Stockport County 0 FC Halifax Town 0 ( Pre Season Friendly) 18 July 2015
A quick dash through the history books reveals a few interesting facts about Halifax.
For starters, I am guessing that you , like myself, thought that it was the French who were responsible for the discovery of the guillotine, but they were not….the dreadful instrument of execution originated in Halifax,in 1286, and in the early 17th century, and long after, the notorious `Halifax Gibbett’ was still removing Yorkshire heads from Yorkshire bodies with gruesome regularity.
I am guessing too that natives of Halifax are somewhat proud of their history including the above element, and they are even prouder of the fact that William Herschel, of said parish, discovered the planet Uranus in 1766.
When it comes to more recent history Halifax has less to gloat about ,indeed January 6th 1934 is a date long forgotten by men and women from those parts, as it was the day when the Halifax Town football team came up against Stockport County and lost 13-0- a score that still stands as the Football League Record !
To expect anything like that score line today would have extended hope past delusion through into something bordering on insanity, and indeed we did not get anything like it. What we got was a 0-0 draw, but one that did nothing to dent the optimism engendered in me in the preceding two pre season games.
It was another decent showing by a team that I fancy even the hardiest of sceptics might just be tempted to feel good about. They play together nicely….work hard for 90 minutes ( Rule has played all 270 thus far ,and looked the part throughout!), and in Abs Baggie, and Micah Evans we have lively wide men who look likely to bring the best out of Colley….Odejahi and others. As I say….there was a neatly ordered look about County’s play, and I saw nothing but smiles and kind words for the team as I headed for home at the end of 90 minutes, and those smiles can only have got broader on reaching home and hearing that Sefton Gonzales had been signed from Clitheroe. He looked excellent against us( read hedgegrower`s match report from Clitheroe) , and should add to the already obvious oomph in the side.
There was a start for Kayode Odejayi ,come 3 o’clock, which was good ,but I was disappointed to see Lamin Colley relegated to the subs bench, as he had been one of the top performers thus far this pre-season. Ryan Ellison got another run out at the back alongside Mark Lees whilst the rest of the team consisted of faces familiar from the previous two games, whilst Charlie Russell got a decent run out later on, and showed up well.
An early touch by Odejayi earned him applause, but the first couple of minutes ended with the busy Ledsham crowded out in the box as Odejayi headed on a free kick from Roberts.
This was not half bad from County as Rule saw a shot charged down by one of a line of white shirted defenders.
Evans kept the momentum going latching onto a loose ball before surging dangerously into the box. It was a chance, and again applause rang out as Micah’s shot was pushed around the post by the diving Matt Glennon.
Although the corner was wasted, County kept up the good work with Evans and Baggie switching flanks to good effect- the latter again attracting petulant fouls as early as the 9th minute.
Ledsham was another coming in for some `stick’, in the form of afters that the referee totally failed to spot!
It was pretty much all County at this juncture, with Rule bestriding midfield like a glorious colossus , and only the most dubious of offside flags stopped Odejayi from opening his pre-season account, as Morton added oomph to Baggie`s neat pass, sending the County number 9 clear.
It was 20 minutes before the visitors showed up in the County half- Lees dealing routinely with a first time cross from Scott McManus. There seemed to be a hand to ball moment in the mix next as Andy Bishop and Sam Walker made good progress through the middle of the blue back line. It looked a tad iffy for a second or two, but Hurst did really well to deny both men the final sniff of the ball they craved!
Garvin had a decent shot saved by Glennon after this, but for a couple of minutes it was Halifax who called the shots albeit without a great amount of bight- Bishop’s shot drifting tamely wide.
A lob from James Kingsley fared no better, being pushed over the bar by Hurst, as County reduced the Yorkshire side to shooting from distance!
Back came County through Ledsham whose shot climbed over the bar from another Roberts free kick. Evans followed this up with a dazzling run that had the County faithful roaring with delight. The run petered out inside the box faced with a multitude of white shirts, but this was worth watching.
With 10 minutes left of the half County had the ball on the break, and very nearly had a goal as well, the ball flowing from Ledsham to Odebayi, then to Garvin via the imperious Baggie. Garvin’s shot looked hard and true but so was Glennon’s response and he kept it out in great style.
