Worcester City 2 County 0 ( Conference North) 21 February 2015
Well......the hot dog was excellent......but the football.........
No......this was another day to forget for County, who again failed to score - all the available points going to a Worcester City side that took full advantage of some rank bad refereeing on a glue pot pitch at Aggborough.
Once again ,County found themselves reduced to 10, and up against it, when Jack Ryan`s undeserved second yellow saw him walk around the hour mark. But.......the up-hill climb had started somewhat earlier than this.....in the 37 th minute to be precise, when Symons was allowed to sneak one.
Ryan`s dismissal added to County`s difficulties, and with Evans and Dunkley terrorising County down the flanks, particularly the one patrolled by Jacobs, it was only a matter of time before we leaked a second, the only surprise being it took Worcester until 73 minutes in to get it.
Make no mistake this was a monumentally disappointing performance from County.......defensively Jacobs looks anything but 100% match fit, and matched against the likes of Evans and Dunkley this was a major impediment. Russell and Moses worked hard, but generally our midfield struggled to make an impression the whole game long- good work by Lees and O`Halloran constantly going to waste. Up front was almost totally bereft of ideas, with little or nothing going the way of home keeper Ryan Boot, who, apart from a brief spell in the first half, had as quiet a day at the office as he could reasonably have hoped for!
Back to 3 o`clock then, as about 150 County fans divided between the seats and the terrace, giving their team a decent welcome,
and despite the dismal team performance ,this small band, particularly those behind the goal, gave their team great support throughout the 90 odd minutes.
The starting 11 for County was another slightly shuffled pack. The defence was un-changed, whilst up front Dennis and Sharp gave way to Ryan and Russell. I was glad to see both Ryan and Russell back, but I thought that Sharp was due a run up front down the middle , and might just have been the man we needed on a really heavy playing surface.
No matter.....the game was in motion and County opened on the attack via Glover, but within a very short passage of time County were in difficulties as Jacobs was almost caught out by Tristian Dunkley. Jacobs salvaged a corner from this problematic situation, which straightway seemed to get worse, when County made heavy weather of fashioning a clearance. A throw added to County`s issues, and they were relieved when a foul by Dunkley on Duxbury gave us a free kick.
Jacobs got forward next, sending Woolfe on a run, but getting as far as the by-line, the Stockport number 11 was seen off by Shabir Khan.
The 5th minute saw a Baker/ Ryan move bring a save from Boot, in the home goal, but not long after this, Boot was in real difficulties dealing with a couple of corners, the ball slamming into his post at one stage. The up-shot however was that somehow........City survived, sufficiently intact to see Dean Waldron run at us on the break. His shot was charged down by one of a row of yellow shirted County defenders, so it stayed 0-0.
Worcester pushed on after the last action, and Jacobs did well to concede a corner as Symons sent Evans darting through the middle. Moses and O`Halloran dealt with the corner, and the Irishman was on hand, thankfully, not long after, rescuing County as the loosest of balls allowed Dunkley a sight of goal.
It was beginning to shape up into a real test for County, with Evans and Dunkley looking real threats with their pace and ability to switch positions. In response.....whilst Duxbury was in a contest on the left....Jacobs was struggling on the other flank, being forced into error by Dunkley. The only error on show next however, was one by liner Daz Russell, who kept his flag down as Dunks ran clear whilst obviously offside. The shot went wide, but ..........
The nineteenth minute saw Boot in trauma mode again from another Woolfe corner.......there seemed to be a moment when County thought the keeper had allowed the ball to cross the line....they certainly appealed vigorously, but the referee was not impressed and instead gave City the welcome relief of a free kick.
County`s next attack saw Ryan go down in the box under pressure. I would of course have given it, but not Mr Coggins , and as a result Lees had to be on his toes to deny Symons a shooting chance as he tried to hit us on the break.
Worcester looked to be on firmer ground next thanks to Evans who beat Jacobs, and his minder Lees with a tasty run down the right. He then picked out Sean Geddes with a neat pass, but his shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by the diving Hurst. A foul by Dunkley on Lees stopped the rot when the kick came over, but County clearly had to produce something to counter these lively raids by City! Instead.....I looked around to see Hurst in position to hold a strike by Symons, and not long after tussling with the none too fussy Jacob Rowe( who spent most of the afternoon with his elbow pressed into Glover`s neck without redress). On this occasion Rowe`s misdemeanour was spotted and Hurst`s angst ended with the resultant free kick.
