Hednesford Town 1 Stockport County 2 ( Vanarama National League- North) 19 March 2016
The Madagascan Fat Tailed Dwarf Lemur has the amazing ability to put all its biological processes on hold for prolonged periods. This nifty hibernatory talent is currently interesting NASA, who rather fancy adapting the diminutive mammals abilities to enable them to get astronauts twixt Earth and Mars.
I must confess also that there have been times, in recent years, with County plunging ever deeper down the football pyramid, when some first hand knowledge of this nature would have been most useful to myself and others, to escape the angst prevailing in and around SK3.
Not any more though…….and today saw JG’s County team serve up more reasons to be cheerful …..clawing their way back from a 0-1 deficit….a seemingly irretrievable situation , to win the game,in the most exciting of fashions, with two cracking goals, from Obi Anoruo and Big K Odejayi deep into added time, in an absolutely pulsating finish.
That was truly excellent stuff…..but on 90 minutes County looked dead and buried. That this was so…was incomprehensible as they had had total control of the first half. Trouble was that they totally failed to take advantage of the oceans of possession this control facilitated. The result was that the massive contributions of Lewis Montrose and Jim’s immaculately re-shuffled back line( they were all awesome),thus went to waste.
So…….having not hit the target once in the first 45 minutes….Hednesford did so twice in short order after the re-start. Thankfully…Ian Ormson was in imperious form twixt the sticks for County and it stayed score less, until just after the hour when the resurgent home side were allowed to snatch an improbable lead via captain Ben Bailey’s unchallenged header.
County applied themselves to pulling something out of what looked likely to end as a disappointing outing to Staffordshire after that, but with the game in added time, and Hednesford content to defend and find touch, few gave County much of a chance despite much effort. Then….90 minutes became 91 and an effort from Odejayi crashed into a post to be fired home by the live wire Obi Anoruo. Wow….we had a point……well yes…..but another 2 minutes multiplied County’s points haul by 3 as the blues suddenly went long from a defensive position. Odejayi was on the end of it and, with keeper Dan Crane advancing his way, Big K sent County’s large following in ecstasy with a truly glorious finish.
Terrific…………..hardly covers it……..but back at 3 o’clock it was clear that injuries and illness had forced JG to shuffle his pack, which meant that Garvin came in for Roberts…….Smalley for O’Hanlon, and Joyce took up the Ledsham spot. A biting coolness prevailed in the air, as the game got underway, and the pattern was soon set with an iron clad grip rapidly established by Connolly and Smalley through the middle. Although Tom Peers and Modou Cham looked to work openings, their task was a hard one as all they had to feed on was the occasional high ball sent in hope rather than expectation.
Connolly was particularly impressive early on, and along with Morton, saw off successive runs first by Peers and then Cham in concert with Phil Trainer.
Trainer’s next contribution however, was a miscued pass which Marsden latched onto, but whilst Brodie took the Marsden ball that followed this, he pulled his shot wide.
Time next for Thomas and Cham to link up and try their luck ….but with Morton in the vicinity it was out, and County were away on the charge again. Somehow Hednesford held out. It wasn’t that pretty, and Brodie was agonisingly close to getting to Marsden’s through ball following neat work from the on fire Montrose and Big K in the build up.
Montrose was looking really good at this point and good work from him and Joyce almost saw Marsden in- his shot was charged down, which was a disappointment!
County were enjoying loads of possession, but the forward pushes from Montrose and Morton, did not produce a lethal response on the end of same, and …instead…..the 23rd minute saw Ormson in action punching clear under some pressure ,with Sean Williams itching to open his team’s account.
Marsden did have the ball in the net on 28 minutes, from a knock down by Odejayi but this was ruled out, and the prevailing feeling for me was one of frustration as Crane continued to escape severe scrutiny from the County forwards.
The 35th minute did see Field put pressure on with a well taken free kick, but this was headed clear by Digie, and Brodie’s follow up effort was charged down, along with a follow up try by Morton. Another minute and …at last …Crane was tested, by Brodie’s shot which was going in….it was….but Crane’s dive saw the danger off , and the County forward disappointed.
County continued to enjoy the majority of possession in the run up to half time. A series of throws pinned the Staffordshire side back on their heels, as a Marsden effort came back out off one of a line of defenders.
On it went with Marsden inches away from an excellent headed pass from Odejayi, and Brodie was a similar distance from another one…
Unfortunately….Brodie was also allowing himself to be wound up by possibly the smallest home contingent we have seen for a while, and on the stroke of half time he went into referee Massey- Ellis’s book.
The half ended with Morton’s latest lung bursting run, halted on the edge of the box, and the teams trouped off with Brodie still arguing the toss with anyone who would listen….and a few who would not!
Parity at 0-0, was probably a disappointment based on the amount of possession County had enjoyed in the 45 minutes we had just witnessed, but we saw a distinct change when the teams returned to the field. No doubt dear old Frank had re-jigged the tactics a tad, but he also threw on ex Hatter( and curse bearer) Danny Glover , and he was soon in County’s faces, getting the drop on Morton just inside the County half. Town’s first shot on target followed and it was a belter…..but so was Ian Ormson’s response and a really fine save saw the danger off, with applause from County fans helping to ease the prevailing coolness!
County replied quickly, but Field shot wide after being set up by good work from Brodie and Odejayi.
|Hup....Big K !|
Hednesford however were altogether less inclined to adopt pacivity as a modus operandi now ,and Ormson had to pull off another cracking save….diving to beat a terrific curling effort by Shelton Payne out – that was excellent….but a touch worrying too.
A period of pressure by Hednesford followed….. punctuated by runs from Brodie and Garvin…both met with stoic resistance from Frank Sinclair’s team. Brodie then hit the home defence again as a neat run by Morton set Marsden up to feed the ex York striker just inside the box. Bailey did well to deflect the Brodie shot for a corner, which Peers headed clear.
So….County seemed to be reasserting themselves somewhat now, with just over an hour gone, and a foul on the increasingly influential Odejayi saw Field’s free kick give Crane palpitations before passing his left hand post!
Yes…..it was so…..County were getting back into it, and I took two poor fouls…..Williams on Odejayi and Cham on Morton as evidence of our hosts discomfiture! Bookings and free kicks followed, but the score stayed as it was until Mr Massey-Ellis, who I thought was reasonably even handed which is about all we can hope for at this level, intervened. Garvin looked to have made a decent block on the edge of the box to prevent Payne from making mayhem, when the referee pulled play back to give Town a free kick smack in front of goal on the edge of the box! This was certain goal territory alright and Ormson pulled out all the stops with a really special diving save to keep the kick out. We were still applauding when the corner came over and Bailey headed the ball home without a blue shirt within a country mile of him! That was disappointing…..and more to the point it was 1-0 to Hednesford!
JG rang the changes for County shortly after…..bringing Anoruo and Ellison on for Marsden and Joyce.
Both teams worked hard after this ….Town to put the game to bed with a second and County to get back to parity, but neither side could get close enough to the opposing keeper to make their possession count. Payne went closest of either team with a couple of efforts, but neither troubled Ormson greatly.
There were just 8 minutes left when County made their final change, which saw George West take the place of Brodie who had done really well throughout and especially well after the break to reign in the short fuse!
A move involving Anoruo and Field ended in a County corner, but with the pressure mounting our hosts were seemingly content to defend for the most part- finding touch with regularity.
And so it went on…County pushing their opponents back into their last third where a hoof to touch would do thank you very much.
Well it did do until the 91st minute when the latest County attack looked to have ended when Odejayi’s effort thudded into Crane’s left hand post! Bugger….chance gone….but no….Anoruo( who had gone close moments earlier with a header) was within sniffing distance and negotiated a neat turn in the box before slamming the ball home to delirious acclamation from the County following. This was particularly satisfying having resulted from a free kick for a foul on Garvin. Just deserts….or what!
Well…that was great, and we rather thought we had snatched a point from a game destined to be lost!
We were now 3 minutes into the 4 added, and Hednesford had just made a last desperate effort to snatch that lead back when County got the ball and pinged it long deep into their opponents half where Odejayi and others lurked. He judged the situation brilliantly controlling the ball nicely before lifting the ball over the advancing keeper from the edge of the box.
The ball took eons to come down but when it did the place erupted as Big K’s judgement was again spot on and the ball bounced in the back of the net.
Cue…. enormously joyous celebrations enjoyed immensely by County supporters and players, and Odejayi was congratulated at length by County fans after the whistle had gone.
Before that however we had seen a pitch invasion by County supporters and blue flares thrown onto the pitch also which is dispiriting. We have been warned about this and the Club….at best….will be fined….not sure whether points deduction is at all likely but who knows…we are repeat offenders!
Those thoughts to one side though…we need to congratulate the team for their resilience and persistence that eventually prevailed in perhaps the most thrilling finish
I can recall for a decade or so!
Well done County!
See you all at North Ferriby then!
Hednesford Town line up:
Crane, Fitzwater( Robinson 93), Trainer, Bailey, Digie( Glover 45), Francis, Thomas, Williams, Peers, Cham, Payne.
Subs not used:
Ransome, Truelove, Ennis.
Stockport County line up:
Ormson, Morton, Connolly, Smalley, Garvin, Montrose, Joyce( Ellison 73), Field, Marsden( Anoruo 73), Odejayi, Brodie( West 82).
Subs not used:
D Smith, Todd.