County Development Squad 3 Colne FC 4 ( Lancashire League West)19 November 2014

I am really at a loss to understand just why people do not flock to watch County`s Development matches in great numbers. The contests invariably have lots to offer....good football, and loads of goals being just two of the ingredients!
Last night was no exception as a very young County side took on Colne FC under the Edgeley Park floodlights. Frequently County find themselves pitched against sides older and clearly physically bigger than themselves and again last night, with the visitors on average a foot and a couple of stone bigger per player, it was so again.
From the off it was a rip roaring encounter with Colne pressing forward , and County, marshalled well by Scott Duxbury in the first half, biding their time and defending well. 

Wes Benjamin- my M.O.M.
This was underpinned by terrific performances from Wes Benjamin ( M.O.M for me), Leon O`Malley who having played RB on previous occasions I have seen him and done well, turned out in central defence this time, switching to LB when Dux went off at the break, and Elliott Watson who shone like a beacon under pressure on a dark night, with some really good defending.

2 Goal Jordan Lazenbury ready for the off !
 The upshot was that a goal from Joe Noblett saw County go in 1-0 up at the break. Jordan Lazenbury added two excellent goals  after this , but Colne kept pegging away- equalising twice, but with just 6 minutes left County were still 3-2 up and looking like winners, until Colne`s physical edge came into play allowing them to snatch a third equaliser on 86 minutes and the winner in the games last gasp.

Scott Duxbury, a run out after injury !
This was hard on a County side that had looked in good shape and always tried to play decent football, but life is like do not always get out of it what you think you deserve! That said there are a number amongst the County squad, some of whom I have flagged up already here, who look like going on to good careers in the game, under A.L`s tutelage, and this will have been valuable grist to that particular mill!
Back to 7.45 then, and straight from the off Colne piled forward  on the attack through Brandon Barski who sent Dan Russell clear ,only to see Duxbury track back and stop the rot. 

Early action.
The pressure continued via a free kick that saw the Colne Russell clear the bar with a shot. Nathan Bond joined in, and was unlucky to find no one in position to apply a finish to his cross with barely 6 minutes played. Good defensive work from Leon O`Malley shortly after, ensured that Russell`s attempt to go one better was thwarted.
A move involving Duxbury, Will Hartley and Jordan Lazenbury then put Colne under pressure for a time, but they withstood this well and hit County on the break via the burly Lee Barrett who brought a decent save out of Billy Worthington in the County goal. Colne kept the forward push going though and Charlie Russell did just enough to ensure that Barski could not get a shot off from a corner.

County defend....
This was clearly going to be some test for County`s young side, but Hartley and O`Malley showed that they could pass muster with some tidy work disposing of runs by Barrett and Barski.

Will Hartley on the ball.
The first real chance   for County came after 15 minutes through Duncan Capriotti who brought a fine save from Colne keeper Stuart Cross after an incisive run down the right. Joe Noblett got in the act as well, but lifted his shot over the bar. Capriotti  seemed to be nicely warmed up now, and a neat pass by Lazenbury teed him up for a strike at goal that he executed precisely only to see Cross produce another decent stop to deny him!

It was nip/tuck for a time after this....Lazenbury taking Russell`s pass but lifting his shot over the bar at one end, whilst a Lee Barrett run at the other saw his shot do no more than ruffle the side netting of Billy Worthington`s goal. O `Malley weighed in with more excellent defending to stop Bond who  had been put through by a dangerous ball into the box, before capping this with a ball out of defence that gave Capriotti the chance to steal clear and whip a shot in on goal. The shot missed.......but Leon and Duncan had showed us a glimpse of what might be possible! Yes.....they had...... and within seconds of this action, County had the lead thanks to Joe Noblett whose appearance in the box saw him slot the ball home from 5 or 6 yards out!

Joe Noblett
That was good stuff, and more almost followed via Elliott Watson, who was showing up well on the right side of the back four, but a powerful run from him  rounded off by a neat pass inside to Noblett, saw Cross in action again pulling off another good save to keep Joe`s strike out!
County were looking really good now, and Colne`s confidence seemed to have taken a knock, so much so that a sweeping blue move saw Capriotti and Noblett surge through down the middle. Capriotti had the ball and, with Cross the only impediment to a second County goal, should have shot, but instead he elected to pass to Noblett and the chance was gone because the ball never reached him.
On.....on it went....with Charlie Russell doing his bit by setting Mike Hampson up for a shot that somehow Cross kept out with an outstretched leg! Cross was working small miracles for Colne at this point, and another save, with just 5 minutes left of the half, kept a strike by the impressive Elliott Watson out after good work by Capriotti.
In the run in to the break.....Will Hartley was unlucky to see his final ball for Mike Hampson, just cut off by a defender, but mainly in the 4 or so minutes remaining it was Colne who did the attacking, bringing the very best out of Wes Benjamin in doing so, and Leon O`Malley did well too ensuring it stayed 1-0 to County as the teams went in at half time.
The re-start saw Kieron Crosthwaite on in place of Scott Duxbury, which meant County going 3 at the back.....Crosthwaite slotting in on the right side of midfield with Joe Noblett going deeper to  offer cover in front of Watson, Benjamin and O`Malley.