I took heart a bit, as a superb bit of work by O`Halloran saw him win the ball and send Ryan scooting clear. From Ryan it went via Russell to Woolfe, but he had to be content with a corner, which City cleared easily. A Ryan pass allowed Baker to get a header in, but this did not trouble Boot, who quickly set up a counter attack that ended with Geddes shooting over the bar with the goal gaping, after Lees had done well to block the initial run by Dunkley.
That was the 36th minute......if I was at all tempted to think that the angst was now over.....I was wrong, but it did not immediately look to be so.....O`Halloran did really good work to stem the tide of Worcester attacking heading Hurst`s way. The danger was averted and then it wasn`t as slack work allowed Symons to turn on the ball just inside the box. He had oodles of space.....and made no mistake....burying his shot way past Hurst`s attempts to keep it out. That was disappointing, but it was also 1-0 to Worcester and County had another uphill battle on their hands!
I was looking for a response from County, but after winning possession well, in the
next action, Moses then gave Ryan an impossible pass to chase.
A free kick to City then gave Wayne Thomas a chance to shine, but he lifted his shot a foot over the bar, as did Kyle Haynes shortly after.
The half ended with me in rant mode as the same Kyle Haynes launched himself on a determined run that took him deep into County territory past man after man. County cleared his eventual cross, which was good....what wasn`t good was the fact that again liner Russell kept his flag down despite Haynes clearly taking the ball out of play! I seethed on......as the referee offered respite with the half time whistle!
The re-start opened ominously with Hurst tipping a shot from Waldron around the post, and then having to rely on Lees` help as Symons threatened to get to a through ball in the box.
Fifty two minutes were up soon, and by this time I was getting heartily sick of seeing Rowe`s elbow pressed into Glover`s neck without sanction, but.....hey ho.....after the earlier blizzard of sleet and hail.....the sun was now shining, and all was well in referee Coggins` world and he saw no fouls.
It was at this point that the running battle twixt Ryan and Thomas saw them both booked.
Twice after this half chances fell to Woolfe....both occasions saw him not put them away, whilst at the other end Hurst had to make another excellent saver to stop Symons doubling his and his team`s tally with a fine shot from a pass by Deeney.
Worcester pressed a bit after this without being able to force the ball home, and it was massively annoying to see liner Russell strike again . The referee saw nothing wrong as Ryan shaped and failed to get a tackle in on Evans. A frantic wave of the flag and a curious tail later and the referee had shown Ryan a second yellow, and we were down to 10, with not much less than half an hour left to play.
Worcester piled forward urged on by their supporters-Moses twice doing well to salvage things as County`s right flank shipped water . Geddes and Denney both had efforts blocked, and Duxbury earned applause by stopping a run by Evans.
The problem was however, that the Worcester tactic of going to ground to order ,backed by their cardboard ultras in the stand and on the terrace, was having an effect and Mr Coggins was not slow in responding.....giving them a free kick in a decent position as Dunkley went down in what I viewed as a transparent attempt to get Jacobs, who had just been laughably booked, sent off.
Thankfully the kick was sent straight at Hurst, but the very next attack saw him unable to respond as Evans` cross from the right picked out Geddes who promptly slammed the ball home from the edge of the box!
Things threatened to get worse in the last 15 minutes as Worcester got ever more eager to add goals to those already obtained, but Geddes cross was thwarted by the County cover and it was still 2-0 to the home side as we went beyond the 90 minute mark with the handbags flying at a rate of knots at the far end, where at one point , with everyone bar Hurst involved ,I looked on in astonishment to see Russell lifted up and body slammed head first down onto the ground....ala Mick McManus ! It was diabolical, and the referee took an age to give an impression he was in control and knew what had happened and what to do about it! Well someone surely had to go, and apparently it was Khan ( the slam dunking defender) who fitted the bill.
So.......City had possibly 4 whole minutes to be on level terms, personnel numbers-wise, with County. They were not that impressive in doing so it must be said, but neither were County.......Glover and Spencer missing with varying degrees of inaccuracy in the games dying embers.
Soon enough the game was over and I could head for the Flyer and thereafter head home.
This was a big disappointment, but I stick with my previous position which is that to panic would be a mistake......we badly needed a consolidation year, following season after season of relegation battles. The play-offs have always been a possible bonus....not an expectation, at least for me.
See you at Edgeley Park on Tuesday then, when I expect us to turn Barrow over with some style!
County line up:
Hurst, Jacobs, Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury( Lofthouse 83), Moses, Russell( Todd 90), Baker, Glover, Ryan, Woolfe( Spencer 64).
Subs not used:
Worcester City line up:
Boot, Haynes, Khan, Rowe, Thomas, Waldron, Evans( Wright 83), Deeney, Symons( Brown 83), Geddes( Jackman 90), Dunkley.
Subs not used: