Vauxhall Motors 2 County 1 ; Conference North 17.9.2013
Covered Terrace pretty much all County
County`s first competitive game at Riveacre Park, the home of Vauxhall Motors, ended in ignominious defeat for the Hatters who threw away an early one goal lead, and then the match in a blur of Motors attacking that just might have notched more than the one late effort from Lloyd Ellams, had luck favoured the Ellesmere Port side just a touch more, and Stephen O`Halloran been less inclined to put life and limb on the line in County`s cause.
It was a really disappointing showing from County, who opened both halves brightly. The trouble was ......they couldn`t sustain it. In the first half they were one up within 8 minutes , but level again on 29 minutes as County`s left flank subsided in the face of lightning raids by full back Steve Wainwright. The second half was similar, but worse, from County`s view point. There was no early goal to boost morale this time- just one goal bound strike from Jevons, but this was cleared off the line and that was more or less it as far as County`s hopes went. Oh......they might have taken heart when first Matty Williams and then Matthew Kosylo failed to put away gilt edged chances, or when, with pressure mounting from Motors, shot after shot pinged in on the County goal only to come out again- usually off the body of O`Halloran that had been thrown bravely in the way! It was too good to last though, and eventually one blocked shot landed at the feet of Ellams who walloped it home. I made that the 91st minute, but some several minutes followed before the end came with County deservedly beaten.
To be honest I never really expected County to win this one with some to spare- rather I fancied a draw.....a hard fought draw....with memories of previous pre season encounters in mind. Around 7.30 I did wonder as the rumour mill had Gosset and Moses out with injury. Come 7.45 I must say it sounded a little worse –Moses was indeed missing, through injury presumably, but then so was Rhys Turner! This brought Jamie Hand into the equation in mid field with Adriano Moke in for a rare start.
Having Moke and Howard on the flanks would be OK, but I could not help thinking that Turner`s pace and energy would be missed.
The first minute was taken up with Vauxhall attacks, but both of these were dealt with without too much hassle by Gosset and Hand. Another 60 seconds offered Motors some encouragement as former Hatter Louis Barnes swung the ball across the park to Wainwright who appeared to have the drop on O`Halloran. He may well have had, but he couldn`t control the ball and the raid was ended.
It was a lively start from the home side, but County looked to be coping OK and this seemed to be confirmed in unlikely fashion as Moke worked the ball back to Ormson to end another brief Motors sortie up field.
The fourth minute saw County test the home defences for the first time, but Fagbola`s long through ball was too strong for Dennis, and County`s back line was quickly tested in similar fashion, in the fifth, as a long ball to the chasing Carl Noon had Ormson on his toes keeping it out.
Wainwright seemed to be making headway down the right for VM and it was a relief to see the busy Gosset usher another cross from that source away from the danger zone via the boot of young Ormson.
It was not all that surprising I suppose that Vauxhall Motors should open in such a lively fashion on their own patch, so I expected County to come back into it sooner or later and maybe impose themselves on proceedings. What I did not altogether expect was an early goal, but 8 minutes in one came, against the run of play maybe but still a goal! It was the product of a decent bit of pressure too, capped by a crucial cooperation between Hand and Gosset, and finished with aplomb by Jevons who beat the keeper convincingly from the edge of the box!
Motors looked shell shocked and within a minute Jevons almost doubled his and his teams tally as he beat a clutch of players to a cross from Jacobs only to see his glancing header miss out by the narrowest of margins.
It was a lively encounter at this stage but both sides were getting caught, with monotonous regularity in their opponent`s offside trap. It rather took the edge off things a touch, particularly for the home specs whose side were still pressing with intent, especially down the right where Wainwright and Rutter were finding space and time to get crosses in. They were going to nobody in particular, which was a relief for us, but for how long would that happy outcome prevail? No matter....Gosset seemed in decent nick, if a tad easy to knock off the ball, and Jacobs lit up proceedings on 15 minutes with a meaty tackle that I felt never mind Kosylo.
Then County scored again........but didn`t as when Dennis fired in to the joy of the 300 or so travelling blues in the crowd, it was cancelled out- presumably for offside?!
County were now making something of an effort to impose themselves, to the extent that Tom Hannigan, the home side`s captain, had to foul Jevons to stop him. The free kick offered County a notional chance but Hand hit the wall with a disappointing kick and that chance was gone!
The somewhat fussy referee then gave Moke a lecture, for kicking the ball away I think, but it might have been anything, and a decent County move petered out having been started via a long one from Ormson and sustained by Dennis and Moke.
If the Ormson long one was County`s weapon of choice, and another caused VM some difficulty 19 minutes in, then Wainwright`s nippy runs down the right were VM`s, but I contented myself with the knowledge that the final destination of a plethora of crosses from the home number 2, was never wholly clear, especially to the home forwards who were never on the end of them. They weren`t again a minute later- Hand was and the danger was cleared.
This lack of synchronicity on VM`s part was working in County`s favour, but the 25th minute offered something of a warning as yet again Wainwright scooted to the by-line down the right before planting a low cross into the box. It was another tasty morsel for home forwards to salivate over ,and this time it went straight to Ellams – his shot on the turn missed out, but not by much , so County had been warned!
Some pressure followed from County as O`Halloran, Dennis and Jevons linked up to good effect. Howard joined in and County did win a corner, but this came to nothing when O`Halloran`s over head kick missed the target.
Then it all went a bit awry for the blues as Vauxhall went long. Charnock did well with the first flurry of attacking, but the home side would not be denied and Wainwright was sent darting down the right where he left O`Halloran trailing in his wake. The cross duly materialised picking Williams out in the box, and he drilled it home to make it 1-1 to the joy of the locals.
Minutes of pressure followed this......all on County, and all involving Wainwright who was leading them a merry dance- somehow County held out though, and they even engineered a chance for themselves, or rather Williams did as he got himself in a tangle just outside the home side`s box. As I say, arguably something of a chance, but County were seemingly bereft of ideas as to how to round things off and again the moment passed without the score changing.
The blues did do slightly better shortly after as keeper Zac Jones could only parry a 20 yard strike from Dennis, but Barnes managed to salvage matters by lumping the loose ball into touch before the advancing Jevons could reach it.
The pressure went on for a while during which County had the ball in the home net for the third time, but again I can only assume offside was the reason as it was not entirely apparent to me!
Jacobs then sent Moke clear, and Howard brought a save from the keeper from the corner that followed, with a decent shot.
Heading for half time, County came a bit under the cosh and Jacobs took a lecture from the referee for a robust tackle in the midst of it. County defended well enough though with Charnock and Gosset looking the pick, the latter with a brave block to keep an Ellams strike out.
Soon enough though it was half time and I now had 15 minutes of that b++++y tannoy blaring under par pop at record decibel levels into my left ear to suffer- oh the continuing joys of the travelling County supporter!
If County`s following were looking for something better from their team when the game resumed, at first it seemed that they would not be disappointed, as play recommenced with Howard winning a free kick that Moke whipped in viciously to Dennis whose header flashed inches wide of the post.
It went on with Howard winning another free kick as Barnes pulled the Stockport man back .Gosset lifted this into the box only for the ball to be wellied into touch by the home defence. It was building nicely now and a brilliant run from O`Halloran set things up for County to take the lead again, when his cross picked out Jevons and the resultant shot headed for goal like an irresistible exocet! Two one then ! Note the lack of a?, at the end of that last sentence, because it looked to be going in.....it was in fact....but somehow....someone got a foot to it and kicked it off the line!
Have I said `bugger’ yet this season? I do not think I have, and I will not on this occasion ,you will be perhaps relieved to note, but more and better choice language came to mind next as ,as Gosset had to work his socks off to deny Carl Noon after Kosylo had split the blue defences with a pass of some quality.
That was a heart stopper but so was the next bit as Hand went into doze mode and lost the ball. This sent Kosylo clear and he should have buried it but instead he lifted a gloriously awful shot high over the bar.
Suddenly we were back to the bad old times of County giving the ball away for fun, as Gosset ruined a County raid by losing the ball allowing Ellams to dart up field with it. It was a dangerous moment for the blues and only got worse when Ellams threaded a superb ball through County`s threadbare defences to Karl Noon ! It was a belter and surely 2-1 also, but no....the saintly liner across the park had his flag up and how we loved him for it!
County could have.....maybe should have been relieved and inspired by that miss, but we also needed them to make their opportunities count when they came, but after Hand had broken a home attack up and sent Howard away, when he slipped it on to Moke his shot went straight into the keepers hands which was a major disappointment!
That just might be a costly miss, but County kept trying to make this irrelevant, and for a moment I thought we were about to score as Hand and Jevons tore through the middle at speed. It was unexpectedly incisive work but unfortunately Jevons shot was kept out by Jones and County were denied!
We needed one or other of those two chances to have counted, it would have changed the complexion of the game, but they didn`t and VM were not to be underestimated and Kosylo emphasised this point by filleting County`s back line with a brilliant through ball that gifted a 100% kosher goal chance to Williams. It was one of those that I would have probably put away, but somehow Williams didn`t, lifting the ball into the dark foreboding blackness over the bar and far away.
Another visit to Trauma City..........another let off........and it was not long before AL reacted by swapping Craney for Hand.
Things however did not immediately improve as, when Barnes cross landed at Charnock`s feet, he passed the ball straight to Kosylo who was smack in front and well set to score. It was a sitter.......another sitter in fact, but again County escaped as the poorest of finishes again failed to test Ormson, again missing the target!
County did try to offer some resistance, but when Dennis`s cross was headed out, Howard pulled his shot wide when well placed and this sent VM back on the search for that winning goal again!
A foul by Fagbola on Noon served to increase the pressure, and corners and throws followed limiting County to playing in their last third much of the time.
Somehow however, County looked to be weathering the storm, but inspiration was distinctly lacking from their play, and when something vaguely resembling it surfaced via Moke, Jones was able to pull off a decent save to stop him and keep it at 1-1.
Into the last 10 minutes we went then with a point not an unreasonable goal for County, who now had Lofthouse and Tunnicliffe on for Gosset and Howard.
Tunnicliffe impressed as well with a powerful run that saw him burst past 2 men down the right before a tug of his shirt stopped him. The free kick was fisted clear by Jones and any chance was now gone, but Tunnicliffe`s unfamiliar energy and potency did offer a glimmer of hope for something better! And.... County pressed a bit only to waste a free kick that resulted when Jevons was fouled by Williams.
We needed better and Tunnicliffe tried to provide it with another surprisingly powerful run this time down the left flank. A throw then a corner were all that came from these worthy efforts and Jones saw the raid put to bed with a confident catch!
That was disappointing but not as much as what followed as County were pushed further and further onto the back foot as shots rained in on goal with O`Halloran getting his body in the way of one toe ender from Ellams ,and another being forced out for a corner. This was cleared but County made a wakes of getting to the ball and working it clear-the result being it came straight back at them via Ellams who again saw O`Halloran bravely block a goal bound blaster! The follow up hit the post, and the corner that followed again saw County up to their eyes in it, none more so than O`Halloran who again did the biz to deny the home specs the delight of a late winner!
Back and forth the ball went pinging in and out of the six yard box until eventually it again fell at the feet of Ellams who this time would not be denied and a thumping drive made Ormson`s dive irrelevant , and the score 2-1 to our hosts!
I was tempted to think that, with it being the 91st minute, that that was unlucky, and maybe it was but it could not be denied that VM had worked hard for it ....far harder than County had.
From somewhere the referee found 4 or 5 minutes of added time to give County a notional chance of snatching a point, but no one in my vicinity really thought that was any more than a deluded pipe dream, and a blast of the referee`s whistle sent us on yet another home ward march pointless!
I know I perhaps should not be getting too emotional and lapsing too much into hyperbole when the season is but young, but it is worrying though and in seasons past I have deluded myself/ contented myself ( your pick) in the knowledge that ` referees have dished us’........` County have been incredibly unlucky’ but not once this season could I say either of these!
I go to Stalybridge hoping for better, and knowing that AL will do his best to see it so.
Join me and roar the blues on- they need you!
County line up;
Ormson, Jacobs, Fagbola, Charnock, O`Halloran, Moke, Gosset ( Loft house 78), Hand ( Craney 67), Howard (Tunnicliffe 78), Dennis, Jevons.
Subs not used; Duxbury, Windsor.
Vauxhall Motors line up:
Jones, Wainwright, Barnes, Hannigan, Nicholas, C Noone, Rutter, Williams, K Noon, Ellams, Kosylo.