County 0 Brackley Town 2 ; Conference North
County`s lowest league gate of the season were on site at Edgeley Park today to witness a performance, from their team, as dire as one could wish not to witness in this most forgettable of seasons. It was truly appalling and fully merited at least the two goal margin Town ended up with. Yes.....as usual....the crowd was not the problem, in fact they were awesomely supportive at times – in good form in fact- would that we could say the same of the 11 men sent out in County`s name to do battle- they still give the impression of not being fully cognisant of the requirements of this division, which with some cold Tuesday nights away from EP in prospect in the new year, rings ominous warning bells!
Despite the introduction of Adam Cowen at centre back( he did reasonably well),It was the mixture as before ,only more so.....pretty football( too pretty at times), but no bite as Brackley were constantly first to the ball and altogether more likely to do something with it when they got it! They were in fact another team in the archetypal Skrill North mould- tight(ish) at the back with a liking for quick incisive passes when moving out of defence and plenty of fight!
County did all right for an hour or so but then, faced with conceding a trademark softy, they suddenly folded. Turner hit the post late on but by then Brackley had scored a second and were in cruise mode.
Before the off....
None of these trauma`s had announced themselves circa 3 o`clock, as County took the field with a fresh central defensive paring of Adam Cowen and Jordan Fagbola. Cowen was well over 6 foot 5 so I was not alone in looking forward to seeing how he would fare! There was an attacking look about the County line up with forwards Jevons, Dennis, Turner and Moke on show, so perhaps we were in for a treat from County?
Well.......I allowed myself to think so anyway and Moke encouraged me by latching onto a decent ball from Jevons and tying 2 or 3 visiting defenders in small knots for a moment or so. The moment passed however and it was not long before it was `sharp intake of breath time’ as Steve Diggin managed to ping a cross over despite the best efforts of Duxbury to deny him. Jacobs cleared up field, but 3 minutes had gone and already we were being warned!
I was encouraged though, as Jacobs again did well this time stopping Glenn Walker`s run as Town pushed forward, so overall, after about 6 minutes, things looked not un hopeful....Cowen was winning everything in the air whilst Moke`s skills and tight control promised much, and I relaxed even further ,despite Duxbury conceding a cheap corner, as Brackley totally failed to make it count.
The eighth minute offered something of a chastener as Brackley went route one, and Dickin loomed large in the box. Cowen looked under pressure so County were happy to see Ormson advance from his line and keep the forward from the ball! They seemed less happy a minute or so later, and rightly so, and Duxbury did well to block Owen Story, after Walker had made light of challenges from Jacobs and Fagbola.
It was beginning to get slightly worrying by the 10th minute which was rather early even for this County side, but there was still no sign of anything positive from them in response to what just looked rather workmanlike stuff from Town.
Turner did push Brackley back, 4 minutes later, but when Jevons` shot narrowly missed out, County were back in defensive mode once more as Brackley bullied them off the ball. Another 4 minutes on and things looked bleak for the blues for a second or so ,when a flick on by Ben Mills reached Diggin who promptly blasted the ball home. Brackley`s joy however was short lived, as the referee had spotted an infringement and it stayed 0-0.
Brackley continued to press forward after that last disappointment, and it took good blocks by Jacobs and Platt to contain them, only for another soft corner, to ramp up the pressure again. County somehow survived this, but not before a spill by Ormson sent the BP soaring once more!
Undaunted, Ormson went long next picking Dennis out, but Turner just could not reach the flick on that followed, as I awaited another raid from our lively visitors. A free kick ensured this duly came ,but County managed to cope OK with what Town had to offer ,as I again lapsed into a brief rapture of over confidence as Platt saw a shot blocked , and then got an instant reality check as Jacobs lifted his shot tamely into keeper Billy Turley`s arms.
Back came Brackley with a vengeance and Fagbola did just enough to ensure that a shot by Walker just drifted out, and Moses did good work to stop a tasty run from Story down the right.
Moke then had a couple of efforts dealt with keenly by Turley- the first was of no account but the second required Turley`s 100% attention- first off as the ball ran off in Moke`s direction after Turner had just missed out on a cross by Dennis. The keeper had to get to it before Moke...and did......and when the Stockport wide man would not go away......and had another go, the keeper got down well to keep it out!
This was beginning to get better as Turner and Moke then combined to force Brackley to foul Moke to keep him out. The free kick from Platt was driven in low and hard, but Cowen could not force it in!
County kept it up as well- Jevons sending a dipping drive heading for the top corner, only for Turley to make the catch under the posts, but they perhaps should have done better when the next action saw a spill by the Town keeper- instead Jevons shot came out off a line of defenders and that was that!
County had managed 6 or 7 minutes of better stuff , but without ever really looking that likely to open the scoring, and by way of radical contrast Brackley were ever threatening on the break although it must be said that Ormson had little difficulty in dealing with Mills shot despite it coming at him through a forest of assorted legs! County kept trying to get something going in response, but just kept on playing themselves into trouble and thus losing the ball, and Ormson did well to pluck Eddie Odhiambo`s cloud hugging high one out of the air at the back post, under pressure from Mills.
It had been a disappointing first 45 minutes play from a County perspective, and even though another free kick from Platt screamed menacingly across goal with Cowen again straining to get to it, in added time, it was difficult to see where a goal would come from after the break for County!
We needed County to rev things up a notch or two, and the early stuff was not all that disappointing when the game resumed. Duxbury was not all that far away with his snap shot, 2 minutes in, and 5 minutes later, Jevons capped some neat defensive play by him, with a lovely ball that sent Turner surging clear of his marker. There was only Turley to beat, but a bobble en route saw Turner lose control and any chance was gone.
That was unlucky! Things did not improve in that respect either as good work from Moses, allowed Jevons to pick Dennis out with a neat cross. Alas....Dennis`s header flew wide, which was a shame as the approach play had not been at all bad!
Turley even took time out to add some encouragement of his own with an atrociously sliced clearance, but the keeper`s team mates closed ranks fast and weathered the small storm that followed.
The rain was lashing down now, as approaching the hour mark Story contrived to waste a free kick in a decent position.
The wind then whipped the rain this way and that making it a desperately bad day to be a professional footballer, but the team that shrugged this thought off ...rolled their sleeves up and got on with it, would ultimately triumph, and that team increasingly looked likely to be Brackley, and Ormson did well to keep a strike from Story out after long throw and corner had pushed County back on their heels.
A minute on from the last action and I was pleased to see Turner break up field before passing to Jevons who was promptly brought down. It looked a foul to me, but play continued, which was unfortunate as Jacobs again simply ballooned the ball straight at Turley!
Less than a minute later County were wading deep in the brown stuff ,and it was down to Platt initially who fouled Story thus , in one stroke, stopping a County move whilst giving Brackley the oxygen of a free kick albeit some way back from goal. Austin`s kick.....a routine affair....was headed out by Cowen, but County took an age to clear their lines, and whilst they pondered the possibilities, Story nipped in and fired an unstoppable shot past Ormson into the net. County were one down and looking defeat in the face once more!
Suddenly ........a slaughter looked on the cards as, within a couple of minutes, County`s back line did its Red Sea bit and allowed Story in again. This looked an even better chance, but Ormson beat the forward`s shot out in brilliant style.
A save by Turley kept a Platt shot out, before AL rang the changes bringing Dicko on for Dennis, as play went all shapeless for what seemed like an age.
County build an attack.
It was no more than 6 or 7 minutes in reality, and I was quickly wishing for more of the same to return, as on 74 minutes County leaked another goal...another bad goal. Another long throw started it and County had numerous chances to clear....didn`t.....this time setting Diggin up for an unchallenged strike on goal- he duly obliged and it was 0-2!
Two down.....game seemingly over, but I could hear to my right the regulars on Row R revving up the singing. The ditty was ` Come on County` but the 4 or 5 hardies persevered belting it out as others slowly joined them! Great stuff!
Fantastic support from Row R + S ( LT3)
On the field things were disintegrating fast for County as Story cut a swath through the blues defences down the right. Fagbola hacked it clear eventually...only for Tom Sharpe to ping it back again, sending Story and substitute Charlie Griffin ( 20 goals in 35 starts last term) bursting clear down the right. Jevons cleared this time, but.....bugger.....back it came again, but thankfully Walker was offside and County`s angst subsided if only for now!
It was dispiriting stuff to watch, but now the noise was coming from behind me from the Upper Tier who were giving their team hearty support, which continued until the final whistle- fantastic stuff!
Meanwhile County had defending to do....lots of it- Cowen doing well to head a corner clear and Fagbola doing likewise as Diggin threatened on the break.
Late County pressure.
Lofthouse came on late on for Platt and twice was unlucky with attempts to bring Dicko into the game at the back of the box. Then....out of the blue...a shot from Turner hit the post and stayed out.
The 4 added minutes were 4 too many really, and I was greatly relieved to hear the final whistle.
Oh...well...you didn`t really want to see the score did you!
I really do not know what to make of this performance- it goes without saying that we should be at least winning our home games as a minimum requirement for survival. This is just not happening and it`s a collective malaise rather than any one individual or group thereof that are the cause. We do have 6 or 7 players playing at the highest level they have ever performed at- whether this is a factor I do not know but it must be hard for the team to function properly with so few seasoned experienced pros to call on in a division in which a grasp of the basics is an essential.
AL has a tough job on his hands and badly needs the inspired support his team received today to continue. After next Saturday`s march....I have no doubt at all that it will!
County line up :
Ormson, Jacobs, Cowen, Fagbola, Duxbury, Moses, Platt( Lofthouse 86), Moke ( Howard 80), Jevons, Dennis ( Dickinson 68), Turner.
Subs not used: Jones, Charnock.
Brackley Town line up:
Turley, Odhiambo, Cartwright, Towers, Sharpe, Austin,Story, Solkhon, Mills, Diggin, Walker.
Attendance : 1941