County 1 Stalybridge Celtic 0 ( Lancashire League- West Div) 13 August 2014






Stalybridge Celtic made County`s  highly promising Development Squad work hard for  the win ,in their first Lancashire League ( West Division) game at Edgeley Park last night. Fortunately the young blues were up to the challenge. 
 
Lazenbury and Noblett plot a raid.
There was only a single goal, notched by striker Jordan Lazenbury in the second half, between the two sides at the end, and it had been a lively encounter in which both sides showed to good effect- County through 90 minutes of hard work and not a little invention, and Celtic via a fighting second 45 minutes that would have snatched a point, if County had been anything less than 100% resolute in their application.
There was much to admire in the County side, not least their back four of George Gray, Scott Hughes, Connor Hancock, and Matthew Todd which stood up to much pressure particularly late on. Further forward others shone too...there was Charlie Russell, all skill and tricks linking up with Danny Murray in midfield , and Callum Cooke who gave another excellent performance , supplying ammunition , along with Bobby Lofthouse, to Jordan Lazenbury and Joe Noblett up front.

 
Josh Powell.

This worked well, but second half substitutions, left Lazenbury to plough pretty much a lone furrow up the park, which thankfully he did rather well as Celtic gradually got more and more into a game they seemed to have maybe lost.
In the end that Lazenbury strike, and another clean sheet for keeper Josh Powell, were enough to clinch the points for County, and there was something to celebrate in SK3 on a cool August evening!
Over 90 minutes, there were some decent performers for Celtic also, and as early as the 3rd minute Darius Osei was played through in the box, and was only subdued by a mighty tackle from County captain Matthew Todd. Aleem Salif then made it to the by-line with a pacy run, but although he got a cross over, this was gobbled up greedily by Josh Powell, between the sticks for County.

 
Midfield confrontation.
It was good to see Bobby Lofthouse in action and he drew applause from the disappointing crowd of around 100 with a neat flick, and was unlucky to see a tasty through ball just elude Jordan Lazenbury in the last third.
A feature of County`s play that I have liked so far, has been the form and style of the fullbacks, and a great ball from one of them, Scott Hughes, on 12 minutes , only narrowly failed to light Lazenbury`s fuse in the box.
 
Connor Hancock on the ball.

The plan seemed to be for Danny Murray and the tricky Charlie Russell to boss mid field, and whilst the back four kept things tight, this plan looked a winner, and the tightness abounded as a neat cooperation between Todd and central defensive partner Connor Hancock, saw the lively Osei shepherded out of the danger zone after an interesting run. Within a minute of this action, Stalybridge again confirmed their intent to give the blues a serious challenge, as another nippy run from Salif threatened the blues composure, but Hancock was there again to apply balm with a neat tackle that saw Salif off.
Joe Noblett meanwhile, was proving a lively partner up front to Lazenbury, and he was perhaps unlucky to see his snap shot just miss out on 16 minutes.

 
Lazenbury & keeper vie for it......
Callum Cooke continued on in the same vein as last time I saw him play, and his skilful runs were a constant threat to the visitors peace of mind.
But the visitors were not just going to stand about and fret....they had other ideas, and a neat exchange of passes at speed between Salif and Adam Massey offered much, until Todd and Hancock again did the biz to deny the duo, with some confident work.




 
Connor Hancock( top) goalmouth melee ( below)

Thus far Celtic had done pretty well, but around the half hour mark it was possible to detect an upsurge in County`s work rate, and Lazenbury was no doubt disappointed to see his shot go behind off Jordan Tevlin. The corner that followed gave Oliver Martin, the Celtic keeper, problems, but Tevlin came to his aid and did enough to see off County`s threat.

Heads up...........

This was good from County, and more followed as the ball flowed sweetly from Murray to Cook and then on to Lazenbury......it looked very good indeed in fact, but the near side liners flag stopped the excitement.......offside!
County were going through the gears now and with Lazenbury sniffing energetically for any semblance of a chance, he was soon in the box and taking the pill round the keeper. It was a chance and he seemed to have taken it as his shot sped goal wards, but a late/late slider from Declan McNamara somehow kept the ball out and it stayed 0-0.
More good work followed from Cook and Russell after this, but it was Celtic who came closest to opening the scoring next through Salif who sent full back Jordan Anderson away on the overlap. A shot followed but it hit the side netting much to County`s relief.

 
Anyone`s ball........
Another neat bit of work by Todd and Hancock to deny Osei and Celtic skipper Alec Midomu, and it was time for County to respond, and they did through Joe Noblett who scooted clear before sending a drive of pulverising force in on goal. It looked a winner did this, but Oliver Martin had other ideas and a terrific save kept the ball out and denied the Stockport team the lead!

Charlie Russell wants the ball.....

Both teams probed the other in the minutes remaining of the first half, but it always looked like staying 0-0 until the break, and that`s how it was.   
 Jordan Leach spearheaded an early charge by Celtic after the break, but impressive full back George Gray, stayed cool...conceded a corner ....and helped work the ball up field from it.
Celtic continued to press through Leach and Osei , but a period of pressure from the visitors bizarrely culminated in a goal for County.
County had just broken the run of pressure from Celtic via a raking cross field ball from Murray that sent Cooke on another run- Lazenbury was unlucky trying to apply a finish to Cook`s ball on, which then saw County under the cosh from the keepers long punt up field. Good end to end stuff you might say, and it swung again and in a flash County had a break on and when the ball reached Jordan Lazenbury he did the biz, and dispatched it neatly beyond Martin, into the net, to give the blues the lead.
Kieron Crosthwaite replaced Cooke on 54 minutes, but this did not signal a lessening of County`s forward momentum, instance George Gray who slipped clear to test Martin with a firm drive.

 
County throw awaited.......
County looked on the up now and they had a corner thanks to Noblett`s run that took him to the by-line. Lofthouse took the kick and a second goal looked on when Murray met it a yard or so out, but he side footed the ball wide and it stayed 1-0.
Back came Celtic ,first through Leach whose run was seen off by Todd, and then by Osei who found Salif with a finely weighted through ball that had equaliser written all over it, until Connor Hancock intervened.....blocked the run....conceded a corner.....then headed the incomer out.
McNamara joined in for Celtic charging clear down the left, but he got no change out of Gray who looked on top of his game, and when eventually the ball reached Osei, Todd did the rest and the danger was gone.
County then fashioned a decent reply via Lazenbury who picked Lofthouse out with a neat pass. A real whizz banger followed from Bobby, and it was on target, but so was Martin and a fine save from him kept his side`s deficit to one!
Lofthouse gave way to George Blackwell just after the hour mark with Celtic redoubling their efforts to get that equalising goal. If County were going to win this game, it was going to be no cake walk, and Leach leant weight to such thoughts with a powerful run down the right followed by a shot that only just missed out! Added to this Osei and Midomu were in the van of almost every Celtic move, and they looked in good nick too.
For County ....Lazenbury kept pecking away on a constant search for scraps, going close once......twice, and then a third time as Martin had his fingers warmed with a snap shot.
But......Celtic were not finished yet....not by a long chalk.....and Todd had to work hard to stop substitute Cameron McKenzie on the charge, with about 15 minutes left to play.

 
County defend a free kick late on......
Then County conceded one free kick too many and this one had `equaliser` in bold lettering all over it as it soared into the box and Oladimesi Odesanya powered into it at speed. A massively powerful header followed and for a second I thought it was surely 1-1....but no ...instead the ball thundered into the angle of bar and post shaking the woodwork visibly. It was a magnificent effort, but somehow it stayed out and Odesanya`s bravery went un-rewarded.
With 10 minutes left Jordan Young replaced Danny Murray as County prepared to defend their lead, under increasing pressure. But the best form of defence is attack we are told, and County did not neglect that aspect, as the busy Lazenbury picked out Gray with a decent ball. A half chance beckoned with Martin seemingly in two minds, but Gray`s lob in response missed out by a foot or so to keep it at 1-0.

 
Kieron Crosthwaite watches aerial antics....
Then another neat move involving Young and Crosthwaite, ended with Lazenbury darting clear. He looked well nigh set for a second goal with this one, but I had reckoned without the near side liners flag, and it was up, and that was that!
It was a nervous time for County supporters, although they could be consoled by the thought that their team looked confident and assured still despite their opponents enduring energy. County were tending to live a tad dangerously though......as another free kick forced them back on their heels. Leach headed wide from this, but it was close.

 
County still lively at the death!
Celtic pressed on apace desperately seeking that equaliser. But Todd denied Leach, and Jordan Young did particularly well to stop the rampaging Declan McNamara  in full flight.



Credit to Celtic....they kept plugging away, but credit also to the blues who were still working as hard 90 odd minutes in as in the first minute.....instance Connor Hancock`s late block that saw off Midomu and Osei as Martin pinged it long at the death.
A blast of Terry Ratcliffe`s whistle then told us the game was over, and County had marked their first Lancashire League outing in fine style with a win!
See you at Edgeley Park next Wednesday for the next League game( v AFC  Fylde)- k.o 7,45 p.m again!
   
County line up;

Josh Powell, George Gray, Scott Hughes, Charlie Russell, Connor Hancock, Matthew Todd, Callum Cooke, Danny Murray, Jordan Lazenbury, Joseph Noblet, Robert Lofthouse.

Substitutes.

George Blackwell, Kieron Crosthwaite, Jordan Young.

Stalybridge Celtic:

Oliver Martin, Jordan Anderson, Sam Swinburn, Jordan Tevlin, Declan McNaMara, Oladimesi Odesanya, Jordan Leach, Adam Massey, Darius Osei, Alec Midomu, Aleem Salif.

Substitutes:

Cameron McKenzie, Nathan Quinlan, Moriba Npohgomdu, Anthony Windle.


Ian Brown

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