County 3 Guiseley 3 : Conference North
Wow......just what do you say about a match like this one? Well.....you could say ,with some conviction, that County got out of jail somewhat, having been 1-3 down with barely 15 minutes left to play, to a Guiseley side that again concentrated on the simple things and did them well. They were neater on the ball and their passing carried infinitely more zing than did anything coming from County. That said.....County had Phil Jevons, and I say at once that whatever pittance we are paying him...we should double it, in the hope that he stays with us because, not for the first time this term, he was magnificent- saving the game for County with a high quality hat-trick, in addition to running his socks off for 90 minutes, with Guiseley threatening to overrun us at times...so ....no treble it!
It wasn`t a great game of football at all, in fact at times it was stultifyingly boring, but anyone in blue not satisfied with a, nine game unbeaten home game run saving finish like that, is hard to please in the extreme. County were fortunate, but we will take that will we not after all the other stuff we have put up with of recent times, so...unbeaten home run intact, we can turn our attention to improving matters away from EP now.
Well......... 3 o’clock saw changes in the County starting line up- Moses and Battersby were replaced by Charnock and Jevons, which I read as meaning we were going 3 at the back, but this was to prove incorrect as instead Platt switched back to midfield with Lees moving across to the problem RB position in a back four. I was surprised to see that Alex Johnson and Kevin Holsgrove did not start for the Yorkshire side, both were available from the bench, but after the considerable run around the duo had given us on Tuesday, it seemed to border on complacency to start without them.
After the decent atmosphere on Tuesday at Guiseley it was back EP segregated reality for the 80 to 100 who had made the trip from Yorkshire.
|The away end.|
As early as the first 20 seconds Jevons made a declaration of intent challenging for and winning the ball from an improbable position, but his example was not immediately copied by others in blue, and it was not long before the ball was inside the County box and Gavin Rotherby was in there after it. Eventually the County cover did its job but it did not look all that promising, and even less so when, with only 2 minutes gone, Ormson had to dash out to stop Rotherby from latching onto a through ball from danger man Wayne Brooksby( he of the magnificent 2nd goal on Tuesday).
|Dennis on the ball.|
A couple of minutes later, County responded, but Dennis`s snap shot drifted harmlessly wide without Steve Drench, in the visitors goal, having to react at all.
County were defending well at this stage – Duxbury typifying this by stopping Brooksby`s run down the right, but when the ball progressed up the park there the precision ended regrettably as Guiseley benefited from the lax passing of County. Even so more good work from Duxbury set something of note going for County as the ball flew from Jevons to Dennis and on to Howard who had nipped clear. Unfortunately the flag was up and he was offside, but that had showed promise.
|Duxbury on the ball.|
The next bit distinctly didn`t, as Duxbury took Brooksby`s legs, ushering in a dangerous free kick that saw Ormson under pressure from a clutch of forwards. It looked momentarily iffy, but the referee blew for a foul on the keeper and we were safe.
Safe....yes.....but for how long? Not long at all it appeared as Duxbury promptly fouled Brooksby once again, giving Guiseley another chance to stretch us, and they did, and Adam Boyes was inches away from opening the scoring as he rifled a tasty shot over the bar from close in.
This was not looking good at all from a County view point, and they had much defending to do to keep ex Hatter Oli Johnson out on the end of a determined run.
Then O`Halloran got in the act swinging his boot through the ball to prevent a cross from another former blue, Danny Boshell, out.
Almost 20 minutes had been played and for much of the time the pressure had been on County, who were just not getting time on the ball, thanks to a disinclination on their part to pass it about accurately. But......the next action promised better as Lees fell over neatly to gain a free kick, which Milligan curled just wide of Drench`s goal. Better....definitely, but more was needed, but when Dennis sneaked clear moments later he could only hit the side netting with his shot!
Inevitably Guiseley came back at County and a run from Ben Patrick, topped off with a tasty through ball, saw Boyes scoot clear. Lees did enough to deny him, and Charnock did likewise when the same forward rounded on the subsequent throw.
The pressure remained on County however, with O`Halloran doing well to keep a cross from Rotherby out, and Charnock making sure that Brooksby did not get a shot off moments later.
County did venture up field midst all this, but good work from Churchman was wasted when Milligan failed to test the keeper with his shot.
