County 2 Gloucester City 2 ; Conference North
Today`s Main Stand View circa 03.00
The US ,and therefore the world, economy will not , after all, hurtle off the vertiginous fiscal cliff into the abyss beyond........the major UK utility companies , oblivious to all that, did raise their prices yet again in their uniquely provocative style.........oh....and the Yeti, it turns out is likely to be nothing more than a boring old bear!
Yes.....such a disappointing week, so it was perhaps no surprise when County followed the script and gave their supporters more of the angst ridden stuff to chomp on, this time against first time visitors to Edgeley Park-Gloucester City. Things looked anything but bad, when urged on by the impressive Rhys Turner, the blues scooted into a not undeserved 2-0 lead, but County almost managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by conceding two goals in a six minute period in the second half, as they re-visited all their worst nightmares of the past, and capitulated to a couple of simple long balls. Two apiece could quite easily have been 2-3 in the minutes that followed the equaliser, but somehow County held out, and might even have won it late on had their nerve held and their shooting been a tad more accurate.
It was not to be ,and to be fair the crowd of over 2700 took the loss of two points pretty well, giving the team a decent hand at the end, but some improvement might be needed come next Saturday, if more disappointment isn`t to follow at Histon.
Out come the teams.
Back to 3 o’clock then, and the early play took place just inside the County half, but nothing much of consequence happened until the 3rd minute when County conceded a free kick and Gloucester somehow contrived to magic the ball back to Dennis who was not a million miles from goal. It looked a chance as the Stockport forward`s shot was fired off on the turn, but Mike Green in the visitors goal, stood firm and kept it out well.
A minute later and Gloucester gave us something to think about on the break as Joe Parker forced Charnock to concede a corner, which Matt Liddiard reached but could not control.
Gosset ran the ball clear from the goal kick that followed, but Duxbury found his way through block and Dennis was unable to outwit Jack Harris when the ball came his way in the box.
County then went on the offensive, pushing their opponents back on their heels, but when Green flapped mightily at a corner, they could not take advantage of the fact and it stayed 0-0.
The pressure from the blues continued with Lofthouse kept out by a wall of yellow/ black shirts, and Harris in action diving to head clear. County still had to be vigilant though, and Charnock proved that he could be and did enough to snuff out a potential break with a neat tackle on Will Morford.
So far then....no great alarms for County, if no massive bonuses either, and a slightly iffy moment came next when a speculative effort from Danny Mullins flew across goal going out only inches from goal ,with Jacobs waving a leg at it lazily.
If that was iffy......the next bit was decidedly not....at least from a County perspective, as a slack bit of work from City ,at the back, gifted the ball to Lofthouse who promptly picked Turner out ahead of him in the box. He had company in the shape of Harris, and it was there to miss, but with Green drawn, the HtH backed forward slotted a peach of a finish home!
That was excellent, and things almost got even better, within no time at all, when a magnificent back heel from Turner saw Dennis in on goal. Chance....yes......goal....no, as the ex Curzon Ashton hit man failed to put it away.
Tyler Weir then won Gloucester a corner, but Morford could not get on the end of it, and the excellent Turner was able to help out and clear his lines.
Moses went off after this, being replaced by Platt, which was disconcerting being the second time in two games that a substitution had been forced on us early!
County continued to dominate proceedings though, but there was time for Ormson to send me scrambling for the BP pills with a precarious bit of brinksmanship that, with Edwards and Parker in the vicinity, was as chancy as it was unnecessary. In the end he executed it well enough, but I could imagine his critics firing the boilers up as he lumped the ball clear.
Meanwhile half chances were coming and going for County as Duxbury sped onto a neat pass from Dennis only to welly an overly powerful cross way out of everyone`s reach. Dennis went close shortly after, after Jacobs had pierced the visitors defences with an imperious cross field ball.
Mostly....but not all County then......City did have the odd moment , but their play looked plodding and predictable ,and when chance presented itself, as when a fine pull back by Liddiard picked Mullins out a yard from goal, the end product was lacking in cutting edge, and Mullins snatched at it sending the ball wide.
Still the better chances were falling to County, but they were proving no more efficient in the matter of putting them away than were City, and Howard missed a lulu, on 33 minutes, from a decent ball from Dennis – failing to force it home from smack in front.
Did I say the better chances were falling County`s way? Well..........I had cause to revise my thoughts on the subject next as Weir forced a corner, and then took the ball along the by-line to within a yard or so of goal where he fired in a neat shot. It was on target, but thankfully so was Ormson and his dive allowed him to push the ball out, with Harris doing his best to force it home.
With about 5 minutes remaining of the half it was time to take stock of things, and I was of the mind that County should win this one knowing that they would be attacking the Cheadle End after the break. Added to this...... Turner was on song...Gosset was buzzing, and Platt looked settled already, so if others could weigh in as well........
With 3 minutes left Turner sniffed another half chance out, but unfortunately could not put it away, and when a period of blue pressure ended with a break from the visitors, it was good to see Platt sufficiently sorted to be able to stop Tom Webb`s gallop , to a burst of applause from the home specs.
Both sides probed the other in the minute or so that remained and 1-0 at the interval was not a bad return I felt and I think most probably would agree with me.
When play re-started, County pressed on again and Green did well to thwart a decent bit of work by Howard and Duxbury. As in the first half already it was clear that County were going to have the lion`s share of possession. Even so there were moments of anxiety as Tunnicliffe defaulted to `sleep mode’ and sold Ormson dramatically short. The young keeper reacted well.....with Morford about he had too, but Tunnicliffe did the same thing again minutes later this time with Mullins on the scene. Again Ormson did well and Mullins was denied, but if Gloucester sharpened up in the shooting department, County would possibly be in deep doo doo.
Meanwhile County headed Green`s way mostly with Howard and Turner unlucky on one occasion and Turner not long after inches away from latching onto a loose ball in the box. It was starting to build nicely for the blues now, just that elusive finish was missing, as Turner again just failed to get to a through ball, this time from Duxbury. It was disappointingly close and I thought that perhaps City would re group and come back at County encouraged by the score line being still only 1-0.
Well................I was wrong, as Gossett`s long ball had Turner scurrying clear down the right. The defender was goosed and he had no chance of preventing Turner from pinging his cross in. In it came....low and hard and Tom Webb had no chance of getting out of the way of it, and he could not stop himself from propelling the ball into the net to double County`s advantage!
Absolutely brilliant.......2 up and possibly game over, except that Gloucester had other ideas, pretty basic ones as it happens but County could not cope when out of defence, City sent it long! Suddenly it was that dream where your legs are knee deep in treacle and everything is so hard to do. In short County were mere bystanders ....as Morford drilled the pill past Ormson into the net.
That was a bummer, but we were still leading so perhaps County could get a grip again and work at getting that 2 goal lead back?
Nice thought that, but in practise it did not seem to be panning out that way, and County were lucky to see a brilliant pull back by Mullins from the by-line go unrewarded when Edwards could not finish the move off.
From dominating the game County were in danger of letting the game go, and again they were fortunate to see Edwards` header stay out when far worse looked on.
To be fair County did try to re-establish a measure of control, but in doing so they found Green on top of his game and well able to deny Dennis the oxygen of a goal, that just might ignite his and his Clubs season!
Green denies County!
I was still trying to convince myself that all was well when it again became crystal clear that it wasn`t as another long ball filleted them good and proper , and with Ormson again exposed, Rawlings made it 2-2 with a ruthlessly efficient finish!
This had an understandably rejuvinatory effect on City, and an equally deleterious one on the blues whose passing started to go haywire again.
To a degree City were happy to hit County on the break, and it was working so the policy was likely to continue. So inevitably County had more possession than their opponents as we went into the last 10 minutes, but with Gloucester back in numbers it became a procession of shots coming in and then back out off one or other defender.....Turner unlucky to see Mullins block his shot....then Dennis who saw his shot slam into the largely oblivious Harris. Green was fairly busy throughout all this but with County`s propensity for being caught out by the long ball it was no surprise to see it happen again, with 8 minutes left. Morford was the man on the spot and the thought dawned that County just might contrive to lose this one, as the forward`s shot was deflected for a corner. Somehow County held out.....somehow.....and relief eventually came when Liddiard`s header whizzed narrowly wide.
Wilson then led County a merry dance not once but 4 times in rapid succession –it was not that great to see County looking to locate Hardcastle Road in response and then reliant on the referee to rule a foul as Wilson went for broke.
Yes.....County were very much under the cosh but a neat catch by Ormson offered hope and this burgeoned into something more positive as Turner darted clear at speed. He was through and he again drew Green from his line only to put his shot wide of the far post.
That might have won it for the blues, and they might just have won it again into added time as Dennis sent a header screaming for goal, only for Green to tip it over the top in spectacular style.
County were very much in Gloucester`s face`s now and all 20 outfield players looked to be in the City box as they defended one of a series of corners......it was close, but not close enough as they say.
Dennis again had a go with seconds ticking away after Howard and Turner had grafted manfully as providers. Jacobs....Windsor all had shots blocked – the final one falling to Turner who sadly lifted the ball over the bar.
That was that then......points shared....honours even.
The temptation is to drown in a ocean of hyperbole and ladle blame out all over the place, but there`s a long way to go of this season- we need to improve....yes....preferably before Histon, but its far from worlds end yet!
See you there then!
County line up ;
Ormson, Jacobs, Tunnicliffe, Charnock, Duxbury, Moses ( Platt 21), Gosset( Windsor 80),Lofthouse ( Verma 63), Turner, Dennis, Howard.
Subs not used;
Gloucester City line up:
Green,Rawlings, Weir, Coupe, Harris, Webb, Parker, Mullins, Edwards, Morford, Linniard.