Stockport County 0 AFC Fylde 4 ( Vanarama National League- North) 28 March 2016
This was always going to be a tough one…..another tough one….with high flying AFC Fylde in town, but….with Dave Challinor’s side firing on all cylinders from the off, County found themselves up against it in no uncertain fashion, in the end finishing on the wrong side of a 0-4 drubbing as the Coasters pushed on towards the play-offs.
No disgrace in my eyes for a somewhat makeshift County side, but plenty of food for thought as JG prepares his plans for next season.
So…… my personal pre match strategy was clear…..it was clean socks and the blue underpants for me as….buoyed by the news of the arrival of an endangered Visayan Warty Piglet at Newquay Zoo….. I set off for Edgeley Park.
Most of those I spoke to pre match had a pretty similar approach to the game to myself - thinking that anything we could get from this one would be a good result, but with the news that Danny Lloyd, a player I have rated for yonks, was on the bench and not starting I flirted with my usual match day malaise of massive overconfidence, if only briefly.
Briefly….because straight from the kick off…Lloyd or no Lloyd….Fylde took the game to County with a confidence bordering on arrogance, and in reply County struggled to put a pass or a coherent move together.
A wall pass off referee David Richardson teed Fylde up for their first chance, via a subsequent free kick, but the returning Dean Henderson, in the County goal, coped well with this and it stayed 0-0.
The first five minutes consisted of wave after wave of attacks from the visitors, and it was a real relief to see Adam Sumner’s speculative effort join us in Row R, after a good block by Ryan Ellison had kept a strike by Matty Hughes at bay.
5….6…7 minutes…it was the same story as Fylde pushed the blues back- first through Sam Finley, but he was kept out initially by Ellison who again got in a decent block at the expense of a corner. The kick was a poor one allowing Roberts to clear, with Dion Charles in his face beyond the far post.
Relief then……..but no…….back came Fylde through Brad Barnes whose shot climbed high into the Cheadle End. I thought it was a goal kick, but there must have been a deflection en-route so it was a corner, and one which County did not deal with, allowing Tom Hannigan to nip in and score from close range.
Once again you get two views of this unhappy moment, the first from me......
And one from Andrew Machin......
The constant pressure from the Coasters continued after the goal and Connolly did well to block Charles’ run, with 13 minutes gone. County were in disarray next as corner followed corner. Finlay and Hardy both had efforts charged down. This was beginning to look distinctly iffy for the blues as former Hatter Danny Rowe crafted a chance from almost nothing for Finley. The result was a decent shot from the number eight, but it went the wrong side of the far post( for Fylde) missing out by a foot or so.
It was another couple of minutes before County could fashion their first real shot on goal, and it came via Marsden.
|Marsden on the ball ( Andrew Machin )|
It missed the target by some way, and thus required no response from keeper Ben Hinchcliffe, but it was a start.
We needed more of the same, but instead I looked up to see O’Hanlon with his finger in the County dyke as Rowe and Hardy combined to cause havoc. The pressure was quite intense for a time…..then I fancied it was easing…only to be quickly disavowed of that fallacy with the sight of Henderson diving to keep Rowe’s strike out at his right hand post.
That was a good stop, but the pressure on County was unremitting, as Fylde played the ball about with an ease that must have delighted their manager. Poscha did well at one point to keep Casper Hughes’ cross out. No one could get to the Josh Langley header that followed the resulting corner, but the ball flew wide of goal and County escaped.
There was some work for Hinchcliffe to do, 26 minutes in, but he did it well enough….clutching the ball to his chest from Brodie’s quick throw with Anoruo in the vicinity.
That though was just the briefest of interruptions in a vast ocean of attacking from the visitors…..
With Sumner whipping a vicious ball in from the left, County had to concede yet another corner. Connolly headed this one out under pressure, only for Charles to ferry it back again, seeing his shot crash into the side netting with Henderson rooted to the spot.
Matty Hughes and Dion Charles were lively customers at this point, and with Rowe in imperious form too County were clearly up against it big time-thankful to see Hardy allow the ball to drift out after having made it to the by-line.
It really was all Fylde right until the half time whistle- Connolly earning applause for a good bit of work with Rowe on the charge at the sharp end. Charles joined in, and the half ended with O’Hanlon stepping in the nullify his run with Henderson looking threatened.
On the whole then …0-1 at the break was not that bad for County, and Fylde maybe would think that they might have scored more, so…with County kicking our way in the second half you never know….yes…..I was at it again!
But…..the re-start saw County immediately under the cosh again, and it was a major surprise, after 5 minutes, that we reached this point with no addition to the score.
Sixty seconds on and matters changed …..
County were pushed back into their last third, being tormented by the likes of Rowe and Charles. Charles it was that had possession out on the right before cutting inside to unleash a superb shot that gave Henderson no chance at all. It was 2-0 and deservedly so!
Then…within another minute…it was 3-0… as the poorest of headers by Connolly saw Rowe in on goal. Somehow Henderson kept him out at the near post, but the ball ran clear to Charles who doubled his personal tally with a smart finish.
Twice after this the County corpse twitched via Poscha who had a couple of sorties down the right snuffed out….the first by the keeper the second via a headed clearance from Hannigan.
|....and Hinchcliffe makes the save !|
It was token stuff really though, when we were looking for altogether more from County, but with the midfield massively overwhelmed, County’s forwards were always receiving the ball in deep positions surrounded by orange shirts!
Thus…with frustration building …did WW3 beckon as Ellison and Barnes went for a testosterone tango in front of the main stand.
I thought the referee was pretty lenient really as both miscreants got yellows. Fylde got the free kick, but County survived the experience with no further traumas.
That said…there was no let up of pressure from the visitors particularly Rowe who was in his element tormenting the County defence with his languid skills. Charles was in there too with some tasty work, and his ball inside to Hardy, with 20 minutes left, should have seen him make it 4-0, but instead he let County off the hook by lifting a limp effort into the empty Railway End.
Both sides started to ring the changes now……County swapped Odejayi for Brodie whilst Fylde opted to replace Charles with Lloyd, and not long after ….JG took Connolly off ( replaced by Todd). Connolly had been booked earlier and the referee had just overlooked a follow up offence, thus I took this swap as Jim being prudent with a red in the referees pending tray.
Todd went to right back with Poscha moving inside, but within 5 minutes County were up against it again as Rowe sidestepped Poscha before leathering Fylde’s fourth home!
County were clearly trying to make headway after this, but there was simply no way back for them.
Poscha ,to his credit, did force Hinchcliffe to make a save late on, but ..try as they might….County couldn’t snatch even a consolation goal from the wreckage of their day.
No celebrations for County then after the final whistle, but Fylde are a very good side indeed and we now know, if we didn’t know already, what is needed for our promotion push next season. I am sure JG will have it covered!
See you at Edgeley Park this Saturday then!
Stockport County line up:
Henderson, Poscha, O’Hanlon, Connolly( Todd 78), Roberts, Ellison, Wilson, Field( West 53), Marsden, Anoruo, Brodie( Odejayi 72).
Subs not used :
D Smith, Grimshaw.
AFC Fylde line up:
Hinchcliffe,C Hughes, Sumner , Langley, Hannigan, Barnes, Charles( Lloyd 72), Finley, Rowe, M Hughes( Dudley 83), Hardy.
Subs not used;
Urwin, Collins, Crainey.