FC United of Manchester 1 Stockport County 2 ( Vanarama National League-North) 11 August 2015
Just when you think its safe……………yes….those scientists have been at it again….messing with my slender grasp on sanity!
Apparently a massive survey of galaxies, undertaken by the `men and women in white coats’ , has revealed that…..wait for it……`the precise levels of energy generated within an immense segment of space, are now only one half of what they ( allegedly) were ….errr……2 billion years ago’. These levels, we are told, are continuing to fade, pointing towards the somewhat alarming prognosis that the Universe is dying!
Hmm…..that’s as maybe……but last night I saw no appreciable decrease in energy levels displayed by County, compared with their exhilarating output on Saturday at Edgeley Park.
Last night’s showing was every bit as `fully energised’ as Saturday’s had been, as they came back from a goal down to claim a thoroughly merited 2-1 win against FCUM, in the inaugural competitive match at Broadhurst Park.
It was another stunning performance from County, one matched by an in form showing from the 500 or so who made the short trip. Saturday’s watch words were work rate, and application, but last night the blues added another to the growing list…. character, and they had this and showed it in shed loads, being pitched against a vociferous home crowd who made for a combustible atmosphere. The crowd also unfortunately held great sway with the referee, the truly awful Jonathon Hunt ( he of the Widow Twanky auditions back in March at Hyde), who gave free kick after ludicrous free kick , mostly against County, for trivialities and imaginings at times. Despite his consummate comedic timing, the joke wore very thin indeed as the game went on and on into added time with free kicks coming FCUM`s way , by the cart load. That County survived that late nonsense was a truly remarkable performance, but one wholly justified by the excellence of their play- defensively…as I have said…they were superb….all 11!
I thought O`Hanlon and Thorniley were immense. Montrose stood out for me elsewhere, up and down the pitch much as Glenn Rule has. For the first 45 minutes County looked the better of the two sides and it was something of a shock when they conceded a goal against the run of play mid way into the half. County went in at the break one down, having had loads of possession but not caused too much of a problem for the FCUM keeper.
The introduction of Abs Baggie after 30 minutes did pep things up more than a touch at the sharp end though, and his input was instrumental in causing the unease in the home ranks that finally undid them via two excellent goals from Calum Dyson and Kayode Odejayi.
Back to 7.45 then and it was a shock, despite pre-warnings, to find the volume of flat terracing that covered the whole area into which the County support was housed. It was a real bugger to see the action at times, in what is but half a decent stadium.
NY stuck with the starting 11 that had served him and us so well on Saturday, but it was good to see that Baggie was on the bench after his recent injury issues.
It was less pleasing to see Jonathon Hunt in charge in the middle and he quickly announced himself in true vaudevillian style by awarding FCUM their first free kick ,within seconds of the start, for the first innocuous 50/50. Tom Greaves did his best to sneak through onto the free kick, but he was offside , and the near side liner did his job and raised his flag.
I strained mightily for the next couple of minutes trying to settle on a spot from which I might actually see the action, but, despite my difficulties, I could work out that County were pushing FCUM back and were spending some time in their half of the field.
Dave Carnell, in the FCUM goal was a busy lad at this point, but it was mainly back passes and over hit through balls that were his issue, nothing more lethal was coming his way just yet, although Gareth Roberts was doing his best to whip something up down the left. A couple of County corners increased the notional pressure on Carnell, but he withstood it well enough.
FCUM for their part, were restricted to lone sorties at this point, and shots from way out, but one of these by Rory Fallon failed to test Hurst.
O`Hanlon and Thorniley looked well in control, and Montrose did well too getting back twice to block Greaves’ break, and deny another down the left.
All was going pretty well…..and…after 10 minutes…..notwithstanding the neck ache…..County fans seemed a happy bunch.
Two minutes later we had the amusing side show of Craig Lindfield going mental , after the most laughable `handball’ `appeal ever had been turned down by the otherwise obliging Mr Hunt!
If that was amusing…what happened next distinctly wasn’t. Morton had just treated us to the second of two imperious headers , when we were joined in the away end by two large stones that crashed into our midst , from outside the ground, via a floodlight pylon.
The steward in our corner went into chocolate teapot mode and froze in response, and it was left to the GMP to sort, after the local culprits had presumably vanished from the scene.
Hmm….not good that…..I was however cheered as attention eventually returned to the game and applause rang out for cool play from Montrose and a decent catch by Hurst when faced with a dangerous cross from Lindfield.
The midway point in the half was reached with County still pushing forward, and Thorniley’s ability to get up the park well to the fore. He did well and in no time Odejayi was in behind the home back line. The ball on to Rule that followed sold him short, and the raid fizzled out, but we had seen a glimpse of what was possible.
Then…..it went a bit pear shaped…..FCUM were visibly not enjoying the pressure, all over the park, that County were putting them under, and Ledsham had just tidied up a half decent break from the home side…when the ball landed at the feet of Rory Fallon , way out on the right flank. He took aim and had a go, probably not expecting much from the effort, but …bugger…..somehow it sneaked in past a probably unsighted Hurst, and County were one down!
That was a real bummer and well against the run of play, but we just had to knuckle down and work at putting things right, and NY`s approach to this was to introduce Abs Baggie ,after 30 minutes, in place of Sefton Gonzales. It took Baggie less than 2 minutes to get a shot off…..Carnell was not unduly troubled by it, but it was a start, and Dyson, who had now moved over to the left flank, continued the forward push with a shot that cleared the bar by a foot! The flag was up at the time, but then that`s how it pretty much was throughout the half!
Ledsham saw a shot climb into the big terrace behind the goal, and O’Hanlon had a header saved after Dyson and Roberts had put great pressure on down the left.
Have I mentioned the far liner’s flag? Probably not…..but it was up again and infuriatingly as Odejayi surged clear onto one of a short series of decent balls from Roberts.
The mental mix therefore was one of frustration( ref and liner induced) and quiet satisfaction at the way County were playing- just that vital finish was lacking, and they couldn’t force the ball home again after Dyson’s energy had forced the home side to concede two corners in rapid succession.
The half ended with Baggie putting immense pressure on FCUM, who responded by kicking him( frequently). Ledsham saw his free kick cleared, and Roberts’ follow up was unluckily deflected for a corner, but it was Mr Hunt who had the last word and sent us into the break seething moodily, having apparently spotted `something’ in the box sufficient to give FCUM a life saving free kick. This was particularly galling when subsequent muggings of Hurst ( trampled underfoot at one point) and Rule( elbowed in full view of ref), and the official responses, are taken into account.
It was not long into the second half before Thorniley went into the referee’s book. It could only have been his overly strong aftershave surely that influenced the referee not the baying hordes behind Hurst’s goal! No matter….I was relieved to see O’Hanlon block the kick in fine style and Rule make the clearance.
I was relieved …but far from content as FCUM were treating us to some rare `afters’ `and the referee was either not seeing them or choosing to ignore them. That elbow went in on Rule not long after …and more, and how Brown escaped with merely a yellow after his input is a mystery only Mr Hunt`s memoirs will clear up- I will not be in the queue to buy that one!
County had withstood a period of pressure after the re-start and got back into their stride nicely with Odejayi and Roberts terrorising the left side of the FCUM defence. A corner offered County a chance …but this faded when Dean Stott headed clear.
Ten minutes into the second half and County had their first real chance to get back on terms. Inevitable ….Baggie was in the van of the action, and equally inevitably he was hacked down by Brownhill after he had surged past him. O’Hanlon was a whisker’s width away from putting the kick away from close in, so it remained 0-1, but things were definitely stirring!
Yes…they were….but Baggie was continuing to be brutalised- Brown taking his turn to send the County man flying. The mother of melee’s followed the subsequent kick, and Ledsham went close- his lob going just the wrong side of the bar, with Carnell in no man’s land.
We went beyond the hour with play mostly in the home half. Hurst did have to make one save, and Thorniley chipped in with some fine defending under free kick induced pressure.
I was still in rant mode when things took a sweet/ sweet turn for the better!
It started and ended with Calum Dyson who latched onto Baggie’s pass to make his way down the left flank. There was a veritable forest of red shirts twixt Calum and goal not the mention a prodigious angle to deal with, but deal with it he did. First off he checked his run and stepped inside before curling an absolute beauty into the far corner of the net.
The Away End went AS, and the team joined them briefly in celebration. By way of contrast the big terrace was silent as the grave…this was decidedly not to script!
The home side were as stunned as their fan base and clearly rocked as Rule prompted another Dyson effort that sadly just missed out.
On it went….into the last 20 minutes with panic setting in for the reds,who almost conceded another as Nia Bayunu nearly headed a Baggie cross into his own net! Then nearly shipped one again as a Thorniley whiz/ bang fizzed inches over the top!
United were making personnel changes now in an attempt to stem the tide, but there was simply no sign of this happening, and County went for the metaphorical jugular, with barely 15 minutes left.
Another iffy attempt at a clearance by a United defender resulted in a corner, and Rule charged over to take it at speed. A belter followed from the irrepressible Rule, and was met with the perfect response from Odejayi whose mighty leap saw him send a powerful header home!
That was simply excellent and it was very nearly 3-1 within a minute- Ledsham tantalisingly close to adding a goal line finish to fantastic work by Baggie who was tearing the home back line to shreds.
“ Hamstrings” was the general consensus when Baggie was replaced by Garvin , after 79 minutes, but any hamstring issues cannot have been helped by the constant fouling his brilliant play attracts( from every team I have thus far seen him play against!).
For a time County had defending to do…. Murray did have an effort deflected for a corner at one point, but the pressure mainly came via Mr Hunt’s propensity for obliging the home fans with a constant stream of, largely baffling, free kicks.
The County response was wholly admirable, and typified by Montrose who languidly waltzed the ball up the park from one laughable free kick.
Hurst…Montrose…..O’Hanlon….Thorniley all made good stops as the pressure mounted into added time, added to by a theatrical dive by Fallon that got the bums rush from the referee.
Montrose and Rule continued with some magnificent work turning defensive positions into attack.
Free kicks came and went…..it stayed 2-1, and an excellent win was secured!
Cue celebrations….and boy were there some, and rightly so!
That was a massively good performance by the team, who all take credit for the win. To travel on a Tuesday after a Saturday game…and win so well…..is really great stuff.
Proud to be County……see you at Telford.
FCUM line up:
Carnell, Brownhill, Brown( Murray 83), Stott, Bayunu, Ashcroft, Wolfenden( Daniels 78), Fallon, Greaves, Wright, Lindfield( Madeley 72).
Subs not used;
Stockport County line up:
Hurst, Morton, Roberts, O`Hanlon, Thorniley, Rule, Dyson( Robinson 89), Montrose, Odejayi, Gonzales( Baggie 30/ Garvin 79), Ledsham.
Subs not used: