Warrington Town 0 County 1 ( Cheshire Senior Cup) 11 November 2014

County progressed in this seasons Cheshire Senior Cup last night , with a thoroughly convincing victory against FA Cup unbeatables Warrington Town at Cantilever Park( definitely not the Winner Recruitment Stadium!). The score was a seemingly slender 1-0, but this said little about what went on, in a game played out under doom laden skies to the accompaniment of a mini monsoon.

Mark Lees chats to Craig Robinson.
Both teams had changes to their starting line ups from their last outings, County resting skipper Jamie Milligan, and without Kristian Dennis again, whilst Town gave a few of their TV FA Cup heroes a rest. Warrington took the game to County early on but without conspicuous success as they found the blues hard to break down, conceding a prodigious number of free kicks as a consequence. With Moses in the Milligan role, and a back four of Belezika, Lees, O`Halloran and Fagbola in `shut out’ mode, Alan Lord`s boys had the basics in place for a productive night. And so it was, that Ian Ormson had perhaps his least busy 90 odd minutes of his career- in direct contrast to his opposite number Robbie Johnson, who was called on to make half a dozen corking saves in the second half once Lee Stevenson had squared the circle with a beautiful finish set up by an equally excellent pass by Chris Churchman who did well when he came on after the break. Churchman, Stevenson and Chris Sharp, returning from suspension, all saw goal bound efforts stopped in incredible style by the young keeper, and Connor Hancock County`s promising central defender, came on for his first team debut giving us 20 minutes of tidy defending in his usual mode when replacing Jordan Fagbola.
Warrington needed more than just a sturdy show of resistance however to succeed, and despite the efforts of Johnson....the combative Louis Corrigan, and ex County man Ben Wharton, who came on early as a substitute, County`s assured performance saw to it that these worthy efforts were in vain!

Mark Lees about to lead County out...
A decent Tuesday night crowd ,later confirmed at 357, was on site as the game got underway , and much noise emanated from the covered terrace to my left ,where the local ` would be ultras’  were situated. They were to be notably loud the game long, and require attention from the local constabulary later on as their mood became a touch over festive!    

Teams Out.
The early minutes saw Warrington, with Louis Corrigan and Chris Gahgan to the fore, push County back ,and Ormson probably was as busy at this point as he would be all evening, having twice to come out and tidy up as Gahgan and then Steve Foster raced to latch onto hopeful long balls.
The ninth minute saw something stir from County, but Belezika failed to make anything from what was a decent ball from Stevenson who already, along with Owens, looked to be enjoying a free reign to get forward, and keeper Johnson was in action quickly making a firm punched clearance from an Owens header.
County, by the 14th minute, looked to be nicely organised, but this did not stop Warrington producing perhaps their best action of the game, and this stemmed from a run from Craig Rogers followed by a cross that Foster failed to tuck away at the back post!
Warrington`s propensity for leaking free kicks came into play after this rather undoing anything they were planning, and Johnson was a busy lad plucking Baker`s kick out of the cool evening air. He was  then in position to nullify a Baker strike , after Stevenson had profited from a poor headed clearance by James McCarten from a further kick by County captain Mark Lees.

Craig Rogers hurls a throw in......

There seemed altogether greater order about County`s play than their opponents, but nevertheless Belezika got no change out of Rogers and Gahgan ,who combined well to deny the County man as he launched a run down the right.
I still made Louis Corrigan Warrington`s top operator at this point, but he could only look on helplessly as James Colbeck sent his header wide on the end of a rare Town free kick taken by their number four, and County by way of contrast were growing in confidence, albeit the finish was still a work in progress. Stevenson emphasized the quality of County`s approach play setting Woolfe up  with a neat bit of work, but  the blue wide man, enjoying a rare first team outing, snatched at the chance seeing his shot come back out off a defender, for Baker to lift an under par effort over the bar.
Yes.....the blues were getting into gear now- Belezika setting Owens up for a shot that was hastily blocked by a line of yellow shirted defenders. County were set on keeping things moving however, none more so than Owens who leathered a snap shot on goal in quick time. It was on target alright, but Johnson was in no mood to be beaten, and his dive saw him clutch the ball to his chest to frustrate the County man.

Warrington free kick......
A free kick to Warrington, and a deserved booking for Belezika followed, but Ormson was not troubled by Corrigan`s kick .Ex County youngster Ben Wharton then joined Belezika in referee Richard Woodward`s book after comprehensively `sorting’ Mark Lees. Both these decisions were correct, and I must say that I was pretty impressed with the officials on show this time, who got most things right in my view.
I am not sure just what A.L. has his defenders practising, but I feel sure that the offside trap is in the mix somewhere as County worked this to perfection throughout the first half, and it was good to see Jordan Fagbola again doing well on the left side of the back four- fulfilling to the letter his Manager`s requirement for versatility. For sure Jordan is not alone in this respect, but it`s good to see him prosper having been the butt of much( not always warranted) criticism in the recent past!

County attack repulsed.

Ten minutes remained of the half as Fagbola combined with Woolfe , the former forcing Johnson to make a catch  under pressure from Stevenson and Baker.
It went on with Woolfe again to the fore, side stepping his marker neatly only to drill his shot wide. That was disappointing, and more followed rapidly as Stevenson`s shot missed out by half a yard from an Owens pass- the half ending after further pressure on Warrington from Fagbola, Stevenson, Owens and Woolfe, but with nothing to show for it.

During the last few minutes of the half I had slowly drifted towards the refreshment facility from which the unmistakable smell of warm pie was emanating! I could see the pies as well, being eaten and enjoyed as I inched closer and closer to the queue. As soon as the whistle went I was inside and just 7 from the front, and the pies were still on ....I could smell the evidence!  However ...one man could be seen taking 3 away( he knew no shame!), and these proved to be the last one`s and I went pie-less into what remained of the night- coffee, crisps and Snickers just not fitting the bill at all!  

The view from the pie shop......
The pressure was back on Warrington from the off upon the re-start with Woolfe and Stevenson going close, but County left the back door ajar for once in the process, and were distinctly lucky only to concede a corner with Conor Roberts in the clear. Lees and Fagbola dealt efficiently with the kick, but a warning shot had unmistakably been fired across the County bows, and they needed to take note.
Fifty two minutes in, and Lordy rang the changes bringing Chris Sharp and Chris Churchman on for the largely ineffective Woolfe and Lofthouse, and Churchman was in the action quickly seeing a shot miss out by inches.
County had a couple of free kicks to defend, after which the handbags were out near dugouts. Stevenson seemed to be the target of much of the angst from the guys in yellow, but he kept relatively cool throughout, and the referee did not allow things to get too out of hand. Both kicks failed to test Ormson or his co- defenders, so it was still game on and all to play for!

Ref chats to Corrigan.
Indeed it was.....and Warrington still had a mind to dish County, and a neat pass from Nathan Burke set Ben Wharton up for a pacy run that won his side a corner. Another flag kick followed on as Corrigan backed up his forward`s effort, but County defended well ,managing to hit the Wires on the break via Moses , who ushered O`Halloran`s defensive header up the park to Churchman, who sadly was beaten to the ball by Johnson.
It was clear that County still had to be wary of being hit on the break, but...that said.....the County play was altogether more organised and more likely to.......in my eyes.
Into the last 20 minutes we went with Connor Hancock now on the park for his debut in place of Fagbola, as Johnson dived to push a Stevenson shot around the post after Churchman and Baker had done the spade work. The corner picked out Owens who`s header was an inch or so wide of the post!
That last action was distinctly encouraging, and it got better as a brilliant cross field ball from Churchman landed at Stevenson`s feet and he caressed an excellent finish past a stunned Johnson, into the net to give County the lead!
Owens tracked back after this to head clear from a Warrington corner, then it was back to attacking for the blues as Stevenson, Owens and Churchman all had efforts charged down.

Owens and friends....

There were now 10 minutes left and still the pressure was on Johnson and his co-defenders, as a shot from Churchman   was somehow kept out by the keeper. Baker`s follow up carried the bar which rather sold the excellent work done by Stevenson in the build up, short.
In general the County midfield looked in charge with Moses, Baker and Stevenson on top of their game, the latter two getting forward with regularity and to good effect. Owens too was looking more at home in a County shirt – almost profiting from about the only error that Johnson made all evening, on 82 minutes- the keeper recovered rapidly though  and it stayed 1-0.
On....on...the County march went, with Baker crashing to earth under pressure, in the box, from 2 defenders. Unsurprisingly perhaps I would have given the penalty, Mr Woodward didn`t, so any chance was gone.
Warrington meanwhile, kept trying their best to grab that equaliser, but with Hancock now neatly settled in, at the back for County, this looked no nearer coming to pass, and Burke fluffed a half chance ,with 6 minutes left, leaving the ball to Tom Hardwick to deal with when a shot from himself was called for- the shot came out off Lees, and once more it was chance gone as far as Warrington were concerned!
Wharton did have a shot charged down after this , but the main interest was in seeing whether County could add to their goal tally- Owens doing his level best to do just that, turning beyond two men to win a corner , that saw Johnson in hurried action to deny the Telford loan man! County kept the pressure on this time via Chris Sharp who was unlucky to see his shot come back out off Phil Davies. 

Stevenson..good game....good goal !
Sharp persisted though and it really should have been 2-0 next, and without Johnson it surely would have been, instead the keeper dived to his right to somehow push a rasping drive from Chris out at the last gasp! That was astonishing, and Johnson astonished us again stopping Churchman`s follow up, and another screamer this time from Stevenson!
With 2 minutes left Ormson had work to do in the shape of a couple of late corners, but Owens again tracked back to help and there proved to be nothing traumatic about the experience for County, who held out pretty comfortably, surging forward out of defence to run time down deep in Wires territory for the rest of the game.
Game over....match won......an away game versus Alsager beckons in the next round- great stuff...well done County!

County line up;

Ormson, Belezika, Lees, O`Halloran, Fagbola( Hancock 72), Moses, Baker, Lofthouse ( Churchman 52), Owens, Stevenson, Woolfe( Sharp 52).

Subs not used:

Lazenbury, Russell
Warrington Town line up:

Johnson, Davies, Rogers ( Collins 72), Corrigan, McCarten, Hardwick, Gahgan ( Ruane 78),Colbeck, Foster ( Wharton 22), Roberts, Burke.

Subs not used:

Durnin, Booth.

Attendance: 357

Ian Brown

............and news of other action in the Cheshire Senior Cup and Conference North from Club Historian Ian Watts.........


Round 1 Results
Barnton 1-7 Hyde, Cheadle Town 2-3 Northwich Flixton Villa, Congleton Town 6-1 Stockport Sports, Crewe Alexandra 2-1 Witton Albion, Runcorn Town 3-1 Chester, Stalybridge Celtic 0-2 Nantwich Town, Warrington Town 0 -1 COUNTY.

Round 2 Draw (to be played mid-January)
Alsager Town v COUNTY, Cammell Laird v Winsford United, Crewe Alexandra v 1874 Northwich, Hyde v Macclesfield Town, Nantwich Town v Tranmere Rovers, Northwich Flixton Villa v Congleton Town, Northwich Victoria v Altrincham, Runcorn Linnets v Runcorn Town.


Whilst County were winning at Cantilever Park there were a couple of Vanarama Conference North games.

Guiseley pulled 3 points clear of County with a good win at Gainsborough Trinity. Goals from Adam Boyes (13) and Oli Johnson (24) gave them a 2-0 lead. Charlie Binns (49) quickly pulled a goal back for the home side in the second half nut the game ended 2-1.

Our Cheshire neighbours Stalybridge Celtic suffered a setback when early Shaun Bammant (2) goal gave Lowestoft Town the lead after their long journey. Former County man Paul Ennis (57) levelled the scores to give Celtic a point.

The result meant Celtic were back a little closer to Gloucester City who had their 3rd win of the season on Sunday when they beat Harrogate Town 1-0 thanks to Tom Webb's goal.



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