County 4 AFC Telford United 2 ; Conference North
County gave their long suffering supporters a real treat today ,with a cracking 4-2 victory against promotion favourites AFC Telford United at Edgeley Park. The old stadium was buzzing as a result, and just the correct type of dish to have laid before our distinguished Chinese visitors, had they managed the visa`s in time!
The win was as well deserved as it was unexpected.....built on a solid foundation of good football and sound defending as Tunnicliffe and Charnock answered their critics . Phil Jevens got the nod for the M.O.M bit, and I will not argue long over that as his contribution was all sleek control and intelligent passing- just a goal was lacking ,but he will score loads more of those this term, as will his partners Rhys Turner and Kristian Dennis, both of whom notched one themselves- each an absolute blinder!
All that said you could have pointed to the whole team, each of whom weighed in and complemented each other nicely, and nodded in their direction but who cares really .....a win is a win.....is a win....and this was a particularly welcome one and one that pushes us up the league and gives a mighty boost to morale as well!
The news was mixed at 3 o’clock.......Phil Jevons and Rhys Turner were both in the starting line up, but Ian Ormson wasn`t . This gave young Ryan Jones his debut behind a defence that had not greatly sparkled of late. I was however somewhat optimistic nevertheless, but this was tempered slightly with the sight of Andy Owens on the Telford team sheet- always a threat in games against County!
Floodlights on.................game on..........and the early action saw County force a corner as Dennis harried Neil Byrne into some safety first stuff. Ryan Young , the Telford keeper, punched this out, but not all that convincingly, although Telford kept their cool and survived without conceding anything more costly.
The visitors contrived to attack after this, and Duxbury did very well indeed to contain Tony Gray as he threatened to latch onto a dangerous ball from Sean Cooke. A throw followed along with an early glimpse of just what Owens was about, and his throw bounced menacingly into the box before being headed goal ward by Gray. Another wicked bounce, and the ball was on its way into the top corner, until Jones tipped it over the bar at the very last gasp! That was excellent stuff from the undemonstrative young keeper and just what he required to calm any twitching nerves!
The corner was poor and County saw it away without difficulty, unfortunately however County`s attempt to turn defence into glorious attack, foundered at the feet of Jacobs who failed to test Young with a distinctly under par shot.
A high bouncing ball then brought Charnock into the game, stopping Owens from making capital after Tunnicliffe had failed to deal with the situation. More good work followed from Charnock not long after and I was pleased to see Owens once again the disappointed man!
Telford were doing a fair bit of attacking at this stage, it must be said, and Owens again found the path to goal blocked this time by Moses , but it took an excellent rescue act from Jacobs to keep County on level terms after Charnock blotted his copy book by getting himself into a considerable tangle.
How many times have we seen County in all out attack mode.....leave the back door ajar ,and go behind? Too many times to count I know, and it was so so lovely to see the tables turned as Jacobs promptly threaded a ball of supreme excellence into Turner`s path deep in Telford territory. He was off and in the keepers face in no time.....it was missable..............but he didn`t ,instead he slotted the coolest of finishes beyond anything Young could offer in response and it was 1-0 to County!
It might even have been 2-0 , just a minute later, had Duxbury kept his header down on the end of a Jacob free kick, but he didn`t and Young watched the ball soar off into the empty Railway End.
Back came Telford eventually , but County were back in numbers so there appeared nowhere for the visitors to go, until Cooke opted for the thespian option and launched himself to the ground. It was a reprehensible action from the player, but a worse one followed from referee Jonathan Hunt who wasted absolutely no time in pointing to the spot. It was no penalty.....County knew it, but they then allowed themselves to get carried away ensuring that Tunnicliffe went into the refs book, presumably for verbals. Bugger................clearly County`s lead was about to be history, but no.....when Clancy`s kick came in, Jones hurled himself to his left to push the ball out to safety! Simply excellent stuff again from the young keeper!
It was starting now to get a bit comic cuts out there, as a series of iffy decisions saw Telford diving propensity fed to excess by the officials. On the end of one such, Mike Grogan headed just wide, but it was not long before more infamy threatened to undo County good and proper ,and again it was the vaudevillian talents of Cooke to the fore winning his side a ludicrous free kick in a very scorable position. The kick was a yard beyond the box and the County wall looked to have it covered, but Cooke made light of it, sending his kick skidding off the top of one County head beyond Jones into the net.
County`s lead had lasted just 10 minutes and they needed to apply themselves again and quickly if the game was not to slip away from them.
They certainly tried, but Dennis was a whisker away from reaching Platt`s nicely weighted through ball, but so did Telford and Charnock did well to track back and mop up as Duxbury tangled with the annoying Cooke.
Both teams were having a go – County one moment through Jacobs and Telford via Gray, but neither found that elusive gilt edged finish needed!
The next 10 minutes were pretty much all County as Dennis went close with a decent attempt on 26 minutes. Three minutes after this it was Jacobs and Jevons to the fore forcing a corner which saw Charnock`s header miss out narrowly at the back post.
The 32nd minute saw the thespian tendency overcome Telford once more, to be precise right back Wesley Baynes who went down as if pole axed feigning a kick to the face, only to get to his feet instantly upon the realisation that even the gullible Mr Hunt was not buying that one! Perhaps it was the County pressure that was causing the theatricals- something was unsettling them, and County had themselves a welcome free kick midst it all when Simon Grand climbed all over someone in blue just outside the box. The position was good ,but the kick wasn`t and it stayed 1-1.
Indeed it did, and County`s luck seemed to be well and truly out as Howard`s cross cum shot whacked into a red hand en route across the box. A penalty for sure....at least I felt it was, but Mr Hunt was indicating a corner, which Telford laboured long and hard over clearing. They didn`t manage it ,allowing Charnock two attempts to force it home at the back post. The second one did the trick and County had their lead back thanks to their captain!
Back came Telford in response and it was Owens` turn to treat us to a dive , and the free kick from Cooke that followed threatened to put the skids under the blues when Neil Byrne met it firmly with his head at the back of the box. “ Goal” I was tempted to think , but it wasn`t as Jones dived on the ball and made it his!
The visitors looked intent on getting back to parity as half time neared, and County`s cause was not aided when a Duxbury foul put the pressure back on his team. The free kick was a dangerous one and Tunnicliffe did well to toe end the ball out for a corner with a clutch of red shirted forwards hell bent on forcing it home, and better stopping Grogan`s header when the kick came over. The ball still needed clearing, and it wasn`t and I was relieved to see Gray`s shot just climb over the bar.
Was it the end of the County angst? No sir.........as that man Cooke wheedled another cheep free kick from the referee, but justice was done when he lifted a poor kick over the top.
Telford kept plugging away but Baynes` final ball was a tad too strong for Gray, and Tunnicliffe was quick to locate Reservoir 1 , when Sean Clancy followed a long...high....bouncer into the County last third.
Dennis and Jacobs had decent attempts dealt with fairly comfortably by Young, but the chance of the half fell to Gray, deep in added time. Tunnicliffe had just done excellent work to deny Owens with a great block, when shortly after the ball was pinged in again from the right. Gray was nailed on to score but, with the goal gaping, he snatched at it and sent his shot wide of the target!
A County raid.......a corner......and Telford ended the half struggling to cope, but the referee saw an infringement and the visitors were saved, and able to go in at the break just 1-2 down.
Jevons was to the fore on the resumption going close with an early half volley, but then second best to Grogan on the end of a Jacobs free kick.
Jones did have to make a save to keep a shot from Owens out, on 50 minutes, but the bulk of the action was at the other end where Grand was working overtime to keep the Telford ship afloat. Baynes weighed in with an attempted decapitation of Dennis, which went unpunished by the referee, and Young saved coolly from Dennis as County`s momentum started to build again.
Momentum on the up or not, County would be wise to keep their cool and the back door firmly locked, but their reliance on the off side trap was proving to be less than 100% , resulting in a series of corners- none of them at all lethal, but nevertheless unnecessarily irksome to deal with!
That said, County continued to press on and a neat bit of work involving Jevons and Dennis almost saw Howard on the score sheet- alas thanks to Young he was not.
It went on with Platt breaking up a Telford raid in impressive style before sending the quicksilver Turner dashing clear. It looked ram/ jam with possibilities as Turner darted past his man , but Mr Hunt had seen something( don`t ask me what.............) and the raid was dished as Telford had a life giving free kick.
Howard kept the momentum going with a lung bursting run that took him clear. Unfortunately he drifted to the left whilst en route, and when his shot came, it drifted wide of the goal, much to his and our disappointment.
A further series of ludicrous refereeing decisions followed, which I refuse to bore you with, and then Mr Hunt got one right awarding County a free kick after Benjamin had made a meal of going to ground over towards the Pop Side. What followed was simply excellent as the free kick soared across the box to where Tunnicliffe rose majestically to meet it, planting the firmest of headers way beyond Young into the net. Wow.................it was 3-1, and County were well worth it, if only our Chinese friends had been here to witness it!
For a time it appeared that Telford might totally disintegrate as County swept forward through Howard who was thwarted by both Grant and Byrne in rapid succession.
Turner then entered the fray, tackling back with energy and then carrying the ball out of defence in good style to put the pressure back on the visitors who were relying more and more on the likes of Byrne to keep them even notionally in the game.
Jones meanwhile, although not extensively busy now, was looking confident and not at all out of place!
Duxbury looked the business too, and he was unlucky to see his beautifully weighted through ball not get the reward it deserved when Dennis carried it on to the by-line. Dennis`s ball inside was well good enough, but then so was Young and he just kept it from the advancing Jevons in the tightest of situations.
It was an uncomfortable time for Telford and it was good to see the midfield of Moses, Platt and Howard doing so well, Moses excelling on 72 minutes to stop Owens in full flight.
Howard was unlucky to be ruled offside not long after, but then Telford began to build a response again , and Tunnicliffe did really well to hook clear as Gray pinged a tasty morsel in from the left. and again as pressure mounted again from the visitors.
It needed someone either to put foot on ball for County or produce a moment or two of magic, but when Turner did just that and Grogan`s attempted early exchange of shirts went unpunished by this most laughable of officials, it appeared that fortune was declining to shine on the blues at this late juncture, especially when a tantalising run from Jacobs saw his final ball narrowly elude Turner.
Then .......Grogan repeated the methodology on Turner prompting Mr Hunt to grant County a free kick. When Byrne headed this out, it appeared to be chance gone, but I had reckoned without Jacobs who latched onto the loose ball before threading another mesmerizingly wondrous ball over the Telford back line for Dennis to run onto. Chance.....decidedly yes, but I have seen `em missed , but not this one as Dennis buried a beaut of a shot into the back of the net to make it 4-1.
Fantastic, but there was barely time to congratulate ourselves and resume our seats when Telford pulled one back. It was a scruffy affair at best as, with County struggling to deal with a corner, the ball pin wheeled about in front of goal before taking a deflection off Moses into the net.
The eternal pessimist in me, visualised it subsiding into 4-4 or worse from this, and Telford did their best to make it so I must say, but despite the pressure....the corners, another goal just would not come their way. To be fair they hardly deserved that happy fate anyhow and the County rearguard action in the face of much late pressure was by no means uncoordinated- in fact quite the opposite!
AL rang the changes late on.......Gosset for Moses..........Moke for Turner, as the corners kept a coming from Telford but with the same ineffectual results.
Into added time we went with County at last raising the siege and only a desperate outstretched leg prevented another top notch final ball from Jacobs setting Dennis up with a tap in.
Into the games dying embers we went with Telford having one last go at windmill tilting, and a corner again put the County defence under the microscope, but Jones managed to get something on it at the back post.....enough to see the danger off .
That was about it, and a fine game was over and all the points were County`s- just reward for what was an excellent display.
More of the same at Oxford.................can we hope for this? Why not......the Flyer takes off at 09.30, be on it!
County line up;
Jones, Jacobs, Tunnicliffe, Charnock, Duxbury, Moses( Gosset 83),Platt, Howard, Jevons, Turner( Moke 87), Dennis.
Subs not used: Fagbola, O`Halloran, Lofthouse.
AFC Telford line up;
Young, Baynes, Lever, Byrne, Grand, Grogan, Cooke, Benjamin, Owens, Gray, Clancy.