Leamington FC 0 County 2 (Conference North ) 15 October 2014

I am a simple soul, but I must confess that neither the overly enthusiastic cry in my direction, on Friday, of “ and there`s 00.09 off your next purchase”  from the easily excited Tesco till person, or the small slip verifying my good fortune,  could lift what had been an above averagely annoying and confusing week for me.
 You will know, of course, that I am easily confused and annoyed, but those `scientists’ had been at it again and.....having absorbed, with difficulty, the existence of `Dark Matter’( It passes through solid objects such as planets apparently), and `Dark Energy’( covers 75% of the universe, but cosmologists don’t know what it is).....I was dismayed to get `Dark Flow’ ( an unseen force, quaintly referred to previously as `something moving incredibly fast, dragging whole galaxies into itself) thrown at me by those apparently not that `in the know’, but gamely staring at the stars! I was barely hanging on to the last vestiges of sanity.....

Philomena Cunk.
 I lay claim to these days, and far from consoled by the knowledge that Philomena Cunk ( “ Is Professor Brian Cox on acid?”) hadn`t given forth on the subject as yet! I set off for the Flyer and onward transportation to the New Windmill Stadium, still in a state of perplexed angst- the only conceivable antidote I knew of, being a victory for the boys in today`s game, any sort twixt great to slutchy would do!
In the event, County obliged fully and without so much as a sliver of slutch anywhere to be seen. In fact it was a pretty decent win with no one not doing a job! Forced to give a M.O.M award I would look in Churchman`s direction, but it could quite easily have been any one of the other 10, as County stormed into an early lead....added to it with a smile inducing wind hugger from Churchman, before shutting Leamington out fairly comprehensively with a most professional performance.

David Cairns- off to assist the Pure team....
Just before the off I was pleased to make the acquaintance of exile and long time County fan David Cairns who was hot foot to assist Jon Kieron and company with the Pure match commentary, before it was time for the  the start that saw 5 at the back for County, which I was by no means unhappy about, the only changes being Stevenson and Spencer in for Baker and Sharp who was on the bench.

Spencer and Lees ready for the off....
There was a tricky wind whistling around the New Windmill ground as County headed our way at the kick off. Hurst`s first kick sent the ball out of the stadium, so it  was clear some skill would be needed in order to prosper under the prevailing conditions. Two early Leamington throws pushed County back on their heels, but the first real flurry of excitement came at the other end where keeper Neil Collett had to look sharp to get to a long ball before Dennis. Seconds later Collett was in action again keeping a decent strike from the same forward out.

Early action.....

The first 5 or 6 minutes passed without major alarms really, but the 7th ushered in the glimmer of a chance for Leamington, needing Hurst to pull off a fair old stop to keep the ball in play after Stephan Morley had crossed from the left. Morley seemed to fancy his chances going forward, but his execution was not as good as the approach play, and the 8th minute saw him lift a shot well wide after he latched onto a loose ball.
Gradually County started to get their game together after this, and 3 minutes later it paid off as a surging run from O`Halloran earned his team a corner. This was a typically brilliant County classic as well....as Milligan finessed it into the crowded box where Spencer rose to head home. We are so ...so good at set pieces these days, and it`s great to see!

Spencer heads home from Milligan`s corner.
Leamington were minded to respond, but Danny Newton, who had scored twice against us last term at this venue, headed over the top from Morley`s free kick. Already it was apparent that Leamington were getting a fulsome share of free kicks, and I was by no means happy  at the end of the game that 100% of these were justified, that said...there was another for County to defend next, and Hurst did just that keeping it out nicely.

Dennis on the ball.....

Both teams were having a go, it must be said, but County seemed the most likely team to......as a Dennis run only just failed, and keeper Collett snaffled Milligan`s cross after Fagbola and Spencer had linked up to turn defence into attack. Lees then followed Fagbola`s lead snuffing out the tiniest hint of a break by our hosts, setting Spencer up for a run that took him to the by-line. From Spencer the ball quickly moved on to Stevenson, who fired off a shot, but Collett had it covered and it stayed 1-0.

Stevenson battling for the ball....

A minute later and Newton found himself clear only to shoot straight at Hurst....then a right wing cross reached Lee Chilton, but despite looking reasonably well set a yard or so out, he lifted his shot over the bar.
That was a bit of a let off for County....could they now capitalise on this? Well just a minute on from the previous action and we had our answer, initially via Spencer who was working like 2 men and about as skilfully as four as he probed the home back line looking for a weakness. Finding the way through blocked Spencer slipped the ball inside and eventually it landed with Churchman who sent a lofted drive off into the swirling maelstrom above the players` heads towards goal. Collett looked to have it covered....he certainly seemed to think he had.....but then it was clear he hadn`t as the pill smacked into the back of the net to his utter embarrassment! County meanwhile were now 2 up, and Churchman no doubt was getting ready to dine out on that one for the next month or so!

Neil Collett

This might have signaled a rout .....for a moment or so I thought it just might do, as Spencer again powered forward stinging Collett`s hands with a neat drive. The keeper did well with that but was nowhere when Spencer dived to head wide moments later....the effort missed goal by a bit however, and County`s goal hunger, at least for now, would have to remain unrequited!
Indeed ...Leamington came back at County –Hurst saving brilliantly to keep a strike by Stefan Moore out after Lees and Gregson had got in decent defensive headers, and then having to fashion a punched clearance as Moore again put him under pressure. 
County defenders at work.....

Yes.....Leamington were certainly working at getting back into the game, and Fagbola earned applause with a mighty blocking tackle to keep them out. Some decent passing was being put together at this stage by our hosts, but their finishing remained not at the same level instance the next effort from Morley which again climbed up and over the top.
Kristian Dennis - a forward in prime nick !

The half ended with both teams having a go.....County first via Dennis who was unlucky to not make better progress with Newton and Mace in tow, and then through excellent work from Spencer and Dennis  which saw James Tank in position to head a cross from the rampaging O`Halloran out. It only remained for Chilton to waste a neat flick by Moore, by firing weakly wide, and that was it for the first half!  
The re-start saw Collett in action to deny Dennis as Churchman threaded a neat ball into the box, and Hurst at the other end had to smother Matt Dodd`s cross. Most of the early action though was at Collett`s end, and County were unlucky to see a shot from Dennis just miss out after the sweetest of moves. Collett followed this with a good catch, under the bar, as Dennis lifted the ball over from the left.

Add caption

County were in the ascendancy for about the first 8 or 9 minutes of the half before Leamington replied , lifting the ball into the turbulence above  with the intention of doing County a damage. It might have worked, but it didn`t thanks to O`Halloran who stayed calm and saw the threat off. But I looked up to see that the threat wasn`t seen off as the referee had awarded Leamington the cheapest of free kicks ,thus putting the pressure back on County. The kick was in a scoreable position too, and my late Gran would have fancied it, but Newton sent another poor effort thudding into Milligan mere feet away, to gales of ribald laughter from the small covered terrace to my rear!
The terrace......

There was no doubt that Leamington were of a mind to get back into the game, but try as they might they found progress slow in coming, and County for their part ,with Fagbola and O`Halloran  possibly the stars in a star studded back 5, were defending brilliantly!

Stephen O`Halloran to the fore.....

 Add to this the poor finishing from our hosts that continued with Newton again lifting one high and wide, and Moore seeing an effort charged down by Gregson.
All this did not mean that County were not still working at adding to their goal tally, and Dennis was distinctly unlucky to see a neat chip clatter the bar with Collett a spectator.

Something makes Dennis smile !
There was a moments hilarity when a strike from Moore thudded into Gregson`s mid section only for the home specs to unite in appealing for a penalty. It wasn`t given and rightly so, which brought County on the offensive once more through Spencer, who did brilliant work to set Dennis up for an explosive finish that Collett somehow managed to keep out! The pressure was on again from Milligan`s corner, and Collett again had to pull off a brave save, this time to stop Stevenson from getting onto the score sheet.

Stevenson on the rampage....
On it went.....Stevenson again threatening at one end, before the Brakes replied bringing the best out of Gregson ( two fine headed clearances)Fagbola ( a great block) and Lees who was positioned nicely to hook clear as a cross pinged in from the flanks.
With less than 15 minutes left A.L replaced Milligan with Moses, as we watched transfixed to see excellent work from Churchman send Spencer clear- the forward unlucky to  find Collett snatch the ball off his toes at the very last gasp. County were piling it on now, and Collett almost went apoplectic as an appalling back pass by Tank( who had been comprehensively spooked by Spencer) almost undid the keeper.
County headed in Collett`s direction now....Churchman urging them on, whilst OHalloran joined Spencer and Stevenson playing some excellent stuff just feet away from us.
If it was looking all up for Leamington....they might have sneaked a late consolation, had Newton been tuned in, but he wasn`t and his shot went straight to Hurst  when better was called for.

Sharp, on for a late burst prior to enforced break.
There were just 2 minutes left when Sharp came on for the excellent Spencer, but the pattern was the same up until the end really as Stevenson and O`Halloran joined forces to play a superior form of `keep ball’ near the corner flag.

A superior form of `keep ball'
There was time for a  snap shot from Dennis to be deflected narrowly wide, before it was time for County to soak up the applause of their supporters in the knowledge that 3 more excellent points were theirs!
This was a good win......the work rate of the County team was just excellent, and well deserving of the win.
For me I enjoyed my second visit to  Leamington....angst forgotten....scientists forgiven !

County line up:

Hurst, Todd, Lees, Fagbola, Gregson, O`Halloran, Milligan( Moses 77), Churchman, Stevenson,Spencer( Sharp 88), Dennis

Ormson, Lofthouse, Belezika.

Leamington line up:

Collett, Fry, Morley,Magunda, Tank, Mace, Dodd, Edwards, Moore, Chilton, Newton.


Wint, Moore L, Goddard,Pierpoint, Maher.

Attendance: 855

Ian Brown



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