Meanwhile the County back four were constantly under the cosh- O`Halloran ....... as a loose ball from Ormson forced him into emergency action to stop Boyes capitalising on it, and once more as Brooksby `s run forced the blues back. It was not good to watch, but with Duxbury and Milligan combining well to block Andy Holdsworth, it stayed 0-0 which was the main thing.
We were past the 30 minute mark before anything of note came back from County, and this came after a marvellous mime from referee Steve Copeland ,that had us all enthralled and not a little mystified. Just what was he on about? Well it eventually became clear...it was a County free kick and nicely placed too! This looked promising, but the kick from Jevons hit the wall and Lees`s follow up was charged down so there the interest faded. Not entirely though as not long after Howard nipped to the by-line before pinging a cross over. Again.......this seemed to present possibilities, but when Lees rounded on it his path to goal was blocked and any chance was gone.
Back came Guiseley through Boshell who beat Churchman before sending Brooksby in. Charnock denied Brooksby at the cost of a corner, which with Danny Ellis charging through onto the kick at the back post looked ominous, until Duxbury`s challenge saw the ball out of play. It looked a corner, but the referee gave a GK and it was smiles all round on Row R!
|Ormson in action.|
Again County tried to respond, this time via Lees, but what had looked a half decent move was thoroughly ruined by a loose ball. To their credit County persevered – Howard again making it to the by-line, forcing OJ to concede a corner. This became a second kick as a Dennis shot took a late deflection, and this one was gobbled comfortably by Drench with O`Halloran showing an admirable interest.
Duxbury was doing well, and against a lively operator in Brooksby, but he was conceding far too many free kicks, and another pushed County back with about 7 or 8 minutes left of the half. Lees saw this off, but it was probably only a matter of time before County found the pressure on them again! And....it was...... and from a long ball as well, which caught the blues dozing like a punter at a Coldplay concert! Brooksby was in, in a flash, and turning inside Lees his shot thudded into the far corner of the net with Ormson comprehensively beaten!
Bugger......there were barely 5 minutes remaining of the half and County had imploded again...how dispiriting!
Yes.....it was, but pretty soon after, County did their best to turn things around via Howard but he was clattered rather unceremoniously just outside the box. The kick was in a good position, and the shot from Jevons was spot on, but Drench did well to get a hand to it and push it over the bar!
Excitement over then..................but just as I was settling back on the periphery of Doze Mode, I was abruptly awoken by Milligan who slung a mischievously long ball across the park straight to the feet of Jevons. His turn saw him facing goal and his shot gave Drench no chance at all....it was 1-1!
There was just enough time left for a County wobble to obliterate any complacent thoughts- started by one of Ormson`s occasional loose one`s...taken further by OJ , but thankfully put to bed by the outstretched leg of Lees, who seemed to be settling in reasonably well at RB notwithstanding the first goal!
It was still 1-1 and half time, and all to play for!
|View of part Cheadle End.|
The second half opened in ominous fashion for County as O`Halloran `s last ditcher saved the day with Brooksby in on goal......then Churchman`s timid pass to no one, ended with Boshell sending a through ball on for Rotherby to chase. It was too strong for Rotherby and County were safe at least for now.
Safe enough to venture up field it seems as Milligan drove them on, allowing Duxbury and Howard to steal a corner. The kick was wasted following which it was handbags out in front of the Pop Side where Churchman and Brooksby had themselves their own little testosterone tango. No one enjoyed it more than the referee who added both names to his book!
The free kick was Guiseley`s but was defended OK by County, who very nearly imploded once more straight away after as Churchman almost sold Ormson short with an archetypal hospital pass, but it mattered not as Mr Copeland had spotted that dear old Brooksby had indulged himself at Duxbury`s expense( he was flat out on the deck) . With the visitors number 7 already booked, the referee contented himself with a chat, whilst I gnawed my way through my left wrist in frustration!
Ellis headed the free kick out, and Jevons darted clear to be flagged offside, before Guiseley rang the changes for the first time bringing Tuesday`s star man Kevin Holsgrove on for Oli Johnson.
|Jevons caught offside.|
This change seemed to galvanise Guiseley, and County did well to deny them as Brooksby and captain Holdsworth probed the County left flank.
Just 5 minutes had elapsed since the substitution when the move declared a dividend. You will not be surprised at all to learn that it all started deep in Guiseley territory where Drench did really well to push a Jevons shot around the post. The corner was defended well by the Yorkshire side, but when Rotherby ran the ball clear out of defence, County cover was nowhere to be seen as a pin point ball from the Guiseley number eleven found Boyes in splendid isolation. And he made no mistake...it was 2-1 to the visitors, and once again County had a hill to climb!
Soon after the hour mark County brought Oates on for Churchman, but the early action after this saw County stretched to the limit by Brooksby who eluded a crude lunge by Duxbury to head for goal. Ormson advanced to meet him, but the forward looked favourite to make it 3-1, until County`s keeper beat the shot out bravely. That was really good work from Ormson, maybe decisive work, and he added to it quickly as another long ball picked Holsgrove out , with an authoritative gather.
If we expected a response from the blues, it was slow in coming, meanwhile Brooksby piled into the fray beating Duxbury before forcing O`Halloran to head out, but with Boshell pinging it back into the box Ormson did well to push it out for a corner. Brooksby took this sending it towards the back post where, Ormson missed the ball abjectly, leaving it to Ellis who headed it home!
That was totally demoralising and more of the same looked on the cards as Brooksby`s dual with Duxbury saw the pair sparring once again. Duxbury had just felled Brooksby when Platt followed suit. I thought that looked a bad tackle, but the referee settled for yellow( probably remembering his lenience earlier with Brooksby).
Hmm............that was tasty stuff, but there was about 15 minutes left and nothing was happening to change my view that the game was all but lost.
|Platt on the ball.|
Then........suddenly it was time for a quick re-think as from nowhere County pulled a goal back, or to be more precise....Phil Jevons did.......turning on a sixpence to side foot an exquisite shot with his left peg way beyond Drench`s attempts to keep it out!
It was 2-3 now.....game on ?
Well things were stirring a bit anyway, and Battersby was on to assist Oates who had just missed out with a lung bursting run!
The fractious Brooksby was now off for Guiseley, but they still kept plugging away and Ormson did well to stop Brooksby`s replacement, Danny Forrest, as he latched onto a loose ball.
County were definitely showing more signs of life now although in the main it was more huff /puff than finesse, so I was still not fantastically over confident that this circle could be squared, and they still had a tendency to concede free kicks, which could lead to their undoing, if they weren`t already done!
Both teams tried to attack.......Guiseley through Rotherby and Boshell.....and County via Battersby who volleyed over from an Oates pass.
That said...County....roared on by the crowd, were getting forward a bit more now , it was just that Guiseley looked that bit cooler on the ball and likely to ride out the storm if push came to pull, and County`s propensity to waste free kicks stayed centre stage with Milligan lifting a lulu straight out!
Into added time we went with it still 2-3, and Holsgrove darting clear tracked by O`Halloran. The shot went over the bar, but it was close....too close, and time was running out!
County replied and Battersby ended a period of pressure with a ferocious shot that almost took Drench`s arm off. He kept it out though and when Oates lifted his follow up high into the Cheadle End I thought it really was all up for County!
`If County `s passing was only half as accurate as was Guiseley`s, they would be quids in’, I told myself at this point,
but they did have a free kick though and it was in a very decent position indeed. It did not help that the wall appeared all of 7 or 8 yards from the kicker, but the referee was adamant that was how it was going to be, so Jevons would step up and leather it home wouldn`t he? Well.....no I was wrong again as Milligan eventually did, lifting it into the box where someone in yellow had a hand to ball moment allowing the referee to point to the spot!
|And Phil puts it away !|
It was a penalty , and Drench marched off his line for a spot of panto style mind games, but Jevons ignored him , but didn`t ignore the keepers dive when it came to the kick, sending the ball crashing into the opposite side of the net.
It was 3-3, and there was barely time to draw breath before the game was over and we had a point along with an intact 9 game unbeaten home run....crisis....what crisis!
County line up:
Ormson, Lees, O`Halloran, Charnock, Duxbury, Platt( Battersby 78), Churchman ( Oates 62),Jevons, Howard, Dennis.
Subs not used; Lewis, Moses, Lofthouse.
Guiseley line up;
Drench, Holdsworth, Patrick, Hall, Ellis, Lawlor, Brooksby, Boshell, Boyes, O Johnson, Rotherby.
Attendance : 2764