County 2 Barrow 3 : FA Trophy 3QR Replay
County`s orgy of cuts and underfunding reaped another small whirlwind last night, when they went out of yet another Cup competition.....the FA Trophy, with a clueless performance at Edgeley Park where they contrived once again to throw away an early lead midst an indifferent display of football skills.
Having twice come back from being a goal behind on Saturday at Holker Street, there appeared every prospect that, with home advantage, County would reward their supporters for ignoring the blandishments of England/ Germany beside a warm fire, with, if not a resounding win, maybe a performance of wit and endeavour.
Oh........naive old me......it is never as simple as that with County is it?! They started well enough, going ahead via a wondrously struck free kick by Jevons, who along with live wire Rhys Turner seemed to offer hope of a blue victory, but this was yet another accursed illusion. County had a plethora of forwards on show – Dickinson and Dennis adding to the notional fire power aimed at our visitors from Cumbria from the start, but there was no width thus although Turner ran himself dizzy going close more than once, and Jevons coaxed and cajoled his colleagues studiously, there was little in the way of support and the lack of manpower out wide eventually told because Barrow had it, and used it causing havoc down both flanks ,more and more as the game progressed, and when County`s defence dozed off allowing ex Hatter Danny O`Donnell to snaffle a cheeky one after 23 minutes , and Carver to score another within 2 minutes of this, the writing was on the wall. Hit on the break with 20 minutes left and it was game over despite a goal in the games dying embers from substitute Iain Howard.
Read on then, if you will, and take in the fact that just over 800 were on site to witness this most depressing of games- 39 of them would end the evening in high spirits......they had travelled to EP from Cumbria!
County had 4 out and out forwards on show, which was probably 1 too many, although when the game started Dennis lined up left midfield so perhaps there was to be an element of fluidity in evidence? In any event I told myself that it was surely a sign of County`s intent to attack.
Hmm.............it took fully 5 minutes for anything remotely of interest to surface on the pitch, but when it came I was encouraged – true McMillan, the Barrow keeper, managed to thwart Turner`s break, and the corner that followed was not capitalised on, but it was a half decent start, and it looked like continuing when McMillan again did well to deny young Rhys after a neat cooperation between him and Platt had made inroads in Barrow`s cover!
So far so good then, but another 60 seconds ushered in a warning as a half hearted `tackle’ from Jacobs allowed Nicky Walker in on goal. It was a definite chance, but Ormson spared the ex FCUM man`s blushes with a solid stop when the shot came his way, and did well again shortly after cutting out a cross from Harvey after Nick Rushton had spread panic with a ball hugging run.
Nine minutes in and Jacobs redeemed himself with a lovely through ball to Jevons who looked well set in front of goal. Turning on the ball, Jevons then played it on to Dennis ,and in a trice the ball was in the net, but it was no goal as the Pop Side liner`s flag was up- it was offside!
Turner`s energy and skill were to the fore next as a couple of runs told Barrow that they would need to be on their toes if they were not to perish. Ormson`s long kicks were something of an item as well at this stage giving the centre of the Cumbrians defence lots to think about, but it was a long kick from someone else that was to light a spark in proceedings.....a set piece, and Jevons was the perpetrator! Gosset had just sent Dennis beyond half way, and he had just been routinely mugged for his trouble giving County a free kick. It was however some 35 yards or so from goal and thus no threat to McMillan`s peace of mind, but no one had told Jevons this, and he promptly curled a beauty past McMillan into the net to give County the lead!
The goal served to spur Barrow on to reply and Fagbola did well to contain the dangerous Carver as he looked to shoot in the box. Walker did altogether better however, making it to the by-line where he picked Carver out with a neat pass. The resulting shot was blocked but the ball ran back to Walker ,and Ormson earned plaudits by pushing his shot around the post for a corner.
Barrow failed to make anything of the flag kick, and County followed suit when they got one minutes later after Reynolds tackle on Jevons had been adjudged not a foul by referee Wootton. So.....maybe it was complacency that undid County....maybe not, but when Radcliffe forced another off Jacobs, they somehow managed to allow ex Hatter Danny O`Donnell to sneak in at the near post and snatch a cheeky one! Now....I think Danny`s a fine lad, but that was overdoing the hospitality quite a bit!
There was a reply from County, and quickly, but Dennis was flagged offside when put through by Dickinson, and it was not long before County`s woes multiplied in the shape of a second Barrow goal!
The visitors were attacking, but Duxbury initially looked to have done well to stop Burns as he probed down the right, but the ball ended up with Carver, and with County apparently nonplussed, he lifted a neat shot over Ormson`s head into the far corner of the net to make it 1-2!
County struggled to get a kick after this for a while as Barrow did their best to make inroads down the flanks, and Ormson did well to prevent Rushton reaching Radcliffe`s cross. The County keeper looked dished though, on 34 minutes, when Jamie Allen was put through by Harvey, but the shot came straight at him and the danger passed.
A small pre Xmas panto ensued next involving Dicko, Carver and referee Wootton, which featured Carver walking about with the ball .......Dicko manhandling him.......Carver falling down, and referee Wootton giving Liam a lecture! It was all due to Carver`s determination to waste time at a County free kick, but he need not have bothered as Platt lumped it well wide!
Meanwhile County were living dangerously and relieved to see the liners flag upraised as Walker darted clear with the blues cover blown! The officials proved less helpful however in added time when the ball appeared to have been carried out of play by Radcliffe near the County left corner flag. Did I say `appeared’?.......no......it had gone out, but play was allowed to continue, the ball reaching Rushton who promptly sent it thudding into the post! That was the end of the danger, but it could have been game over, with another 45 minutes to play!
By this stage, having neglected to dash off and get a coffee, I was feeling the cold- think Siberian Wastes meets the surface of Pluto and add a dash of Walsall`s away end at any time of the year, and you get the picture! Yes......another 45 minutes did not offer any solace at all!
County attacked early on after the re-start but I detected no noticeable quickening of EP`s collective pulse, and I think mine was about to shut down, but I was alarmed to see Sam Sheridan inches away from sending Carver in ,with another of his trademark long balls.
As I say.....County attacked a bit only for McMillan to keep the ball from Jevons after Jacobs had treated us to a run that had seen him win the ball.....lose it.....win it back......lose it and get it once again before getting his cross in. County`s best bet though still seemed to be the Jevons/ Turner combination and the 51st minute saw them link up brilliantly with Dennis. The final ball from Turner had possibilities but only until McMillan`s prompt action denied Jevons the ball! Jevons seemed to be doing better shortly after this only for the referee to again look the other way when he was upended by Reynolds. It was really frustrating, but this feeling only increased when Dennis found himself with the ball with McMillan stranded in no man`s land away from goal. It should have been County`s opportunity to draw level but Dennis failed to pick anyone out with his onward pass- maybe because there was no one following up , which was more than frustrating!
County looked to have a small gust of wind in their sails now especially when the Jevons `falling down bit’ took on a new twist, as the Stockport man went to ground again just outside the box. I saw this one as a dive, but hilariously Wootton blew for a County free kick! Now...this was a very definite chance, but I was dismayed to see Dicko and Jevons over the ball as the Barrow wall took shape. Surely Jevons would take it and Dicko`s part was one of just a not too elaborate mime! But......no.....Dicko took it- beating the wall well enough, but not McMillan who grabbed the ball with little difficulty!
The wind continued to blow County`s way via Turner who tested McMillan with a hooked shot from a throw by Jacobs, and then set Jacobs up nicely to feed Dennis in a good shooting position. Yes....it did look good, but bugger me....the liners flag was up again and we were dished once more.
If that was depressing, the next action dwarfed it for awfulness, as Gosset picked out Walker with a gruesomely bad pass. He was away and clear, but somehow Jacobs appeared on the scene and stopped the rot with a tackle that just might have saved the game for County.
If some of the quality was questionable at times, County were at least trying to rectify matters, but there was again no one following up when Dicko`s final ball attempted to round off good work from Jevons. Things did hint at turning County`s way however when Dicko forced a corner with determined work, especially when the usually reliable McMillan spilled the incoming kick. Turner pounced but somehow Burns managed to hook the ball clear from under the bar and Barrow survived!
Surely something would materialise from this pressure? I thought that it might , but Turner`s shot , from Dennis`s cross on 69 minutes, missed out by no more than a foot, and I again looked on aghast to see another Turner run end in ruins with no one backing up! Basics......when will County start doing them?
Well there was little time to ponder that one, as another County raid broke down allowing Walker a free hand to dash clear. There was loads of space for him to do stuff in, and he had Rushton for company as well, so he passed to the Barrow number 10 who took the ball round Ormson, who was cruelly exposed, to slam the ball home.
That was surely game over now, but Turner kept having a go......blocked at the edge of the box one minute, and thwarted by a brilliant save from McMillan the next as he shredded the visitors cover.
Jevons went close as well with a header as did Dicko who reached Duxbury`s aerial ball with a prodigious stretch only to push his shot narrowly wide.
The 80th minute saw Charnock depart the scene, which saw County go 3 at the back( Jacobs, Fagbola and Duxbury), as Howard joined the fray, but it was still Turner doing the biz at the sharp end heading another Duxbury high one just wide.
There was a fair bit of attacking coming from County at this point, and when they won a free kick a rare moment of panic ensued in the Barrow box as Dicko, Howard and Jevons vied to snatch a goal back only to be denied by McMillan!
Yes..............the effort was there from County but not the finish- a fact that was fully emphasised, on 88 minutes, when Jacobs picked Howard out in the box only for him to lift the ball hopelessly over the bar. But......as I say, effort was in evidence and Jevons showed this in shed loads tracking back to block a run by Radcliffe. From this Turner was on the run again and beyond Radcliffe and Walker in no time, picking Howard out at the back of the box with his pass, and County had pulled a goal back as Howard forced it home!
Jevons and Turner, urged on by Jacobs kept plugging away deep into added time, but there was no squaring this circle on this day for County as we headed for the exit thoroughly perished and somewhat down hearted!
I can just visualise dear old Ryan thinking of extending his cuts bonanza to AL, but we all know that that`s not the answer- shareholders and directors getting their act together to resolve this chronic under funding situation is, before it is too late!
County line up
Ormson, Jacobs, Fagbola, Charnock ( Howard 80), Duxbury, Gosset( Lofthouse 73), Platt, Dennis, Jevons, Dickinson, Turner.
Subs not used Jones, O`Halloran, Windsor.
Barrow line up
McMillan, Burns, Radcliffe, Sheridan, Reynolds, O`Donnell , Allen, Harvey, Carver, Rushton, Walker.