Stalybridge Celtic 1 County Development Squad 1 ( Lancashire League West) 30 April 2015
County’s Development Squad drew 1-1 last night, away at Bower Fold against Stalybridge Celtic. This is a decent result…....but the stats just do not reflect what went on. The young Hatters should have amassed a cricket score, and would have but for an outstanding performance from Callum Hill the Celtic keeper. Hill was brilliant throughout a one sided game, pulling off save after excellent save to deny County who, with another keeper in nets for their opponents, would have been 4 up at half time. They were not though, which was entirely down to Hill, who continued to shine after the break-a veritable Lancashire League Lev Yashin!
Almost inevitably with shots raining in on the Celtic goal, the first attack of any note from the home side saw them take the lead. It was a cracking goal, but massively against the run of play. County took just 6 minutes to equalise through substitute Bruno Correia and proceeded to pound away at their opponent’s goal but without so much as a scintilla of good fortune!
There is much to commend though about this County showing. Fullbacks Watson and Mullins were superb throughout, as was the impressive Ryan Hanson and Joey Faux, who again gave a silkily smooth 90 minute performance in midfield. The lads just have to keep doing what they are doing, they will not face the likes of young Callum every week!
As early as the 6th minute, the procession started, with Hill’s first save that disappointed Faux, after Donaldson’s power had set the chance up.
One minute on from this and Hill was there again parrying a pile driver from the lively Elliott Watson, and then defying logic by reacting again to stop a shot from Antoine Recizac from making it 1-0.
“It would not be long before a goal went in” I told myself, but I could only summon up a quick shrug of the shoulders as magic from Donaldson and Watson down the right saw a shot from the former hoofed off the line by the Celtic number 6. Watson then had another effort saved by Hill, and this was an impressive save as the shot took a slight deflection en-route.
A quick raid via a decent long ball out of defence by Stalybridge offered hope to our hosts but not for long as Connor Hancock, who pretty much sewed up the centre of the County defence with Matthew Todd, intervened impressively.
Watson and Donaldson were ruling the roost down the right, Mullins and Hanson were also doing the biz on the other flank, but there was a willingness to switch involved too, which put loads of pressure on Celtic. It took the work of 3 men to stop Donaldson`s pass from setting Recizac up , after a typically powerful run , 15 minutes in. No one stopped the County number seven next, but still there was no joy as his shot flew wide, after good work by Julian Mullins.
Twice after this Hanson’s speed of thought and action put Celtic on the verge, but both times Recizac, the recipient of Hanson`s work, was unable to hit the target.
The traffic was so….so one way, as County pounded away at their opponent’s goal- Donaldson again unlucky to see a shot creep narrowly wide.
A slight warning registered, on 20 minutes, when County were hit on the break and Celtic’s number 10 ( sorry about the numbers bit but there was no team sheet or PA announcement on the night) almost sneaked one with a lively show of opportunism.
Meanwhile it continued to be mostly County doing the attacking …..Hanson winning a free kick that somehow Celtic managed to keep out…..Mullins powering up the park to set Recizac up with a chance that only good work by the number 5 kept out.
Watson……Hanson….both went close, but again there was a warning shot across the bows for County as another break by Celtic saw Ormson handle a back pass giving the home side a very tasty free kick in the box to have a go at. County’s wall successfully defended this one, but it was to be hoped the penny had dropped on the danger of the quick break.
Past the half hour we went with County still on the front foot, none more so than Jahsiah Donaldson who tore the left side of the Staly defence to shreds with a blistering run. Donaldson’s onward pass picked out Charlie Russell nicely, and Charlie responded in brilliant style by lashing a ferocious shot in! It had `goal’ inscribed on it in large letters did this one…..it was 1-0 wasn`t it….except it was not because Hill pulled off a prodigiously good save to deny the County man!
I was still reeling from that action when it was time to gasp again as a silky move involving Faux and Mullins saw Celtic torn apart again and Recizac in on goal. This time County’s number 11 hit the target perfectly with a neat header, only to see Hill dive and grab the ball on the line!
It went on….Faux to Recizac…..a neat flick….just wide……..then more Faux/ Mullins magic and another decent effort from the improving Recizac …..met with another superb stop from Hill.
