Stockport County 1 Boston United 4. Conference North 17.8.2013
If Stockport County `s supporters thought that the discovery of 60 `new’ Barbara Cartland manuscripts was the scariest thing likely to happen in their world this week......they were entirely wrong. True there was a game to play against Boston United, who had not shown up in these parts since 2007, but surely, even taking the unremitting unreliability of using pre season form as a guide to league form, County would see this challenge off!
Well that I am sure was the plan, but the execution fell some way short of this lofty aim, as County surrendered a full hand of points to the Lincolnshire side with the lamest of lame performances in front of well over 3000 at Edgeley Park! It was awesomely bad ...as .......after coming back from being a goal down, and going in at half time level at 1-1, County`s game then disintegrated in an orgy of casually misplaced passes and slack marking. Hardly anyone escaped blame although I thought Dennis was an exception, hardly wasting a pass whilst trying his best to make a mark on proceedings, and Charnock and Jacobs, at least in the first half, did pretty well.
Moke and Turner combined neatly a time or two after being brought on late on, but Turner, who had one effort brilliantly saved by the keeper, should have started in my view, and been played as a striker instead of pushed out wide! Howard came on even later and he also did not do too badly, but the rest were a total shambles at times and ushered in grisly thoughts of the nightmares ahead for County this season!
County, not for the first time, struggled to play 3 at the back, which appears to be IB`s preferred defensive line up! The early trauma`s in the close season just gone, were resolved by a switch from 3 at the back to 4 with 3 used as a late option with the game sorted, so I was dismayed to see the blues line up with Fagbola, Tunnicliffe and Charnock at the back for the opener.
But......I was optimistic at 3 o`clock none the less, and that seemed to be the prevailing condition as the game started in bright sunshine.
With 2 minutes gone I was distracted by the bilious pink of keeper Ashley Timms jersey, and did not see the foul on Tunnicliffe perpetrated by Marc Newsham, but referee Anthony Tankard saw it and gave County a free kick....then another but both were wasted- Jevons sending the second one high and wide of the target.
O`Halloran then set Jevons up with a neat high ball into the box, but his header failed to trouble Timms , and Hand tried his luck from distance with a rather under par effort, and with 7 minutes gone it was still 0-0.
Then....it wasn`t......but even when Tunnicliffe conceded a corner there was no inkling of just how badly things were about to turn out for the blues, who.....when the ball was planted at the back post, treated it like an incoming exocet! First off Ormson should have dealt with it....grabbed it.....but he didn`t and then stood there rooted to the spot as two or three of his colleagues reacted similarly. The first attempt to score followed on from this shambles, but the ball came out off a blue shirt. Even then it might have been wellied clear but it wasn`t, and Scott Garner promptly slotted it home to the general consternation of all barring the 200 or so occupying the far end of the Pop Side. It was 1-0 to Boston and not a good start at all!
Credit to County, they did try to respond, through O`Halloran who forced Boston to concede another free kick in a reasonably central position just outside the box. It was definitely worth a go, but Craney took it and drilled it high into the empty Railway End.
The pattern began to repeat itself then, with County pressing forward and Boston forced to concede free kicks , and corners, but despite two attempts Hand failed to test Timms .This was a disappointment as was the sight of Timms dashing out of his goal shortly after to beat Jacobs to a through ball.
It went on with Jevons a whisker away from getting to a neat ball from Dennis. Were County slowly getting a grip of things? I was not sure and a certain slackness that abounded here and there in the County play almost ended with another spanner in the works as Newsham was allowed oodles of room to make his way to the edge of the box. Thankfully he then drifted left and his eventual shot joined us in the Cheadle End, but it was clear that County had to tighten up a bit!
Well.......so I thought, but what did I know, and within a couple of minutes I was thinking very different thoughts as Jacobs probed the left side of the visitors defence. His first effort was repulsed...the second seemed also to have been, but via the hand of a defender. The referee wasn`t sure/ didn`t care( delete to taste)but the liner was flagging for a penalty and County were potentially back in it! Yes...............they were as well, for.....when the keeper set off( far too early) to his right, Dennis caressed the ball to his left and it was 1-1.
That was better......much better, and surely would herald a further advance by the blues, but when Jacobs darted clear not long after and got his cross over , there were no takers and ,as a result, when Fagbola then lost possession, Boston had it on the break and it took a foul by Tunnicliffe to stop the rot! The Pilgrims were getting far too many of these gifts and another saw Newsham dash clear again. Charnock did well to accompany him and force him wide, but the ball found its way to Ian Ross who thankfully lifted his shot over the bar.
At this point I thought Charnock was doing well at the back, and Jacobs was getting forward a time or two and looked a possible avenue of progress for County, but final balls into the box eluded both Jevons and Jacobs , so it was back to Charnock again to keep the ship afloat which he did well as Newsham and Weir Daley threatened through the middle.
Free kicks meanwhile were racking up against Tunnicliffe and, with 35 minutes gone, the referee had a word with him. Fortunately Boston were proving no better than County at turning free kicks into goals, so no damage was done, but still we persisted in standing off and letting Boston run with the ball and, with half time nearing, Ricky Miller did just that – his shot was poor and Ormson had no difficulty in holding it, but the lack of a challenge from anyone in blue was distinctly worrying.
We had a little touch of Vaudeville imposed on us next as the referee amused us by watching Charnock crash into Miller before awarding County the free kick. I was amused......I definitely laughed, but if Charnock did it wasn`t for long as a little indiscretion from him next saw him in the referee`s book.
That seemed to be it for the first half.....it was petering slowly to a sedate conclusion when a small tsunami erupted in the shape of Newsham who was in on goal and looked likely to score. It looked a shoo-in....a certain goal, but as he prepared to shoot Fagbola came in with a superlative tackle that saved the day albeit at the cost of a corner.
The corner was cleared and the teams went in at the break still level at 1-1.
No sign of Turner at the re-start as the same County 11 kicked our way, but the early action was at the other end where we looked on with alarm to see Ricky Miller drag his shot wide after bursting clear down the right.
A period of Boston pressure in the minutes immediately after the break, was followed by a fairly decent response from County, but former Hatter Carl Piergianni prevented O`Halloran from latching onto a through ball from Dennis, and Jevons put an effort over the bar when well placed to keep the scores level.
They were trying though....they were really, but it was all very sedate and rather one- paced stuff, and there was always a misplaced pass on the end of much of the decent play, instance good work from Hand and Craney being nullified when Jacobs passed the ball to Piergianni, and Charnock`s game was beginning to fray at the edges with a series of clumsy interventions drawing him to the referees attention again.
Then Tunnicliffe joined in losing the ball as if in a dream on half way, allowing Ross and Miller free reign to lay waste to County`s right flank. They did as well but fortunately no one was on hand to round the move off and the eventual cross was somehow cleared.
We were beginning to ship the wet stuff now and I was relieved to see Fagbola rise to head a dangerous cross from Ross clear.
That was a definite escape, but within a minute, we were wading in the brown stuff as the gaps opened up again down County`s right flank allowing Newsham to beat Ormson with ease.
County`s support were still reeling from this catastrophe when another struck and within a couple of minutes.
One moment County were attacking through a free kick for a foul on O`Halloran, the next it was back to beating headlong retreat as , with County`s back door ajar, Weir Daley streaked clear to slip the third past Ormson!
Oh.................Turner then came on for Charnock, but this was about 59 minutes too late in my view- alright much of County`s undoing at this point was down to defensive frailty and switched off mid field play, but it would have been nice to put some real pressure on our visitors and Turner`s speed just might have.
The hour mark came and went with the score the same after Turner had won a corner ( wasted)and Jevons had been foiled by Piergianni and Miller.
It was amazing to think that we were 1-3 down as I had busily scribbled at one point the legend `Boston had no real bite about their attacking’ .It was ever thus I suppose and those musings were made to look even crasser on 68 minutes as another goal went in at the `wrong end’. It started with Fagbola losing the ball which allowed Newsham and Miller clear space down the left. Newsham looked on to add to his tally but Ormson managed to stop the shot. He did not hold it however and Miller followed up to score.
It was clearly game over, even with 20 odd minutes left, and a mini rush for the exits started in the Cheadle End – the majority, to their credit, stayed on, but we could have done without the ironic cheers that abounded late on when Ormson fielded an easy ball! If he`s having a bad game ......if.....that will not help him or the team!
It nearly went from bad to much worse as well as Miller scooted into the gaps again only to fire wide of Ormson`s goal.
What was coming back from County? Well Turner won another corner from which nothing materialised and Tunnicliffe headed over from another, whilst Moke, another late substitute, buzzed about looking interesting and interested .He was initially operating in a central position, but when Jevons was replaced by Howard, he switched wide right, at last allowing Turner to move inside.
Turner then linked up nicely with Moke and the resultant pressure saw a couple of free kicks come County`s way. The last of these saw Dennis step up to take it, sending the ball thudding into the base of the far post with Timms a helpless spectator.
Late though it was, it was nevertheless good to see County at least try to rectify matters, but they lacked a little luck and the back door continued to gape as Fagbola lost the ball again setting Weir Daley free to head goal ward. It was another chance but he snatched at it lifting the ball over the bar much to Ormson`s relief.
County re applied themselves to getting back in it with Moke to the fore ,but Dennis`s shot cleared the bar and Moke saw two defenders prevent a dangerous ball from him from counting, although neither looked to know just how they had achieved it.
An elbow by Charlie Sanders on Tunnicliffe saw him walk after only being on the park a couple of minutes. This obviously reduced Boston`s numbers to 10, but did it increase County`s chances of at least reducing the arrears?
Well notionally, but we reckoned without young Timms and after great work from Howard down the left, at last a chance presented itself as Turner advanced on the ball and blasted it goal ward. It was a cracking shot but Timms had its measure and beat it out with incredible agility!
County tried in what remained of the game, mainly via Howard who looked lively down the left, but nothing was coming off for them and soon enough the game ended, and a depressing trudge home followed.
Not the end of the world , but not a good start.
Let`s hope for better on Tuesday at Workington.
See you there!
County line up;
Ormson, Jacobs, Fagbola, Tunnicliffe, Charnock ( Turner 59), O`Halloran, Hand, Craney( Moke 69), Verma, Jevons ( Howard 80), Dennis.
Subs not used;