Chorley 3 County 0 ( Conference North ) 18 November 2014
County flattered to deceive at the Victory Park stadium last night....giving a first half performance against Chorley, full of promise, and with a hint of, if not overly laden with threat, only to follow this with a second half showing that was best forgotten. After the break they were insipid at best and their tendency to switch off, was their undoing, a 3 goal margin in Chorley`s favour the result, and this was scant reward for over 600 County supporters who had kept up a wall of sound throughout in support of their team.
|Where the supportive noise was coming from !|
For a time it was possible to visualise a County win....for 45 minutes County had defended really well, and had a chance or two as well. Crucially perhaps....these had not been put away, and it stayed 0-0 at half time which was good enough on a cold Tuesday away day with two potent strikers in Sharp and Dennis, on the bench, chomping at the bit to get on the park! But their arrival, in place of Stevenson and Owens, was the prelude to County leaking a goal, and when Garry Flitcroft did a double swop himself 10 minutes later, County quickly went 2 down. Belezika ,who had started well , faded badly, and was replaced by Churchman with 12 minutes left......
County going 3 at the back and on the hunt for at least one goal. This proved to be a fruitless search however, and with the slimmed down back line increasingly under pressure, a third eventually went in , deep into added time, via Darren Stephenson who was head and shoulders the Magpies best player!
All this `world`s end’ angst was nowhere to be seen at 7.45 as County kicked off with the cry of “ Brazeeeel !!!!!” ringing in their ears from the County following in the main stand(the team wore yellow shirts / blue shorts). Everything seemed to be going nicely....even the traffic between Stockport and Chorley, so notoriously bad usually, had been in pussy cat mode on the journey in- jam free!
There was speculation as to whether Dennis and indeed Sharp would start, but this was probably always a long shot, and it was not a big shock to see the County team unchanged from Saturday`s excellent win against Hednesford.
The opening minutes saw both Gregson and Ormson in action repelling boarders, which they did well, so much so that Stevenson was able to dart clear down the right. There was an air of real menace about the break, but the pass onward by Stevenson saw Owens shoot wide.
At this point, Andy Ross looked a lively customer down the right for Chorley, but Lees, who had a fine game, seemed to have his measure, conceding a corner, which was then routinely cleared by County, who at this stage looked as assured as they ever have this season, and it took the combined attentions of both Adam Roscoe and keeper Aaron Grundy to keep Spencer out on the end of a long ball by Ormson.
An Owens throw, along with a Milligan corner added to the pressure on Chorley, as once again Roscoe showed up in the right place at the right time for the Magpies and put an end to Baker`s gallop near the by-line.
In response, Chorley looked neat and purposeful going forward, but despite a couple of corners they were unable to penetrate a Stockport defence that looked impeccably marshalled at this point. It was particularly good to see Belezika earn applause- his determination ending lively runs from Darren Stephenson and then Adam Mather. Moses meanwhile looked about to build on 2 M.O.M performances with a decent ball that gave Owens and the County Stevenson the chance to test the resolve of the home back line.
The line held, but Moses was not done and an even better ball shortly after sent Baker clear. Stevenson, Owens and Spencer joined in, and a promising move developed only to fizzle out in the last third.
A free kick and corner briefly put County under pressure next, but again the County defence coped well and looked in no real difficulties throughout, whilst at the other end things looked a tad different.....
Another lively move developed between Baker and Stevenson who was unlucky to see his shot deflected for a corner. Although County`s initial thrust from the flag kick was blocked, Chorley were by no means safe, indeed the ball soon reached Stevenson who was a yard or so out with the goal seemingly at his mercy. It was a good chance, but the County man failed to put it away, sending us past the 30 minute mark with the game still scoreless.
Referee Mr Richardson, who I thought had a terrific game, then came under pressure from the home specs, but he dealt with it well, waving away claims for a penalty as Josh Hine chewed mud, within whiffing distance of Ormson`s after shave! Ormson went long directly from this action, and again it looked to be a winning move, one that took Spencer all the way to the by-line and with a half decent sight of goal. A shot may have been on, but Scott instead opted for a pass, and there was no one there to take it, thus Dale Whitham was able to welly the ball clear.
With two real chances spurned, it was tempting to dabble in the inexact science of hindsight and wonder what Dennis might have done with these, but both he and Sharp would be on ,probably in the second half, so this would be sorted surely then! Meanwhile Spencer saw a header fly wide...........a Milligan cross screamed into the box to find no takers again...........and Stevenson`s shot, from another Milligan pass, whizzed inches wide.
Gregson did well to block a run from Chris Simm in the run in to the break, but Grundy was the busier keeper for sure, and almost on the stroke of half time it looked as though he had conceded a goal. Spencer thought so too for a second or so, but the reality soon dawned on him and us, that his snap shot had missed out by the narrowest of margins!
Nil/ nil at half time was slightly disappointing but not overly so, although Chorley looked compact and busy, we had coped well, we just needed to put any chances that came our way away!
There were no personnel changes at the re-start, which saw Moses again trying to stir the troops into action, but it was Chorley who went closest....earliest, as Stephenson found Winter with a neat ball which saw him in oodles of space in front of Ormson`s goal. It should have been 1-0 to the home side at this point, but instead Winter held his head as his shot went limply wide of the target!
Hmm............it was not encouraging to see how we had been so easily filleted with that last move, but I was reassured as Lees and then O`Halloran did good work shoring up and manning the barricades as the Magpies busied themselves looking for an early second half goal. The pressure was very definitely now on County and Lees did well to stop Hine at one point, and Milligan followed suit to harass Winter out of possession .Belezika joined in saving the day with a late clearance after the dangerous Darren Stephenson had sneaked past Lees.
Dennis was on now for Owens, and within a couple of minutes the ball fell at his feet just outside the box. His shot carried the bar, but as a statement of intent it was a welcome one.
The hour mark saw Chris Sharp on for Stevenson, but all eyes were on the other end of the pitch where a lapse by Belezika gifted possession to Mather. Somehow Ormson managed to keep Mather`s shot out, but that was not a good moment for County fans who had kept up a constant wall of supportive sound from the off! A worse moment was to follow however, but seemed to be about to pass when the referee again refused to bite on the home specs communal howl of “ handball” as Belezika blocked a strike by Stevenson. It was a corner not a penalty, but County made hard work of getting it clear. Baker managed to block Simms effort, but no one could put foot to ball and deliver it somewhere in my direction at the back of the main stand- thus it was that Roscoe emerged to beat Ormson and give Chorley the lead.
County replied through Chris Sharp, who won a corner, but when this was cleared, with some ease by Chorley, and Hine was able to by-pass O`Halloran, we were in trouble, until Lees did the biz with some excellent last gasp defending! Hmmmm....that was not great at all, in fact quite sloppy, and County failed thereafter to capitalise on a free kick for a foul by Roscoe on Baker, which saw the offender booked and subbed not long after.
The subbing was a crucial one too, firstly it avoided any chance of Roscoe attracting another card, but it also ushered in another goal. Within a minute or so then, Chorley had swapped Lynch and Almond for Roscoe and Hine, and within another 60 seconds they had added a second goal!
It was another lapse at the back, induced by Darren Stephenson, that did the damage, and Ormson had simply no chance at all to stop the Magpies number seven as he blasted the ball home from close in!
Not long after the goal, O`Halloran arrived late on a raid, only to be thwarted by the liners flag, but already the first verses of Arthur Brownlow were being heard from the packed covered terrace behind Ormson`s goal, as Churchman replaced Belezika and County went 3 at the back.
The new back line formation seemed to be holding O.K, notwithstanding that Lees had needed to put in another last gasper to deny Almond who had slipped past O`Halloran , but it did leave us slightly open to the counter attack particularly via Stephenson ,who looked in prime form.
Credit to County...with 5 minutes left they were still probing for a goal that might get them back in the game, but there was no sign yet of anything materialising.....
With 4 minutes left we had defending to do, and Milligan to thank for his work as Stephenson ran at us with renewed vigour, whilst the 87th minute saw a Sharp shot held by Grundy!
County kept pressing, but despite getting a free kick for the umpteenth indiscretion by Simm , nothing came of their efforts, indeed we went into added time with Stephenson again in behind the County back line with a tasty run and tastier cross that really should have been put away by Simm. He didn`t though and it remained 2-0 as a result!
The gaps were beginning to appear with regularity now at the back for County as they continued to look for a goal which could probably only now be of the consolation variety, and Baker did well to stop Lynch applying a finish to Stephenson`s latest cross. Stephenson was looking unstoppable now, but he should have done better deep into added time when breaking clear down the right- it was not clear where his final ball was a shot or a pass, but Simm was well placed in a central position and the salient point was that he missed him out completely and what looked a decent chance was gone!
Just when I had settled for a 2-0 defeat, it suddenly worsened via another defensive lapse that gave Stephenson the easiest of chances which he put away with ease from close in.
It was not long before the referee blew for time, and we could set off for home- the Flyer was packed, but I heard no one singing en-route to SK3 on the way back.
Not the end of the world......see you at Fylde on Saturday, which will be another difficult one!
County line up;
Ormson, Belezika( Churchman 78), Lees, Gregson, O`Halloran, Moses, Milligan, Stevenson ( Sharp 60), Owens ( Dennis 54),Baker, Spencer.
Subs not used:
Chorley line up;
Grundy, Ross, Cottrell, Doyle, Smyth( Winter 9), Hine( Almond 73) , Stephenson,Whitham, Simm, Roscoe( Lynch 72), Mather.
Subs not used:
and now a Conference North Update from Ian Watts.......
Chorley's win sees them back above County in the table and they also go ahead of Solihull Moors who suffered a similar defeat. Solihull sit in the last play-off place for now after second half goals from Wayne Brooksby 2 (42 & 66) and Oli Johnson (62). That home win for Guiseley sent then up to 2nd place. There was better news from Gainsborough Trinity where despite taking the lead through Scott Garner (2), Boston United were eventually pegged back by Jake Picton's goal (65). The Pilgrims stay 7th, one place below County on goal difference. Monday's game also finished 1-1 with Ryan Qualter (17) giving Bradford Park Avenue the lead before Mark Gray (74) levelled for visitors North Ferriby United.