Clitheroe FC 0 Stockport County 3 ( Pre Season Friendly) 11 July 2015







County came away with a satisfying 3-0 win from their opening pre-season match at Shawbridge against a Clitheroe side who were clearly up for it.
Indeed.....within a few minutes County might have been a couple adrift as chances came and went for the hosts. The chances were spurned and ...responding County put theirs away , and decent goals they were too.
First off Lamin Colley underlined his obvious potential with a lively showing capped by a clinical finish that calmed any blue nerves early on. Add another ,this time a real belter from Abdulai Bell-Baggie, and a fearsome back post header from Karl Ledsham after the break and that was County`s win wrapped up, barring some lively exchanges late on with the home side pressing to  attempt to dent County`s confidence. Sefton Gonzalez was the primary threat for Clitheroe, but when he got through invariably Hurst was there to thwart him.

 
The County Bench await the off!
Everyone got a game ,including a couple I had not heard of previously, and I must say I was impressed by Colley`s ability to disturb and ruffle the opposing defence....both fullbacks I thought were excellent and some of the first time passing in midfield involving Robinson, Rule and Holsgrove was most pleasing to see, whilst Bell- Baggie drew foul after foul from his harrassed opponents - it was pretty much the only way to stop him!.


 
County line up.
So....a decent showing.....but back to 3 o`clock and a fantastic crowd of over 400 gave both teams a rousing welcome .

The Shawbridge pitch had a prodigious slope at one end , but neither team seemed fazed by this . Faced by a County back line of Morton, Lees, Gascoigne and Roberts, Clitheroe piled onto the attack , and almost took the lead ,just 2 minutes in, when Ross Dent slipped a beaut of a ball into Jon Hession`s path. He might have scored....he should have scored....he didn`t...the shot went wide much to Danny Hurst`s relief.
One minute on from that action and another chance came Clitheroe`s way this time to Sefton Gonzalez, but this time Hurst did enough to put the striker off allowing Lees to clear the ball.
Eventually the early storm looked to be subsiding as  Gareth Roberts reached the by-line with the first of several penetrating runs. A foul by Holsgrove on Dave Lynch did for County`s chances , but it was a start.
County were clearly trying to get something going, but early pre season rust was still in evidence as free kicks were conceded and a couple of really iffy ...loose back passes just put pressure back on, and it was by no means surprising when  another opportunity to score invited the hosts to take it. 

 
An early Clitheroe free kick.
It fell to Hession on this occasion , and again the goal gaped but , his shot hit the bar and bounced down on the line whereupon Hurst grabbed it before despatching it up the park!
8....9...10 minutes had passed and had Clitheroe possessed a finish to go with the energy we might have been behind. We were not however and County began to slowly put things to rights .

 
Colley to the fore !
 Colley and Roberts teased and tore at the Lancashire sides right flank.
 Evans and Bell-Baggio were in the mix too, and with Rule and Robinson beginning to up the supply  from midfield, things started to look distinctly better.

 
Evans has it.....

We just needed a goal.....
Holsgrove drilled one just wide on 18 minutes after Roberts had flicked Robinson`s pass Holgrove`s way, but the goal very nearly came at the other end as again a cross in from the left found County`s defence in difficulties.


 
Holsgrove battles...Rule offers support !

 Again....Hession was the man on the end of it , but somehow he couldn`t control the ball with the goal at his mercy, and County were able to recover and clear it.  
The clearance saw Holsgrove in again , and this time it was County`s chance to open the scoring, but whilst Holsgrove finessed his effort beyond Jakovlevs, the home keeper, it went narrowly over the bar.
If that was disappointing, that feeling did not last long...4 minutes in fact, during which time County mounted a series of raids the last of which saw Lamin Colley sent through, one on one with the keeper. Somehow Jakovlevs managed to stop Colley`s first effort, and....joined by two defenders...Colley`s chances of scoring  looked negligible, but we reckoned without his steely determination as he shrugged off a couple of further rebuffs to calmly slot the ball impudently home from a fair angle! 


 
Colley plants it in the net !

Great stuff....excellent goal!
For a while it looked like the floodgates might open and sweep Clitheroe away, and Jakovlevs did really well to keep a strike by Holsgrove out with his legs.

 
Holsgrove goes close !

Gonzalez continued to offer Clitheroe their best chance of making something happen, but by the half hour mark and beyond County`s early jitters had largely been ironed out, and with less than 15 minutes left of the half they doubled their advantage ,and it was a real belter from Bell-Baggie  who darted clear through the middle before slamming  the sweetest of shots way past anything the keeper could produce in response!




 
Roberts(top) & Colley( below) put pressure on....
With Robinson working his socks off , and Morton and Roberts providing ammo for the lively Colley to exploit, times were hard for the home side as half time neared.
We simply didn`t need WW3 to break out , but smack on the break that`s what we looked in for as Holsgrove and Lynch came together in time honoured fashion , before being joined in a testosterone tango by all and sundry.

 
WW3 ?

To be fair it did not last long and reason won out after a short conference and words of admonishment from referee to the offenders.
 
Armistice !


I thought that 2-0 was OK all things considered, at half time, would County`s legs hold out......just one question in the air as the teams came out again for the second half.
Well it was clear that Clitheroe had designs on testing out those County legs, and the early minutes after the re-start saw County pushed back a fair bit, and it took a brilliant save by Hurst on 50 minutes to keep it at 2-0, as substitute Jamie Mathias volleyed in a thunderous effort from Dom Brady`s pass. Anti climax followed for Clitheroe, when the ensuing corner saw Greg Anderson`s shot charged down. And...it got worse as Bell-Baggie made to hit the home side on the break. It looked good for County ...and then it didn`t as Bell- Baggie was unceremoniously dumped by Ross Dent.
Clitheroe managed to clear the free kick and swung quickly onto the attack bringing another good save from Hurst who came out bravely to deny Brandon Barsky from close in.


 
Colley- still running late on !

Yes.....Clitheroe were very much trying to make a game of it..... Colley....Ledsham both had their moments, but it was still 2-0 and that`s a score line capable of being overturned- but not if Hurst had any say in it as another impressive save left Gonzalez wincing in anguish as the keeper saved another near certain goal.

County were ringing the changes now, and Hurst departed to a rousing ovation ,on the hour, being replaced by Paul Tyson, ex Oldham Athletic.
Baggie was warming to his task now, and panic ensued in the box as his cross pinged over , and the ensuing melee saw Anderson almost slice the ball into his own net.
 
Bell-Baggie gets his cross in !

Robson did likewise down the other flank- his cross causing all manner of issues for the home defence, but somehow they held out, being eventually undone by another of those indiscretions just outside the box. The free kick this time saw Bell-Baggie stand over the ball before lifting a peach of a kick to the back post where everyone and his dog went up for it. Ledsham and Glover were closest, and the ex Southport and Barrow man won out ,powering a terrific header into the net to make it 3-0.



 
and Ledsham prepares to head another one home!
It was good to see young Ryan Hanson get a few minutes at the end , but it was not enough match time for him to have impressed the manager, but hopefully he will get more  soon.
Ryan Hanson prepares to come on.

Both teams plugged away at the death- Glover going closest for County, but it stayed 3-0, and I for one put that down as a decent first offering!

Clitheroe FC line up:

Jakovlevs, Heywood, Cattermole, Brady,  Anderson, Dent, Hession, Lynch, Gonzalez, Hayes, Walker.
Subs used;  Mathias, Mulkerrin, Barsky, Garner, Palfry.

County line up:

Hurst ( Tyson 60), Morton, Roberts, Lees, Gascoign( Churchman 55), Rule, Bell- Baggie( Hanson 78), Robinson( Lofthouse 68), Colley( Russell 72), Holsgrove( Glover 55), Evans( Ledsham 28).

Attendance: 404


Ian Brown

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