Stockport County 2 Bradford Park Avenue 0 ( Vanarama National League North) 24 October 2015
Stockport County shrugged off a visit from the Rainman to Edgeley Park this afternoon- emphatically underlining their promotion credentials with a thoroughly well merited 2-0 win against Bradford Park Avenue.
It was a wholly heartening display from the blues who added two top notch goals, from Micah Evans and Mo Cham, to a gritty performance that saw them in control for much of the game. For their part Bradford plugged away straining for scraps, but they had had their chance in the first 4 minutes and spurned it…twice actually and thereafter, apart from 2 or three occasions when Ian Ormson was called on to do the biz with some degree of urgency, the door was firmly shut on them by a County defence once again superbly marshalled by Sean O’Hanlon.
The County captain collected the sponsor’s M.O.M award, but Gareth Roberts was not far behind in the honours stakes either, whilst Montrose shone in midfield and Evans fed hungrily off an almost endless supply of flick on’s from the constantly under valued Odejayi!
With Jonathan Hunt in charge…at 3 o’clock I was not overly a happy sole.
Play opened with Evans nibbling at the Bradford back line, but the through ball to him was too powerful and the moment passed. My unhappy mood threatened to continue though as Danny Schofield managed to charge down an under par attempted clearance by Ian Ormson before bearing down on an open goal. “One nil to Bradford” I hear you opine, but it wasn’t as Schofield planted an awful effort in our midst to peals of raucous laughter from Row R and around!
That was 3 minutes into the game….another 60 seconds….and Schofield was off again…..this time down the left where his cross reached James Walshaw in front of goal. Walshaw started his response well enough….turning past the defender nicely, but thereafter he lost the plot a touch, lifting the second poor Bradford effort over the bar!
Hmmm….that was not what most of the 3200 crowd had come to see, and even a tasty flick on from Odejayi that set Evans up nicely shortly after, only partially lifted the mood , as there were no takers when Evans’ cross pinged over from the right. Cham , in his first appearance at Edgeley Park ( I know I know….pedants corner will say he played in mid week behind closed doors, but his first actual league outing at EP)did cause a ripple or two with a lively run into the box, but his final ball was wanting and again we were left disappointed.
Having shown what he could do…Cham was then unceremoniously clattered by Simon Ainge, who got only a brief word from the man in black by way of punishment, and with the free kick coming to nothing, it was looking like being a hard day at the office for County!
Montrose lightened the mood though with a lovely through ball that had Evans’ name imprinted on it. It was just a shade too strong for County’s number 10 however, and Jon Stewart, the Park Avenue keeper, was able to claim the pill.
Fifteen minutes had gone, and County were gradually getting their act together. Evans together with Odejayi were teaming up cleverly to cause the Yorkshire side problems, only their habit of straying offside prevented a product emerging at the end of all the good play. Ledsham went closest during this period but his effort climbed a foot or two over the bar following a free kick.
For Park Avunue , Jason St Juste seemed to offer the nearest thing to an attacking option , but there was no one about, in yellow, to apply an appropriate finish to his good work, a fact emphasised by Luke Dean who sprayed a poor shot high into the Cheadle End after much good work by St Juste and Schofield in the build up.
Meanwhile Lewis Montrose was showing us what he was about with some impressive play. He won possession with panache and followed up with some close control that drew applause from the County faithful. The only blemish was a familiar one….the end product…..and the lack of it ensured that Stewart was able to make a last ditch save to deny Montrose , with Evans and others queuing inside for morsels
Breaks at either end came next…… Odejayi for County ( flagged offside)…….St Juste again for Park Avenue, who again found no one able to get to his cross at the sharp end.
A late charge by Jake Scott won the visitors a corner next, and that amounted to something of an escape for County, only O`Hanlon’s late block accounting for Scott’s shot. Bradford fancied their chances a bit from the corner but a foul by Walshaw stopped the rot for the blues.
Within a couple of minutes County were back defending again, and a series of corners showcased the value of Odejayi who was in position ( twice) to clear the danger….great stuff ! The pressure remained on County however but Ainge and Walshaw’s combined attempt to mug Ormson and deposit him ball and all into the net, managed to upset Mr H, who called the duo over to him. Well….second unnecessary foul in 2 or three minutes from Walshaw would surely see him in the referee’s book….wouldn’t it? Not so…..he contented himself with a word, prompting me to consider what his decision would have been had Walshaw been wearing blue?!
Well I had just 3 minutes to wait for my answer as Sean O’Hanlon’s first foul( a routine affair though I say it myself) saw him immediately booked!!
I was still fuming when I looked up to see the ball hit the post and go out for a Bradford corner, off Paul Connolly. County’s defence saw the danger off from the kick, and sprung clear via Montrose who again powered his languid way to the by-line, and only a magnificent save by Stewart prevented a screamer from Kirby from making it 1-0!
So…..0-0 it was then with half time approaching fast, and it was annoying to see Schofield allowed to slink clear whilst well offside, and a massive relief to see his cross cum shot come to nothing on the end of it!
He should have done better, for sure……and as a consequence of the opposite being the case, County put their opponents under the cosh next, Ledsham coming closest with one of several efforts that whistled just the wrong side of Stewart’s woodwork!
It was not quite all County though, and Morton did excellent work to make a vital last ditch clearance after Hughes had crossed into the box from the by-line.
The half ended with County on the offensive thanks to Montrose and Odejayi whose rapid progress seemed to offend Bill Prestley no end. As a result the handbags were out in double quick time resulting in the two participants receiving yellow cards.
The half time whistle came at just about the right moment I guess, and both teams could now perhaps cool it in the relative tranquillity of the home and away dressing rooms!
Straight from the off in the second half, County showed that they meant business – Evans going close. There was definite Stewart to Evans contact in the box this time, but the County man’s honesty prevented him from going down, so the moment passed. Add a run and shot from Cham less than a minute later ,and I was cheered by a decent opening to the second 45 by County.
It went on…..Ledsham doing well to break up an embryonic BPA raid, then Kirby and Odejayi making Stewart work with a couple of shots.
Then on 52 minutes….at last things changed for the better for the blues as the latest deft flick on from Odejayi saw Evans scoot clear to head home in emphatic fashion. It was 1-0 to County and the mother of all celebrations ensued briefly afterwards, before play resumed with County now seemingly on fire!
Indeed…..within a couple more minutes it was 2-0……err….no it wasn’t ….as Kirby’s accomplished finish was cancelled out by the stand side liner whose flag could be seen brazenly upraised to my left!
This let off might have served as a boost to the BPA morale , and Hughes certainly did his best to make it so, but he dwelt on the ball just too long, perhaps anticipating the foul that never came, and Roberts eventually made the clearance to keep it at 1-0.
A bad foul on Odejayi failed to see Prestley receive his second card next.
The resultant free kick did create a chance for County, but after O’Hanlon had planted his cushioned header back into the box the weight of numbers did for Ledsham’s run that took him at speed into the danger zone.
Evans was still County’s main threat and he kept the visitors on their toes throughout the second half, the second of two runs by him teeing Odejayi up , but his route to goal was blocked and up stepped Cham to send the sweetest of drives fizzing past Stewart into the net.
Cue jubilation as most of 3 sides of the stadium got to their feet to acclaim their team- the rest pondering a trip back up the M62 with something less than relish!
Cham was in again not long after and only the combined efforts of Prestley and substitute Burgin stopped his run.
Bradford, to their credit, kept working at getting back into the game…..Ormson did have to make a decent stop at one point , and at another, the disappointing Hughes managed to blaze a shot wide of pretty much an open goal with just over 15 minutes left to play.
With Morton getting forward, and Evans still in fine nick, the pressure remained mostly on Bradford however, and they were relieved to see a shot from Cham fly past Stewarts left hand post.
With Garvin on for Evans, who left to an ovation, County did not ease off and Stewart had to act swiftly to stop Cham after great work by Roberts had set him up.
Into the last 10 minutes we went with all County eyes on 3 points and also a clean sheet……another clean sheet, but instead Kirby lost possession sending the dangerous Chib Chilaka clear in concert with St Juste. It looked odds on a consolation goal for Bradford ,but Ormson had other ideas and a decent save from him spoiled the moment for the Yorkshiremen, as a rainbow gingerly tried to peak through a bank of cloud behind the Pop Side!
Colley then came on for Cham ( cue another sustained burst of applause), and he went close twice quickly as County sought to kill the game off with a third goal.
Odejayi joined in with a powerful run, but a ludicrous free kick awarded against Roberts for what appeared a perfectly good block, put the pressure back on the blues, and Ormson did very well indeed to keep the kick out diving bravely to pluck the ball out of the cool afternoon air!
With County perhaps beginning to tire, and possession starting to be contested with added zest by Bradford, NY swapped Ellison for Odejayi who was treated to another good reception from the home specs.
County kept plugging away well into 3 minutes added time, the game ending with the ball still deep in Bradford territory with Ledsham gearing himself up for another lung bursting run.
Game over…..points ours……great stuff….well deserved.
I cannot wait for our trip to Solihull Moors now……betting against a County victory?.....I thought not….see you there!
Stockport County line up:
Ormson, Morton, Roberts, Connolly, O’Hanlon, Ledsham, Cham( Colley 81), Montrose, Odejayi( Ellison 91), Evans( Garvin 75), Kirby.
Subs not used:
Bradford Park Avenue line up:
Stewart, Turner, Mather, Scott( Marshall 71), Prestley, Ainge( Burgin 68), St Juste, Dean, Walshaw , Schofield( Chilaka 63), Hughes.
Subs not used: