Tamworth 1 Stockport County 1 ; ( Vanarama National League -North)5 March 2016

Built circa 755AD by King Offa( he of dyke fame),then rebuilt around 913 AD by Ethelfleada, the Mercian Queen, after the Danes had junked the place 40 years earlier, Tamworth as a town, has always had a tendency to be forever looking over its shoulder fearing an attack by someone ,from  somewhere….at sometime ! Hence the increasingly fortified nature of the settlements in Tamworth afterwards, that were to prove very effective when the Danes and others returned!
At times today it was as if the `burhs’ so vital to this communal defensive effort over the years, were back for the home side who had to defend particularly well early on as County shaped to add to their 3 game unbeaten run.  Much of County’s play looked likely to do just that, especially when John Marsden lashed a beauty home just past the half hour. Unfortunately, after this the blues invited their hosts forward, which with full back Andy Burns enjoying loads of space in which to operate, they duly did. Almost inevitably an equaliser eventually materialised when the lively Elliott Durrell shot home from the edge of the box.
Both sides had their moments late on, but despite goal mouth melees galore it stayed 1 apiece and that was probably a reasonable reflection of how things went. One point from a side that was also on a run of unbeaten matches is a decent return away from home and not to be sniffed at in my view!

Teams( Andrew Machin)
At 3 o’clock Kayode Odejayi joined newcomer Tom Field in a County starting line up that otherwise was as it had been against Hednesford on Tuesday.

Jim Gannon ( Andrew Machin )
Straight off County pushed forward and Menagh’s cross  discomforted our hosts, particularly Burns who only just managed to clear with the assistance of keeper James Belshaw. County were looking good at this point, but Odejayi’s  back header drifted narrowly wide, after good work from Marsden in the build up.
Odejayi- in the mix early !
County kept the pressure on and again Tamworth looked ill at ease as Morton’s cross pinged into the box, so much so that Burns scythed right through Ledsham as the County man looked to keep a move going. Referee Tankard somehow managed not to pick up on this gross assault, which was greatly annoying….and more so when he almost immediately opted for a free kick to County’s opponents for relative trivia!

Andrew Machin catches that Ormson save.
The next action was at the other end where Ormson did well to tip a shot from Curtis Strong over the bar. Again though…satisfaction at Ian’s save, was tempered by more annoyance, as the number eleven had handled en-route, a fact again not noticed by the referee! As a result corners followed, and County did well to keep them out particularly Morton who has obviously attended to his defensive game recently!

Marsden with Deeney in tow.....
From Morton’s clearance, a break was on for County through John Marsden, but his shot was charged down by one of a couple of red shirts and the chance was gone.

Marsden at the double!

This action brought a response from our hosts, and this required top notch work from Karl Ledsham to stop the rot as Burns and Durrell made inroads down the right. This was the prelude to more pressure from Tamworth and County had to defend three corners in rapid succession. They did this well enough( Morton and Ormson again emerging with credits), but it was alarming to see how quickly and easily our opponents were able to make ground up the park.
That said….going forward County seemed to have distinct possibilities, and  with a Morton throw increasing the Tamworth angst, it was massively disappointing to see Brodie held by Dan Preston as he  prepared to fashion a strike on goal. Again the referee chose not to penalise the offender, thus stoking the understandable flames of Brodie’s fury.

County pile it on.....
Ledsham’s under hit effort drifted wide after this, and Brodie was again unlucky to see his deft header kept from Odejayi by Preston. This was encouraging and disappointing in equal degree, but more followed and quickly as Ormson’s nicely weighted long ball , set an  Odejayi/ Brodie link up in motion- foiled by the most dubious of offside flaggings from the liner on the far side.
Pressures on Tamworth !

This was getting distinctly interesting now, and County were looking quite dangerous going forward , and the home keeper did well to prevent Marsden from reaching Brodie’s pass midst an almighty melee in front of goal.

That melee...that save...

...and from another angle from Andrew Machin.

Strong continued to offer options down the left for Tamworth, but apart from the space Burns was getting now and then, the home response at this point looked manageable. Ledsham ensured it was anyway, and  new man Tom Field was keeping himself busy if mainly as defensive cover, and with Smalley and O’Hanlon on hand, County looked in control.

Ooh err...County must score.........
They seemed about to score too, halfway through the half, but again I gasped to see Brodie crash to earth with Preston in his face. Penalty……..? I felt so…..so did Brodie…..but the referee did not, and that’s what counts.
County piled forward after this, but despite O’Hanlon joining his forwards, County could not round off Morton’s impressive run and cross with a goal. Belshaw came away with the ball on that occasion, but he seemed to be nowhere a minute or so later as Odejayi sped into the box going to ground under pressure from Ellis Deeney. Again Odejayi appealed for a penalty, but was denied same by the referee who promptly called O’Hanlon over for a chat, presumably complaining about the plethora of penalty appeals. Hmm….what about the unpunished fouls though? It was ever thus I suppose, but we do not have to enjoy it!
I was still in mid fumathon when the clouds lifted and things took on an altogether rosier hue!
County were in attacking mode still, just past the half hour mark, when Morley hurled one of his throws into the crowded box where Belshaw fashioned the spill of spills for our delectation… 
The spill......

it was a lulu…and Marsden was on it in an instant. Unfortunately so were Burns and Durrell and a clutch of others in red, so there was loads to do for the County striker! Fortunately he did it…..controlling the ball first off….then turning inside whilst simultaneously holding off the challenge of messrs Burns and Durrell to  smash a delicious drive into  the net to great acclaim from the County faithful.

....the celebration !

This was the signal for more attacking from the blues….Marsden missing out with a lob……..Menagh winning County a corner…..
All the above featured neat link play twixt Odejayi and Brodie, and it took a decent stop from Belshaw to deny Smalley at the back post from the corner.

Gradually the County effort began to flag…and inevitably Tamworth were able to get up the park them selves and County had a series of corners to attend to, and during this period Field and Ormson did good work in the Hatters cause.
There was rather to much defending from County in the latter stages of the first half ,for comfort, but that said…….the score stayed 1-0 and that was not a bad position in which to face the second half in my opinion.         

The seated County contingent.
 The second half opened with Ross Dyer putting us under the cosh. Thankfully Ledsham was on hand to block the run, and from the throw that followed, Taylor could only lift his shot over the bar.
Tamworth looked altogether livelier now, and Ormson did well to snuff out efforts by Durrell and Dan Newton.
It wasn’t all Tamworth though……a free kick for a foul on Marsden by Durrell, offered County a sniff of something, but when Menagh’s kick found Marsden in a forward position ,his shot was pushed around the post by the diving Belshaw. Then Ormson’s long delivery ushered in another half chance, when it was headed on by Brodie. A throw followed from Morton, and Field snaffled it but only to see the home keeper again in position to make a crucial save.
County attack 2nd half ( Andrew Machin )

That was 60 minutes in….another 60 seconds and Tamworth got the equaliser they were so striving for, and it came via Durrell, who should have been picked up en-route. He wasn`t and when a return pass picked him out on the edge of the box, he dispatched it past Ormson ……low…..into the net.
 Dyer shot into the side netting shortly after. I will not churlishly mention his hand to ball moment on the way, that the snoozing liner missed. I will mention that it looked as though Tamworth were revving up a touch.
County did respond however, first through Smalley, and then Field, but both found Belshaw on his metal and able to produce saves.

Smalley goes close( Andrew Machin )

By this time Garvin was on for Brodie, and County had more defending to do as Dan Newton ‘s game suddenly took off and he tore into the County back line, and I winced as his shot skidded a foot wide of the post.
A minute later…Field had to put body in the way of ball as again Newton let fly with one. Things were definitely stirring now for County’s opponents who now had Smith and Mohamed on for Dyer and Preston, and the new faces were quickly to the fore coaxing good stuff from O’Hanlon and Ormson  in reply.

Mohamed worked himself a break, with just 10 minutes left, and Smalley( my M.O.M)did really well to cut him off on reaching the edge of the box.

County defend late on.....
Then…County hit Tamworth on the counter through Menagh, and Morton, but although a chance materialised from this, Garvin was unable to force the ball home from close in.
Newton continued to cause County issues, but thankfully ones that O’Hanlon had ways of sorting.
Joyce came on for Menagh in the dying embers of normal time, as County came under the cosh largely due to the latest series of comedy refereeing decisions from Mr Tankard that forced County to defend corner after corner. Ledsham kept one out, heading clear…then O’Hanlon did for the second from  Durrell. Another kick followed  …then another . Eventually County escaped but not before the mother of melees had entertained us in the process.

Late pressure on County.

Kevin Holsgrove came on for Marsden deep in added time with County still up to their eyes defending corners…Smalley  heading one out, whilst Ledsham twice bravely blocked efforts .
There was a late…late…    `hearts/mouths’ moment almost at the death as Mohamed sped clear again, but his shot slammed into the boards a foot or so wide of Ian Ormson’ s goal, so that was that……the points were shared.
As I said earlier…..1-1  is not a bad return for our labours at a spot like the Lambs, and plenty of teams will fair much worse on visits here, so…point won…not 2 lost!
Oh....and we are up to ninth place...well done Jims boys !

See you on Tuesday at Edgeley Park for the Cheshire Senior Cup Semi Final….totally unmissable!

Tamworth line up:

Belshaw, Burns, R.Dyer( Mohamed 76), Deeney, Carter, Preston( Smith 77), Durrell, Green, Newton, Taylor, Strong.  

Subs not used:

Moulton, J Dyer,Wright.

Stockport County line up:

Ormson, Morton, O’Hanlon, Smalley, Roberts, Field, Menagh( Joyce 89), Ledsham, Marsden( Holsgrove 92), Odejayi, Brodie( Garvin 65).

Subs not used:

D Smith, Anoruo.

Attendance 1016

Ian Brown


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