County 0 Tamworth 2 ( Conference North ) 4 January 2015
`Why do you take an instant dislike to people?` Perhaps you have had this question asked of you at some time, and maybe.....just maybe....you have responded with the time honoured and hugely satisfying ` Because it saves time!`
Well.....for myself ....I try not to lapse into quick judgements these days....I`ve mellowed.....honest! In fact I do not even harbour grudges against Burnley or Stoke City FC `s nowadays, but whilst I admit that I have had to work at it, I have become less than enamoured with Tamworth FC – you know how it is....the punctiliously obnoxious stewards......their `flexible’ pricing policies, and of course the appalling two fingered salute they sent our way, and by proxy to the Wellspring Homeless Charity, earlier this season with their failed attempts to prevent Pure broadcasting from their place! So......despite the Lambs being on an eight game winning trot, I really wanted a County win this time out, and preferably a big one!
Unfortunately my thoughts of whipping up an unstoppable wave of emotion that would sweep the midland outfit aside, hit the rocks of the most insipid County performance you would ever not wish to see. They were awful, and as a result Tamworth surged on, almost unchallenged, to their ninth win in nine, surging away from County on their way up the Conference North table!
It was a really disappointing performance from the blues......Lees and O`Halloran worked hard showing great reserves of skill and stamina, but elsewhere those in blue largely failed to make any impression on a Tamworth side with the winning habit apparently ingrained in their DNA. Hurst made a couple of outstanding saves and took the sponsors M.O.M, but it was particularly disappointing to see so little of new men Danny Glover and Greg Wilkinson, who despite getting 90 odd minutes apiece, to strut their stuff, rather failed to do so-unfortunately they were not alone! OK.....you could stretch a point, and say that Belezika, Duxbury, Churchman and Moses worked hard, but there was so little end product as too often County opted for the hopeful rather than thoughtful ball.
There was such a positive air around at 3 o`clock, and I was not alone, I guess, in wanting to see just how new man Greg Wilkinson would perform, but the closest that County got to disturbing Tamworth`s peace early on( a Churchman shot 3 minutes in), missed the mark by some way.
A lean by O`Halloran on Kayden Jackson meanwhile ushered in a Tamworth free kick....and then another as, when Moses headed the first out....Spencer then handled the ball just beyond the box. After a delay, for treatment to Jackson, Hurst duly gobbled the kick, and the Tamworth angst was compounded when Jackson had to be subbed, being replaced by Connor Taylor.
Spencer was unlucky next, when Dan Preston managed to prevent a neat back heeled pass by Glover from reaching him smack in front. Hmm....that was encouraging, and it was good to see the excellent Mark Lees tie Dave Hibbert in knots as the forward went to make headway on the break. Not long after Lees was to the fore again ,this time going forward, but his ambitious through ball saw Spencer policed out of harm`s way by Tom James.
Twice after this.....County were awarded free kicks, first for a foul on Glover by James, and then for a prodigious lean by Joshua Sampson on the same County man, but neither set piece came to anything and only resulted in Tamworth hitting us on the break via Brendan Daniels, who thankfully found O`Halloran altogether too guileful for him. This did not deter the Tamworth number ten though, and it took good work and a deflection by Lees to stop his gallop. Preston headed over the bar from the corner.
A run by Spencer , ended with a somewhat lack lustre effort from Jack Ryan failing to trouble keeper James Belshaw, but already it was possible to say that the more purposeful moves were emanating from the visitors, and O`Halloran did brilliant work to deny Hibbert at the half way stage of the half.
Hibbert came back at County again forcing another good block from O`Halloran, with a pass that sent Paul Green clear. The corner that followed was a decent one too, and Hurst did well to keep the resultant header by Preston out!
Urged on by Moses, County tried to respond, but both Wilkinson and Lees were out of luck with shots, both of which missed the target.
Then things almost took a turn for the worst when Tamworth gained a free kick, and Daniels sent it to the back post where Hurst had to fling himself to his right to push the ball around the post. Glover headed the kick clear at the near post to keep it at 0-0, but for how long?
Well......it was not all that clear as to the answer to that last question, but for sure....County were coming under pressure a bit now, and both Belezika and Lees had to concede corners. For the second of these things threatened to get a tad hairy for a while as Preston beat Ryan to the ball at the back of the box sending a header racing goal ward, where Duxbury saved the day by heading clear off the line!
Moses and Churchman worked to relieve the pressure and put some on Tamworth, but the visitors defence looked largely untroubled, even when a free kick was headed on by Wilkinson into the crowded box. A disconcerting tendency to concede free kicks at inopportune moments was proving a stumbling block for County, and they did it again, just when something looked likely to develop.....so it didn`t!
Meanwhile there was still work for O`Halloran to do and he did it brilliantly again, making light of what seemed to be a dangerous break by substitute Connor Taylor. Then a County break developed via Spencer, which looked promising, but the cross from the by-line found no one in blue available to apply a finish ,and any chance was gone.
Back came Tamworth, and I was annoyed to see a blatant dive from Daniels result in a free kick to his side. Thankfully when this bounced alarmingly into the box, Preston rather overdid the strong arm stuff, and County had a free kick themselves....and relief!
For a time County with Spencer, Wilkinson and Churchman to the fore, buzzed about energetically in and around the Tamworth box, but to little effect as nothing transpired in the way of a shot or shots to ruffle Tamworth`s feathers. Indeed.....with Belezika suddenly on the deck injured, the feathers being ruffled were County`s and I looked with some relief to see a cross cum shot from James flash across the face of goal before going out!
Belezika was off the park for the first minute or so of added time, during which Tamworth did their best to capitalise on their temporary numerical advantage, and Lees did just enough to ensure that a header by Sampson flew up and over the bar!
We were deep into added time now and looking to be even deeper into the doo/doo next when Churchman lost possession to Hibbert . He was in the clear but once more Lees came to County`s rescue- his timely block nullifying the forward`s attempt to shoot.
|More defending for County to do.....|
Belezika was back on now as I began to count the minutes beyond the notional 5 we had been advised were to be added. I was already up to 5 when Belezika excelled himself by snuffing out the dual threat of Daniels and James with a conspicuous lack of support from anyone in blue.
That was a relief, and also an annoyance ( the lack of support bit that is), but there was more to come and quickly, as the clock ticked on.......
First off ...with Tamworth attacking ex Hatter Javan Vidal thoroughly mugged O`Halloran in the box. It was a clear foul and the liner saw it, and signalled it as such, but when the referee did not respond and play continued, he promptly forgot about it and .....one guess only as to what happened almost immediately......yes.....correct.......Vidal came out of a second skirmish with O`Halloran with the ball which he then promptly leathered home!
The Cheadle End and much of the rest of Edgeley Park went AS at this last action, but it mattered not, and what`s more the whistle had now gone for the break- cue handbags near the tunnel during which it was noticeable that referee and liners kept well away from the action, which is an entirely new approach to the question of discipline on the football field!
There was some joy at half time in the Cheadle End......
County made a concerted effort on the re-start to get back into it, but without success as Duxbury`s final ball proved too strong for Spencer. Spencer came back for more a couple of minutes later only to founder on reaching the box...... Belezika ....then O`Halloran chipped in also, but they fared no better, being prevented by weight of numbers from getting a shot off!
I was wondering whether A.L. would be moved to put Sharp on soon. I had seen more than a glimpse at Tamworth earlier this season, of a potentially decent striking partnership in Ryan and Sharp late on in that game, and it was worth a try maybe with us one down and not making great headway!
County did win a free kick when Spencer forced Preston to foul him, but when Duxbury sent the kick down the keeper`s throat, and Spencer sent a speculative effort flying up and over the bar, it began to look like possibly a personnel change was urgent.
Past the hour and the change came as Chris Sharp came on for Scott Spencer, but the first action thereafter was at the County end where Hurst pulled off the bravest of saves, beating out a shot by Daniels, who was home alone in the blue half of the field.
That was an escape and possibly a lesson, but I don`t think we had quite digested it as almost immediately O`Halloran was stranded with Daniels making for the by-line. Having got there, Daniels applied the brakes before slipping the ball back to Taylor who blasted a firm finish past Hurst`s dive into the net!
Two down and just over 20 minutes left......there was still time to rectify matters.....but would we? There was no sign of anything of note coming from County that might trouble the Tamworth back line, indeed it was County`s defence that was seemingly troubled as Lees just managed to keep a tentative prod from Churchman out of the clutches of Hibbert. This laxity was catching as Moses joined in, a loose ball again almost seeing Hibbert through! Add to this the fact that County seemed intent on trying to walk the ball into the oppositions net, as a bewildering array of passes got no further than the edge of the box, and County`s task looked a daunting one. This was down largely to excellent covering by Tamworth of course but also to a lack of inspirational thinking from County who looked content to opt for the hopeful ball.
Tamworth meanwhile had their 2 goal lead and went about hitting County on the break, as and when......
Jack Ryan did get one chance ,with around 10 minutes left, and he only had the keeper to beat, but within sight of goal, although admittedly drifting slightly wide, he sent his shot high and wide.
For Tamworth....Hibbert again had the chance to add to County`s misery, as he was allowed to slink clear. It looked all over 0-3 as he advanced on Hurst, but somehow the County keeper kept the shot out, which was quite simply excellent stuff!
County rallied a bit after this....a knock down by Sharp causing some anxiety in the Tamworth box, and Wilkinson at last got a shot in, only to see Belshaw in position to make the save at his right hand post.
On and on it went...into added time.....4 minutes of it, with no chance of anything being salvaged from this small wreckage of a game!
Some boos at the end, but in the main mostly people just wanted to get home out of what was now a cold evening!
Wrexham next in the FA Trophy.
Are you betting against a County win? I would council against that and instead forecast an unlikely blue triumph! Now where are those tablets?
County line up:
Hurst, Belezika, Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Moses, Churchman, Wilkinson, Spencer( Sharp 64), Glover, Ryan.
Substitutes not used:
Ormson, Lofthouse, Todd, Lazenbury.
Tamworth line up;
Belshaw, Vidal, Sampson, James, Preston, Adams, Green, Clarke( Trainer 68), Jackson( Taylor 5), Hibbert( Morrell 86), Daniels.
Substitutes not used: