Stockport County 1 Manchester United Under 21`s 1 ( Pre Season Friendly) 28 July 2015
County gave the latest in a string of consistently good performances in coming away with a 1-1 score line against Manchester United Under 21`s at Edgeley Park last night.
I almost used the word `held', but it would have been way wide of the mark as for the greater bulk of the game it was the side in blue that was attacking and looking good. Sure....the visitors came at us late on testing Hurst a time of two whilst about it, but NY`s County boys did not roll over and await the apparent inevitable, indeed they kept looking for the winner, that but for earlier heroics from United keeper Joel Castro Pereira would have come their way before.
I hate to single anyone out from a thoroughly excellent team performance, but ....if pushed... I will point to a monumentally good performance from the classy Lewis Montrose, who kept amazing us with his cool play from first minute to last. Tireless 90 minute showings are usually the forte of Glenn Rule, and he did not disappoint with another belter. Sefton Gonzales looked a class act too, being particularly awesome after the break when he tore into Man U with a will- only that sliver of luck was missing from the mix!
A quick mention for Karl Ledsham, who scored a cheeky one and would have notched another but for the keeper’s brilliance. Karl is rapidly forcing his way into the reckoning for a start when Boston come calling, but then he`s not alone in that is he?
There was a decent crowd inside EP at the unaccustomed start time of 7.30, and I had obtained entry without the irritation of a bag search for the first time this close season, so…..a state of relative happiness prevailed, one which almost multiplied off the scale when, within a minute of the off, Abs Baggie thumped a snap shot inches wide with the keeper scrambling to get to it.
The first 6 or 7 minute saw Baggie to the fore giving of his full repertoire of relevant football tricks. In response Man U were none too particular with the iffy tackling and County might have got that elusive first goal , 8 minutes in, had Danny Morton`s header enjoyed better luck from Jordan Thorniley`s free kick.
Matt Wilcock enjoyed a tilt at the blues on the break ,some minutes later, but the end product was not there- his shot climbing over the bar to his disappointment.
Meanwhile the foul count against the visitors continued to climb with Baggie the receiver of attention from Sadiq El Fitouri this time. Again County had a go from the kick that followed, but Karl Ledsham’s shot went wide.
All this time I had been quietly impressed with the input of Lewis Montrose for County and he was unlucky to see strength of red numbers in the box do for a determinedly excellent bit of work that took him into the opposition box.
Nearly 20 minutes had gone by, and, in a quite entertaining game, County were having pretty much all the possession that meant anything, and Ledsham saw another effort miss out narrowly after Roberts, Morton, Baggie and Odejayi had moved the ball about in superb style, putting the reds under the cosh.
This pressure continued to mount as Montrose controlled midfield along with Rule in textbook manner. United’s cover remained reasonably steady in response although they were a tad fortunate to see Lewis’s shot drift inches wide on the end of prodigious work from Kayode Odejayi.
This went on with Ledsham again going close, and Morton even closer with the second of two attempts on goal.
The half hour mark saw no change in the games pattern, or the Man U foul count as another free kick for a foul by Digby on Odejayi heralded an almighty scramble inside the United six yard box. Eventually the ball was cleared way out to Ledsham who awaited its arrival just beyond half way. Pereira by this time had advanced some way off his line, thus…with the wags in the crowd advising “ shoot” ….Ledsham did just that….launching an improbable effort high into the air towards the United goal. For Pereira it was one of those dream time/ legs in treacle moments as he hurried back to his line, but it was too late and although he made contact with the ball he couldn`t prevent it crossing the line.
County had the lead and it looked like Pereira was in for a nightmare night as the blues buzzed around him like flies round a jam pot ….Digby just getting his head to the ball to prevent a second as Odejayi and Baggie threatened to run riot with an orgy of inspirational passing. Sadly…Odejayi strayed offside after much pressure, and United had relief.
With 7 minutes left of the first half, at last United replied. Ledsham had just ended a barnstormingly excellent run with a less than wondrous finish, when County were hit on the break by Wilcock and Sean O’Hanlon, who had central defence neatly sewn up all night alongside Thorniley, did well to concede a corner with the pressure on.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson stole in at the back post from the corner that followed, but the kick lacked accuracy and any chance the reds had vanished.
Two minutes on from that action and more followed at the County end, where Hurst did really well to push a decent effort from Devonte Redmond round the post. Again United had no luck as the kick fizzed over…….Wilcock made to force it home, but the County cover ensured this did not happen.
Oh……and the agricultural tackles were still testing Baggies’s patience( and laying him out)the latest from Liam Grimshaw earning him the sternest of rebukes from referee Tony Moore , who I thought had a pretty decent game in charge.
From the free kick County turned the screws again….Baggie ‘s shot taking an unlucky deflection- the subsequent corner seeing Pereira flapping alarmingly whilst trying to reach a testing ball into the box from Morton. A jinking run from Baggie, ended on the edge of the box, and ended the first half which had been pretty good pre season fair.
It had also been a pretty good showing from County’s team who had, to a man, done a days work before reporting for duty tonight, rather than spent the time polishing their bling!
First off following the re-start, we saw United go on the offensive through Redmond, who dragged a poor effort well wide after what had been a promising run.
This only served to ignite County’s desire to respond, and they did…via Gonzales whose first time cross caused momentary panic in the Man U ranks. Gonzales was on a roll now, but sadly inches from putting Roberts probing diagonal ball home at the back of the box.
That was Roberts’ final contribution as he took a knock and had to be replaced by Ryan Ellison.
The force was still with County as the hour mark approached, but Pereira was putting my earlier doubts as to his ability, to bed as a neat bit of work by him saw off a goal bound whiz bang from Ledsham. O’Hanlon was a fag papers width away from glory when the kick came over, and I look forward to seeing him have better luck throughout the Conference North season.
County replaced Baggie with Micah Evans around this time , which was like for like, but within a couple of minutes Man U were level as County failed to tidy up at the back allowing Redmond to set Tim Fosu- Mensah up with a scoring chance which he put away with aplomb!
Match over……cue United blitzkrieg ? Not a bit of it…..back came the blues and O`Hanlon was not far away with a header after Gonzales had run the red defence ragged. The corner saw more angst for United and Guillermo Varela was happy to hurriedly hack the pill towards Hardcastle Road with Odejayi combining neatly with Ledsham.
It looked just a matter of time before County would get that second goal, but not if Pereira had any say in it, and his dive dished Gonzales, keeping his goal bound effort in play. The keeper was in tip top form and was there again shortly after, taking two goes to sort another from Gonzales and keep it at 1-1.
The Edgeley Park crowd were warming to Gonzales’ terrific skills and more magic from him saw Rule go within an ace of picking Ledsham out in front of goal.
County were keeping their game nicely together and kept commendably on the front foot ….Rule using his powerful engine to keep the supply going…... Odejayi doing his best to add a finish to same. United’s cover held though and you would expect their younger …full time legs to start to take control at some point soon, but we were way past the hour now and there was no sign of this happening yet, although Hurst did have to make a stop at his near post from Redmond who had been sent clear by Fosu- Mensah.
Lamin Colley was now on for Odejayi, and he and O’Hanlon almost gave County the lead from Rule’s free kick……it was now the County players’ turn to go `treacle legs’ as once….twice…three times either Colley or O’Hanlon saw shots come back out off Pereira almost on the line. The ball just would not go in, and…almost inevitably the referee `saw something’ and Man U were saved.
We were into the last 20 minutes now, and Pereira was in inspired form for Man U, just keeping Colley from Rule’s pass at the back post.
At this point Evans ( who was to be subbed later due to this knock) took a fearsome limb threatener from Don Love. The kick had United in panic mode and the fouls just kept on rolling this time via Varela who went straight through Gonzales from behind. Not great that from the visitors, but thankfully( from their point of view) Pereira was in good nick still and his firm punch midst the mother of all melees in the box , with 15 minutes left, kept the red cause afloat.
The visitors might have improved on ` kept afloat’ had James Weir done better on the break, but instead he wasted good work by Fosu-Mensah and Love by lifting a poor effort high over the bar.
On it went with Rule in the van pushing County forward as Gonzales and Colley had efforts blocked.
There were just 10 minutes left now and I was impressed with the fact that County were still very much in there with a definite shout.
So were United I guess but, despite a lively break by Grimshaw, neither Redmond or Wilcock could put head to ball when the cross pinged over.
Ellison and Evans……..Rule and Ledsham……. County continued to put neat combinations together, with just a touch of good fortune missing.
The last 5 minutes or so saw Man U push on a bit and Hurst did well to make the save and keep a shot from Redmond out at one point.
The visitors looked to be fancying their chances right at the death but there were no takers when a cross whizzed over from the right.
It was by no means all over as far as County were concerned and Ledsham went close with a header after United had conceded a free kick .
A late …late United free kick……a rather poor shot…..then another from Wilcock that Hurst met with a confident save, and that was the game over…a very decent game and one that had featured another top notch County performance.
Off to Cheadle Nomads then on Thursday for another look at NY`s squad, meanwhile my sole complaint from last night concerns those numbers on the County shirts which are ridiculously unreadable. Can we please sort this one?
County line up:
Hurst, Morton, Roberts( Ellison 52), O’Hanlon, Thorniley, Montrose, Baggie( Evans 56/ Holsgrove 84), Rule, Odejayi( Colley 65), Gonzales, Ledsham.
Subs not used:
Manchester United Under 21 line up:
Pereira, Love, Varela, Borthwick-Jackson, Digby, Fosu-Mensah( Mitchell 83), El Fitouri, Grimshaw, Redmond, Wilccok, Weir.
Subs not used:
Henderson, Fletcher, Riley, O’Hara.