Stockport County 2 Solihull Moors 4 ( Vanarama National League North) 24 November 2015
County slumped to a disheartening defeat last night at Edgeley Park, where Solihull Moors had little difficulty in maintaining their unbeaten record, cruising at times to what in the end proved a pretty comfortable 4-2 win.
After Saturdays late collapse at Lowestoft, County needed to produce something altogether better, albeit against one of the division’s tastier sides, to reassure their supporters. Well…..they did score two goals, and one of them was another absolute corker from Jake Kirby, but try as they might to make an impression with neat football, and for the first 15 minutes they at least looked like making a game of it….it did not amount to the proverbial hill of beans in the end as it was all undermined by mayhem at the back where young Kieran O’Hara had a nightmare debut being directly responsible for three of the goals. I do not think there was anyone in the ground who did not feel sorry for the lad, but the 19 year old quite simply should not have been thrust into the firing line so soon in my view!
|Debut boy- Kieran O'Hara.|
The response from Moors was measured, and superbly marshalled by Theo Streete. In short….they just kept it simple and took what chances came their way- that’s what good football teams do, and they also keep mistakes to a minimum, something that County found impossible to do, making Moors job that much easier on the dampest of nights in SK3.
Even taking into account his parent club, and making allowances for a moment for the fact that he might just be another gem awaiting some final cutting into shape, I was surprised to see Kieran O’Hara’s name in County’s starting eleven. Ormson was fit enough to be on the bench and should have played in my view- playing a totally unknown quantity between the sticks was a high risk strategy!
Annoyingly…County were kicking towards the Cheadle End first, and my distress at realising this, was only slightly assuaged by the sight of Odejayi darting clear, just 2 minutes into the game, as the liner’s flag was up and he was offside.
Unlucky?.....possibly….but County were angst ridden again ,within a further 2 minutes, as a neat ball by Rule , headed for Kirby, was cut out by Liam Daly’s last gasper.
County persisted though, and Moors keeper Ben Siegrist did well under pressure, after Roberts had won a corner for the blues.
Baggie had started on the left flank and was looking fairly lively at this point, but another block by Daly saw to it that his work went un-rewarded. Kirby did win County another corner shortly after this, but once again the Moors defence in the shape of Siegrist had the answer….the keeper again doing well under pressure.
Connolly went close with one effort, and Baggie did good work in sending Evans heading Siegrist’s way, but this was snuffed out via a Connor Franklin / Gareth Dean combo that saw the County man progressed no further than the edge of the box.
The first 14- 15 minutes had seen Moors soak up a fair bit of pressure- the first hint of anything at all in the way of an attacking response from them, came in the 15th minute when Stefan Moore darted clear down the right. He looked a tad determined and Roberts was in trouble, electing to pull his man down as he went past, a fact that earned him a card from the excitable Scott Oldham. It was a yellow …but was I alone in holding my breath as the man in black deliberated?
Moore made it to the by-line not long after, and his cross maybe deserved better than it received from the other Moors forwards. A period of pressure from Moors hinted at what was possibly on the cards later on, but it ended with O’Hara emerging with the ball to applause from the home specs.
The pattern of play remained much the same however …County pressing…..Moors soaking it up, and O’Hanlon will consider himself unlucky to see his header go the wrong side of the post, after Odejayi had won his side a corner.
We reached the 20 minute mark with it still 0-0, but we received another warning shot across our bows, again via Moore who linked up with Jack Byrne to cause issues for County down the right flank.
County survived this examination, and looked on to maybe hit their opponents hard on the break via Tonge and Baggie whose neat work won County another corner. Unfortunately the flag kick was nullified as Streete and Knights combined to excellent affect at the near post- Knights running the ball clear. A series of raids followed from Moors, who with Streete majestic at the back, looked sufficiently well equipped to cause us a serious issue or two.
Streete picked up a yellow along the way, but it did not seem to impinge on his work ethic and along with Daly he kept the door shut to all County’s advances. Daly doing particularly well to deny Odejayi access to a Baggie ball after the diminutive wide man had sparkled briefly.
That was good work…and possibly another example of ill fortune for County, and straight from Daly’s clearance we were wading shoulder deep in the brown stuff, with the sight of Mike Nottingham carrying the ball up the park at speed. An archetypal smash and grab raid followed ,as with County still thinking about snatching one in front of the Cheadle End, Akwasi Asanti ended the swiftest of breaks by applying a goal scorers finish to Michael Nottingham’s cross…. sliding in to beat O’Hara, who perhaps should have done better, and give the visitors the lead.
Half an hour gone, and one down……not great, and O’Hara, to his credit, reacted quickly next to thwart Moore who was causing County problems galore, but his next action was to cost his team a goal as an iffy clearance from him went straight to Asanti who promptly doubled his and his teams tally by slotting a precise finish home.
Moors piled forward after this, and who could blame them, Asanti seeing a shot on the turn deflected wide, and Moore possibly unlucky to be flagged offside with County staring down the barrel in extremis.
