County 3 Gainsborough Trinity 1 ; Conference North 7.9.2013
And...........with one leap the fair damsel was free!!!
Well.....to be truthful there`s been more of the scabrous old crone than fair damsel about County of late, and again....seeking truth out, I must admit today`s happenings hardly constitute freedom, but I am thinking you know what I am getting at!
Yes.....it was a rare treat to watch a County side play for 90 minutes, and look as though they were serious about it. The result was a 3-1 win that was received with rapturous applause from County`s long suffering supporters!
View from Cheadle End pre 3 o`clock
It was nothing like previous performances this term.....there was no late first half cave in this time or subsequent supine surrender. Was it solely down to Alan Lord`s input? Well.....it was his first game back in charge and there was a distinct difference in the team`s approach this time, as their opponents, Gainsborough Trinity, were reduced to panic measures on occasions as County came at them. The Lincolnshire side did have their moments though, particularly in the first half, and did manage to pull one back after goals from Dennis and Jevons had put the blues 2 up, but a lot of County`s work was disrupted by the efforts of Ian Husson the single most incompetent official I have so far seen at this level- he was truly awful and predominantly to our detriment, so it was a major surprise when Jevons went down in the box and Mr H pointed to the spot in the dying moments of the game. Jevens got up to put the kick away and the celebrations could start!
Back at 3 o`clock no one but the wildly optimistic amongst us were thinking 3-1 wins even though our opponents were anchoring the division in last place after racking up 5 defeats out of the first 5 games of this current Conference North season. No..... there was no one amongst County`s persevering support, even hinting at complacency ahead of today`s fixture particularly in view of County`s own dismal record so far this term which has seen them secure just one solitary point from a possible 15.
Gainsborough`s nickname `The Holy Blues’ might also have hinted at something of a soft touch, but our visitors can point to a rich history, having gained Football League status in 1896 and held onto it until 1912, and we know in addition, don’t we, by now that any team.....history behind them or not....seem to produce that bit more once over the Edgeley Park threshold!
There were a few minor surprises in the County line up – Danny Gosset ,Kristian Dennis and Iain Howard all came in for Craney, Hand and ( more surprisingly) Adriano Moke, whilst Jevons held onto his place in the side after numerous under par performances.
Jevons wore 10 ,but it was his opposite number in the Gainsborough side, Conner Robinson, that was first to show darting clear onto the first of a game long series of high long balls from the visitors. Fagbola saw him off, but at the cost of a corner, which Ormson did well to get a hand to and better to make a catch when the ball came back via the boot of Tom Ward out on the left.
This was not quite the start I had anticipated, and County`s attempt to reply was cut short by the linesman`s flag as Jevons worked his way clear.
Trinity then went long again and this time Rhys Oates was on the end of it, and Charnock was beaten for pace and only more smart work from Ormson prevented County conceding an early goal. He managed to push the forwards shot out for a corner which gave Charnock the opportunity to make amends by stopping Ian Davis and Tom Ward from getting a shot in as they jostled for it in front of goal.
Hmmm.........as I say......not quite the start anticipated, still.....County looked intent, more intent perhaps than usual, to make their mark in the game via a useful bit of work from Verma and Jevons that enabled Turner to force County`s first corner. Headers pinged in on the visitors goal after this, but somehow they survived and it stayed 0-0.
A series of free kicks came and went for both sides next, without either outfit taking advantage – Charnock and Ormson tidying up at one end and Howard and O`Halloran making nothing from two in response at the other.
I was trying to pay close attention to what young Danny Gosset was up to, and he looked lively and tidy although admittedly it was early days. Verma shot over the bar on 10 minutes and that was about as close as County had come to getting on the score sheet.
Meanwhile Gainsborough persevered with their tactic of sending it long from the back, and another example of this strategy saw Oates legging it clear again, with 15 minutes gone. The centre of the County defence was shredded.......elsewhere.......and Ormson was dished, except he wasn`t....he advanced out of his goal and met the goal hungry forward head on forcing the ball against him , sending a glorious cannon whizzing out of play for a goal kick. Terrific stuff from young Ian!
County did their best to respond but they kept getting snared by the visitors` offside trap which seemed to be working perfectly- well...the Pop Side linesman thought it did anyway!
Again the play switched ends as another long ball scraped a passing cloud on its way deep into County territory. Robinson awaited its arrival this time and he was past Charnock without difficulty and in on goal. It was another chance, but again Ormson was up to the challenge as he despatched the ball into touch off the forwards toes.
Was I worrying at all? Well......yes....I guess I was, especially when Gosset lost the ball ushering in another opportunity for Trinity. Simon Russell latched onto this one, and Oates fancied his chances to his left as the pair advanced towards goal. Thankfully however the final ball from Russell was far too strong for Oates and County survived. It was perhaps high time for the blues to assert themselves more, but when they endeavoured to do so, Jevons heavy first touch undid them.
Beyond 20 minutes and I did start to worry as again Charnock was left for dead, this time by Davis who soon whipped the ball on to the much better placed Oates. Yet another opening had materialised for Gainsborough, but it vanished as quickly as it had arrived when Oates` shot climbed a foot or so over the angle of bar and post!
Jevons did his best to hit back for County, but his header from O`Halloran`s cross missed out by about a yard, and this once again set Trinity off chasing after the latest exocet launched from in and around keeper Phil Barnes` box towards Ormson. Fagbola managed to block the initial assault from Robinson, but an uneasy feeling of insecurity crept over me as Simon Russell`s shot was charged down by one of three blue shirts.
We needed more from County than what was thus far on show- Turner tried and he set Dennis up nicely ,but the ex Curzon Ashton man`s shot was blocked , signalling yet another break out by the Holy Blues. It was Oates and he probably expected to beat Charnock, but he didn`t as the Stockport man stopped him with an excellent tackle. The fallen Oates also must have fancied a free kick, but he did not get one, and Ormson was able to make the clearance to stop the rot. For a time County struggled to work the ball clear as Trinity continued to press, and when they eventually did and they had a man with a clear overlap down the right- it was Jevons and instead of a pacy run he gave us a beefy high one to the back post where Barnes snaffled it with relish.
A shot from Ward failed to trouble Ormson, before County at last gave us something to cheer as a neat cooperation between Turner and Dennis ended with the latter blasting a shot off that nearly took Barnes` hands off. It didn`t and the keeper kept it out, but only by pushing it into Dennis`s path and his instinctive effort in response looked to have ended the stalemate until it thudded into the post and came out with Barnes looking on helplessly! It stayed out too, and it stayed 0-0 as well, at least for now!
Jacobs and Verma followed the Turner/ Dennis example but with rather less to show for it, the latter`s shot being too weak to test Barnes after the former had worked hard to set things up.
The next 10 minutes seemed to be an endless stream of free kicks awarded against County mostly for trivial or none existent infringements. Fagbola got himself booked in this period, but his was the exception to the rule being a definite foul.
Fortunately Gainsborough hadn`t the vaguest clue as to how to put the referee`s largess to good use, instead they repeatedly gave Ormson some welcome catching practise, so I shelved my rant for now!
Then County reversed what has become normal practise and scored a goal in the dying minutes of the half instead of conceding one or more! It stemmed from a run from Jacobs and ended with Dennis, whose first shot appeared to have been saved. His second was altogether too good for Barnes and it was 1-0 to County as Row R went AS!
This seemed to rattle the visitors who were immediately on the back foot with Howard steaming in at them at speed. Gainsborough just managed to keep the subsequent corner out, and Jevons was a whisker from getting to another fine ball from Jacobs.
This was much better now and Charnock added to the rush of endorphins with a neat intervention as Trinity kept to their `send it long and high’ policy.
That was it for the first half and a noisy round of applause accompanied County on their way off the field.
This pattern continued after the break with Trinity persisting in sending it long and Charnock now dealing with same with new vigour!
Eventually...after their initial burst, Trinity were forced back through Jacobs and Turner. It took good work from Jones and Ward to stop them and only at the cost of a corner which had the visitors back line in all sorts of trouble as the shots rained in on goal ,one such , from Dennis striking a defender ( on the hand?) as he lay on the ground. No penalty...and no goal either as the pressure carried on with Dominic Roma, the Holy Blues skipper, doing his best to locate Hardcastle Road at one point as Turner darted through onto a deft pass from the excellent Dennis.
It went on with Jacobs sending Jevons clear......Verma seeing his shot headed off the line by Roma, and Jevons going close with another effort after good work by Charnock.
That had been a considerable period of pressure from County – one ended in traditional fashion with a breakout by a mass of yellow shirts. This of recent days has been the signal for mass panic followed promptly by total capitulation, but not now....instead Jacobs stopped the rot with an immaculate block and County were away again.........
Turner had it and his speed saw him clear in the blinking of an eye. It was awesome stuff.....Roma and Ward did their best to stop him, but they failed and the resultant cross fell to Jevons at the back post and it was 2-0 as he forced it home from close in!
County were looking really lively now as Turner`s pace again turned the tables County`s way setting the energetic Howard up nicely down the left. A decent shot followed from the ex Chester hot shot, but it whizzed into the side netting much to the disappointment of around 2800 blues on site!
Undeterred Howard kept Jevons` flick on alive before sending Dennis in on a run. True to form Dennis then obliged with a snortingly good shot, but this was an inch or so the wrong side of the post and it remained 2-0.
This was a particularly good patch for Howard, who has struggled to force his way into the team for some reason, and some decent defensive work followed from him earning him applause from the home specs. Unfortunately on two occasions Howard was penalised for....err.....well....we`ll just have to wait for Mr Hussin`s memoirs for the answer( and what a good read those will be!).The second occasion also saw him booked which was totally ridiculous, and all around me told the referee so!
A whole string of contentious decisions followed , but somehow County managed not to lose focus ,particularly Howard whose cross , on 68 minutes, had Wild working hard to usher it out off the line. Howard then picked Jevons out with another decent pass, but he was surrounded by 3 defenders who blocked his shot forcing it out for a corner that Barnes claimed with confidence!
The game looked to be heading County`s way until the 71 st minute when they gave away a cheap corner which soon became the prelude to a bit of a scramble in front of Ormson`s goal. Inevitably a shot came in and Ormson did well to save it, but the ball ran clear to Lacey who bundled it home from almost on the line.
With Moke on for Turner County tried to apply themselves to the task of guarding their lead and if possible increasing it. Taking a leaf from Trinity`s book, they went long and ,with Roma and Jones done for pace by Dennis, things looked good for the blues until Kristian tried to chip the keeper and lifted the ball over the bar!
With the arrears only 1 goal now, Trinity must have felt distinctly justified in thinking of an equaliser, and they went close a couple of times –Ormson doing well on the first occasion to deny Robinson, and Lacey unlucky not to reach a corner shortly after.
With about 7 minutes left County replaced Dennis with Lofthouse , as the pressure mounted on them and they settled further and further back in a defensive formation. They were defending OK, it was just that all 11 were in our half with only Jevons almost on half way offering an option up field.
On it went with Gainsborough attacking with vigour and some ingenuity particularly with their diving and the referee continued to swallow the bait as the free kicks racked up and forced County ever further back on their heels.
It was tense stuff alright now.....a touch too tense.....and another poor decision from the referee racked the angst up to another level for County as a scramble ensued in the box following a throw from Williams. Gosset worked it clear eventually as a glance at my watch told me that time was well and truly up.
We were still playing on though, and County were still defending......and then they weren`t because Verma had sent a brilliant ball into Moke`s path and he was off and running down the right! A truly excellent cross came next and it fell nicely for Jevons in the box. He had company however and in no time he was on the deck. I looked at the referee half expecting him to produce a card and wave it in Jevons direction, but no.......he pointed to the spot and County had a penalty instead!
Jevons got to his feet.....steadied himself before beating the keeper comprehensively. It was his second goal of the game and a blast of the referee`s whistle told us that County had won it 3-1!
Cue celebrations......long overdue celebrations for what hopefully will be the start of happier times for County!
County line up:
Ormson, Jacobs, Fagbola, Charnock, O`Halloran, Verma, Gosset,Howard( Duxbury 88),Turner (Moke 73), Dennis ( Lofthouse 83), Jevons.
Subs not used;
Gainsborough Trinity line up;
Barnes, Roma, Wild, Williams, Ward, Jones, Russell, Davis, Oates, Robinson, Clayton.