Gloucester City 2 County 1 : ( Conference North ) 18 April 2015
County’s season creaked towards a conclusion at Whatton Road today, where homeless Gloucester City barely needed to break sweat to dispose of the most insipid of challenges from the Hatters.
Two nil down at half time, the blues eventually pulled it back to 2-1, but whilst there was some improvement in the second half, overall there was much lacking in the Hatters contribution to a disappointing game. Their passing was inaccurate .....the marking loose, and their play looked thoroughly lacking in confidence .
In response ,Gloucester, with captain Tom Webb celebrating the not inconsiderable milestone of 600 games for the club, were patient….kept it simple took full advantage of the early superiority of wide men Ross Staley and Femi Orenuga, to snatch a lead that they never really looked that likely to concede.
All this was not on the radar as the game opened with a County free kick that had home keeper Harvey Rivers scurrying about in front of a decent County following at the away end.
|Rivers claims the ball.|
As early as the fourth minute however, it was apparent that Staley had the evil eye on Jacobs, the County man slow off the mark allowing the wide man clear, forcing Churchman to concede a corner. The header and shot that followed the corner, were defended by the white shirted blues, only for the pressure to come back on us via Harry White who again brought Staley into the game. This was a chance for sure, but Hurst’s advance off his line probably saved the day for his team, as Staley’s shot drifted past the far post.
Already I was not at my happiest, and Staley did his best to make matters worse with another nippy run. His shot this time ended up ruffling the side netting, but it was close. So were 3 breaks by City forwards around this point- all 3 saw the liner’s flag halt the raids, so County needed to tighten up and quickly if they were going to get anything from this game.
|Sharp & Dennis , watched by Glover.|
The ninth minute saw Dennis at last give the County support something to cheer. His shot carried the bar, but it was a start, and within a minute the ex Ashton man had another go. This time the liner’s flag came to City’s aid, and with 10 minutes gone the game was still scoreless.
The next 5 minutes were largely forgettable, although Churchman did hit the target on 15 minutes, after Lofthouse had won possession, but the keeper was un-troubled by the effort. Rivers had more to do and concern him, almost immediately, in the shape of a shot on the turn from Dennis, but again he did enough to see the threat off.
|Dennis vies for possession...|
Almost 20 minutes had gone when City took the lead. Unsurprisingly perhaps, it was a run by Staley that started it, putting Hurst under some pressure. County struggled to handle the cross and completely failed to prevent the ball coming back in from the right. There was still time to limit the damage, but there was no reaction from the County defence as the ball landed at the feet of Harry White who promptly slotted the ball home, to give City a 1-0 lead!
That was massively disappointing…..County tried to get back at the home side…..Sharp forcing a corner that was wasted…..Glover seeing a shot saved by Rivers, but County continued to waste set pieces….Glover failing to test the keeper with the latest kick almost 30 minutes in.
|Glover goes for it....|
We needed better application from County, instead we got Jacobs conceding a corner under pretty much no pressure. Hurst did the biz and sorted matters when the kick came in but……….
Staley was getting oodles of space down the left, and again Hurst was called into action to deny him, as was Lees who did well to stop Nick Wright in full flight.
With 10 minutes left of the half, County did get a couple of half decent chances. They both fell to Dennis….the first saw him played clear, for Rivers to smother his shot bravely. Arguably Dennis might have done better with that one, and the argument was again possibly relevant as Rivers looked momentarily inconvenienced when one on one with the County forward. The keeper eventually came away with the ball much to the annoyance of the occupants of the away end.
|Dennis pings another shot in.|
On it went…..Femi Orenuga almost sneaking one from a cheep free kick. In response Sharp’s energy won County a corner, but this was again wasted , and any chance had gone with just 2 minutes remaining of the first half.
Any complacency at being `only’ one down….was soon dispelled, with 1 minute left when Orenuga filleted the left side of the County defence before pinging an irresistible ball in from the by-line to the predatory White, who slammed his second goal home in emphatic style.
That was it as far as first half action is concerned and I found few around the place who looked forward with any relish to another 45 minutes of what we had already observed!
Into the second half, which opened with Glover slow to respond to Sharp’s through ball, and went on with possession spilled by Churchman - White inches away from adding a finish to Staley’s pin point cross.
I was still reeling from that last action when White stepped inside Duxbury in the box, and was unlucky to see his shot deflected wide. More alarm surfaced with the sight of Sam Avery getting himself a free header…..he planted it high into the away end, but……….
|Glover on the ball.|
Discount a Glover ball that saw Sharp just denied by Rivers speed off the mark, and the next 5 minutes or so were all City with Orenuga in his element teasing the County defence bringing a good save from Hurst in reply! O`Halloran joined the fray blocking Wright, and was there again almost immediately stopping Webb from putting the third City goal in with County fully stretched. Staley maintained the pressure with another wince inducing cross, but White’s effort cleared the bar.
|O`Halloran to the rescue.|
That was close, and O`Halloran had done really well ,and notionally kept us in the game!
On it went much in the same vein with a O`Halloran/ Duxbury combo preventing Avery from forcing the ball in from a corner, but ,after the hour, something of a gilt edger surfaced for Gloucester via Orenuga who was on a run through the middle. All of a sudden…..he was in the clear, and then he wasn’t as he lost his footing and went sprawling much to County’s immense relief!
|Sharp /Churchman in the thick of it.|
In response nothing that County tried worked…..be it free kick( thumped into the wall by Dennis) or corner….won by Sharp ,but wasted by Churchman. It was disappointing stuff, and Dennis added to the disappointment with another tame effort that caused Rivers little anxiety.
With 20 minutes left Phil Brown opted for a double personnel change ,bringing Ryan and Woolfe on for Lofthouse and Glover.
Ryan had a couple of interesting runs after this, and Woolfe did manage to improve on past free kicks- no goal resulted, but it was a welcome improvement, after some of the dross that had gone before!
Meanwhile Orenuga continued to give County nightmares with his nippy runs and close control, and Hurst did well to smother Staley`s shot from the latest incisive pass from City`s number eleven.
That was Staley’s last act, as he was then substituted, but Hurst had more work to do getting to and keeping out Billy Jones’ free kick that fizzed into the box.
|Good stuff from Hurst !|
There were just 10 minutes left when County offered their support some hope. A free kick started it, and it was another better one from Woolfe. Sharp`s header that followed was kept out but not O`Halloran’s follow up effort that nearly took the netting from its moorings!
Amazingly Gloucester then took Orenuga off, which now meant that both their gold standard danger men were now the wrong side of the touchline!
County did try in the last few minutes, but it lacked real conviction…..County winning a free kick only for Woolfe to blot his copy book by wasting it. Dennis and O`Halloran both saw shots climb over the bar.
|County free kick on the way......|
|.......but it fails to trouble Rivers.|
If that was disappointing, there was also some relief in the air as well…..Hurst doing well to stop a decent strike from Webb out, and the Lees/ O`Halloran partnership did for a late run from White.
Eventually the whistle went and another disappointing County performance was at an end.
Just one game to go now before the season’s end, and we get time to look to next season under whoever we wind up with as Manager.
See you at Edgeley Park then, next Saturday, when hopefully County can end this season on a more hopeful note.
Gloucester City line up:
Rivers, Green, Jones, Williams, Avery, Connolly, Staley( Thompson73) , Webb, Wright( Modest 82), White, Orenuga( Knowles 83).
Subs not used:
Richards, White P.
County line up:
Hurst, Jacobs, Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Moses ( Russell 89), Churchman, Lofthouse( Woolfe 70), Glover( Ryan 70),Dennis, Sharp,
Subs not used: