County 2 Harrogate Town 1 ( Conference North ) 25 April 2015






County had more than enough left in the tank to propel themselves to a much needed win, against Harrogate Town, at Edgeley Park today, thus bringing a fairly disappointing season to a relatively happy conclusion.
The match was a mess really for long periods, and it was massively disappointing to see Harrogate take advantage of refereeing largesse to sneak the lead after 6 minutes. Relative unhappiness reigned in Row R and around  after this ,with neither side looking about to over strain themselves in the cause, until Chris Churchman`s very own  Roy of the Rover moment( of which more later) transformed what had, up until that point been a fairly nondescript game. After the break, County did seem to step things up a notch or two, and it was not a great surprise when Danny Glover, who had bludgeoned the bar minutes earlier with a shot, ended County`s misery by ignoring `the Curse’ and  putting   a lovely finish away from close in!
It was a close call I suppose, but County did deserve the points I thought for an improved second half showing. Churchman got the M.O.M whilst I felt that Jacobs was top man for the blues, but the points are the important thing and to end up with all of `em in our locker is `job done’ for sure.
 
Jacobs in fine form !

There was much happening in the Bung pre-match, and the place was packed to hear AL thank County fans for their support during the season. 
 
Josh Rowson presents to Jordan Fagbola.
There was a goodly number in from Harrogate as well, and they seemed in good spirits as SCAN Presentations were sorted for ex stars Tommy Robson and Dave Liptrott along with current County player Jordan Fagbola.

 
Harrogate Fans   +1

A slightly subdued atmosphere reigned as kick off approached……lifted somewhat as AL came out and took a bow in front of 2600 AL fans. 


 
Alan Lord......Top Man !

Add a minutes silence for the Bradford City tragedy, and spirits were understandably on a slight downer again, as the game was set in motion by Anthony Backhouse. Dear old Tony`s name did not feature in the programme, and lurid mind pics of past sufferings at the hands of this official, threatened to ruin my afternoon.
Barely 4 minutes elapsed before I went into ` I told you so’ mode and the nightmares threatened to begin anew. Lees had just executed a beautiful block to deny Clayton, when up stepped Mr B to award Harrogate the cheapest of free kicks. It ended happily with Cecil Nyoni leaning back to lift a poor effort over the bar, but I was already thinking unkind things about the referee when a perfectly executed swallow dive by Luke Shiels allowed him to give the visitors a free kick . It was in a rather tasty spot too, and Harrogate took full advantage….taking it early ensuring that Clayton could sneak clear. In an instant he had…..


 
Harrogate  turn the screw !
in another his shot had smack into the far post and gone in! County were one down, which was not a good start!
That said…it just might have been worse, as 4 minutes later County were taken apart by Jack Emmett who made his way to the by-line before pinging a fair old ball inside to where Clayton hovered menacingly. It looked odds on 2-0 as the forward took aim….and again as Ormson’s dive saw him get something on it ,but not quite enough. 2-0 then…..except it wasn’t as James Cadman was lying prone on the line and the ball thudded into him allowing Ormson to complete Row R`s communal delight by grabbing the loose ball.

 
County defend......
Ormson was in action again not long after with a brave save to deny the lively Thewlis, who had threatened mayhem. Another 60 seconds…..another save from Ormson prevented the same forward from reaching a hopeful bouncing ball on the edge of the box.
The first real semblance of a response from County came on 23 minutes. Like many of today’s good things, this one started with Jacobs who looked as solid and full of it as I have seen him for a bit. From Jacobs it went on to Dennis, but the onward pass to Sharp saw him blocked neatly by Lewis Turner. Sharp returned the compliment to 
 
County press.
Dennis shortly after, in the form of a decent cross, but keeper Peter Crook was nicely positioned to prevent the header that followed from causing any bother.
Things nevertheless were beginning to stir slightly for County, and perhaps they needed to, and the County faithful were roused to full voice as Jacobs again stole possession in imperious form….darting through the middle with defenders melting away before him like snowflakes in the sun. Disappointment followed on fairly quickly however as Dennis took Jacobs’ pass hurrying it on to Woolfe whose shot came back off a defender before being whacked up the park.
More action followed at Ormson’s end, where he did really well to snaffle the ball off the toes of Ryan Fallowfield who had burst clear looking very much on to score. The pressure continued from Town – Jacobs making a good clearance with crosses pinging in from the right flank.

 
Lees in control.
On it went….with Nyoni not quite able to force the ball home at the back post from a corner, a situation that the forward found himself in again not long after. Lees denied him this time, and the pressure eased somewhat with the sight of Clayton’s shot drifting harmlessly wide.

 
Escape at the back post !
Harrogate were having a fair bit of the ball now, and Emmett twice went close – Lees and Duxbury ensuring County did not leak another goal. More angst followed with O`Halloran doing excellent work to stop Calman after Moses had gifted Town possession.
Yes…..there was about 3 minutes left of the first half, and things were far from looking on the up, in fact a neat cooperation between Calman and Turner saw the latter surge clear, and only the best of interventions by Charlie Russell kept the score at 1-0. The resultant corner was cheap at twice the price, and more so, when Clayton’s header from it sailed wide.
Did I mention Churchman’s `Roy of the Rovers Moment’? 


 
Churchman gets involved.
Well …with 1 minute remaining of the half it duly arrived. The ball was with Moses about a yard inside the County half, and then it wasn’t as he had let it slip to someone in yellow & black. Cue Roy…..err Churchman, and he quickly imposed himself snaffling the pill off his opponent before setting off up the park. He might have travelled 10 or maybe 15 yards when he let fly a prodigious effort that fizzed its way beyond Crook’s groping finger tips into the net!
That was a real belter……quite out of character for a rather lack lustre 45 minutes, but to go in level after it was pretty good …and that’s just what County did! 



Away End gave their team good support.

The re-start saw Duxbury`s run cut short by a blast of the referee’s whistle.” Foot up” someone offered as explanation, but it could just as easily have been the after shave again!

 
County sniffing for scraps.....
County faced the last 40 minutes without Sharp who was replaced by Glover after taking a knock, and the officials were not showing any improvement at all, thus it was that play was allowed to continue after  O`Halloran had been assaulted near the corner flag by Nyoni. As I say…..play carried on, and only an excellent save by Ormson kept it at 1-0!

 
Ian Ormson- ended his season well !
That was the 52nd minute……2 minutes later I held my breath as a Chas Russell tackle on Nyoni saw the Town man go down and stay down, signalling action stations as far as Mr B was concerned. I fully expected him to do the second yellow bit, but he didn’t…he contented himself with a lecture. I don’t know about Charlie, but I was gobsmacked!
However….any temptation on my part to feel kindly towards today’s man in black, quickly evaporated with the next action. 

 
Jacobs puts the pressure on......
Again Jacobs started the move with Churchman, and Shiels had to hook the ball clear from under the bar from an O`Halloran effort. County’s efforts to force the ball home were cut short …….the referee had seen something…..and Town had a life giving free kick.
Past the hour we went, with Ryan now on in place of the largely peripheral Woolfe.
Twice after this Dennis went close….the second occasion very close indeed and only a keen finger tip save from Crook denied the blues a lead!
 
Milligan returns......

Ex County skipper Jamie Milligan came on for Town with just under 20 minutes left to play, getting a generous ovation from the home specs.
County were beginning now to get the lions share of possession, and Crooks did well to deal with a cross from Duxbury. Russell saw a shot climb over the bar, and an absolute screamer from Glover smashed into the woodwork with Crook nowhere!

 
Glover thumps the bar with a belter !

Jacobs meanwhile kept up the pressure –stealing possession boldly, and unlucky to see his shot come back out off a bewildered defender.

 
Jacobs again.......

It went nip….tuck for a while, until with just 2 minutes left County had themselves a rare free kick when Emmett and Turner contrived to foul Glover. Lofthouse took this one, and it was a neat one too, and the place erupted as Glover stole in and headed the ball home from close in to give County the lead.


 
The goal..................
Again both teams took turns after this….Duxbury unlucky with another run down the left, and Ormson earning his corn with a late/ late diving save as Harrogate strove to get back on level terms.
County defended well it must be said, and could have stolen another goal right at the death. The chance fell to Dennis, who had Turner for company but looked to have the edge as he broke clear. Into the box the pair went Dennis now making possession his. But Crook’s advance off his line became a factor and he did well to bundle the ball out of play and deny the Stockport number nine.

 
Dennis on the ball....
 Corner then…..except it was nothing of the kind, according to the officials, and the game ended on a note of farce that was not entirely inappropriate bearing in mind some of the happenings in the season just played out.           
   So…..that`s another season wrapped up then…….err….except it`s not quite is it, the Board of Stockport County have a Manager to appoint!
Well I cannot let the moment pass without at least offering my two penny worth on the subject, which rather boils down to a plea from me for the Board to appoint James Gannon.
From every angle he is the obvious choice……he is more than qualified in terms of EUFA badges, and he is County through and through and ideally suited to work closely with Alan Lord, as he has done  to excellent effect before. Jim’s stats only add to his appeal….his 43.41 win percentage ( 2005/9) are only bettered by Dave Jones. Jim has taken Northwich Victoria, his current club, to two finals and a play off place this season( win stats 44.2%), so he is totally ready. Are we? Well we should be in my view particularly if we want to get out of this division. And, what about season tickets? I think they would fly out the door should Jim get the job.
There I have said most of what I wanted to say on the subject, and I am by no means alone amongst Help the Hatters people in thinking thus.
Three  Development Squad games left to play ,and I will try to report on all if I can, after which…whoever is in charge of things….I will see you when battle recommences next season!  

County line up:

Ormson, Jacobs, Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Moses, Churchman, Russell( Lofthouse 80), Dennis, Sharp( Glover 50), Woolfe( Ryan 66).

Subs not used;

Powell, Benjamin.

Harrogate Town line up;

Crook, Fallowfield, Swain( Bloomer 14), Shiels( Milligan 72), Turner, McGurk, Calman, Nyoni, Clayton, Thewlis, Emmett( Rowe 86).

Subs not used;

Doran, Walshaw.

Attendance: 2601

Ian Brown

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