Histon 2 County 1 ; Conference North
Main Stand Glass World Stadium.
Familiar defensive frailties saw County slump to another dismal defeat at the Glass World Stadium against Histon today.
Both sides had chances in an interesting first half,and when Turner had to be replaced just before the break, we were not unduly alarmed , and this view seemed just about right when, 2 minutes into the second half, Duxbury gave County the lead. County`s elation however, was short lived, as within 5 minutes Histon had equalised when Peterborough loan man Shaquille McDonald took advantage of none existent marking to head home the equaliser. Add another defensive blunder, by Tunnicliffe,with 11 minutes left and that was that.....County folded and the points were Histon`s!
Desperately disappointing stuff then but none of this was clouding our vision circa 3 o`clock as the Flyer delivered us to within inches of what turned out to be a really decent stadium, in good time to get a bacon butty...some questionable minestrone soup ,and settle down.
County opened reasonably brightly with Verma on the end of a decent move, but thwarted by a line of red/black shirts. Jacobs kept the pressure on , and his link up with Turner promised much until Grant Roberts intervened and lumped the ball clear.
The staple from the home side, at this early juncture, looked to be the long ball out of deep defence, and just 4 minutes in McDonald was dashing clear...a veritable blur of speed that made Turner look snail like in comparison......it was a clear chance but only until Ormson rescued the situation and charged to the edge of the box to snatch the ball from McDonald and whack it clear.
A minute later and County had Histon on the rack as Dennis sneaked clear down the left. Drifting inside, his shot looked worthy of a goal, and keeper Calum Kitscha added to this impression by stopping it but not holding onto it. It spun towards goal, but somehow stayed out leaving County contemplating the consolation of a corner. This had danger written all over it but Kitscha managed to get a hand to it and stop Tunnicliffe from snatching an early goal.
Twice after this, Platt did well to block Histon as they tried to break the seige that County were imposing, but when Histon reverted to sending it long there was no one on hand as O`Malley darted into space behind the County back line. It was a chance......or it would have been had the intended pass been a touch more delicate, but it wasn`t and O`Malley could not control it.....chance gone!
O`Malley turned provider next , picking Lewis Taafe out with what looked a decent ball. Again this looked a tasty situation ,and County were distinctly fortunate that Duxbury had the presence of mind to track back and cut the forward off before he could get a shot off. The corner was poor and consequently was cleared easily enough, but already, despite looking reasonably comfy on the ball,it was clear that County were vulnerable to the long ball and the pace of McDonald!
The tenth minute kind of had me forgeting this caveat, as a neat combo involving Verma and Dennis discomforted Histon down the left flank. It looked good when the ball reached Howard, but his shot drifted just wide of the post much to Kitscha`s relief.
All this time the long balls kept pinging in from Histon ,and Ormson was doing the sweepers role convincingly well in response!
Gosset then did well to stop Nathan Hicks from reaching Histon`s latest aerial tester....and then better as he carried the ball out of defence to link up with Howard whose run and cross picked Dennis out nicely in front of goal. In came the shot from the ex Curzon Ashton striker only for the ball to come flying out again as Omar Beckles wellied it clear off the line.
County seemed to have the whip hand now, an impression firmed up when Verma forced a corner off David October, after good work by Platt, but another goal line clearance saw the blues thwarted once again....then Gosset saw a shot blocked to end a period of dominance from County.
If Histon were having to defend with a touch of desperation and an added dash of good fortune......what of County`s sense of well being? Well............it was as stated previously.....a very tender bloom indeed....one susceptable to the quick break or long ball, and soon enough Taffe and October bullied their way past the indifferent County covering down the left to force Ormson into action to deny them, and he did it again less than a minute later when Taffe drilled a free kick down the County keeper`s throat.
So.............to summarise.........both sides looked lively up front and not that wonderously gifted at the back, so an entertaining game looked in prospect, and things threatened to liven up even further , on 20 minutes, as Turner turned his man ( yes....he did..... no pun intended!) only for the ball to brush the defenders hand. This went unpunished by the referee, and insult was added to injury when Verma failed to put a reasonable chance away from the resulting loose ball, and Howard`s follow up effort came back out off a defender.
That was hugely disappointing, but there was no time to mope , as Histon were in our faces in the shape of McDonald who cut through the blue cover like the Optimiser Pro Virus would the average un protected PC.......he was clear , but the ball ran on to Hicks who scuffed his shot well wide of goal- another chance had gone!
McDonald definately looked a potent threat, and when Platt lost the ball not long after , another visit to Calamity City was upon us when Taffe took it away from him. Spotting McDonald in space, Taffe threaded a decent ball through, but it was a tad too strong and Histon were undone once again.
Back came County through Howard whose gritty run ended with a corner. It was a decent one too, and Tunnicliffe met it nicely ,but was disappointed to see his glancing header drift out beyond the far post!
That was encouraging, and more followed as brilliant work by Turner had Histon on the rack.- the ball flying fluently from Turner to Jacobs ......to Howard and on to Dennis who was clear. A shot came quickly from the Stockport number 10, but somehow Kitscha managed to beat it out bravely.
County kept pressing, but were somewhat unkindly treated when a foul on Turner was ignored by the referee , allowing the ball to break to the dangerous McDonald . The forward did well to get a cross off, but it by-passed Hicks running on instead to Taafe who promptly lifted a gloriously poor shot way over the bar. Way over or not......County surely must tighten up !
The blues continued to look passably good going forward though and Platt linked up well with Dennis to set an interesting move in motion ,that looked even more of interest when it reached Turner and he pinged one into the box. It had Dennis written all over it until Dowie took a hand and ushered it clear in the nick of time!
It went on with County pressing as a Duxbury cross was headed clear..............a Platt shot charged down......a Dennis effort blocked – all good stuff but deperately disappointing as well.
The latest period of County hegemany duly ended when Jacobs leant a touch too much beef to his intended pass to Dennis, allowing Histon to run the ball up field, and Duxbury to get himself booked for a poor tackle on Roberts.The free kick discomforted County and Ormson did well to finish with the ball in his hands, albeit at the second attempt, after the blues back line had laboured over getting a decisive clearance in.
This infuriating mix of attacking energy and defensive lethargy continued to bemuse me as a lazy wave of the leg from Jacobs signalled to Hicks that he was away and clear with all to play for. Cutting inside he looked on to score ,but Charnock rallied and a good last ditcher from him was enough to see off the threat.
Have I said I was bemused? Well......I was ,and my bemusement continued apace when Roberts lashed a long ball into Taafe`s path just outside the box. The centre of County`s defence was nowhere....out to lunch....and a goal was on, until Ormson swept the pill off the forward`s feet to great acclaim.
This signalled a response from County and Dennis went close with an effort and another was hacked off the line by someone in red/black, but this only brought on panic stations for the blues as from O`Malley`s clearance, McDonald was again darting clear with intent.It might have been..... perhaps should have been 1-0 to Histon, but it wasn`t, and this was entirely down to Ormson`s response as he advanced to deny the nippy loan man ,before despatching the ball somewhere in the direction of Northamptonshire.
Hicks then undermined County`s confidence with a run that saw him ignore the attentions of 3 County men ,and get a cross over. Ormson dealt with it well, but should he have had to?
County were then reduced to 10 as a tackle on Turner saw him treated prior to exiting the action for the afternoon, being replaced by Adriano Moke.
The half ended with Histon on the offensive and Ormson in action yet again diving to push a shot by McDonald around the post, as his defensive colleagues strived apparently to perfect their traffic cone impressions!
A push by Dowie was spotted by the referee, ending County`s discomforture, the half time whistle followed soon after and a fairly competitive first half had run its course.
It was depressing for me to admit that I had Ormson as my M.O.M at this stage, but perhaps County would rally and despatch my growing cynisism to the four winds!
I was distracted during the break, by an appeal for ` a qualified official`. Apparently a linesman had become incapacitated and couldn`t continue. I pondered offering my assistance, but concluded that perhaps 3 O levels and 2 years as a hockey umpire in the Stockport Womens League were not what was required. A long delay ensued and when the game eventually resumed I was alarmed to see that the referee had shrunk by about 2 feet! It was one of those days- I told myself!
All this was but a mere baguatel, within 2 minutes of the re-start as County surged into the lead.
It started with a Howard run down the left and a corner when October intervened. The kick went to the near post where Dennis headed it on to Duxbury who forced it home from close in!
That was just what was needed......in fact more of the same was needed but despite another neat move involving Howard and Moke , Gosset `s shot narrowly missed out!
Howard then went close – the keeper saving his header from Tunnicliffe`s free kick, but it all went decidely pear shaped and just 5 minutes after County had taken the lead!
Shephard began it by tricking his way past Howard. He then picked Dowie out with his cross , but he fluffed the chance, and the follow up by Taafe carried the bar.
Danger gone then!..............except it wasn`t because, when a cross came over from the left...County stood and watched to a man as Mc Donald headed home in splendid isolation in the box!
That was simply abysmal.............and the cosh continued to descend on the blues who were looking less and less like winners as the game progressed.
County tried to respond, but always the approach play was undermined by dismal finishing as Howard...Verma....Howard again lifted lack lustre efforts over the top.
Moke.....for a moment looked to have done better ,getting to the by-line, but when he crashed to the ground under pressure from O`Malley, I was slightly surprised to see the referee signal a corner rather than a penalty!
When Histon regained some composure and took the game to County again it took some resilience from the blues to resist as Taafe and October harassed the life out of us. A head of steam was building now for our hosts and County were relieved to see a volley from Hicks deflected for a corner. Shots rained in ........from Hicks ( blocked) and O`Malley who lifted his shot over the bar.
At the height of all this attacking, I was amazed to see McDonald taken off.......substituted....I could not believe my eyes ,but nevertheless couldn`t resist getting to my feet to applaud.
There was no immediate cessation in attacking from Histon, as Hicks and Taafe brought the best out of Duxbury, but County did have a go at getting back into the driving seat only for Kitscha to deny Verma with a good save, and Tunnicliffe to surprise us with an energetic run up field that saw him into the box. He then went to ground midst a mix of flailing limbs and appealing glances, but the referee was not impressed and County got nothing from it.
Gosset then completed his stint in County colours, leaving the scene to a decent reception, as County struggled to contain Histon as a welter of free kicks were conceded in difficult positions- one such skidding off Platts head for a corner which saw County`s number 7 in action again clearing Hicks shot off the line!
There was time for a decent County move to be wasted ,and a shot from Dennis to drift just wide , before County took the suicide route once again via Tunnicliffe , who is proving a master in this regard. The move started with Hicks, but seemed to have been sorted when his cross headed for Ormson, but for some reason Tunnicliffe, faced with a ring of red/black shirts some yards away, elected to make it his, compounding the felony by then passing the ball to the opposition rather than wellying it into the middle distance.In a flash Taafe had it and it another it was 2-1 to Histon as he had lashed it home. Simply too gruesome a happening for me to comment on any further!
Tunnicliffe did try to make ammends following a break from deep by Platt but haste got the better of precision and his shot left the ground with some to spare.
County did much of the attacking in the last 7 or 8 minutes that remained ,but it mattered not.....the damage was done, and try as they might they were not going to get that equaliser,and the game ended disappointingly with the blues pointless.
The Flyer made excellent time on the way back which was good but hardly adequate compensation for what had gone before.
Will I be back for more though.......yes of course and, I guess so will you!
County line up:
Ormson, Jacobs, Tunnicliffe, Charnock, Duxbury, Platt, Gosset (O Halloran 72), Verma( Windsor 82), Howard, Dennis, Turner ( Moke 43).
Subs not used ; Jones, Fagbola.
Histon line up:
Kitscha, O`Malley, October, Roberts, Beckles,Grant, Dowie,Taafe, Shephard, Hicks, McDonald.
Attendance : 508 ( 255)