Airbus UK 2 County 1 ( Pre season Friendly) 14 July 2015
So....it was on to The Hollingsworth Group Stadium Broughton for the second of County’s pre season warm up games last night.
As per last season, this was ever likely to be a severe test, if only for the fact that Airbus would be well and truly already into their stride, as they were last term, having strutted their stuff to excellent effect in Europe against AK Locomotiva , and the Wingmakers had 10 of the 11 who played in Zagreb in last nights starting line up, so were definitely taking the game seriously!
However.....County had shown decent form themselves in Saturday’s opener at Clitheroe, and there was no shortage of quality on show, sufficient in fact to goad this writer into getting a tad optimistic, if not about this game, then about the coming season.
In the end after a really even game in which County were in no way out played , the Welsh Premier League side sneaked it 2-1. I say sneaked because again the best goal of the night came from County for whom Bell-Baggie netted another amazing strike. The reply when it came from Airbus was via a well struck but dubiously awarded free kick smack in front, and the winner from a corner that should really have been defended better.
An equaliser from County…. at any point after that, would have not been at all surprising or undeserved, but it was not to be. Anyway….this had been another very decent work out and there had been many plusses to point to…..Hurst confirmed his top level keeping remains undiminished, whilst Bell –Baggie and Colley once more pointed us towards a season full of promise and goals.
Tempted to look to those three as a M.O.M ……I might also reasonably have thoughts on Glenn Rule( another 90 minutes of pure graft and application)Lees, who is looking as sharp as ever, or either full back both of whom ran miles in County’s cause, but there were other names to consider too, but above all this was another prime team effort and augurs well for the upcoming season.
Back at 7.30 and Churchman for Gascoigne and Garvin in place of Evans were the sole changes for the yellow shirted blues, who went quickly onto the attack via Kevin Holsgrove whose lively run ended just inside the box.
Ledsham and Robson combined next, and Coates, the Airbus keeper, got down well to smother the formers shot when it came.
A tasty run from Bell-Baggie down the right punctuated a five minute period of pressure from the home side, but County defended well, and Hurst was in top form quite clearly as his save from a shot by Wade confirmed on 8 minutes, and another to deny Gray 2 minutes later.
Twice after this ….Bell-Baggie and Holsgrove probed the Airbus defences -the formers speed and latter’s power and energy well to the fore, but the Welsh side held out to hit us on the break , and Hurst again did well to keep it at 0-0 as Wade and Gray made it to the by-line.
County were to come under some pressure after this, but they withstood it well, emerging to come back at the Wingmakers through Roberts and Holsgrove both of whom looked on top of their game. A lob from Churchman discomforted Coates midst a period of County pressure, and the keeper’s flap saw County win a corner. The pressure mounted and Roberts was inches away with a volley from a superlative pass by Holsgrove.
|Rule & Bell Baggie cover a break.|
This was pretty good from County , and just got better thanks to Colley who joined the lively Holsgrove to push Airbus back on their heels, but it was not long before our hosts hit back , and Lees did well to cut Riley off as he ran onto a flick on from Gray.
We were beyond 30 minutes now, and it was a very even game. County were looking comfortable on the ball, and putting some decent moves together, it was just the finish that was lacking, as Coates dealt easily with the latest effort from Bell-Baggie.
Did I say `looking comfortable’? Well…..maybe a tad too comfy, and Hurst was seen going briefly AS when required to tip a goal bound shot from Owen over the bar, with the County cover melting away in the face of the threat. I have no doubt at all that his defensive colleagues will have taken his message on board!
Owen headed wide from the resultant corner as more pressure on County saw Morton do really well to stop Riley’s gallop.
The pressure was beginning to mount on County, with the break 10 minutes away, but events were about to take a turn for the better, as….with Airbus attacking again…..Riley was stopped in his tracks by a magic tackle from Ledsham. In a trice the ball was with Bell-Baggie and seconds later the net bulged as the diminutive hit man leathered a beauty past the beaten keeper.
That was totally excellent, and Bell- Baggie went close again not long after to emphasise his potential.
This happy situation however was halted a couple of minutes later when the referee awarded Airbus a free kick in what can only be described as a very scoreable position. I was still puzzling as to what foul had made the kick a necessity, as I looked around to see Hurst pick the ball up out of his net- Field having sent an immaculate finish well to the keeper’s right!
One all at the break was a good effort, but I thought we deserved more from the 45 minutes that we had just witnessed, and I felt that Airbus, with their superior match fitness, would come at us big time upon the re-start, as I prepared to face the second 45 deeply traumatised due to the absence of sustenance, having declined to purchase burger and chips, the only `food source' available circa 8.15 pm.
A Garvin free kick, and a shot from Ledsham opened County’s account in the second half, but Hurst was called on to make another good save 5 minutes in, from Riley, whose push on Roberts had been ignored by the referee in the build up.
For a time some neat moves came from County, with Colley and Bell-Baggie well to the fore, and Holsgrove and Ledsham sniffing for scraps, but still the best saves were coming at the County end where Hurst was again discomforted by the officials who allowed Riley to steal clear whilst clearly offside. The County keeper made the save….another good one…..but we needed better from the men in black!
A shot by Colley, and some brilliant defending from Garvin lit up the next few minutes, and still County looked well capable of doing something, and Bell- Baggie was not far away from latching onto a neat ball from Morton at the sharp end!
With Evans now on for Bell-Baggie, and Airbus pressing, the cry of `Squeeze…Squeeze’ came from the County bench, and the defence responded well, fending off a series of determined raids from the home side.
Eventually however….this pressure told and one corner too many conceded saw the Welsh side take the lead as County failed to clear the ball as it landed in the box, allowing Jones to take advantage and lash the ball into the net from close in.
Credit to County….they did not wilt after that blow …indeed some excellent football put Airbus under the cosh for much of the time…we just needed a touch of luck….but instead a thunderous drive from Ledsham crashed into a defender flying harmlessly wide, and Roberts was a whisker away from reaching Holsgrove’s pass in the box
It went on…..Lofthouse almost there with his first touch, as Coates was called on to pull off a couple of good stops in rapid succession, looking on helplessly as a Garvin effort cleared the bar by inches.
Twice Lees went close with headers, and Evans was unlucky not to turn more good work from Lees into the gold of a goal, as County continued to push for an equaliser that would not have been a great surprise to anyone or a significant injustice!
Despite further efforts by Holsgrove, Lofthouse and a late free kick from Rule, it was not to be, and Airbus took the win, whilst County came away with much credit!
On to Edgeley Park this coming Saturday and the visit of FC Halifax- do not be tempted to miss it!
Airbus UK line up:
Coates, Owens, McGinn, Pearson, A Jones, Field, Owen, Wade, Riley, Gray, Budrys.
Healing, K Jones, R Evans, Williams, Spittal, Murphy, Barrow, Jackson.
County line up:
Hurst, Morton, Roberts( Duxbury 75), Lees, Churchman( Ellison 69), Rule, Bell-Baggie( Evans 62), Ledsham( Lofthouse 75), Colley( Glover 72), Holsgrove, Garvin.
Attendance : 194