Stockport County 1 FC United of Manchester 2 ( Vanarama National League North) 5 December 2015
Another Saturday…..and….regretably…. another horror story from County today, as they lost out to FC United of Manchester at a windswept Edgeley Park .
The manner of the defeat, which in the end was well merited, was immensely disappointing, but pretty typical of much of what County have served up in the last dozen games or so of this term.
For 25 minutes County looked on to rack up a cricket score …their football was fluent, bordering on the irresistible, and FCUM reeled from one crisis to another in response. Unfortunately …despite an array of tasty chances coming their way, County could put none of them away- the best of them being spurned by Margetts and Garvin .
After that FCUM were allowed into a game they had merely been interested observers of, and we paid the full price in added time in the first half when Rory Fallon’s speculative effort from way out on the left took wings in the wind going in off Connolly to send the visitors in one up at the break.
County flattered to deceive again upon the re-start….equalising through Margetts on 54 minutes. I took this as a sign that County would now pile forward and bury their opponents under the weight of their attacking football……..but….this turned out to be nothing other than another hopeless fantasy on my part, as it was FCUM who took the bit twixt their teeth and gave it some, and it was no surprise when Fallon whipped another long and hopeful one in, with just under 20 minutes left to play, and Tom Greaves headed home eagerly from close in. The only surprise after this was that the visitors did not add to their tally….County never really looked likely to do so!
Back to 3 o’clock and consternation abounded in Row R and around with the news that Kayden Jackson , who had been signed on loan by County from Wrexham, would not be playing as he had not had……err…..international clearance!! Wrexham…….of the Vanarama National League….not La Liga or Der Bundesliga………I am sure that FIFA will sort this matter out for us( if there are any suitably qualified officials left at HQ that is)…there may even be a day or two of his loan period left when this tour de farce is sorted!
Still simmering gently, I watched play start, and almost immediately I was liking what I was seeing which was Margetts rounding on goal and looking ever so likely to score! To be fair he did get a decent shot in, but unfortunately David Carnell trumped it with his dive which saw him push the ball around the post at the last gasp. FCUM hastily found touch when the corner came over and the early angst was seemingly over for the visitors….except it wasn’t, and with County first to just about everything, the pressure was almost permanently on the side from Moston….Carnell again doing well to get down at the foot of his post to make a save with blue shirts sniffing for scraps all around him.
Sam Madeley did contrive to spoil our party, with 5 minutes gone, but when Arestidou snaffled the ball to prevent the forward turning a slightly nervous moment into something decidedly worse, County resumed service as before in their opponents half.
Not long after County had another opportunity to open their account, this time it was set up by Evans, whose run put Carnell in all sorts of difficulties, so much so that his attempted clearance looked to be nothing less than a disaster as the ball landed at the feet of Lewis Montrose. Carnell was closer to Castle Street than his goal when Montrose got the ball, so it must have been worth a punt in the prevailing conditions despite the distance, but neither Lewis or any of his colleagues to whom he quickly past the ball, would have a go and another chance of sorts had vanished.
Free kicks, by this time, were racking up for County, the pressure forcing their opponents to concede them all over the place in extremis. The latest set piece was headed clear , but any disappointment at this was promptly multiplied umpteen times as the very next move, engineered neatly by Roberts and Margetts , saw a gilt edged chance spurned by Garvin whose shot was pushed around the post by the keeper. Good save?......yes….but……it should have been buried in my view!
I had just about recovered my composure from the last trauma when more followed apace, when somehow Margetts contrived to lift the softest of shots over the top, from a really good cross by Roberts. Again it seemed an easy chance ….but it was another we had failed to take.
Evans and Baggie did good work after this …Baggie earning a corner at one point which was sadly wasted.
Fifteen minutes had gone and there was still precious little in the way of a response from FCUM. Rule offered them some encouragement with a foul just outside the box, but the free kick was lumped out to our general merriment.
So….it was clearly going to be County’s day….if they could just sort the finishing bit out!
Hmmmm….well…..Baggie was doing his best in this regard, and for a moment thought he might have gained a spot kick as he chewed grit just inside the box courtesy of a defender, but whilst I would have, perhaps unsurprisingly , given it, Mr Bramall, who I thought had a good game, did not and that was very much that, and Baggies angst continued apace as he supplied a peach of a cross to Margetts a minute later only for the forward to put his header over the bar when well placed!
This was beginning to get frustrating, and this feeling multiplied once more as Rule worked small miracles to break up an embryonic FC raid, sending Margetts and Evans on a run. It looked a good break as well….another good break…..but when the ball was played back to Garvin he could only hit one of a line of defenders with his shot. Again he really should have done better, and no sooner had I mouthed that thought than more angst was on the way via Margetts this time, who scooped a poor effort wide from another delicious ball from the unlucky Baggie.
Add another Baggie run…..a cross…..and an air kick by Margetts on the end of it, and…with the score still 0-0 it was now getting a tad worrying!
Up to about the 25 minute mark it got no more than a little worrying…..Rule was working like 2 or 3 men, and together with Montrose looked well in command …..then Arestidou was called on to make a brave save to deny Greaves a sneaky one with O’Hanlon caught napping.
It went on with Dean Stott shooting over from a Fallon cross…..then George Thompson saw his shot carried wide by the wind, and Madeley made a bit of a hash of getting to Thompson’s diagonal ball into the box not long after.
County definitely needed to dig deep for some inspiration…something to stop the rot, instead Connolly had to look lively to stop Madeley getting to another Fallon tempter.
This was immensely disappointing……Garvin did however sting the keeper’s hands with one effort with a couple of minutes remaining to play of the first half, but largely now….any directness was absent from County’s play…they were oft times seen drifting wide with the ball …away from goal…rather than towards it.
So……what does Sods Law say then about not taking your chances? Well ….those particular chickens came home to roost with a vengeance in added time, as Fallon lifted a hopeful one up into the maelstrom above our heads, the wind carrying it vaguely towards goal where it went in off Connolly ! It was an awful moment and there was no time to put it right as the whistle soon went to end the half.
The re-start saw around 1400 FCUM fans almost apoplectic as the ball pin-balled about the County box with Greaves and others doing their level best to get on the end of Fallon’s latest offering. At one point Greaves went down under pressure from Tonge, but Mr Bramall was consistent and waved this away much to United’s displeasure.
For a time County looked likely to redress matters, and had Garvin’s free kick hit the back of the net instead of thudding into the near post, things might have turned out somewhat differently.
Baggie was still working at creating something, switching now to the left flank, but Margetts could not beat Carnell from close range , and twice…in quick succession it was FCUM who went closest to scoring …both times via Madeley who saw two fierce drives narrowly miss out.
Then I thought we had squared the circle…when Margetts went some way to making up for his earlier efforts by beating Carnell with a shot that eased its way beyond the keeper into the far corner of the net to the deep joy of me and everyone around me!
County did try to build on Lady Luck’s latest mood swing, but could not add to their good fortune…..Margetts kept from a Baggie ball by Thurston’s keen eye…..and Evans’ excellent wing play wasted by a p++s poor corner…just one of many I fear today!
United went for the jugular after the last action, and Arestidou did well to prevent Harry Winters break resulting in a goal. He couldn’t then stop Greaves from putting the ball into the net, but the flag had long since gone up …thus a second FCUM goal was avoided….for now!
The visitors kept at it though and it took vital saves from Arestidou and Tonge to keep the scores level…Tonge doing particularly well to block a goal bound effort on the line!
Hmm…..great stuff, but would it last? The short answer was….no of course not, and County’s luck ran out when Fallon’s next cloud hugger pinged in from way out! This one had danger written all over it and with Arestidou considering his options, Greaves made it an academic exercise by heading the ball home from close in. It was 2-1 to FCUM….there was still time for County to do something about it….but would they?
Well….. NY did ring the changes…. Odejayi for Baggie……Ledsham for Roberts , but neither change made any real impact on the pattern of play….FCUM generally now looked the team most likely to…..and with them hitting us more and more on the break…and County unwisely relying on dubious offside judgements, things did not look good for a fight back.
The rest had a decided air of anti-climax about it, not even an irritating one man pitch invasion could add sufficient colour to proceedings, although I am moved to hope that the soft sod gets some book or other slung at him for his pains…County probably will doubtless reap the whirlwind thanks to his mind numbing stupidity!
“Enough”…..I hear you cry…… and it is …..for now anyway…..Corby next week……barring the unforeseen I will be bound there next Saturday at 10 on the Flyer.
Now where did I put the paracaetamols?
Stockport County line up:
Arestidou, Tonge, Roberts( Ledsham 81), Connolly, O’Hanlon, Rule, Baggie( Odejayi 74), Montrose, Margetts, Evans, Garvin.
Subs not used:
O’Hara, Morton , Joyce.
FC United of Manchester line up:
Carnell,Stott, Thurston, Kay, Smyth, Ashworth, Fallon, Winter, Greaves( Brown 92), Thompson( Wolfenden 90), Madeley( Patterson 71).
Subs not used:
Attendance : 4797.