time was in full flow and a beaut of a ball from him set Coppin up for a run down the right which had Bolton well and truly on the rack. Coppin managed to get the cross over ,but no one could reach it and the chance was gone.
The Lancastrian sides speed on the break was doing much to help them defend their lead and Fagbola did mightily well to thwart Youngs and stop him from getting a shot off on the end of one rather tasty raid.
That said County were winning praise from many around me....Tunnicliffe was still letting nothing pass him........Hand was simply immense in front of the defence, and then there was Verma who was looking the business to me! We only needed a goal....just one, but could we get it?
Well ..... not while we were defending, but Tunnicliffe and O`Halloran coped with that marvellously well, and we went into the last 20 minutes still thinking an equaliser was on the cards. And...it was and Bogie shuffled his pack bringing Bateman and Turner on for Craney and Coppin.
This double change did seem to add impetus to County`s forward push, but a series of near misses looked likely to dint their confidence as first off Hand had a shot saved by the keeper , and Tunnicliffe headed over from close in. If that was disappointing ,more followed when Turner sent Lama scooting clear down the right. Lama obliged with a cracking cross which picked out Verma at the back post brilliantly. It was a shoo in....easier to score than miss, but Verma planted his header wide from half a yard out!
If we did not start to think that our luck was out with that last action, we did with the next, as Turner shredded the left side of the visitors defence before rounding on goal. An absolute rocket followed and the keeper had absolutely no right getting to it, but he did and somehow clawed it out and it stayed 1-2.
Lots of good play followed , and from both teams if I am honest. County were a tad unlucky not to get on level terms, but I am guessing that Bogie will look more at the quality of the performance rather than the score. The performance was pretty satisfactory in my view, so I think he will be well pleased.
County line up;
King, Jacobs( Fagbola 45),Tunnicliffe, Charnock, O`Halloran, Hand, Coppin( Turner 67), Verma, Dennis (Windsor 75), Craney( Bateman 67), Howard ( Lama 45).
Bolton line up;
Lynch, O`Threlkeld, Gregus, Kelly, Kellett, White, Lester, Youngs, Wilkinson, Holding, O`Halloran.