County Development Squad 2 Workington 1( Lancashire League West) 15 April 2015

Unsurprisingly perhaps, it took a team of lawyers many months to finally get a judge in a US Court to grant a writ of Habeas Corpus, this week, freeing two chimpanzees from captivity in a biochemical research unit, whereas it took County`s highly promising Development Squad just 3 minutes to make their mark, last night,  against a decent Workington team, at Edgeley Park, thus establishing a lead they were not to relinquish in 90 odd minutes of thoroughly excellent entertainment!
The goal was a little belter….set up by Ryan Hanson, whose speed and skill stood out all game long, and put away coolly by Charlie Russell. Another goal followed from lively full back Elliott Watson, early in the second half. The Cumbrian side did claw one back in the form of a Tommy Whitehead penalty, but there was absolutely no doubt at any point as to where the points were going, after another mightily encouraging performance from Alan Lord`s side.

Hancock in charge !
Top men for me in an outstanding team performance, were captain Connor Hancock, who was a veritable powerhouse throughout, and Ryan Hanson, who was simply tremendous going forward. With A.L. setting them up in 4/3/3 formation however there was much to admire elsewhere in the team. I was totally impressed with the virtual `lock out’ established by the blue back four of Elliott Watson, Julian Mullin, Wes Benjamin and Hancock. The central two of Benjamin and Hancock are long trusted performers who deliver with regularity, but I always look to the full back positions for a clue as to a teams likely destination and again in Watson and Mullin County had the men for the job…keen defenders…..lively going forward!

Mullins sorts McKenna.
Two fresh faces graced the 3 man mid field along with Chas Russell( RM). The holding midfielder was Jack Gilchrist , with Joey Faux ( LM). “ Keep your eye on Joey” A.L. had said pre match, and how right he was….nice silky skills allied to a willingness to get back and work not always present in a modern footballer!
Up front we had Hanson, who I have mentioned, the powerfully pacy Jahsiah Donaldson, and another new face Antoine Recizac . Both Donaldson and Recizac  did more than enough to justify their place in the team, the only element lacking in their game being luck!

Ready for the off !
So ….off we went, on the stroke of 8 p.m., and it was soon apparent that County meant business with players in blue pulling their opponents this way and that with some inventive work.
As early as the second minute the pressure was on, and a goal did not look at all unlikely, and in the 3rd minute it arrived as Hanson`s inch perfect cross landed at the feet of Charlie Russell who side footed the ball home in imperious style!

Hanson to Russell.....GOAL !!!
It was mostly County in the first 10 minutes or so….County`s opponents did try to rally, but Hancock was in implacable form in the middle of the County back line, and there was simply no way through. Hanson`s speed and skill meanwhile was stretching the visitors to ridiculous limits and it took a good save from keeper Connor McAleavey to keep a terrific strike from the number nine out 11 minutes in.
Dan Grindley went close with a shot on 15 minutes for Workington, but still the overall picture was one of County pushing on with Walker and Hanson in tight tandem down the right, and Donaldson and Mullins similarly set up on the left. Another County goal was perhaps not to be long coming!

Walker v Whitehead.
Faux and Hanson almost saw Recizac in not long after, and only desperately good work by Martin Williams stopped this happening. It went on with Mullins setting Hanson up for another stinging goal bound volley, which once more brought the best out of McAleavey!
Some work for Ian Ormson.
Joey Faux
The new faces were showing up well for County at this point- Gilchrist working hard in the holding roll, whilst Faux`s deceptive skills were weaving a quiet spell…teeing Russell up one moment for another shot on goal that was inches away from success, and the next getting on the end of a neat ball from Mullins to ping another decent strike in. If that was not good enough he then sent Hanson clear with a brilliant pass , and with any amount of luck it would have been 2-0, but on this night we had McAleavey to contend with ,and he did enough to ensure that Hanson`s shot  went narrowly wide.     
I was liking the way that the likes of Faux and Hanson were tracking back and lending a hand when needed, it spoke volumes for attitude and character- as Rob Hebson found to his cost when his run was cut short by good work from Faux.

Walters puts County u/p.

After the half hour there was a flurry of activity in front of Ian Ormson`s goal- Hancock dealing nicely with one of a number of Workington free kick that came his way, and Ormson getting some work to do in grabbing a deflected shot from Grindley in the crowded box.
Again after this….Faux was involved stopping the harassed Hebson again in full flight, at one end, and having a pot at goal via a free kick at the other.

Faux`s free kick.
With half time approaching Workington were doing their best to dent the County confidence , and Hebson must have been mightily frustrated to see Hancock positioned on the line to usher his shot out on the end of a run. Hancock and Faux both weighed in again with crucial clearances under pressure as time ticked on.

Donaldson- unlucky .
The half ended with a shot from Jahsiah Donaldson just missing out, but overall 1-0 up was not a bad position to be in at all from County`s stand point.
The second half opened in spectacular fashion, with County attacking through Donaldson and Watson who, between them, thoroughly filleted the left side of the visitors defence, so much so that Watson`s run took him just inside the box where he delivered a meaty strike that took a slight deflection off a defender on its way into the net, giving County a 2-0 lead.

Donaldson on the ball.
That was excellent work from Elliot but within a couple of minutes of the last action, he  almost doubled his goal tally, and would have done  had Kieran Fitton not executed a near perfect swallow dive to head the full back`s goal bound effort out!

Hanson to the by-line.
It was nip and tuck for a time after this…..Denico Walters doing his best, along with the energetic Tom Whitehead, to organise some resistance to the County hegemony. Gilchrist in response saw the threat off. For County….both Hancock and Hanson got powerful lung bursting runs in, and Recizac squeezed in a shot from yet another neat ball by Mullins, only to find Mc Aleavey in prime form for Workington yet again.
Workington were trying hard it has to be said, but it was something of a surprise when they pulled one back around the hour mark via Tom Whitehead, who having been upended in the box by Wes Benjamin`s slider, stepped up to send an assured kick past Ormson from the spot to make it 2-1.
2-1 it is then !

The game was on now for sure, and it took determined defensive work from County to keep it at 2-1, after Walters had scooted clear putting the blues under the cosh. They responded well though….Hanson running it skilfully clear, and Donaldson  inches away from making it 3-1 on the end of a Chas Russell pass- the ball flying narrowly the wrong side of the angle of bar and post!
It really was heating up a tad now, and Benjamin did well to deny Walters….. Mullins following this up by clearing Connor Casey`s effort off the line!

County defence in good order !

With 20 minutes left, County brought George Blackwell on for Russell, as County tried to add to their lead.

On comes George Blackwell.
Hanson looked to be not that far away from doing so as he latched onto Donaldson`s thoughtful pass. He hadn`t reckoned with Fitton however, and his intervention left Hanson a sprawling mix of bruised limbs on the deck! County had a free kick, but nothing came of it so the defenders iffy tactic had worked!
Hanson was by no means cowed by the last action, and he thoroughly bamboozled Ryan Nightingale next with a nicely timed run aided by Faux. It was terrific stuff and Hanson was only prevented from making it 3-1 by the very best of saves from Mc Aleavey who clawed the forward`s  goal worthy effort out in magnificent style!

Jordan Rogers gets the call !
Good work by Ormson stopped Hebson from latching on to a rare loose ball, as with Jordan Rogers and Dave Moran now on board in place of Donaldson and Mullins, County set about making the game safe!
They went about it the right way too….on the front foot….Faux seeing a shot carry the bar……Moran upended as he darted clear …..Hanson not far away with a header, after good work in the build up from Faux and Blackwell.
Workington were not done by any means and Moran did well to put the ball over his own bar under pressure, with 3 minutes left to play. The corner did not lessen the County angst as Watson kicked the ball off the line at one point. Eventually the liners flag came to County`s aid with around 2 minutes left!
Back came the blues though and once……twice Hanson almost had the ball in the net….the second attempt hitting the foot of the keeper`s left hand post, after Blackwell and Rogers had done excellent work down the left.

County press.
County piled it on into added time….Hanson`s shot whistling past McAleavey`s post with the keeper a spectator. Then an excellent one/two twixt Recizac and Faux   saw Faux miss out by the narrowest of margins.
The game ended with Recizac in the mix again, but his shot cleared the bar to the accompaniment of a blast or two of the referee`s whistle that told us the game was over and the points were County`s.
That was another terrific showing from County, and again I say…one worthy of a larger attendance than showed up last night.
The next home game is on 6 May, but at Cheadle Town`s ground ( k.o 7.45), so why not make it to this one and give yourself something to smile happily about?

County line up:

Ian Ormson, Elliott Watson, Julian Mullin( Dave Moran 80), Charlie Russell( George Blackwell 71), Wes Benjamin, Connor Hancock, Jahsiah Donaldson( Jordan Rogers 75), Joey Faux, Ryan Hanson, Jack Gilchrist, Antoine Recizac.

Subs not used:

Dan Havern

Workington line up:

Connor McAleavey, Martin William, Ryan Nightingale, Dan Grindley, Kieran Fitton, Connor Casey, Kevin Mc Kenna, Liam  Studholme, Denico Walters , Tom Whitehead( Marcus Adigoa 71), Rob Hebson.

Subs not used;              

Daryl Pocklington, Steven Rudd.    

Ian Brown


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