Leamington 2 County 1 ; Conference North
County imploded in depressing fashion at the New Windmill ground today surrendering all the available points to hosts Leamington, who came from behind to take the spoils. It mattered not that County had recovered from a first half display best forgotten, and then taken the lead with a fine goal engineered by Oates and put away by Iain Howard, because the lead lasted barely 5 minutes before Danny Newton took advantage of indolent blue defending to level the scores. That was depressing, but more of the same followed as a needlessly conceded free kick together with another `sleepy time’ moment at the back ,with just 5 minutes left, allowed Newton to double his and his team`s tally and take the game from County.
Unlucky?...............hardly!......we had done the hard work......looked comfortable after the break....scored, but...with the midfield increasingly AWOL and mistakes creeping in at the back, we then squandered it all, so.....`nuff said for me......fair result!
And the day started so well as well......Bullocks had honoured us with a spanking new 54 seat Flyer, which got us there in plenty of time to have a look around the neat little ground and mingle with the locals.
The news of the team was less cheery however with Jacobs not featuring. This was a surprise, but Dennis`s absence less so. Platt was in the starting line up, but down at right back, and Battersby was in for his debut.
But................before hand, I had convinced myself that this was winnable, and with our hosts languishing in 16th spot in the league, was this conclusion so outlandish?
I thought not, but both Ormson and Lees were in action early doors as Leamington made to make my assumption look wide of the mark.
|Ormson clears his lines.|
This was followed by more attacking from Leamington, stemmed by a decent clearance from Howard, but the home attacking continued via Danny Newton who forced his way into the box to the by-line, being stopped at the last gasp by a timely intervention by Cowen. Thankfully, the corner, and the follow up from Peter Till, were poor, and County were able to clear the ball, but it did not augur well for the rest of the game.
|Cowen tracks Till.|
We needed County to spend some time in the opposition half, and thus take the pressure off the blue defenders, but when Battersby picked out Oates with a neat cross- the County number nine blasted his effort wide. Better was clearly needed, but within a minute Oates had fashioned himself a break down the left, and promptly passed the ball inside to Jevons ,who was well placed to apply the finish, only for the County captain to disappoint by side footing his effort over the bar!
|Ist Half action.|
That was a bad miss, but I was slightly reassured as County were beginning to deal with the early pressure well, and looked relatively comfortable. Platt was doing particularly well at right back faced with the lively Peter Till, whilst both Lees and Cowen looked in no bother at all. Things were slightly different for the usually excellent Duxbury, as he was marking Matt Dodd and he had to foul his man to stop him getting through with 10 minutes gone. Again Leamington wasted the set piece that followed to give me another glimmer to cling to, in the unaccustomed afternoon sunshine!
But..............the danger was not gone entirely, and Dodd was fouled again by Duxbury as another threat developed down the right, but with some locals yelling for the referee ( the rather good Ian Dudley) to book the County man, Ormson calmed nerves with a decent catch when the kick came over.
|Ormson catches u/p.|
Leamington were beginning to build up a head of steam now, mainly via Dodd, but his neat flick on proved too cute for Till and Cowen was able to shepherd the ball out.
More work followed with Cowen, Lees and Duxbury ( twice) in action stemming the tide, but they were about as affective in tide stemming as had Dame Partington`s mop been some 200 years ago ,
|Newton clear, but clearly offside.|
and Danny Newton was clear and heading for goal. In no time he was in the box and it must have been an enormous temptation for Platt and others to foul him, but they did not, and this proved a good decision as, after twisting eel like into a shooting position, his shot missed the target by inches!
|Dodd puts Duxbury & Howard u/p.|
That was the first real chance of the game –we needed the next one to fall to County but with Newton and Dodd both determined to keep the pressure on us, this did not look at all likely. County even squandered a soft corner, hardly pressurising the hosts at all after bean pole Liam Daly had had a moment and conceded. County pressure then became Leamington pressure as Dodd went to ground entertainingly and the free kick pushed County back again. Thankfully Dodd`s final ball this time lacked precision and the danger was over, but for how long?
After Newton had darted clear, and been flagged offside, County gave us a rare moment of attacking action, but when Battersby picked Oates out, the Oldham loan man couldn`t do anything with it.
Still.................I was able to convince myself that all would be well- pointing to Cowen and Lees who looked on top of their game, but just where was the mid field? Their apparent absence kept the pressure on the back four, and this was emphasised, on the half hour, when after Cowen had headed clear, Moses messed things up with an unnecessary foul which forced us to defend another free kick! And there was much defensive work to do as well with the ball lofted into the box where the gangling Daly went for it. Ormson punched out, beating Daly to it, but an almighty melee followed which ended with Lee Chilton unfortunately stretchered off after going over badly on his ankle.
|Chilton receives treatment.|
Still.....there was not that much coming from the blues in the way of attacking, and Ormson again had to look lively to keep a cross from Till out. However....he and a whole host of blue shirts were all at sea next as Dodd burst into the box once more, sending a beaut of a cross over. As I say....it was a peach, and had Newton`s name on it for sure, but he just failed to get a touch and County had escaped again!
Half time was approaching now, and Till had just beaten Platt for about the first time, but it was possible to again breath easily as Lees and Moses combined to see the danger off. But only briefly because Dodd came at us once more pinging a fine ball across to Josh Hawker who was smack in front. It looked `job done’ when Hawker applied head to ball, but the effort took a deflection off a defender, and with substitute Joe Magunda lifting his shot from the corner way over- again the danger was over!
That was it for the first half, apart from an effort from Howard that failed to test the home keeper, who you may have noted I have not needed to name as yet!
|County support after switching ends!|
We needed better from County in the second half.......particularly from the midfield who were being swamped in the main- the back four were being heroes but was it really necessary for them to repeatedly have to compensate for others?
The early moments after the re-start saw Ormson busy- fly kicking a loose ball clear under pressure and then in action preventing a Cowen pass from going out for a corner, but there was a glimmer of hope emerging as the home keeper Tony Breeden had to hack the ball hurriedly into touch with Battersby bearing down on goal.
The glimmer extended to something bigger next as County, now looking unaccountably comfy on the ball, piled forward. Howard saw his shot beaten out by Breeden, and Churchman`s follow up drive was charged down, before Howard lifted his second effort over the keeper, but also over the bar.
That was better.................and Cowen kept us on an even keel by blocking Dodd after he had glided past Duxbury.
|Dodd on the ball!|
It went on with Jevons and Oates both seeing on target drives charged down, as the score stayed 0-0 despite an almighty scramble in front of goal . Breeden did well to punch clear, but I was encouraged none the less. Indeed...there was every reason in my view as I looked up to see a thumping volley from Battersby kept out by the increasingly resistant home keeper.
Yes.................it was improving, I told myself, and took more succour from Jevons who rounded off a period of County time on the ball, by winning a free kick. Cowen`s header from this only brought yet another save from Breeden, but things were clearly now on the up for the blues, and the next action saw them take the lead!
|Oates about to cross for the goal.|
It started with a neat ball that saw Oates heading for the by-line. On reaching there, Oates wasted no time in dispatching the ball inside, where Howard rounded on it in a flash to head home. Wow.......it was 1-0 and game on now...great, but my state of euphoria lasted a mere 5 minutes as County`s confidence dissolved before our eyes as Newton latched onto a loose ball in the box before turning to smash the ball home!
That was disappointing, and Oates and Churchman could not relieve the feeling as both could not turn half chances shortly after, into anything more positive. Shots kept pinging in from County after this but without ever ruffling Breeden`s feathers at all , and it was so depressing to see County give it all away with a mere 5 minutes left.
It started with a needlessly conceded free kick deep in their half. This was despatched long into the box where Newton capitalised on County`s inability to clear, by forcing the ball home!
Two one almost became 3-1 in no time at all as Ormson was exposed again by none existent cover in front of him- it was long balls that were doing the damage, and County were now not dealing with them at all!
County tried to get back in it, but it was an uphill task and Ormson had to pull off another late save to keep it at 2-1.
|Breeden earns his money!|
Today had promised much.....a new ground......three points for the taking.....and the small but perfectly formed Leamington ground was a top one to visit and the locals friendly......the company before, during and after the match was brilliant, even the sun shone for us, but not County...what a shame!
It was ever thus though so we`ll keep turning up for more will we not.
See you Tuesday!
County Line up:
Ormson, Platt, Cowen, Lees, Duxbury, Moses, Churchman, Howard , Jevons, Battersby, Oates.
Subs not used: Lewis, O`Halloran, Charnock, Lofthouse, Moke.
Leamington line up:
Breeden,Higgins, Morley, Owen, Daly, Mace, Dodd,Hawker, Newton, Chilton, Till.
Attendance : 1038