Evans was continuing to impress, more than in the previous games, and very much like Baggie he was a magnet for the lumpant foul, but County failed to capitalise on the latest in this sequence and it stayed 0-0, despite Garvin testing Glennon again with another top notch shot. Again….Glennon made the save to deny the County man.
The half ended with Ledsham chewing grit again courtesy of the none too particular Whitehouse, and Baggie doing his best to earn a penalty. His run was brilliant….his dive less so, but it raised a smile as the teams left the field to applause.
The re-start saw an Evans run just halted in the box by a clutch of defenders.
Halifax replied with a free kick and a corner, but with Rule organising and Ledsham and Evans working hard at the back, County held out easily enough.
It was then Halifax’s turn to defend and it took all the concentration that Bishop and James Bolton could muster to stop Evans who had combined neatly with Baggie.
County were beginning to warm up again, and the ball flew between Ledsham, Garvin and Evans, whose shot was mere inches away from opening the scoring. Another foul from Halifax kept the pressure on, and Garvin’s free kick fizzed in and past the post with the defence nowhere.
County made a triple personnel change on the hour. Colley, Holsgrove and Monteiro coming on for Ledsham, Garvin and Evans, all of whom left to applause.
The changes seemed not to have hindered County’s cohesion as within minutes Halifax were pushed back again as Morton and Baggie combined in impressive style down the right.
Glennon stopped that one with another neat save, only for the Morton/ Baggie combo to come at the visitors once more. It took the combined talents of Matty Brown and Jake Hibbs to attempt to keep the increasingly elusive Baggie quiet as he responded to Morton’s final ball. They failed….and Baggie was distinctly unlucky to see his shot strike the side netting instead of the back of the net!
Jordan Burrow was emerging as a possible threat for Halifax, but the finish from him did not match the approach play and County remained unruffled, whereas at the other end Baggie was causing mayhem and Colley was a whisker away from netting at the back post from his ball.
County faced the last 20 minutes with Charlie Russell on for Kayode Odejayi.
Free kicks at both ends enlivened proceedings….County’s wall holding firm after Ellison had fallen foul of the referee , and County failing to capitalise on a half decent chance with their kick a couple of minutes later.
|It takes 2 to stop Holsgrove !|
Hibbs missed a sitter for Halifax , with 12 minutes left, and Burrow again failed to impress with his finishing when reasonably well set, not long after, but it was still County who looked the more likely to trouble the scorer-Elliott Whitehouse throwing the mother of all tantrums on conceding a free kick under pressure.
Although the kick came to nought, County were not finished especially Baggie who totally shredded the left side of the Halifax defence with a brilliant run. This was really excellent and so was Russell’s response but he was inches from putting Baggie’s pass away!
Applause rang out next in response to good work by Russell, then Baggie whose run threatened to turn Whitehouse inside out. The defender was more than pleased to somehow settle for conceding a corner when far…far worse threatened.
Morton went close from the corner, and Colley even closer with a shot that only just curled the wrong side of the post. Colley looks the genuine article to me!
Late….late handbags came next as Kevin Roberts took exception to Baggie showing him up again.
This mini storm ended with a card apiece to the two main participants. County got the free kick and Ellison was very very close indeed to forcing Rule’s kick in at the back post. It was not to be though and the end came with the score still 0-0, but I saw no one prepared to complain after what had been another decent performance from County against another team of reputedly higher pedigree.
Great stuff…..can’t wait for the next instalment against Bolton on Wednesday at Edgeley Park!
County line up:
Hurst, Morton, Roberts, Ellison, Lees, Garvin ( Holsgrove 60), Baggie, Rule, Odejayi( Russell 70), Evans( Monteiro 60), Ledsham( Colley 60).
Subs not used:
Tyson, Churchman, Duxbury, Lofthouse.
FC Halifax Town line up:
Glennon,Bolton, McManus( Roberts 58), Kingsley, Bencherif, Whitehouse, Burrow, Bishop( McDonald 69), Walker( Hattersley 69), Brown, Hibbs.
Subs not used:
Attendance ; 1053