Gloucester City 0 Stockport County 0 : ( Vanarama National League North) 23 January 2016







County put in a decent shift today at Whaddon Road to share the points, in a nil/ nil draw, with a Gloucester City side that had just won four out of the last four games, scoring a bag full in the process. Not a bad start for Jim Gannon at all under the circumstances ,no one shirked a shift ,only a goal was missing, and in truth neither keeper was severely tested in a game in which defences dominated…..County’s expertly marshalled by captain Sean O’Hanlon …..City’s by Sam Avery who dealt with everything that came his way.
If perhaps expectations were not that high before the game, there was a massive increase in morale with over 350 making the trip from Cheshire, to support their team and welcome Jim back. 
 
Blue & White Army in full voice!

Unfortunately yet another late/ late call from SK3 ensured that these travelling County fans, were kept from the bar on the ground which was a massive shame. It’s also greatly irritating as almost every away game now, irrespective of the venue or previous experience at same, we are dished – time we had an explanation on the subject I think!


 
The new inspirational County banner !

No matter…..by 2.55 ` Jimmy Gannon’s Blue & White Army’ was ringing out in the cool Cheltenham air.  
Jim  & team captured by Andrew Machin.


When the team came out it was still being sung and the inevitable acknowledgement from JG brought an ovation for the popular County Manager, and I must say  County fans were magnificent in their support of their Manager and his team today...magnificent!



Dean Henderson  also got a good reception from the County following as the teams changed ends , and he soon showed us his reactions were in decent nick with a quick reaction clearance under a bit of pressure.
It was 3 minutes before anything of substance stirred for County, and it came via Karl Ledsham who sneaked a cheeky corner on the break. O’Hanlon got his head to the kick only to see the ball fly wide.

 
O'Hanlon is up for it !
We were perhaps 6 or 7 minutes into proceedings when things took a bizarre turn with an injury to the far liner, who had to leave the field after prolonged treatment. Over 10 minutes elapsed with players…..officials….supporters entertaining themselves, whilst a search presumably went on for a replacement liner.

 
Liner in distress( Andrew Machin )

 This was eventually achieved, and the game re-started with County winning a free kick, which quickly became a corner when Holsgrove spun past his marker in the box. When the kick came in however the referee saw a foul by someone in blue and the raid was over.

 
Brewster to the fore !
For a time, County kept City under a bit of pressure, and Jasbir Singh, the Gloucester keeper, did well to keep Brewster out…finding touch quickly with the young forward straining to make something of a break.

 
Singh is busy ( Andrew Machin)

For the Tigers, I had already identified Sam Avery as a man to watch. He was dealing calmly with everything County could throw at him, whilst up front Luke Hopper looked to be the danger, which was odd as I was expecting it to be Lewis Hall who had scored 5 goals in the last two games.



Marsden  meanwhile managed to get in behind the home defence, but with expectations gaining strength in the Away End , which was still giving `Jimmy Gannon’s Blue & White Army’ some behind Henderson’s goal, his shot skidded up and over the bar. Marsden was looking quite handy …..cumfy on the ball and not afraid to shoot, and he whipped a cross in next that put Avery and company under the cosh momentarily, but the City number 5 was up to the challenge , heading clear to the approval of the home specs in the crowd of almost 800.




At the back…for County…..O’Hanlon was in his element….oozing confidence. He robbed Hall with an excellent tackle as the Tigers danger man made to make mayhem down the left on the break.


 
Rule poleaxed ( by Andrew Machin)

That was great stuff…what happened next was not…..as a clash of heads saw Rule eventually substituted…replaced by Menagh.

 
Up and Under.......
My watch told me that 40 minutes had elapsed since the kick off, but there must be over 10 minutes of added time to play, and with half time approaching fast…so my paranoia started to peak. It centred around the referee Michael D’Aguilar. I am always alarmed when…in the first half….a referee plays a blinder ….sees everything as it is, and gives us plenty- inevitably the second half sees him turn into a veritable skunk in shorts . 


 
Referee- Mr Michael D'Aguilar.( by Andrew Machin)

Well….Mr D’Aguilar was so far just excellent,all the first half( all 56 minutes of it), and Menagh was inches away with a free kick driven in at pace with minutes of the half left to play.

 

Into first half added time we went then…..with O’Hanlon still tackling ` like a Tiger’ I found myself scribbling somewhat confusingly in my notes! He was as well….and not once either…..he was there again to dispense calm and dispose of a cross from Hopper that might otherwise have caused issues.



On it went….the free kicks still coming County’s way, but despite Menagh managing to add a degree of lethality to his kicks, City continued to defend these well and deny County the oxygen of an opening goal.

 
Andrew Machin sees Morton stop Hall

Almost on the stroke of half time, at last one of the keepers had a save to make and it was Henderson for County. City hit County on the break and Hopper rounded Montrose with aplomb before crashing his drive in on the County goal. Henderson reacted quickly and well, and his dive saw him beat the shot out enabling someone in blue to make the clearance.

 
Henderson saves ( Andrew Machin )

That was it for the first half, and with County kicking our way in the second 45, there was plenty to look forward too.


 
County fans fuel up.....
The re-start saw Gloucester win an early free kick, and they seemed to be altogether livelier pushing the ball around nicely from one to another. That said…..at the sharp end nothing changed…..they did get a shot in, from Hopper , but Henderson dealt with this comfortably.
At the other end…Singh had work to do keeping Marsden’s flick on from Menagh in the box, and reacting promptly when Holsgrove  stabbed a shot his way.
It was not long before Odejayi came on in place of Holsgrove , but it was County who ,for a time, were defending and Menagh did well to stop Cundy as he burst through to the by-line. 

Odejayi, interupts liners version of the Mumbles Mambo preparing to come on.


This notionally offered our hosts the sniff of a chance, but O’Hanlon got his head to the incoming corner to deny them that vital first goal.
The heart strings were being heftily yanked meanwhile, and simultaneously the paranoia was still  on the up….as JG was still being serenaded loudly from behind the ( segregated) goal….and yes……the referee was still performing immaculately- we  were not getting everything….you cannot expect that…but he was generally getting pretty much most of the decisions right!

 
Can you see the roof lifting off its supports ?
County pushed on past the hour mark, with a Montrose /Marsden combo that promised much without the delivery, only for Hall to then chip in for City by robbing Menagh and testing Henderson with a snap shot. The young County keeper made the save and it stayed 0-0.
County kept plugging away, and Odejayi was now providing a decent option, getting most on offer in the air, and he was inches away from sending Marsden in with a flick on, with 20 minutes left to play.

 
That was close...from Odejayi.
It went on……Billy Jones hooking clear from another Odejayi effort, with Menagh waiting to pounce on it…..and Brewster was unlucky not to get a sight of goal as his run into the box saw him smash into the boards with Jones on his case.
With just over 15 minutes left, Hopper was replaced by Obi Anoruo, who was in behind County’s defence in no time at all after coming on. Thankfully Morton was on hand to deal with the resultant cross, but I found myself hoping that this was not the way it was going to be with Anoruo in the minutes that remained!
Anoruo’s inclusion did seem to have had an affect however and County had work to do……O’Hanlon heading a Jones free kick out under pressure…..Henderson…then Roberts working to mop up with the Tigers milling around the box hungrily.
Roberts did particularly well…his clearance turning defence into attack – this attack was thwarted as Avery and Jones combined to see the threat off, but while County kept working hard there was hope of something better, and with Brewster back again breaking down the right, that something better looked about to materialise, until his legs were sent every which way by Joe Hanks’ lumpant tackle. Hanks got a yellow…..County a free kick…..but despite another belter from Menagh, it ended unhappily with Odejayi's header carrying the bar!
Into the last 5 minutes we went with County still doing the attacking ….Brewster  a gnats whisker from Odejayi’s flick on. I had just recovered from that one when I looked up to see Marsden’s shot strike the heel of a defender deflecting the ball away from goal.
 
Thwarted....offside !

It was not all County though….. substitute Femi Orenuga went close for Tigers with a header…..and Roberts did well to clear up the park as a dangerous ball from Tom Webb pinged in from the right.
That said……chances WERE emerging still for County….they just weren’t taking them….Menagh stabbing his shot over the bar instead of into the net , with just 2 minutes of normal time left.
Morton continued the forward push from the blues, his powerful run…assisted by Montrose…caused City anxious moments aplenty before they were eventually able to effect a clearance.
County continued to try for that winner none more so than Odejayi, but that crucial finish was missing, along with a portion of luck. Marsden did his best to create his own luck, but his fall to earth failed to impress the still impressive Mr D’ Aguilar, and we did not get a penalty.
Added time came and went …the closest to a finish of note being Ledsham’s effort that came back off a defender after good work by Morton had again opened things up for us.
A blast of the referee’s whistle told us the game was over, and it was time to head home, but not before team…supporters and staff saluted each other.



In the end 0-0 was about right, and I repeat not a bad start for Jim and his team, who now have a week to work on stuff without a game to distract them next week.
See you all at Harrogate then!

Gloucester City line up:

Singh, Green, Jones, Cundy, Avery, Dinsley, Webb, Hanks, Williams, Hopper( Anoruo 72), Hall( Orenuga 80)

Subs not used:

Richards, Hamilton, Knowles.

Stockport County line up;

Henderson, Morton, Roberts, Smalley, O’Hanlon, Montrose, Holsgrove ( Odejayi 56), Rule( Menagh 40), Brewster, Marsden, Ledsham.

Subs not used:

Ormson, Connolly, Tonge.

Attendance: 791 ( 370)

Ian Brown


Comments

Top Posts

Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads 0 Stockport County 3 ( Friendly- 8 July 2017)

Bradford Park Avenue 0 Stockport County 2 ( Vanarama National League- North) 22 April 2017

Leamington 2 Stockport County 3 ( Vanarama National League- North) 19 August 2017