County Development Squad 0 Hyde FC 3 ( Lancashire League West) 6 May 2015
County’s Development Squad had to settle for a final league position just outside the top three, at the end of their first season together in the Lancashire League, after going down 3-0 to Hyde FC at Edgeley Park last night.
The Hyde side looked every bit as quick and interesting as their seniors had done against us, in the replayed game this term, and always looked winners. For County, it was a rare disappointing performance in a season they can be justly proud of. Fresh from beating the league leaders on their own patch, this challenge proved too much of a hurdle for the blues to clear, and they had to dig deep at times ,depending heavily on the relatively experienced defensive heads of Connor Hancock, Wes Benjamin and Matthew Todd. The fast improving Josh Powell was in the mix too, pulling off a clutch of decent saves to keep the score line respectable.
Praise too for Joe Noblett who was pressed into defensive service for long periods due to a head injury incurred by Wes Benjamin- Joe covered masses of ground and did it well, and the reshuffled County back four of Young, Todd, Noblett and Fitton saw the last 25 minutes out without conceding a goal!
The blues looked a tad jaded however, and earlier goals…one from Sam Fitton and two from George West were enough to win it for the Tamesiders.
After concerted publicity pre-match it was somewhat disappointing to see only 115 in the main stand, to see Alan Lord’s highly promising side in the last fixture of season 2014/15.
Joe Noblett had an early shot on target, but this did not trouble keeper Danny Whiting. Jai Donaldson and Mike Hampson looked more likely, around this time, to cause issues for Hyde, but when the former beat Kieren Burywood to set a decent chance up, he dragged his shot narrowly wide.
|Hampson on the ball.......|
Hyde were quick to respond through Pete Boyle and Sam Fitton, but Benjamin did enough to see the threat off.
So far so good, but the 10 th minute saw another break set George West up to open the scoring. It was a hammer blow to County’s hopes of ending the season on a high, and Hancock had to look lively to nullify another threat, this time from Rob Swallow soon after.
Ryan Hanson had a shot on target, but like Noblett’s earlier, it caused Whiting no issues at all, instead County were pushed back by a series of raids one of which saw Hancock ` take one for the team’ as Sam Fitton surged clear.
West’s kick was a decent effort, but Josh Powell saw it the right side of the woodwork and it stayed 0-1.
A head injury to Benjamin reduced County to 10 for a while after this, and …commendably…with Donaldson and Hampson to the fore…..County went on the attack ignoring the numbers in-balance.
It was over 10 minutes before Benjamin was able to return to the fray, with the score still 0-1. Boyle had skimmed the bar with one effort, but apart from that, County had coped pretty commendably whilst down to 10.
Twice after this …Noblett put pressure on Hyde…a shot giving the keeper work to do, and a free kick pushing the Hyde defence back on their heels. Jordyn Fitton did likewise, and Whiting struggled with the corner won by County`s full back with 5 minutes left of the half.
The finish was missing for the blues and the moment passed un-rewarded, as did another again, set up by the County number three, a couple of minutes later.
Steve Higgins went as close as anyone in blue to notching one- a dipper from him causing Whiting a flutter or two as it headed for goal, only diverting minutely away at the last moment.
Both teams had a go in the run in to the break……
Josh Powell having to make a decent double save to prevent Lee Wilshaw, and Sam Fitton ,from doubling Hyde’s tally.
A free kick by Jordyn Fitton saw Ryan Hanson lift his shot over the bar, and the same forward was inches away from glory when Whiting snatched the ball off his toes as he went for a long ball in the box!
That was the first half done and dusted, and it was good to see James Gannon along with Fitzy in the stands supporting the County team, as I went in a fruitless search for a pie at half time.
County were quickly under the cosh on the re-start, and Hancock did well to prevent further damage, with West and the Hyde Fitton looking lively.
Swallow looked even livelier and Hancock did his best work yet to rescue the blues as the number seven swept inside beyond Jordyn Fitton. The pressure was on, but Benjamin joined the fray and did enough to ensure Swallow was denied a shot on goal.
I began to perk up a bit 5 minutes into the half, as Whiting had to scramble in ungainly fashion to stop Noblett’s free kick from counting.
Then Donaldson went close with another effort, but it was the lull before the storm and a small tsunami hit us in the shape of George West who shrugged off several attempted tackles before stabbing his side`s second goal home!
That was a good goal, and ….. but for good work from Josh Powell another would have quickly followed as Swallow tore into the blues again!
Although County were trying to get back into it ( Noblett had a shot saved 10 minutes in) Powell was the busier of the 2 keepers at this point, and his defence had to work really hard to give him support- Benjamin doing just that and earning fulsome applause for putting the shackles on Boyle as he broke clear.
Yes….the pressure was very much on County, and it was no surprise when they leaked another goal. Again it came via Sam Fitton, and had more than a touch of good fortune about it ( taking a deflection en-route),but I guess he had earned his luck ,and it was 0-3 ,and County had to work on putting things right.
It did not greatly help that Benjamin had to be substituted with 25 minutes still to play, being replaced by Kieron Crosthwaite, and the next few minutes saw shots from Boyle and Fitton go close for the visitors- Powell doing particularly well to deny Boyle.
Noblett was now at the back again and doing well, as was Crosthwaite who announced his arrival with a neat tackle to stop West’s run, but Hyde looked well capable of inflicting further damage on their opponents, and it was a major surprise that neither Boyle nor substitute Adam Jones could finish off a move that had the blues stretched.
With Jordan Young and Will Hartley on late on, County set about limiting Hyde`s successes ….Todd clearing one effort off the line….Hanson and Todd again in there with further hard work blocking Hyde`s route to goal.
Late free kick`s by Hanson put some pressure on Hyde, and Whiting did make a five courser out of one of them , but there never really looked a likelihood that the arrears would be reduced, indeed it took excellent defending from Jordan Young to keep it at 0-3 as West ( twice) burst clear at the death.
Whiting did have one from Donaldson to deal with just before the whistle, but no one thought anything other than that Hyde were worthy winners on the night.
For County….. the fulsome consolation of knowing that their first season in a strong league had seen them perform really well…..get results….and play decent football whilst getting them.
That will do for me!
County line up:
Josh Powell, Matthew Todd, Jordyn Fitton, Steve Higgins, Connor Hancock( Jordan Young 79),Wes Benjamin(Kieron Crosthwaite 67), Jai Donaldson, Joe Noblett, Mike Hampson, George Blackwell( Will Hartley 83), Ryan Hanson.
Hyde FC line up:
Danny Whiting, Kieron Burywood( Adam Lawrence 71), Lee Wilshaw, George Riley, Marcus Dibble, Jack Pritchard, Rob Swallow, Lee Gregory, Peter Boyle( Liam Delaney 77), Sam Fitton( Adam Jones 68), George West.