On it went…..Moore to Franklin….another cross….but thankfully no one there to round it all off on this occasion!
Twice after this Baggie joined Kirby in an attempt to prise something from the ashes of impending defeat, but there was no precision on show at the death, thus all the neat work in build up was nullified.
This last point was fully emphasised, with 2 minutes left of the half. Moore had just gone close again at the other end when County responded through Baggie who darted clear with the ball. From Baggie the ball went wide right to Rule from whom came a terrific ball into the box…one which most strikers would give their back teeth for. Anyway they would at least go for it…instead this potentially lethal delivery whizzed across goal with no takers….absolutely awful stuff!
We might have paid for our largess as well……had Moore not momentarily acquired the sort of shooting skills I myself displayed with regularity ( back around the Napoleonic Wars I think)way back when, after Tonge had surrendered possession. O’Hara had no problems dealing with the poorest of efforts from the forward, but he had loads to do shortly after as Asanti came at him on the break, looking for his hat-trick. It looked on as well, but O’Hara made a good stop with his legs and it stayed 2-0, and kept the game notionally alive.
The second half saw Odejayi hit the keeper with a header( from an offside position)within seconds……within a minute County had a corner, and after the passage of another 60 seconds…a goal….as O’Hanlon forced the ball home from close in!
County’s boat had wind in its sails now, but it was disappointing to see Baggie `air-kick’ after Rule and Kirby had tried and failed to grab that equaliser. County were certainly trying and some of their work was neat and good to watch, but midst all the good work….it was essential to keep the back door tightly shut, and concentration levels high which is precisely what County didn’t do. Everyone and his dog seemed to think that an apparently innocuous effort from Moore would be snaffled by O'Hara, but instead ,and bafflingly, the lad let it sneak in past him. To add a touch of panto to it….the moan stand liner flagged for a corner even as O’Hara turned dejectedly to pick the ball up from the back of the net! It was now 3-1 to Moors and for all intents and purposes it was `game over’ now.
There was moment of refereeing whimsy( I am resolved to be kind)next as a blatant foul on Kirby left him in a heap on the ground. The liner saw it and clearly flagged for a County free kick, only for the hapless Oldham to play …err……’advantage?’…..allowing Moors to break and come within a whisker of scoring a fourth. End of……for him ….this was one of Mr O’s better games, but that was distinctly not his best moment!
It got interesting again for a time next with the crowd now roused by the man in blacks antics, but despite a series of corners County could not reduce the arrears, indeed it was Asanti who came closest to increasing the score line, only a good save from O’Hara preventing this from happening.
Andy Robinson came on for Joyce with 20 minutes left, and this certainly appeared to improve the cohesiveness of County’s play. County’s play in the last third however remained problematical and Robinson himself came as close as anyone in blue to changing things, his snap shot missing out narrowly.
Morton came on next replacing Rule, and Morton too had a positive influence getting forward with gusto, prompting the question `why does he not get a start?’
County were trying, for sure, but again we squandered our chance when it came……a cross by Robinson landing nicely on Evans’ head. It was easier to score than to miss it, but instead of planting his header in the back of the net, Evans sent it flying wide! Absolute….agony…..and it was Micah’s last act of the game as he was replaced by Lamin Colley.
Buoyed by this let off….Moors went for the jugular and only the bravest of saves by O’Hara stopped a fourth going in as Knights bore down on goal.
Despair and despondency were just about to take over my usually cheery outlook, when it happened……County scored…..and it was a belter! Baggie started it playing the neatest of balls inside to Kirby, who despatched a sensational( goal of the season?) shot into the net from way outside the box…excellent stuff. Now…could County build on that….snatch an equaliser?
Well …..no…..O’Hara did go long teeing Baggie up to win a corner, but when this came to nought, the obvious lack of quality at one end was underlined by a startling abundance of it at the other where…chasing a long high one and getting the better of Roberts in the process, Knights crowned a top night for Moors by lifting a delicious lob over the advancing O’Hara’s head into the net….a poor goal to concede…but a bit of a peach as well!
At this point a fair number headed for the exits.
County kept trying, right into added time, but we are back to that hill of beans again…..all their good work had been sadly undermined by a lack of quality at both ends of the park.
Nantwich for us next on Saturday in the F.A.Trophy….and I hear that their two strikers have scored 40 goals between them this season.
A good contest beckons then, but we need an altogether better showing from County if we are to progress in that competition.
Stockport County line up:
O’Hara, Tonge, Roberts, Connolly, O’Hanlon, Joyce( Robinson 68), Baggie, Rule(Morton 71), Odejayi, Evans ( Colley 75), Kirby.
Subs not used;
Solihull Moors line up:
Siegrist, Nottingham, Franklin, Daly, Streete, Dean, Moore( Walker 75), Byrne( English 84), Asanti, Beswick, Knights( Gittings 93).
Subs not used: