County Development Squad 1 Colne FC 1 (3-4 on pens)Lancashire League Cup Final( West)10 February 2015

Woodley  is not exactly the first place you think of going at 8.30 on a cold February  evening, but last night it seemed irresistible- the draw being County`s Development Squad playing Colne in the West Division Lancashire League Cup Final.
The all weather surface had lured County to the venue and, despite the cold, the decision looked a winner as a decent crowd of between 200 and 300 made it to the game. Woodley apparently has its own eco climate to deal with as great piles of snow could be seen piled up around pitch side, whereas its ages since SK3 has seen any of the stuff!

The game was never in would go ahead whatever the weather, the only doubt that remained was ....would I ever get to learn what the make-up of the teams were. It was more than slightly disappointing, after publicising the game widely before and on the day, to have to rely on the kindness of an official from Colne to get the required names!
Doubt as to the eventual winners lingered for quite a while as well.
County took an early lead thanks to a lovely finish from Mike Hampson, and despite a fair amount of pressure from Colne, looked to be cruising until they conceded a penalty right at the death to go in, at half time, with the score a somewhat dispiriting 1-1.
County up to that point had thrived on the solidity of their back four in which Fagbola was in top form and Connor Hancock not far behind. The County spine was the secret of their success.  Ormson was having a fine game behind the aforementioned twosome, one save from Leo Barrett was particularly good.  Charlie Russell meanwhile was as busy as ever fetching....carrying...a real live wire.
There were lots of familiar names in County`s line up, amongst them Nathan Woolfe who was busy at times, but without ever causing Colne much of a headache. It was good to see Danny Murray get another outing, but it is too early in his recovery to look to see too much of the quality we know is in there- it will come with game time for sure!

Danny Murray.
Both teams worked hard but without further success in the second half, which eventually went to penalties with Colne winning 4-3.
 The early minutes saw Woolfe impress with some diligent work, but Colne had their defence set up well and were able to rebuff all that County threw at them- a free kick from Lofthouse and a Woolfe run being the best of it- Fowler `s tackle seeing this off.
Murray had a decent run blocked, and it took the combined forces of Woodvine and Moore to contain Mike Hampson, who looked to latch onto a through ball after some excellent work by Fagbola.

Woolfe on prowl......
It was 14 minute in before anything of note came back at us from Colne, and it was a Grade A Route one boomer from keeper Cross that made it, one bounce, into the box. If County were surprised, they might also have been one down, but Woodvine shot early and sent it past the post!
Five minutes went by with both teams working diligently at containing the other, and County`s diligence paid off in the shape of another free kick won by Lofthouse and taken by him. A classic move followed as Lofthouse lifted the ball into the box  where Fagbola advanced towards the ball ( decoy run?), but the ball bounced behind Jordan and in a flash Mike Hampson slotted a perfect finish home ,to give his team the lead!
County pushed on after this- Russell seeing his shot charged down from a neat lay off by Murray, but Colne were proving cagey customers and County were indebted to Fagbola who was on hand to deal with the situation as their opponents hit them on the break.
This was something that County clearly had to take into account and not be caught napping, and Fagbola clearly had taken this on board and did a repeat performance shortly after , as Colne sprung clear following an attempt on goal from Joe Noblett.

Colne free kick.....
The game got interesting after this as a free kick and corner from Colne put real pressure on County- Woodvine again going close but finding Ormson well able to deal with the situation.
County replied eventually via a Murray/ Woolfe move, but Nathan`s shot was charged down. Hampson was looking to be County`s best bet – his lively pace a definite plus factor, but twice he was beaten to the ball by the narrowest of margins by Cross.
Hampson was still running in the 45th minute, but so were Colne and out of nothing they conjured up an equaliser. A push by Todd did the trick for them, ushering in a late/late penalty which Leo Barrett joyfully blasted past Ormson!
That was the last kick of the first half, and Colne must have been buoyed no end by those last moments.
It was cut and thrust in the second half, but it was clear that a fair bit of metaphoric wind was billowing into the Colne sails now, as their forward momentum stepped up a gear with Lockett and Grice giving County some grief. They were not alone.....Barrett was only kept from an easy tap in, by great work by Todd, who got in a decisive header with a lethal cross coming over. Ormson was in the mix too as far as good defensive work was concerned, and he pulled off a spectacular save to keep a shot on the turn from Lockett, that looked a winner, out.

Connor Hancock on the ball.....
Jordan Rogers replaced Danny Murray with 20 minutes left, but the momentum was still with Colne – a neat reverse ball from Lockett setting Moore up for a strike that again brought the best out of Ormson.
That said, Ian found himself under pressure next and twice he made attempts to gather with the lively Lockett doing his best to pounce. Fagbola came over to help but for a hand to ball moment in there from the Colne lad, it might have been 1-2, but the liner spotted it and it wasn`t.
Back came County via a brilliant run from Russell ,and Hampson was not that far away from success on the end of it, but still the Colne defence was every bit as resilient as was County`s ,so it stayed 1-1. There were appeals from County for a penalty not long after( rejected) when another Lofthouse free kick pinged over.....and Hampson  went close again, but despite much energetic pressure from the blues  no further goals came their way.

Another Lofthouse free kick.
With Jordan Young on for Lofthouse for the last 5 minutes, County prepared to battle for a win, but they had a fight on their hands as Colne had ideas of their own.....
First off a corner whizzed in forcing Fagbola to more heroics clearing his lines.....then a shot by Cassidy just missed out.....and another this time from Moore brought a fine reaction save from Ormson who pushed the shot around the post to wild applause from the crowd.

Late action.
Ormson was in the mix right up to the end of normal time, being jostled by the unfortunate Fowler, who received a second yellow for his pains( somewhat harshly in my view).
No matter...soon enough the whistle went signalling a penalty shoot out!
Colne were to go first, thus with tension mounting......
Berwick stepped up to blast the first kick home ( 0/1)
Russell replied for County sending the keeper the wrong way ( 1/1)
It was Dan Russell`s turn for Colne next, but he dragged a poor kick wide, and  the keeper saved Woolfe`s for County effort so.....( 1/1)
Johnson ( Colne) and Joe Noblett ( County) both put good kicks away, before an excellent save by Ormson denied Moore  to give County hope......
This hope lasted seconds .....Rogers` kick was saved by Cross, and Lockett put his away to put Colne 2-3 up!
Thankfully Fagbola scored his making it 3-3, sending us on into the sudden death phase!
Alex Grice responded scoring with an emphatic kick ( 3/ 4.)
But sadly Mike Hampson lifted his kick over the bar to give Colne the win.
A disappointing end to what had been a competitive game, but both teams deserve credit and Colne go on with our congratulations!

County line up;

Ormson, Todd, Hancock, Fagbola, Hughes, Noblett, Russell, Lofthouse ( Young 85), Hampson, Murray ( Rogers 70), Woolfe.

Subs not used:

Powell, Thompson, Hartley, Blackwell, Crosthwaite .

Colne line up:

Cross, Moore, Nwachukara( Johnson 90), Brooks(Berwick 69), Cowan, Fowler, D Russell, Woodvine( Whittaker 85), Barrett, Lockett, Grice.

Subs not used:

Rodriguese, Cassidy.

Ian Brown


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