County 1 Solihull Moors 0 ( Conference North ) 7 March 2015

County dug deep, and in so doing did enough to see off the challenge of away day over achievers Solihull Moors at Edgeley Park today.
Moors had suffered a bit of a blip at lowly Hyde recently, but County could not afford to assume they would lose again so soon, thus a cagey performance was on the cards, and that`s just about what we got. At the back it was the sometimes 3 ....sometimes 5, in front of Hurst, and the five ensured that the County keeper`s duties were light, with all five on top of their game. I thought O`Halloran and Todd shone the brightest ,but Connor Hancock`s first home start saw him looking in prime nick again, and completely at home amongst much more experienced colleagues, whilst Lees and Jacobs again were never fazed despite the attempts of free scoring Omar Bogle and others to undermine County`s confidence.
 A fair bit of decent football was forthcoming from the blues overall, but the finish was not there to complement this good stuff, thus Solihull were in the game right up to the last gasp, and with Bogle about, and Marcus Bignot shuffling his pack interestingly late on, might have embarrassed the blues had not the County back five been so well drilled. But......with Bignot going sub happy, and the main stand bellowing for us to do likewise, at 0-0, A.L resisted the temptation to follow suit ,and it paid off as  a rip roaring snorter from Scott Spencer won the game for the blues .
A bit laboured at times?.................maybe.............not greatly exciting?............yep.......but it`s 3 valuable points. It may not secure us a play off place, but as long as the team continues to play football, and we eventually sort the striking situation out, I for one will not complain too loudly.

Spencer for Ryan was the only change for County at 3 o`clock, as the game opened with the lanky Jordan Gough slinging a ball into the box. It flew out past the angle of Hurst`s bar and post, but I took it as a statement of intent from the feisty midland side.
I was expecting much from the likes of Omar Bogle for the visitors, but the next action was at the other end where Spencer`s run took him to the by-line. Stopping....he then laid a decent ball back across the box, which no one in blue was able to convert!
Soon enough five or six minutes had passed and it was at this point where my afternoon threatened to degenerate to farce as  the very same steward who had accosted me earlier in the season and told me to stop taking photos....did so again! People who know me may be able to confirm that I do not seek out trouble, indeed there`s not that much trouble involved in attending a football match...scribbling some notes....taking some photos...or am I wrong? The steward thought so ....` You should have a piece of paper’ he snorted. Fully 5 minutes past during which time my BP took a leap, and sundry specs around me had their enjoyment of the game blighted by an unseemly row in Row R!

Now.....I know the Premiership are hot on rights issues, but in Division 6, should spectators be bothered with this kind of harassment? I was due to take photos on the pitch of the Supporters Cooperative presentation to homeless charity the Wellspring at half time, and didn`t have ` a piece of paper’ for that either ,so this  panto had potential to run and run.
And.....having provided no less than 6 pages( awash with my photos)for today`s programme, and facilitated,the inclusion of a seventh, I begin to wonder should I bother!
So......I had missed a fair chunk of play by this time ,  and on returning to the task in hand, I looked up to see Mike Nottingham head over the bar from a Moors corner.

Moors on the defensive....

The next 5 or so minutes saw County do a fair bit of work, playing the ball about neatly and  they looked in reasonably good nick, except for in the last third where it all went sadly awry as first off Churchman spoiled Toddy`s left wing run by dragging a poor effort wide. Glover followed this with a miss hit shot that caused keeper Tony Breedon no trouble at all, after good work by Baker and Jacobs had set the chance up. On it went with the trend continuing as Wilkinson miss hit another effort when well placed.

This was disappointing......Churchman did get closer next though , following a neat move involving Spencer and Wilkinson, but it stayed 0-0 , as we reached the half way point in the first half.
 Stefan Moore threatened to spoil County`s afternoon next, but O`Halloran was clearly in his usual immaculate form and found touch with the threat at its maximum. From the throw that followed, Jacobs spirited the ball clear, and we might have had a chance on the break had not Spencer been unable to keep Jacobs onward pass in play.
Gradually however, Solihull were getting their game going, and it took really fine work by Todd and O`Halloran to deny Owen Story on the break down the right.

O`Halloran blocks Story`s progress!
 County were still getting half chances though and another came their way on 25 minutes, helped by referee Copeland allowing advantage after Churchman had been fouled. The ball quickly went from Baker on to Jacobs who had space and time to spare down the right. He needed to stay cool and carry on running, but instead he snatched at his shot sending a poor effort well wide.

County under pressure.
Work for O`Halloran came next as he headed Moore`s cross out, before nullifying a raid involving Bogle and Knights, in the box, following all this with a neat intervention to prevent a ball by Beswick reaching Moore.
After a period of Moors pressure, County worked their way back into it, and for a moment or so I thought we were in for a goal as Glover let fly with a decent effort from outside the box. Unfortunately it was not to be, and keeper Breedon`s dive enabled him to push the shot out. County still had a chance, the ball being loose, but when it fell to Churchman, he sliced his shot way wide!
Solihull`s reputation for scoring buckets of goals away from home, tended to make me fear that County`s inability to put half chances away, might be costly, but Moors, at least so far, were not proving all that excellent at the sharp end either-Liam Daly heading tamely wide after Beswick had caused all sorts of angst at the back for County with a nicely weighted chip. Moore threatened more issues for the blues after this, and Lees had to be on top of his game to stop the rot as he surged to the by-line down the right.

Lees v Moores.
Moments later, and Lees was in action again, this time conceding a corner to prevent Bogle from doing his worst. This resulted in another header from Daly, but it fared no better than the last- Hurst making a clean catch at his left hand post.

That free kick.

A foul by Jacobs earned him a booking, and Moors a free kick next, whereupon the Stockport number three fully atoned with some excellent work in denying Elvin and Moore  any scope in the box, following a punch from Hurst!

Hurst to the fore!
A brief skirmish involving Spencer whose shot came back out off one of a line of defenders, and Moors looked to have caught us napping through Bogle who was sent clear by a ball over the top. It looked a clear chance and no mistake...and then it didn`t as Bogle lost his footing falling to the floor to the accompaniment of raucous laughter from most of the 2800 present!
A kick in the face for Churchman....and a change of shirt, and we neared half time with the sight of Bogle dragging a most hopeless shot well wide, when his team needed something altogether better. He actually did get the ball in the net shortly after, but Daly had clearly climbed all over his man whilst heading the ball on to him, and the referee saw it and correctly ruled the effort out!
There was applause aplenty for O`Halloran and Hancock in the dying embers of the half  as ,on both occasions, the unfortunate Moore lost out to the top notch County defenders, and that was that for the first half!

The Supporters Cooperative present a cheque to the Wellspring homeless charity .

A view of the Cheadle End

Into the second half we went with Moors attacking through Moore who had a shot charged down, after Bogle had waltzed past a number of County defenders. Unfortunately he had also waltzed the ball out of play and in again en route to crossing the ball, but the liner was oblivious to all this although close by!  Some pressure started to build for a time on County- Todd doing well at one point to deny Bogle before Moore eventually lifted his shot high into the Railway End.

Glover crowded out.
There was a wee glimpse of something better to come, on 52 minutes, but having been sent clear, Baker contrived to lose the ball with the goal gaping.
A minor diversion came next as Daly sent the clearest of deliberate back passes to keeper Breedon, who  with Glover salivating nearby, caught the ball provoking merely a shake of the head from the referee, along with the blankest of blank stares from the custodian of the flag to my left.
I was of a mind to get all agitated again as directly from that catch by Breedon, the ball headed on to Bogle, who looked in a decent position, until faced with Hancock who cut him off neatly before conceding a corner, which in the circumstances was good value!
The corner was cleared without fuss, and with Spencer on the charge from this, Breedon did well to advance outside his box and head the ball out of play. The throw that followed saw Baker ping the ball in at speed to Spencer who was not all that far away with his header!

Breedon beats Spencer.....just....
Bugger......then it happened again, as this time Gough fashioned a blatant back pass to Breedon, the keeper`s catch not prompting any punitive response from the officials.
Still in seethe mode, I found myself wondering ,at the hour mark, whether an injection of pace....Sharp`s pace...... might not assist us, but the thought was momentarily put on hold when Hancock snuffed out another Moor`s raid before passing on to Todd who along with Wilkinson  worked wonders sending Baker darting clear. It was a good move.....better than that ,but Breedon was up to the challenge and his dash from goal saw Baker thwarted.

Back came Moors through Story and Bogle, and it took the best of responses from Lees and Hurst to deny them.
In response I could not help but think that County`s attack looked insipid and under par, and my yen for an appearance from Sharp looked about to be sated, as he was down to his kit now on the bench, looking about to come on. I am not sure quite who would have gone off but what I am sure of is that, not a one on that pitch wanted it to be him, and the result was a goal. It started with Wilkinson, and a ball of consummate quality from him sent Glover scooting into the box. He had company but made light of this by sending a delightful chip across the box to Spencer who took deliberate aim before blasting a corker into the roof of the net! 

Spencer on the ball. was 1-0, and we were on our way however belatedly, and A.L`s patience had been vindicated! Oh....and the goal celebration that followed saw Spencer earn a booking for a bare chested shirt wave!
The next 10 minutes saw a full hand of substitutions by Moors inglorious attempted mugging by Langdon on Glover( of the kick to the person variety),a raid by Bogle and Moores come to grief, and one at the other end engineered by Jacobs narrowly miss out!
Eventually Lordy started to employ his subs.....first Sharp for Spencer, who left to an ovation after 82 minutes, and then Moses for Wilkinson five minutes later, as Moors piled forward looking for that equaliser!

Sharp on the charge.....
 Hancock ,Lees and O`Halloran were particularly active during this period and noticeably diligent in the way they dealt with the threats coming their way. Thus....I could not feel any element of anxiety creeping in as in oft times past..... County looked on to hold out until the end!
Added time was ushered in with Beswick lifting a free kick into the box, where, under pressure, Hurst made an assured catch, as Charlie Russell replaced Churchman.
Both sides seemed to lose a bit of accuracy in passing the ball around with time eeking away. Sharp and Glover managed one break at the death.....cut out by the busy Breedon, and it was not long before the game was over and the points ours!

Late break by Sharp & Glover.

A good win that!
OK...not all that pretty, but another valuable win none the less!
Here`s to another at Lowestoft next Saturday!
The Flyer leaves at 7.30 from the Fingerpost...I`ll be on it...... there`s probably still room for you!

County line up;

Hurst, Jacobs, Lees, Hancock, O`Halloran, Todd, Baker, Churchman( Russell 91), Wilkinson( Moses 87), Glover, Spencer( Sharp 82).

Subs not used:

Ormson,  Duxbury.

Solihull Moors line up:

Breedon, Nottingham, Gough, Denny( Fleet 71), Daly, Elvin( Langdon 71), Story( English 77), Moore, Bogle, Beswick, Knights.            

Subs not used:

Byfield, Michel-Gueyes.

Attendance: 2821

Ian Brown


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