It was unbelievable stuff was this…it was still 0-0 and there were barely 10 minutes left of the first half, and I gulped in astonishment as the keepers best save yet denied the busy Joey Faux.
On…..on….it went…..Hanson…..Young both going close, whilst the 43rd minute ushered in another of those quick Celtic breaks that brought the best out of Hancock who ,having blocked the initial run by numbers 8 and 10, then preceded to sort the incoming corner as well- job one!
Mullins and Faux continued to shine for County as half time neared, and Jordan Young got in the mix nicely with a terrific bit of play that was only stopped by a bit of naughtiness from the number 6, which thankfully the referee spotted.
Needless to say Callum Hill then produced another massively good diving save to keep Hanson`s kick out and that was that for the first half……and unbelievably it was 0-0!
With Jordan Rogers on for Jordan Young , County set about righting life`s wrongs after the break, with Donaldson and Hanson straining at the leash to get a goal somehow. Thankfully their efforts never dipped in the quality department…they kept on playing the good football.
Ormson did have a sharp save to make, 5 minutes in, from number 8, but largely it was a case of County on the attack, but Donaldson`s luck was still out….his shot whistling past the post with Hill a spectator. Rogers joined the fray with some excellent work, and Russell was not that far away with his shot on the end of it.
On the hour AL made his final , double , change of personnel, bringing Bruno Correia and Kieran Crosthwaite on for Hanson and Russell.
It seemed to be a surprisingly affective move by AL ,as following a foul on Recizac, Donaldson, whose free kick came back to him off the wall, then picked out Correia with a deft follow up ball, that he put away with aplomb.
At last……1-0…….but….bugger…..no….the liner`s flag was up and the `goal` was ruled out. “ Offside” someone said, but I was not sure at all, and of course would have let the goal stand!
Kieran Crosthwaite meanwhile was getting into the game nicely….blocking a break by the number 11 , and then following this up shortly after with a couple of shots, one of which was hoofed clear off the line by one of a line of defenders.
County were piling the pressure on now, and then it happened….number 8 darted clear….advanced into the box, where with Ormson retreating to his line, he slotted a perfect finish home to give his side an improbable lead!
That was a massive shock…..but County were not fazed, and it took them just 5 or 6 minutes to get back on level terms. Faux had been unlucky with a shot, but came back with a brilliant ball that saw Correia in with a real chance. He had company but his strength told and he was able to slam the ball home in fine style to make it 1-1.
Cue more County pressure, and another shot from Correia is ushered off the line by number 6 , with Donaldson fancying the situation! Donaldson fancied the situation even more almost immediately and it looked to be 2-1 as a fierce drive headed goal ward from him, only for another magnificent diving save from Callum Hill to deny him!
Eighty minutes had gone, and I was borderline apoplectic by this point watching as Hill just managed to claw another Donaldson effort out, and further efforts from the same forward and Faux miss out by inches.
Credit to County…they kept playing their football and never descended into raw panic measures…instead Crosthwaite….Hancock…..Mullins….Correia combined in fine style keeping the pressure on their opponents.
It continued into added time with Faux missing out with a screamer, and suddenly the clouds looked about to lift as a ball into the box set Correia up nicely. It was a re-run of his goal…except there was no one to stop him slotting the easiest of goals home. But somehow he couldn’t put it away ….the ball bobbled and hit his shin and was instantly behind him, and by the time he had regained possession it was too late, the cover was back …the chance was no more.
More County pressure followed, and a shot from Recizac that came back out off a defender on the line, and that was that….the referee blew for time and the points were shared!
Well that was another belter from County, and an unbelievable performance from young Hill for Celtic.
I thoroughly recommend watching these lads…they will not disappoint!
The remaining fixtures are…..
Away v Colne Saturday 2 May 1 pm k.o.
Home ( at Cheadle Town) v Hyde Wednesday 6 May k.o 7.45 pm
County line up;
Ian Ormson, Elliott Watson, Matthew Todd, Connor Hancock, Julian Mullin, Charlie Russell( Kieran Crosthwaite 59) , Jahsiah Donaldson, Jordan Young( Jordan Rogers 45), Ryan Hanson( Bruno Correia 59), Joey Faux, Antoine Recizac.