Stockport County 0 AFC Telford 1 ( Vanarama National League North- 9 January 2016 )
I will start this with a warning……to those readers expecting a heart warming post Yuletide story to set them up for week 2 of 2016 ….seek this elsewhere….you will not find such here!
I suppose, in a week when a whole episode of `Midsummer Murders’ went off without so much as a single fatality, anything is possible. Anyway …with AFC Telford in town to play County that was the way I chose to approach the game. It looked a shoo in for us, despite County’s indifferent form, Telford having not won a game since I was a lad, but this is County we are talking about ….so….I put confident predictions way out of my mind well before 3o’clock. It turned out to be just as well, as County’s performance was abysmal…..no one, put in a shift in a team seemingly bereft of ideas and tactical awareness.
Delial Brewster chased a fare bit, so I exclude him from the opprobrium, but I was willing the referee to blow for time long before he did , and well before the `Young Out’ stuff started. It was not so much that we had lost ….or had failed to score…against the bottom of the league, it was the abject nature of the surrender that cut to the quick!
For sure……Telford wasted masses of time throughout the game( just where did Tommy Tonks get his towel from), but our propensity to dreamily concede cheap free kick after free kick just played into this dubious game plan from the divisions bottom club. We simply should have done better….instead it was 8 minutes into the second half before Telford keeper Harry Burgoyne had anything meaningful to do. True County tested him a couple of times within minutes of this but then that was that for the day, and there was a certain inevitability about the late spilling of all the points via a penalty awarded when Ormson brought Reid down in the box.
Back to 3 o’clock, and I was again in a decent mood, having witnessed County fans being fantastically generous again donating another van load of food and other stuff for Stockport homeless charity the Wellspring through the Supporters Cooperative.
NY again rang the changes, his team containing new boy Jamie Menagh in its starting line up, and John Marsden on the bench.........
........... but I was perplexed to see that, after just one( distinctly promising) game, Charlie Russell was consigned to the bench. Arestidou was gone, and Tonge relegated to the bench, the duo being swapped for Ian Ormson and Paul Connolly. So……all to play for then, but County soon got into a routine they were to infuriate me with game long…as Connolly gave us the first of his hapless fouls to give Telford some respite and a chance to exert some pressure. That Telford looked entirely incapable of taking advantage of County’s largess( Ric Peniket headed wide when the long delayed kick was finally taken), was neither here nor there…we needed to tighten up and avoid a recurrence.
The slackness extended to the attacking as well, and despite Telford leaking a number of free kicks in interesting positions, County could make nothing of them.13 minutes had gone….and Burgoyne looked already to be on light duties- Brewster offered a glimmer, with some energetic running, but that was about the sum total of the praiseworthy efforts from the blues at this stage going forward.
This was a dire game….a sorry spectacle….and it was bloody cold too, and I winced as Connolly gave away another needless free kick in a tasty position. Thankfully Karl Ledsham was on hand….first to block the incoming kick….then to carry the pill up the park. Thereafter it looked promising momentarily ,with Margetts making ground via Ledsham’s pass, but once the break was applied by Curtis Tilt’s tackle, County’s gallop was cut short.
Almost half an hour had gone, a little early for Montrose to attempt a shirt exchange, but that was what he seemed to be about, under the referee’s nose, and sure enough we had another cheap free kick to defend. Fortunately the slightly excitable Ryan Rowe drilled this narrowly wide, but we really did need to wise up and stop setting our opponents up so obligingly! But……we persisted and only Telford’s ineptitude in front of goal prevented us going one or more behind.
County did go close with a header ,32 minutes in, following Menagh’s free kick( his first of the game) ,but it went wide and Burgoyne was not troubled at all.
We were 10 minutes from the break, and still the constant rash of free kicks ( for both sides) served to disrupt the game’s flow, that and Telford’s skill at taking eons to take throw ins , and generally drop earthwards for a lie down every now and then!
Hay ho….it was ever thus I suppose, and perhaps County would sort themselves out and put the visitors to the sword…..hmmm…….
Well…….it would help if we got them free kicks right, but another went to waste with 10 minutes left.
In response Telford sent Darren Campion on a sortie that saw his shot drift just wide, after Connolly had done well to fend off the latest offering, free kick wise, from the visitors.
I was just recovering from that near miss when Telford found their range, and their shooting boots. Peniket started it with a run to the edge of the box that saw him turn inside past Garvin as if he was not there. It was a really dangerous moment, as the number nine looked up to assess his options. He did this quickly…picking out Rowe with his pass, and a thumping drive followed …heading for the far corner of the County goal before Ormson intervened with a brilliant diving save. A possible game changing moment? I thought it might be, but it was early doors I suppose, and we needed to stop conceding those free kicks, and Connolly was not taking this on board, conceding another with half time approaching fast. County struggled to keep this one out….the pressure increased by the infuriating Tonks who produced a massive towel and proceeded to wipe the ball with it- a process that took 2 minutes and 21 seconds!
Even more infuriatingly, wiping done, he then pinged a giant throw smack onto Peniket’s head. Thankfully …there the angst ended, as Peniket’s header sailed our way on Row R , and it stayed 0-0, but for how long?
The last 3 or 4 minutes to the break saw County leak free kick after free kick, keeping Ormson busy, but he was up to the task, so it was 0-0 at half time, which just about said what needed to be said about the 45 minutes we had just witnessed!
Marsden was on for Baggie when the game re-started, but there seemed to be little in the way of change in the County fortunes, as Burgoyne remained largely untroubled. There was no change from Telford either….Tong continued to wind us up with his slow motion long throws. He could still find the head of Peniket with them too, but this time his flick on saw Rowe’s header fly wide.
At last…..8 minutes into the second half, Burgoyne got some work to do, and he did it well, preventing the approaching Ledsham from getting to Menagh’s ball.
I was tempted to get all over confident now, and Ormson fuelled my flames with a decent long ball that sent Garvin on a run. This run was blocked but it led to a chance for Margetts who looked on in anguish to see Burgoyne dive to his left and push the
ball around the post.
|Burgoyne's save caught by Andrew Machin.|
Over excited……probably not….but encouraged…..yes…..County might just be stirring, but the resultant corner was wasted…….Brewster was foiled again by Burgoyne not long after, and Margetts rather brought the curtain down on the encouraging stuff by sending a shot our way in the Cheadle End.
The Telford response to this County mini resurgence was to simply take the piss, with the long slow motion throws, and longer rest periods whilst apparently injured. But…they were also now getting a touch cocky with it as well, pushing County back rather too often for a team languishing in the league where they currently do. And….yes….those free kicks….County were still giving them away. The one taken by Lucas Dawson ,on 71 minutes, hit the wall, and Tong then shot wide, but sooner or later………….
With Rule and Odejayi on for Montrose and Margetts, County staged a heartening, but brief rally, with less than 15 minutes left, and Curtis Tilt did his best to disturb the residents in Hardcastle Road with the still lively Brewster threatening. A throw and then a free kick followed but that was as good as it got as Garvin’s kick whistled inches beyond the angle of bar and post much to my dismay.
County came under pressure after this , but seemed to be holding out OK, whilst their efforts at the sharp end began to get ever more desperate…..Connolly typifying this lifting one high into the box, for Campion to head clear.
We were simply not putting Telford under any real pressure at all, and with barely 2 minutes left, the inevitable happened as out of nowhere the visitors were slung a lifeline when Reid was brought down by Ormson.
The referee pointed to the spot instantly, and Dawson added the final touch to County’s discomfort by slamming the ball past Ormson to give his side the lead.
It was cue “ Young Out” at this point from sections of the Cheadle End, and our mood was not improved by Burgoyne’s dying swan act on saving at Rule’s feet as the County man went for a late equaliser. 100% recovery followed quickly after what had seemed to be a near death experience for the Telford keeper.
The mood was quite dark under the Cheadle End roof…..Brewster did his best to lighten it …still running…challenging….but this time finding Peniket in position to deny him.
Soon enough it was game over…..but not before the recriminations as the boos rang out…..by no means unanimously from the County contingent, but substantial none the less.
We need more of the County team to show up and play like they mean it before large chunks of the 2765 who showed up themselves today start not to bother to do so!
Stockport County line up:
Ormson, Smalley , O’Hanlon, Connolly, Garvin, Menagh, Baggie( Marsden 45), Montrose ( Rule 73), Brewster, Margetts( Odejayi 73), Ledsham.
Subs not used:
AFC Telford line up:
Burgoyne, Samuels, Campion, Wynter( Dawson 70), Hutchinson, Tilt, Tonks( Grogan 78), Rea, Peniket, Rowe, Clancy( Reid 54).
Subs not used;