North Ferriby United 1 County 1 ( Conference North ) 20 November 2014







A workmanlike County performance, saw them emerge with a point from a closely fought game with a combative North Ferriby side today.
There were not a lot of chances in the game, largely because both defences were marshalled efficiently, and offered little in the way of opportunity to their opponents. That said ......County did get one very early on, which was put away brilliantly by Chris Sharp, but the blues back line allowed danger man Jason St Juste to nip clear 10 minutes later and it was 1-1 as St Juste`s cross was met by Tom Denton ,whose diving header gave Hurst no chance. 
That`s the way it remained ,but not without a massively good rearguard action from County, with Glen Belezika, who had been under pressure in the first half, emerging top of the pile of decent performers as he shut St Juste out completely with a  superb display of class defending in the second!

 
County warm up.....
I fancied 3 points today, but in the end 1 had to do, and keeps us up there, or there abouts, with all to play for.
Back to 3 o`clock then, and the early pressure came from the home side who won a corner. County fended this off only for the ball to land with Danny Hone who lifted a poor effort high over the bar.
It was into the third minute before County could respond, and they did so via a free kick when Sharp was fouled by Russell Fry. Spencer burst clear from the kick, only to run out of grass to end the blues hopes of an early goal. The fifth minute  saw North Ferriby reply through St Juste, and his cross  was a belter, and it gave Hurst more trouble than one might expect, but when the ball ran loose it was Liam King who it went to, and he followed Hone`s example by lifting his effort over the bar.
One minute on, and County had a goal to celebrate, It started with a foul by Adam Bolder on Moses. The kick saw Sharp usher it on to Lofthouse who hovered handily wide on the left. 

Sharp up for it !

There was loads of cover between Bobby and the sharp end, but he sent a terrific cross over that looked a sniffers dream! Spencer was the first to go for it but somehow it eluded him, but it did not matter because Sharp was on hand to rattle the netting with a top notch finish!
That was good....very good even, but our hosts were not slow in coming back at us, and one....two corners put County under pressure.


County defend.

 They stood up to it well though, and I began to think that perhaps my pre-match optimism was not that wide of the mark!
Already Sharp was emerging as a major force....busy all over the park ,and not wasting much either, but St Juste was looking similar for Ferriby, and applause rang out from the locals as a shot from him carried the bar by barely a foot!
Sharp works at the back for County.


That was 15 minutes gone, but the 16th was not a good one for County as St Juste slipped clear down the left, finishing a dangerous run with a near perfect cross that simply begged the advancing Tom Denton to despatch it home. This he duly did.....his diving header by-passing Hurst with ease. It was 1-1, and all to play for again!
County started their response in spirited fashion, but Baker was felled just outside the box by Gray. This offered a notional chance , and Lofthouse stepped up to take it, but there was a communal holding of heads, amongst the County following, as the kick whistled into the box, going out a yard wide of the goal.


County under pressure.

I was looking for who, apart from the obvious St Juste, was shaping up as a threat for the Villagers, and the lanky number nine Tom Denton came to mind. He was something of a handful, and a flick on from him had Hurst struggling and his punched clearance that followed was far from 100% convincing.
Both teams had a go at the half way point of the half......County unable to capitalise on a corner won via good work from Spencer, and our hosts unlucky to see a shot fly inches wide after another tasty run by St Juste.
A foul on Spencer offered County an outlet from the free kick, but Sharp found his route to goal blocked by Josh Wilde and others. Nevertheless on the ball went to Spencer, who quickly chewed mud, screaming loudly for a penalty. He did not get one. If that was disappointing.....County did not dwell on it and Gray did ever so well to stop Spencer reaching a through ball from the busy Moses.

Spencer to the by-line.

Half an hour had gone, and I found myself scribbling the legend ` it`s an even game’, and it was with both sides working hard but just lacking that vital something when it counts at the end of a move. So.....Bolder lifted a free kick over the top for Ferriby, whilst a decent Sharp/ Spencer collaboration was repulsed thanks to a poor quality final ball, at the other end.
County made a change, bringing Stevenson on for the apparently injured Baker,31 minutes in, but not before a ball from way back caught the blues napping. Ryan Kendall was on the end of it, and really should have done better with it than he did, instead he elected to finesse the ball and the effort went tamely wide!
As I say......both teams were hot on probing the others defences. For Ferriby it was still St juste who was chief prober, and he looked distraught to be ruled offside when played clear 33 minutes in .That said...disappointment was not solely the preserve of the Villagers......County could point to a beautiful ball from Sharp that eluded Stevenson only narrowly, and two efforts by Sharp that were not that far away!


 
Sharp declines an early shirt swap!
We were into the last 5 minutes of the half now, and it seemed to me that County were beginning to find their feet nicely. Lofthouse wafted the flames of this argument with a tasty through ball which Spencer allowed to run on to the advancing Scott Duxbury, but Taylor`s challenge ensured only a corner ensued, and this was not one of Lofthouse`s best so it stayed 1-1.




 
County push Villagers back.......

County kept plugging away though, and I looked on in amazement to see Stevenson dart clear.....be manhandled by Hone, and then look around to see the referee award the free kick to Ferriby! I am tempted to say `simply unbelievable’ except it is entirely not so unfortunately!
After doing so well late in the half, it ended with a small flurry of excitement at the County end- first via St Juste who found himself in the clear again , but offside......and then through Taylor who sent Kendall dashing clear smack on the stroke of half time. He got his shot in....... not a bad effort either, but it thudded into the post with Hurst looking on helplessly!
That was that for the first half then, and 1-1 was not a bad reflection of how it had gone over the 45 minutes!   

 
On the outside....looking in at the break !
The re-start saw both teams again working hard for that elusive opening, but Duxbury`s probing ball was repulsed via Gray`s head, and St Juste`s angst increased with yet another offside decision. But St Juste was beginning to find life altogether harder, and great work from Belezika succeeded in seeing him off after a promising run. Belezika then went one better sending Spencer darting clear into the box- unfortunately when there...he slipped and the chance was gone, but it looked encouraging.      
From this action, North Ferriby went long and both Kendall and St Juste were in the clear. But they were also clearly offside, but where was the flag? I was on the point of going AS, when I noticed that Lees was sharp enough to offer cover and rob his man and save the liners blushes( Do they blush I hear you cry?)
The `nip and tuck’ went on with Gregson in action heading clear from a Denton flick on, but this was eclipsed with County`s next raid which looked a killer until Stevenson went down under pressure in the box. Again County appealed for a penalty, and again the referee would have none of it! Fair do`s I suppose though.....as 2 minutes later Kendall tested the referee`s resolve by going down himself at the other end, and the official waved him away!
 
Belezika & St Juste- worthy adversaries !

Yes......it was interesting stuff alright, and I looked on approvingly to see St Juste dart clear only to be blocked decisively by Belezika. St Juste did manage to get one cross in though, and Denton headed this wide from close in. I will skim over the fact that the ref then gave a corner, as this was headed clear by the ever excellent Lees, but perhaps you begin to sense and sympathise with my angst, which only increased with the sight of Josh Wilde spoiling Sharp`s party by snaffling the ball as the County man sped clear!

 
Incoming for County !
Past the hour mark we went with County under the cosh, but showing no signs of wilting there under! Instead O`Halloran....Lees, and increasingly Belezika were emerging with great credit, as were Lofthouse, Duxbury, Stevenson, and Moses too.
Then County replied through another Belezika/ Spencer link up. A turn in the box by Spencer and the ball was with Stevenson who was promptly upended.” Penalty” I and others implored, but again the answer was in the negative. Not deterred....County went at it again this time Stevenson was provider and Sharp the recipient, but Chris shot first time and the ball climbed up and over the bar!

 
Workaholic- Chris Sharp.
With the score at 1-1 and the game anybody`s I was slightly puzzled at this point to hear the first chorus of `Arthur Brownlow’ strike up from the other side of the ground. Puzzling.....but tuneful!
Meanwhile O`Halloran was fast emerging in his Gareth Bale mode showing real class when it was most needed. How I hope we can keep Stephen! Sharp too was hanging on in there....still working his socks off.....he was offside too, at least that`s what the lady liner thought, and unlucky shortly afterwards with a neat cross that found no blue shirted takers on the end of it! 
St Juste however, kept trying to get back in the groove he basked in before the break, but Belezika was simply awesome now, watching the break.....holding off.....waiting his moment.....then making that neat intervention that wins the ball without fouling the man....excellent stuff!

Belezika`s throw.

I was impressed with the discipline of all County`s players, and Moses typified this as Denton surged through the middle tracked closely by Tunji. Denton was clearly expecting a Moses foul to set them up with a scoreable free kick, but it just did not happen, and the County man`s patience won out. Twice after this, Lees made good....neat interventions. It was inspirational stuff.
Was Stevenson inspired? Probably ....because the neatest of balls sent Sharp darting clear once more. Sharp`s shot was on target but keeper Adam Nicklin did enough to keep it out! Hone then, `did enough’ to keep Sharp out again, but his version of `enough’ was to haul the County man to the floor! If that was not galling enough( Hone had done so once before) the referee ladled insult onto injury by awarding Ferriby the free kick! I was quite simply beyond AS now!
The free kick mentioned above was aimed at St Juste, but after an initial block from Duxbury, the forward was seen off by an excellent tackle from Belezika who was in inspired form now! It went on with O`Halloran doing well, then Sharp who tracked back to head clear as a rather dubious free kick whizzed into the box. The flurry of activity just outside the County box continued and intensified as Taylor went to ground earning his side a tasty free kick. This flashed narrowly wide, and did absolutely nothing for the BP, but my mood improved with the sight of Belezika stopping St Juste with impeccable neatness....once.....twice more! The second occasion saw another impressive waiting game from Glenn end with a nicely controlled tackle to win the ball.




 
Lofthouse & Moses worked hard !
 Moses..... Lofthouse...both had work to so and did it well.....Lees...Gregson and Belezika again....they were all in the mix denying the Villagers the oxygen of possession.
One small bru...ha...ha..later( how this referee loved a debate!).....a clearance under pressure by Gregson, and another ( headed one ) outside the box by Hurst, and that was the game over!
The spoils were therefore shared and bearing in mind the fact that Ferriby took all 3 at our place earlier in the season ,that`s not bad....slightly disappointing maybe....but not bad!
It leaves us nicely poised to go into 2015 with all guns blazing- be sure to be there!

County line up:

Hurst, Belezika, Gregson, Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Moses, Baker( Stevenson 31), Lofthouse, Sharp, Spencer.

Subs not used:

Ormson, Churchman, Hancock, Lazenbury.


North Ferriby United line up;

Nicklin, Peat,Wilde, King, Gray, Hone, Bolder, Fry( De Laryea 70), Denton,Kendall( Jarman 74), St Juste.

Subs not used:

Nicholson, Anderson, Nicklin.

Attendance: 371


Ian Brown.

and now a short Conference North Review from Ian Watts......


A brief review of the Conference North action. 

Whilst ending County's goalless Vanarama run, the result at North Ferriby saw the Hatters drop to 8th. Oxford City, who won 2-0 at home to Hyde, and Worcester City, 1-0 winners at Stalybridge Celtic pushed them down the table to their lowest position since 1 November. Those defeats meant the bottom two sides failed to take advantage of the postponement of the game between Bradford PA and Gloucester, the sides directly above them.

At the top.... AFC Flyde, who have home and away games with Barrow over the holiday, for a long time seemed likely to draw level with them at the top. Fylde had a fairly easy day winning 2-0 at Brackley after taking an early lead. However Barrow scored in injury time to stay 2 points clear.

Of the teams above County before kick-off only Chorley slipped up - losing 2-1 at Lowestoft Town. The league's top scorer Omar Bogie, helped Solihull Moors to the best result of the day. A first half hat-trick set them on the way to a 4-1 win at Colwyn Bay. This result put them 4th just behind Guiseley who won a home game with Leamington by the only goal.

In the mid-table games our first visitors of 2015 - Tamworrth, notched up another good win, 3-0 over Harrogate Tiown. Finally, Hednesford Town beat their visitors Gainsborough Trinity 2-1.

The table from the lowest play-off place to 11th place ahead of the Boxing Day ganes is:
Chorley 35pts          +9gd
Oxford C 34pts        +2gd
Worcester C 33pts    +7gd
COUNTY 32pts       +4gd
Boston U 31pts        +1gd
Hednesford T 30pts  +5gd
Tamworth 30pts        +1gd
Chorley have 1 game in hand and Worcester 2 on the other sides who have all played 21 matches.
 


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