AFC Fylde 1 Stockport County 0 ( FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round) 26 September 2015
What a week…..with the news that dear old Sepp Blatter was helping Swiss Plod with their inquiries it was threatening to turn into a real belter until ace miserableist Morrissey chipped in with his first novel. Thankfully I was fore warned….” An unpolished turd” offered one source…..” the stale excrement of Morrissey’s imagination”…..whilst the Grauniads Michael Hann advised “ do not read this book , do not sully yourself with it however tempting it seems”...and I was tempted….but only briefly and opted instead to seek something else to cheer me on my way this weekend.
And so to Saturday …….the Fylde coast, and a possibly muck and nettles clash twixt Stockport County and hosts AFC Fylde in the FA Cup!
County had inflicted Fylde’s only home defeat on them a few weeks earlier in the league, but since then Dave Challinor’s team had climbed to second in the table, and the County team was now shorn of a clutch of crucial players who performed above and beyond last time around. So…..if there was a favourite at 3 o’clock it would have to be Fylde, but I was looking for some of that old time Stockport County Spirit to show and our lads to do the biz again!
That would have been great to see, but it is doubtful whether it would have swung things for County as it turned out, as despite having pretty near 100% of the second half possession and....
forcing no less than 17 corners........
they still couldn`t come away with even a replay from this affair.
Its true of course that our tormentor from `Hyde Mk 1’ ….Jonathan Hunt…contrived to rule out what looked a perfectly good goal to me, for what he tried to convince us was `handball’. I await the video evidence before saying anything further.
Mr Hunt, as I have stated before, has form when it comes to us, and he certainly tipped the balance away from ourselves with Fylde on the rack late on, but much of the damage had already been done earlier when a lack-lustre first 45 minutes had seen County surrender possession just once too often, allowing their hosts to take the lead via an opportunist effort from Matt Hughes. NY`s personnel changes after the break, had a definite impact ,but not enough to tip the balance back County’s way, and to make matters worse I am given to understand that verbals after the game had concluded between Abs Baggie and Hunt resulted in the hair triggered official red carding the County substitute, making that 5 reds in not very many more games.
Having experienced great trauma on the Flyer that unaccountably took us to Fylde via Lancaster ( we still got there for 2.30)I could have done without further angst but there it was….Mr Hunt had been installed by the suits as the man in charge, and within 30 seconds Fylde had a free kick when Danny Lloyd went to ground just outside the box. Montrose( who worked hard throughout) and Odejayi saw the kick cleared, but angst there was aplenty none the less.
County plugged away in response, Matthew Hamilton( in for his debut) and Jake Kirby both seeing efforts miss out in the next 3 or 4 minutes.
Lloyd looked to be Fylde’s best option at this point, and his promptings made for a lively approach from the Lancastrians, whilst County offered solidity at the back in reply, but I was looking for some spark in the last third in addition, but instead, despite winning a free kick, they did no more than give keeper Matt Urwin some routine catching practice.
Thankfully, at least for now, Fylde were no better, and when Mr Hunt obliged them again ex Hatter Richie Baker disappointed home specs with a shot that drifted slowly wide.
Twice after this Garvin got in the mix …first seeing a shot charged down, and then failing to apply a finish after getting in behind the home defence.
For me…it still seemed the case that both teams lacked penetration, and this fact was emphasised further with Sam Finley failing to force the ball home from close in after good work by Hughes, who was thwarted himself not long after by Thorniley as he threatened on the break. O`Hanlon made a decent clearance to prevent another Lloyd cross from doing damage, but for some minutes the spotlight was on the home goalmouth where a run by Kirby gained County a corner. One…two….three kicks followed in rapid succession, but without throwing up anyone in turquoise blue to apply that elusive finish.
The cosh continued to descend on Fylde for a while after this, and County were decidedly unlucky to see their next move end unproductively. It was started by Roberts, whose cross was kept alive by Hamilton. Enter Garvin with a terrific shot that headed for the far corner of the net. Goal……but no….as the keeper flung himself to his left to push the ball out- a terrific save……and Fylde had escaped, when Ellison lifted his final effort over the bar!
Hughes and Lloyd continued to offer notional options to Fylde, but still I felt that County might just do something to put us at our ease, but alas…instead…
.....Hazeldine lost possession deep into home territory, and in a trice County were in arrears as, with umpteen others in blue standing off, the ball arrived with Hughes who rounded Hurst to give Fylde the lead.
Within a minute 0-1, might have become 0-2 as again no one took responsibility allowing Dion Charles a free shot ,which thankfully he lifted a yard over the bar.
We needed County to tighten up a tad, and……to be fair……. more County attacking did follow in the last 15 minutes of the half , Garvin again going closest with a shot that whistled a foot wide of the angle of bar and post with Urwin rooted to the spot, but it all lacked a certain conviction, and I was not unhappy to hear the referee’s whistle signal half time!
The re-start saw Gonzales on for Hazeldine, and the ex Clitheroe striker was soon getting stuck in, and some good work from him ended with Odejayi winning a corner with a neat effort. It was not remotely marginal at all …it was a corner and the orange/ yellow liner to our left saw it so and signalled it, only to cravenly bottle it when Mr Hunt came to Fylde`s aid awarding a ludicrous goal kick.
This incensed the County following, but we bit our lips and gasped instead as Gonzales worked his way into a shooting position only to overdo the finesse in the box…chance gone!
A minute on from this, and we gasped again this time in indignation as the referee stopped a County raid with Gonzales clean through…..for……???????
Gonzales was offering us hope, and Fylde were showing every sign of not being able to handle him, but having done all the hard work, on 53 minutes, he elected to walk the ball into the net – result….Tom Hannigan was able to hack the ball clear.
County were getting forward in numbers now, and Fylde were looking shaky in response, but much of County’s good work was being undermined by the decisions being made by the officials, which at times beggared belief!
Just after the hour ….Evans skinned his man down the right, ignoring a foul on him in the process, only to be stopped in his tracks as he sped into the box unattended. Not for a County free kick( which would have been correct but maddening)but one to Fylde. It was becoming ridiculous now.
Hurst….midst all the County attacking, ….did have one shot to stop…from Finley, but that was a rare moment of respite for Fylde, as we awaited the next blue assault on Urwin’s goal…..Odejayi……Gonzales, and Gonzales again put pressure squarely on the home defence- Urwin and his co-defenders doing small miracles to deny them, the very best of these being another top notch diving save to keep O’Hanlon’s header out.
On it went with Evans bursting into the box past 3 men setting Gonzales up with a chance. Sidestepping Hannigan nicely the County number 12 looked on to score but instead saw his shot somehow deflected for another corner….then another….but no goal…….
Montrose and Gonzales were combining to good effect at this point, and with Baggie on and contributing also, things looked on the up, but the finish in the last third still kept misfiring- Gonzales oh so close to reaching Baggie’s cross!
A rash of fouls from Fylde , one a `foot up…studs showing’ jobby from Rowe, came next and it was annoying and more to see the referee content himself with a County free kick and no more. Ledsham had seen instant red for rather less…….far be it from me to point to partiality….but………
Still County piled it on..but to no avail…corners came…..went…..goals didn’t…..and then one did…at least we all thought it did when Evans went full stretch to head home a cross to the back post by Kirby. That was great….and then it wasn`t ,as Mr Hunt was seen brandishing a card waving it in Evans direction indicating that the `goal ‘ had been ruled out. `Handball’ we are told, but…as I said earlier…let me see the video please!
No matter….the one way traffic continued with Urwin and then Hannigan making break neck last ditch saves to keep their team in it! It was so typical of the FA Cup…and so….so…. painful to watch!
On it went with Evans fouled in the box on the end of another run. Penalty?...I thought so…..Mr Hunt thought a corner, and Casper Hughes headed this to safety!
County continued to press right up to the final whistle.
Game over…..game lost…FA Cup interest put to bed for another 12 months..but it wasn`t an end to the angst, and I am not talking about the exciting return journey on the Flyer ( via the Forest of Dean?....no…no..I jest) but the apparent exchange after the final whistle twixt Abs Baggie and the referee.
Apparently words were exchanged…..and Baggie’s were of the unprintable kind( allegedly) thus he was shown a red card.
All very sad as we contemplate a return to another unhappy hunting ground when we play the less than saintly Gainsborough Trinity next Saturday.
I`ll be there….I hope you will be too!
AFC Fylde line up:
Urwin, C Hughes, Whittle, Baker, Hannigan, Barnes, Charles, Finley, Blinkhorn( Collins 74), Hughes( Wilson 85), Lloyd( Rowe 74).
Subs not used:
Hinchliffe, Holmes, Sumner, Versallo.
Stockport County line up:
Hurst, Ellison, Roberts, Thorniley, O’Hanlon, Hamilton( Baggie 67), Garvin( Evans 53), Montrose, Odejayi, Hazeldine( Gonzales 45), Kirby.
Subs not used:
Ormson, Connolly, Morton.
Ian Brown( with thanks to Andrew Machin for support with the photos)