Stockport County 1 Brackley Town 1 ( Vanarama National League North) 12 September 2015
Bugger……..I really didn`t want to start this piece with that word….but….
The day started so well as well…….after digesting the almost indigestible fact that the Greedy League had spent £871m in the summer window….it was so so brilliant to call in the Bungalow and be reminded just what matters in this world, with the sight of 100 year old County Legend George Haigh mixing happily with County supporters, some of whom were more than half a century younger than him.
It was a beautiful, but alas relatively short interlude pre match, but George , who had travelled down specially for the game ,made the most of it being in lively form ,making time to present the Club with a trophy to be awarded to young County footballers annually....
........( The George Haigh Trophy).
The Supporters Cooperative were to handle the admin for the trophy, and George presented Pete Towey ,the Coop Chair,with a cheque for £1000 to be used to cover this each year.
Add a nice moment when the younger supporters came on stage to present George with a present from them to him, and the perfect pre-match was pretty much done and dusted.
Oh....and one Brackley supporter, John Bull, made it into the Bung ,and he didn`t let his side down....
If the County team needed inspiration …they needed to look no further than the Bung then, but instead……within 15 minutes of their game, against Brackley Town, starting they were again wading thigh deep in the brown stuff with Karl Ledsham having been shown a red by referee Mr Paul Brown.
The tackle, on David Moyo( just one of a bunch of red/black shirted players who game long exercised an irritating propensity for going to ground at the earliest opportunity), looked a candidate for a yellow I will allow, but a red…..I think not…..but the referee had gone for the nuclear option, with pretty much the first tackle of any note in the game, and that was that, we were faced with another uphill battle. The result was a turgidly boring game in which County worked hard to avoid a total disaster, whilst looking bereft of ideas and coherent shape without Rule’s generalissimo input.
It was not pretty at all, and against opponents more skilled than Town, County may well have come unstuck, but instead the visitors, despite pressing a bit at times, never looked at all convincing in front of goal.
For County the honours must clearly go to the back four who worked like Trojans throughout whilst appearing in little trouble whilst doing so. Kirby took the sponsors M.O.M award and provided what threat there was, and Odejayi claimed a goal that went in off a defender and for a time seemed about to usher in an unlikely blue victory, but it was not to be ….a quick break by Brackley, and it was 1-1 as Sam Smith fired in from almost on the line.
On the balance of play that was about right, but ….bugger…..we do miss Glenn Rule!
I was still buzzing from the Bung at 3 o’clock, but by 5 past, after both teams had lollopped about without producing very much at all, some of the lustre was beginning to fade.
Kirby lit a fuse briefly, 8 minutes in, but his shot flashed wide of goal with Dan Crane well beaten, and that was one of not very many first half chances for County, who in quick succession had Thorniley and O’Hanlon to thank, Jordan for a neat bit of work to tie Smith in a knot or two, and the County skipper for some excellent work in denying Steve Diggin a shooting chance after Montrose had made Brackley a gift of possession.
Glenn Walker then tested Hurst with a neat shot, the County keeper wrestling the ball down at his left hand post, and I felt that possibly all the angst would now just melt away in the afternoon sunshine, but it was not to be….
Enter Mr Brown, who up to that point had `given us nowt and them loads’ as they say, and he went into overdrive, in this respect, when Moyo went down from a briskish challenge from Ledsham .In a flash …..the referee produced a red card pointing the County man towards the dressing room and an early bath.
That was truly awful…..15 minutes gone……and again down to 10.
It would need a monumental effort and something a bit special to get anything from this game now, but Odejayi’s first effort shortly after failed to trouble Crane.
For us to get the odd decision from the officials would be a big ask as well, and I lost count of the dubious tackles that came in from Town after this that went unpunished. Indeed at one point I swear a clearance from Dwayne Samuel curled behind the central pillar in the Main Stand before coming back into play. We did not get a throw…….we did get a free kick shortly after though, but there were those amongst us ( Ledsham definitely) who would have thought Samuels distinctly fortunate to get just a yellow for one rib tickler! Odejayi headed wide from the free kick to not exactly improve the mood on Row R.
On it went… O’Hanlon heading clear……Connolly earning applause for some good work at the back, but it was so…so dull…so lack lustre, and Hurst had all the time in world to deal with Diggin’s effort just beyond the half hour mark.
The 33 rd minute did usher in County’s second decent effort, and it again came from Kirby who had linked up nicely with Gonzales, but Crane stood up bravely to Kirby`s forward thrust, and saved the day for his team.
A minute later and Crane was again in action denying Connolly this time, but this was in danger of being overshadowed by some A1 R.A.D.A type stuff from Smith who plummeted to earth as if dead to this world. No further red cards having been issued…..he quickly revived, having fooled no one with a move straight out of `The Frank Sinclair Bumper Book of Great Soccer Ruses’. He and his colleagues were to keep trying though- Greg Kaziboni trying particularly hard and being very fortunate indeed not to get a card for one lovely dive.
That said……Moyo did go close, just 5 minutes from the break, heading narrowly wide from a dangerous ball to the back of the box from Curtis McDonald.
For County….Gonzales was foiled by Crane’s quick reactions, and Odejayi and Gonzales tried a bit to work something from nothing , but overall, I was mighty glad to hear the referee blow to end what had been a very forgettable 45 minutes.
The re-start saw the mixture as before, with coherent moves by either side a rarity, and County free kicks even rarer. Thankfully , from a County view point, despite the numbers equation, Brackley looked a pretty poor outfit…a crumb of comfort I clung too through 3….4….5… minutes of truly dire play that followed next
Then….just before the hour….something stirred….or rather Gonzales did. He had just passed possession away setting Town up moments earlier, when he atoned by darting clear and winning a rare free kick. Walker did extremely well to head this out....
only for it to come back with interest via Kirby ......
whose well struck cross went in off a defender to general acclaim!
We were 1-0 up, but there were still 30 minutes left and we faced these one man light!
NY’s answer was to try fresh legs, bringing Max Hazeldine on for Gonzales.
Although Hazeldine was quickly in the fray, set up by a neat flick on from Odejayi, only 4 minutes passed before Town were level, thanks to Smith who forced the ball home after County failed to mop up effectively from a break by Moyo.
By way of an aside I mention assaults by Whittall and Walker on Kirby, which went un-sanctioned despite having happening right under the liners nose! We were still `getting nowt, and them loads’!
The numbers were telling against County for sure, but although loads of possession accrued to the visitors, they still showed precious little indication that they could do anything with it, and when O`Hanlon or one of his colleagues did not deal then the parlous nature of the Town shooting did the rest, making Hurst’s afternoon far easier than it perhaps should have been in the circumstances!
Twice Smith tried in vain to disturb Hurst’s day, but in the end he was substituted as Sinclair started to ring the personnel changes. But these changes seemed to be no answer to the visitors problems, although it did take a particularly brave block by O’Hanlon at one point to deny them!
Into the last 15 minutes we went with County having a go…Odejayi seeing a shot on the turn blocked......
|Odejayi about to shoot......|
and Crane doing well to pluck a cross from Morton out of the air with Hazeldine showing an interest.
But….by this point Mr Brown was in one again, and in rapid succession had Connolly and Hazeldine in his book for……err…….anyone know please?
Surely….Brackley must fancy their chances, with County probably tiring? Well….I thought it might be so, and they were enjoying a fair bit of possession, but they had the odd bit to do at the back as well and they had Ryan Austin to thank for a particularly good tackle on Odejayi , after Kirby and Hazeldine had made hay down the left.
Credit to County they still notionally thought of getting another goal, and O’Hanlon did really well to break up a Town attack and start one for County. It fizzled out through lack of numbers….but…….
With Garvin on for Morton late on, County kept trying, and Hazledine was unlucky at one point racing onto another flick on from Odejayi before being foiled by Austins’s late block. A corner resulted, but O’Hanlon was inches away from heading this home much to the dismay of the County following.
Inevitably Brackley came back at us again, Whittall going close, but not close enough and somehow County managed to hold out under a fair bit of pressure.
Add a late…late County reply that saw Thorniley head inches wide at one end…..and then a brave save from Hurst to deny Moyo right at the death , and that was that….game over.
We had taken a point from this, which was better than it might have been with Lady Luck’s fashion accessory continually heading for our head these days. It is clear however that 10 games without Rule is going to be a major test for NY’s team.
Starting at Chorley on Tuesday they just might need our help….up for it?
County line up;
Hurst, Morton( Garvin 84), Roberts, Thorniley, O’Hanlon, Connolly, Kirby, Montrose, Odejayi, Gonzales( Hazeldine 58), Ledsham.
Subs not used:
Ormson, Evans, Colley.
Brackley Town line up:
Crane, Samuels, McDonald( Morley 61), Whittall, Mills, Austin, Kaziboni, Walker, Smith( Story 74), Diggin, Moyo.
Subs not used:
Graham, Farrell, Winters.
Attendance ; 2683