Kieron Crosthwaite comes on for Scott Duxbury.
This formation seemed to work pretty well, indeed County came closest to adding to the score, on 53 minutes, as an incisive ball from Kieron Crosthwaite set Charlie Russell up for a decent shot that Cross just kept out again with his legs!
Surely County would add to their lead soon, wouldn`t they? But no..... twice after this Wes Benjamin was in action saving the day as the visitors hit us on the break.... and again Benjamin did the biz stopping Barski at the expense of a corner. The kick saw Barrowclough rise unattended to head over the bar. An escape then........but a warning too, but it wasn`t heeded and within a minute another corner saw Nathan Bond head the equaliser home from close in! was 1-1.......but for about a County hit back quickly like good teams usually do, and a flick on by Joe Noblett sent Jordan Lazenbury scooting clear through the middle. Cross advanced in the forward`s direction doing his best to smother any shot on goal, but Lazenbury`s finish brooked no argument as the shot was placed under the keeper`s body into the net!

2nd Half action.

That was really was 2-1, and County sails had wind billowing in them now as the talented Chas Russell combined with Jordan Lazenbury to push Colne back again. Lazenbury`s cross was a good one, but required work from Mike Hampson to keep the move alive ,and provide Russell with a shot on goal, which that man Cross again thwarted with some sterling keeping!

George Blackwell comes on......
With George Blackwell on for Will Hartley, County went into the last 20 minutes or so still 2-1 up, but coming under increasing pressure. Thankfully the back 3 was still doing incredibly well, with Benjamin the pick with some great work at just about every turn.
Jordan Young came on for Duncan Capriotti ,with the pressure building on County , and Billy Worthington did well to keep a Barski strike out with 15 minutes left........the ball was still loose however and Barski latched onto it again ,thumping another shot in on the target, which Leon O`Malley cleared off the line in heroic style!
We needed County to get forward and take the pressure off the back 3,and they did that through Noblett who combined nicely with Russell to cause the visitors a problem or two, but the referee penalised Charlie for......err......not sure what really, and the move petered out!
The pressure was back on the blues then, but first O`Malley...then Benjamin chipped in with crucial defensive work, followed not long after by Watson  who performed brilliantly to deny Barski who had sneaked clear and looked odds on to score!

Great game from Elliott Watson.
It was not all Colne...... Jordan Young lost out on a run ,owing to weight of numbers in the last third, and Young  combined with Blackwell to set another raid up that was ultimately Cross`s chance to show us what he could do again!
It was still 2-1 then, and with just 7 minutes left, there seemed no real reason to doubt that, despite all the Colne hard work, County might just emerge with the points........and then it happened.....Barrowclough latched onto the ball near the touchline...way out....and fired in a looping high one that curled into the far top corner of the net beyond Billy Worthington`s attempts to keep it out!
That was a late on too, but remarkably...County did the `good team bit’ again and scored almost immediately, as Jordan Young seized on a loose ball to send Jordan Lazenbury darting clear again. Again Cross tried to deny the ex Fleetwood striker, but it was a lost cause and the County number ten slid the ball home to give his side a 3-2 lead, with just 6 minutes left!
Again this enlivened the blues and Cross just managed to block a Lazenbury hat-trick with his legs after Hampson and he had filleted the Colne defence, and then just stop Crosthwaite`s follow up!

A Kieron Crosthwaite free kick on the way !

That last double save was probably crucial to the direction of the match, as within a couple of minutes Colne were level , as Worthington stopped but could not hold onto a shot from Barrowclough, allowing Barrett to blast it home from close in!
Barski then had the ball in the net from a corner, but the referee had seen a foul on the keeper and there was never any doubt that it would remain 3-3 at that point.

Leon O`Malley & Wes Benjamin in top form.
It looked to be staying 3-3 as well.....Benjamin was still offering up his master class of A1 defensive work in the service of his team, and those in blue around him were working hard to emulate him, but.... deep into added time one loose ball too many was seized onto by Barski, who promptly slammed the ball into the net to give his team a win and all the points!     
Disappointing......yes....... end of the world......not!
County will surely come back from this...will you be there to watch them though? Surely you will not want to miss another thriller like this one!

County line up;

Billy Worthington, Elliott Watson, Scott Duxbury (Kieron Crosthwaite 45), Wes Benjamin, Leon O`Malley, Charlie Russell, Duncan Capriotti( Jordan Young 72), Joe Noblett, Michael Hampson, Jordan Lazenbury, Will Hartley ( George Blackwell 66).

Colne FC line up:

Stuart Cross, Scott Moore, Alex Grice, Luke McVarish( Mark Young 60) , Richard Cowan, Mike Woodvine, Nathan Bond, Jason Barrowclough, Lee Barrett, Brandon Barski, Dan Russell( Louis Percival 45).

Subs not used;
Richard Johnson, Jordan Scott. 

Ian Brown



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