AFC Fylde 0 County 0 : ( Conference North) 22 November 2014
County`s first, and possibly last, visit to Kellamergh Park, ended satisfactorily with both sides sharing the points after a keenly contested but goalless game ,that sent both sets of supporters home relatively happy to have seen a decent game end with what was generally agreed to be a `fair result’. That was certainly my reading of the situation anyway, as both teams gave their all and might have won it but did more than enough to earn a point.
County showed 4 personnel changes from Tuesday`s disappointing loss to Chorley. Dennis and Sharp coming in for Stevenson and Baker whilst Hurst got the nod over Ormson between the sticks, and Chris Churchman replaced Glenn Belezika. If the changes worked out well, the best of them, for me, was the inclusion of Sharp who ran ...chased and generally looked dangerous for 90 odd minutes- still running selflessly into added time despite what looked like a cramp attack. Positional changes abounded at the back where Owens slotted in at LB ....Lees RB, with O`Halloran and Gregson the central two on this occasion. Generally the new line up worked.....I thought that the midfield might miss Stevenson particularly, but Baker also, but with Moses and Milligan in good nick and Churchman doing the leg work, things worked out pretty well. Only a goal was missing from the County equation, but to complain about that would be taking the art of nit picking to ridiculous extremes! This was an excellent point, and I am not that convinced that Dave Challinor will not think so as well!
Back to 3 o`clock.....or some time earlier, and it was a case of `all our yesterdays’ for me, as the Flyer deposited us in the same Car Park from which my leg of the Manchester to Blackpool Relay of 1999 started from. You might expect me to be pleased with the reminder, and I would have been had we not then had several miles to
|Jamie Milligan acknowledges the support !|
WALK before reaching the stadium, which itself was miles from anywhere-in splendid isolation surrounded only by grass, mud and sheep! Other things irked others... the host club had not, as far as I could see anyway, provided ANY seats at all for traveling specs. This didn`t matter to me, but not all traveling specs can stand for 90 minutes and anyway are they not obliged to provide at least some seats?
Rant over.....”the game”.....I hear you cry “ what about the game?”.......and I take your point! This started with Fylde on the attack, and their best player, Danny Lloyd was kept out by a classy bit of early work by Mark Lees. O`Halloran and Gregson chipping in soon after, with some neat work of their own.
It was 3 minutes before a reply surfaced from County, and it came from Spencer who`s run forced Tom Hannigan to find touch hurriedly. Normally this would be the end of a defender`s problems, but the last action ushered in a throw from Owens, and keeper Ben Hinchliffe did well to snaffle this under the bar.
For Fylde, Lloyd looked lively from the off – shooting wide , with 6 minutes gone, and whipping a free kick in that Hurst dealt with well.
County meanwhile did not look at all wrong footed by their opponents early zest, indeed Owens got forward not long after ,and was unlucky to see his header deflected wide off a defender. Within a minute of Owens` effort, Sharp joined the fray, and a blaster from him again took a deflection going for another corner. Gregson went up with Hinchliffe for the kick and did enough to see the ball run clear to Owens, but the shot that followed climbed high and wide and it stayed 0-0.
The game would go on much in the same vein after this, with each team taking turns to test the other, and so it went on with Gregson in position to head clear after Lloyd had outpaced O`Halloran down the right. O`Halloran quickly recovered and joined Lees and Moses in disposing of the efforts of Caspar Hughes and Mike Barnes ,before linking up with Gregson to do a similar job on Lloyd and Wilson, the new striker.
County were doing pretty well.....the defence looked comfortable, and the mid-field were busily trying to work something for the 3 pronged County strike force to feed off. Lloyd was a potential fly in the County ointment, but as long as we stayed watchful.........
We were too............... and after Lloyd had stolen the cheapest of free kicks, and County had nullified this via the alert Hurst, we tried to hit Fylde hard on the break, but Sharp`s final ball failed to match his approach play and the moment passed. Sharp however, was warming up nicely now and a neat lay off saw Spencer send a half volley just over the bar! It went on with Hinchliffe out quickly to deny Sharp as he charged clear.
Cue another Owens throw, and a run of County corners that gave the home side no end of problems! Fylde survived however, but it was close, and not that pretty!
Moses and Lees then earned applause for good work as Mike Barnes and Jamie Allen ( another potent force for Fylde) took their turn to take the game to County. By far the more lethal looking stuff, for Fylde, was however coming from Lloyd still, and the 35th minute ushered in the games first real stand out chance when the flag stayed down as he darted through the middle. It was a definite chance but he snatched at it –toe ending his effort a foot or so wide of Hurst`s far post!
Possibly geed on by that last action, Wilson then tried to snatch the initiative! He did manage to latch onto the ball but not for long as a superlative defenders tackle from attacker Chris Sharp robbed the home number nine prompting another burst of applause from the 5 or 6 hundred County fans in the crowd. Now....this did gee County up and the pressure was piled on via an Owens throw and the inevitable corner that followed on from it. Fylde`s angst levels were high at this point and the home specs must have been mightily relieved to see Hinchliffe dash out- sliding in the direction of the marauding Sharp as he charged through onto a Milligan free kick.
This was good stuff from County, but they always needed to be conscious of Lloyd`s presence, and he kept underlining the importance of this – switching flanks frequently. He came at us down the left next and again he got a decent cross in giving Wilson a real chance of notching a debut goal, but instead he sent his header over the bar, to the immense pleasure of the packed covered terrace behind Hurst`s goal.
With half time approaching, County hit back with Milligan and Sharp working hard to get something from nothing. Eventually an Owens throw saw Sharp in, stopped only by the very best of last gaspers from Brad Barnes. Things threatened to go slightly A.S. next as a goal bound shot from Spencer was blocked on the line, and corner after corner stretched every sinew and fibre of the home clubs resolve!
Then......oops.....what`s this.....our corner.......followed by their chance.....surely not......but yes.....it was so, and Allen was making for Hurst with malign intent. He did well, up to a point, but having reached the edge of the box, with County now covering most gaps, he dwelt on the ball for a second or two before curling his shot wide of the far post!
The final minute or so, saw Fylde on the front foot- Lloyd and Mike Barnes failing to trouble Hurst with a couple of efforts, first off, but Lloyd persisted and his final run of the half down the right took him past the County cover and into the box .
He really should have done better than what he did, but instead the half ended with the worst of shots climbing up...up..and away over the bar, to more ribald remarks from the County contingent.
The second half started relatively quietly, the temperature only rising in the 50th minute when a rasping shot from Dennis brought a good save from Hinchliffe, who was on his toes shortly after to deny Sharp who was on the prowl in the box. The pattern remained the same though.....County attacks....followed by Fylde counter attacks, and so it was again as Hurst had to look lively to smother a shot from Lloyd on yet another darting raid!
It really was a good scrap this, and anyone`s game as well, as I looked around to see the unlikely combination of Gregson and Spencer draw more applause from the County specs , with some superlative defence to attack type stuff! The attack that followed was a good one too, and all the better for having an Owens throw in there somewhere. The throw went to Milligan and a shot from him was only just tipped over the bar by Hinchliffe . The goal hungry Dennis went for the resultant corner with Hinchliffe only to find the keeper in position to deny him!
Hurst then had work to do –saving a shot from Allen with his legs when the forward had sneaked clear briefly, but County kept up the pressure through Spencer who forced the excellent Llloyd to seek to put the ball out of the ground in extremis! An Owens throw and the almost inevitable melee came next , followed by a couple of County corners- both full of menace but eventually kept out- the first by Hannigan , the second by the keeper. It was stirring stuff!
Fylde started to ring the personnel changes around the hour mark, bringing Mike Potts on for Liam Tomsett, and Potts was soon involved, as he and Lloyd pushed County back setting Wilson up for a shot that Hurst dealt with without undue difficulty.
Again play swung, with Spencer going close with a run, rather spoilt by the far liners up-raised flag! A foul on Sharp ushered in a free kick and more excitement in the Fylde box, but Hinchliffe eventually emerge with the ball and that was that for now!
Then it swung again, with Lloyd flagged offside one minute and then up and at us the next along with Hughes –the upshot of which was an initial save by Hurst followed by a goal line clearance from Lees ,with Hurst grounded and out of it!
This was only getting better, as we said goodbye for now to Spencer for County and Lloyd for Fylde, replaced by Baker and Booth respectively. Although Lloyd was not as thoroughgoingly ( is there such a word ?- spelcheck thinks not !)dangerous as in the first half, I was surprised and not too unhappy to see him go!
Into the last 10 minutes we went with Sharp snatching possession from Brad Barnes, but being blocked before getting a shot off, at one end, whilst Moses bravely blocked a strike from Mike Barnes at the other.
With Stevenson on for Sharp, we were into the last 5 minutes vying for the points with a team that now had ex Hatters Danny L Rowe in their midst. County looked good too, but as Baker surged towards the box, he was upended by a crude challenge from Hannigan, who was possibly fortunate to stay on!
The free kick that followed was a thorough anti-climax, coming back out off the wall before being cleared up field.
Potts had a shot deflected wide for Fylde.......Milligan lifted one over the top for the blues- it continued to be that sort of a game!
County had some defending to do in the games dying embers, but this they did well, and it was applause all round at the final whistle- honours even, and the points shared!
County line up:
Hurst, Lees, Gregson, O`Halloran, Owens, Moses, Milligan, Churchman,Dennis ( Woolfe 90), Spencer ( Baker), Sharp ( Stevenson ).
Subs not used:
AFC Fylde line up:
Hinchliffe, Hughes, Sumner, Langley, Hannigan, Barnes B, Lloyd ( Booth 77), Tomsett( Potts 59), Wilson, Barnes M( Rowe 85), Allen.
Subs not used: