Stockport County 2 Boston United 1 ( Conference North ) 8 August 2015
In February of this year, Brazillian sailor Brena Osthoff set sail on the waters of Rio’s Guanabara Bay in his vessel. Before Brena had returned ashore his boat had sustained a smashed keel having hit floating rubbish, on the waterway ,which is one of a number of prime venues for the 2016 Olympics.
Since that day stories of sewage…..dead fish…..dead rats ….you name it …being found in the above mentioned waters surely must send shivers down the spines of Olympic Chiefs and competitors alike. It most assuredly points to the importance and difficulty in getting venues ready for key events!
With those thoughts in my mind, it was an absolute joy to look around Edgeley Park some time prior to 3 o’clock and drink in the magic of the old place. It looked a picture, and is a great credit to the great mass of volunteers who have made it so! You do not necessarily need the resources of an Olympics Organising Committee to get a job done….. just a willingness and determination to see it through, and once again in this close season County fans through Help the Hatters , and the Club have shown this in shed loads, as we emerge for hopefully our last season in Conference North( see….I still haven`t bought into the Vanarama National thing yet!).
There was a definite buzz about too, and a marked absence of tense looks, and thinly disguised pessimism, as I had made my way to the game via the Bung, which was again, thanks to Help the Hatters, a thriving hub of pre match togetherness, the feel good factor being suitably lubricated by a few words from County Manager Neil Young.
To be sure….there was a fair chance of a massive let down factor kicking in and sending everything pear shaped by the time we reached 4.40, or thereabouts, but was there really a chance of that happening? Well…after the break Boston did buzz about a touch , in and around the County box for 10 minutes or so, but for long periods of the game it was County in control, sending their long suffering fans home happy. The source of the supporters happiness was a prodigiously focused performance from the blues who worked their socks off for 90 odd minutes. The County work ethic was simply excellent from Hurst the last line at the back to number eleven Ledsham, no one ducked a question at any time, each substituted County player leaving the field to massive ovations.
Yes…the crowd…..or the County portion of it…loved it, as the blues came away deserved 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Glenn Rule and substitute Joe Garvin- both cracking efforts!
At 3 o`clock I was still digesting the news that Abs Baggie was a no show owing to injury, but this gave Calum Dyson his chance to start, as the game got underway with the Cheadle End giving awesome voice to a verse or three of `Blue Army’
Inside a minute the communal BP climbed a tad with the sight of Dyson dashing clear onto a delightful early lay off from Odejayi. Great….except it wasn`t as the Pop Side liner had his flag up and the raid was foiled.
There was some work for Rule to do next, as Kaine Felix linked briefly with Mark Jones, but the County man coped well- his first action in another M.O.M performance!
Gonzales and Roberts pushed Boston back on their heels after this, but when the move broke down, there was a chance for Felix to hit us on the break, and I was mighty relieved to see Jack Friend send his header wide of the goal at the back post, when the County goal was pretty much there for the taking.
Mostly though it was County doing the attacking, but with 10 minutes gone, despite lots of noise from the Blue Army, it remained 0-0 .
Morton had started the game in impressive style, but Rule became the second victim of the Pop Side liner as he surged clear onto a neat Morton ball.
As I say…..it was mainly County on the front foot….but not totally, and had Dayle Southwell done better with his header the visitors might have stolen a sneaky lead, as it was Hurst was not tested by a poor effort, 12 minutes in.
Time then for a reply from the blues and it came via a neat combo twixt Rule and Gonzales, only to perish with one wave of the Pop Side liner’s flag as the latter nipped clear.
County kept the pressure on though, and Ledsham drew the Boston cover nicely before picking Dyson out with a neat pass. Dyson initially reacted well…sidestepping the full back before lining up what looked the simplest of shots on goal. It was a chance …a real chance, but perhaps the excitement of the moment took hold because he lifted his shot over the bar.
On…..on County surged….Odejayi momentarily in behind the Boston defence. It was stirring stuff and just what the County crowd had come to see, but despite winning a free kick, for a foul on Rule, County could not summon up a goal- Baggie might have prised the Boston back line apart, but injury had deprived us of his services, and thus far the blues luck was out.
If Rule was in charge in midfield, with 20 minutes gone I was quietly enjoying Jordan Thorniley’s performance at the back, and he did well at this point to deny Felix, and with the game now beyond half way in the first half, it was still 0-0.
Work followed for O’Hanlon, as Southwell pushed County back on their heels. The County captain did well to concede a corner, and Hurst did better, gobbling the rather wayward kick energetically.
Ex Hatter Carl Piergianni planted a header wide shortly after but there was little real threat about that effort, whereas Gonzales put the screws well and truly on Boston with a dangerous run into the box down the left. Dyson’s cross then set Ledsham up for a header, but this came back out off a defender on the line, so again we were starved of a goal.
Odejayi did clash interestingly with the keeper just outside the box, but the half hour mark was reached with Piergianni hacking Morton down as the County man threatened to burst clear down the right. Although the free kick pushed the visitors back once again, despite Roberts’ energy on the left, there was still no goal to show for it.
The Boston foul count was rising however….. a rib tickler by Southwell on Gonzales prompting referee Miller to call Boston captain Scott Garner over for a chat! This referee simply loved a chin wag, but it was to prove totally ineffective in stopping the doubtful stuff, and to top it all Garner got back to usher the kick out of the danger zone, to increase the angst factor.
County needed to apply themselves and that’s just what they did…Ledsham in behind the Boston back line, and Gonzales really unlucky to see a shot hacked off the line by a defender.
County kept at it patiently trying to pierce the visitors defences, and with 10 minutes left of the half they succeeded. Almost inevitably it came via a free kick which O’Hanlon kept in play brilliantly with a back post header. Odejayi continued the good work ushering the ball back towards Rule who launched himself forward to send a powerful header past the keeper into the net.
That was a good goal……just what the blues needed in fact ,but a terrific run by Gonzales narrowly failed to double the blue advantage a couple of minutes later. Added to this….Odejayi was inches from a Dyson cross, and frustratingly flagged offside once again not long after, so there was a feeling that at some point our luck would turn and all the hard work would reap a reward.
This comfortable theory, was almost totally filleted within minutes of being expounded however, with the sight of Southwell preparing a shot smack in front….he missed the ball……then it went to Jack Friend ,who was lurking at the back post…but he could do no better than shave the post with Hurst scurrying about anxiously on his line!
Boston should have done better with those efforts….Southwell did try moments later, but found the excellent Morton too good for him when push came to pull. And…. another chance came Friend`s way late on in the half. It really shouldn`t have, as the stud marks left on Thornileys person should have justified a free kick to County, instead the referee ignored the foul allowed play to continue ,and….thankfully….Friend to slice a lulu past the far post!
Twice after this Gonzales went close with efforts but the half ended with it still 1-0 to County, and I could find no one around me unhappy with that!
Into the second half we went then, full of optimism still, as Dyson went close in combination with the lively Morton. Odejayi then seemed to have the drop on Garner and about to give keeper Ravas some trouble, when the Boston captain’s early attempt at a shirt exchange stopped the County man. It was a free kick, a booking…and a chat of course, but O’Hanlon`s header at the business end failed to worry the keeper.
I really think that Ravas was more than a touch worried shortly after though, and Ledsham , O’Hanlon and Ledsham again had efforts narrowly fail, Ledsham’s final effort climbing tantalisingly up and over the bar from Dyson’s pass with Ravas a spectator.
Ravas was no spectator moments later…he decidedly needed not to be, and he did well to beat out Odejayi’s shot, from yet another Dyson ball.
At this point Boston started introducing fresh legs to proceedings and their work improved markedly for some 6 or 7 minutes during which time County were hard pressed to keep things on an even keel.
Down the flanks Felix( right) and Jay Rollins ( left) were seeing more and more of the ball, and when County conceded a free kick….failed to clear after blocking one…two shots…the third counted as Southwell pounced from close in and forced the ball home!
Boston went for it for a time and ,briefly I would not have been that surprised had they sneaked another one, but thankfully Southwells’ finishing had peaked and he fluffed his lines when set up smack in front with half an hour left.
Dyson left at this point ( to loud applause) being replaced by Joe Garvin, the signal for County to pile forward onto the attack……
Gonzales was first…..being crudely manhandled to the ground by the none-too choosy Liam Marrs ……
Marrs then treated the quietly competent Lewis Montrose to a gift pass. The Montrose shot that followed was a corker but cleared the angle of bar and post by a fag papers width……
Morton then shot over the top after Rule had thoroughly sorted the left side of the visitors back line…..
It went on and on…..Rule just wide with one effort after terrific work from Ledsham and Gonzales ……
Odejayi was definitely in the attacking mix too, but with him pulling up and out of the action if momentarily, Joe Garvin took on the strikers mantel, and with the County number nine still clutching his injured limb, the County substitute leathered a thunderous shot past the diving keeper into the far corner of the net, from outside the box!
It was 2-1 and possibly party time, but the shampoo was on ice for now – but then nearly uncorked again as Gonzales surged clear past a leaden Boston back line…. then back on ice as the liner earned some ripe abuse by flagging him offside.
A run from Odejayi almost saw him make it 3-1, but his only reward was in fact a burst of warm applause from the bumper crowd, but he also aggravated his injury and it was but another 3 or 4 minutes before he was replaced by Lamin Colley, leaving proceedings to another fulsome round of applause!
Colley was quickly up and at Boston, but it was Hurst who was next to earn applause as he did really well to race from his goal and prevent Rollins from causing mayhem on the break.
You will want to know about fouls…well…..Piergianni gave Colley a mauling ( no foul apparently) and McGhee clattered Rule comprehensively to earn a booking. It was not pretty at times from Boston, who….with time running out, were still perhaps banking on snatching a late/late equaliser.
But….it was County looking the more likely and Piergianni did well to block a Colley effort. End of……not a bit of it….the estimable Colley forced his way back into the box and was unfortunate to see no one in blue able to put his ball into the box away!
Into the last 5 minutes we went, and Boston were still trying…..County were conceding free kicks now…..corners……chances were beginning to look on for the visitors, if only they could find a decent finish, But Rollins found Hurst in tip top nick , tipping his shot over the bar at the last gasp. It was a bit of a battle at this late stage, and O’Hanlon`s cool head came in very handy with the cosh descending on County heads late on.
Colley saw a shot whiz past the angle of bar and post at the death, after another display of magic by Gonzales, and County hung on reasonably comfortably to secure the points and take their supporters applause…..and there was a whole lot of it….and deservedly so!
A good win….all that might have been asked for or expected, and a great reward for the team and the crowd.
Here’s to a repeat on Tuesday in Moston, I for one will not bet against it!
County line up:
Hurst, Morton, Roberts, O`Hanlon, Thorniley, Rule, Dyson( Garvin 62), Montrose, Odejayi( Colley 78), Gonzales, Ledsham( Ellison 87).
Subs not used:
Boston United line up;
Ravas, Mills, Marrs, Roberts, Garner, Piergianni, Felix, Dixon, Southwell, Friend( Rollins 49), Deacey( McGhee 55).
Subs not used:
|Bung Stage awaits the throngs....|
|Friendly Stewrad joins Fitzy & Hopsky at the PF Feather.|
|The Birthday Boy !|
|Pat & Jules.|