Macclesfield Town 2 Stockport County 0 ( Friendly) 30 July 2016







County took a trip up the A6 to take on Cheshire neighbours , Macclesfield Town from the National Premier at the Moss Rose today.

The result was probably predictable as the full timers ran out 2-0 winners, but the game , whilst seldom threatening to thrill and excite, was never the less a good work out for County against opponents considered to be their betters.

County battled hard, and …although they  certainly missed the influential Courtney Meppen- Walter, they never looked totally outclassed at all, despite leaking the opening goal in the first few minutes of the game.

A second followed in a second half that saw County put Town under a fair bit of pressure, including one effort from Scott Spencer that was hurried off the line by a defender after thudding into both posts with the keeper beaten.

In short, as I say, it was a good work out, and Jim now knows what’s what when Meppen-Walter is not in the mix. Minihan was top man for me with another good showing, and I gave Duxbury good marks also. Both fullbacks were faced with tricky men to mark and made a decent fist of it whilst not forgetting to get forward when they could. 
Andrew Machin sees Minhan in action !

A word about this report however, before I launch into the game proper. Whilst I have, I hope, recorded all info regarding County and their substitutes , the same will clearly be seen as not being so as far as my record of Macclesfield is concerned. Annoyingly 3 or 4 of their substitutes had no numbers on and, with the usual manic( but definitely audible) PA man not on duty, and replaced by one from the British Snail School of Mortifying Mumblers, I am hard pressed to record their subs movements accurately….so I will not try!

 Carney and Minihan for Meppen-Walter and Smalley were the only changes in County’s starting line up as proceedings got underway at 3 o’clock.

By 3.02 County were one down, as Jack Mackreth’s cross, from the right, was put away neatly by Chris Holroyd from about a yard out.

That was a bit of a bummer as starts go, and Hinchliffe reacted quickly shortly after to prevent a small misfortune becoming disaster!
Good work by Hinchliffe !

For long periods after this County were pushed back deep into their own half, and they did well under the circumstances to not concede again, but the added ingredient that Meppen- Walter brings to the blues party, was absent today and Montrose had to work hard to compensate as a result. 

Minuhan & Montrose battle it out !

Carney it must be said did his best to fill the ex City man’s shoes and his efforts were by no means 100% unsuccessful! I would not over heap the midfield with criticism bearing in mind the calibre of the opposition- in fact quite the opposite, I thought they did OK! 

Craig Carney nicely captured by Andrew Machin.

It was 19 minutes before County could fashion a real move of attacking note though, and it came via Danny Lloyd, but it stayed 1-0 to Macc, despite Marsden’s best efforts to force the ball home.
 
Panic stations caught by Andrew Machin.
Just when it appeared that County might be about to mount a decisive thrust into the Town half….the wheels threatened to come off as Holroyd  took advantage of a mix up at the back to sneak clear. It was a real chance…..he should have scored…..but instead he dragged the poorest of shots way wide of goal, to hoots of derisive laughter from the big County contingent!
 
Miss for Macc !
The pressure was on County for a bit after that last action, but they continued to weather it well working hard not to repeat the recent defensive blooper. For their part Macc were of a mind to press on for that second goal, but then deciding to take the aerial route, found first Amis….then Minihan in position to do the biz and deny them.
Crisis over then! Except it wasn`t as Jack Sampson, for me Macc’s liveliest performer, turned on the ball before sending a raking drive smashing into the crossbar, after Dan Cowan had cut inside past Gary Stopforth to set it up.

Sampson cuts inside....

Another raid from our hosts followed and Carney earned applause with some alert work under pressure, and from this Minihan was able to push Macc back. They did not look at all comfortable as he ran at them before getting a cross over from the right. Panic set in as the ball whizzed across the box……and seemingly multiplied as Lloyd met the cross and pinged it back goal ward again.
Lloyd to the fore by Andrew Machin.

 This was possibly County’s moment to get back on terms…..but with keeper Ritchie Branagan clearly in difficulties, they failed to capitalise on the situation and Macc survived!
To their credit though, County kept plugging away- Lloyd and Carney probing the Town right flank with something approaching surgical precision….but when the ball sped off from the duo to Amis, the move was halted by the near side liner who was flagging for offside.

If I was miffed by that bit of touchline flaggery…..I was apoplectic over the next bit at the other end of the park, where Mackreth received the ball several yards offside , but was allowed to proceed. I was still bubbling with rage as the same myopic liner flagged for a corner. Fortunately….Sampson’s efforts to force the kick home following this were nullified thanks to tight defensive work from County, so my angst began to subside!
County defend well !

County were by no means out of this, although we did need to test Branagan’s metal a time or two more than we had thus far, and we needed to do better in this respect than we did in the next attack which saw some `after you Claude’ stuff from Lloyd and Marsden allow Macc to clear in a potentially difficult position.
Back came Macclesfield via Holroyd who fired in a cross from the right that had trouble written all over it.

Macc press......

 It was heading for Sampson, who looked on to convert the chance until Duxbury ensured he did not with a timely tackle!


Ross covers -2 views/1 action..top/ hedgie...below Andrew Machin.

The play was switching ends a fair bit now, and Branagan found himself a busy lad….catching Lloyd’s cross one moment…..watching as a Montrose effort flew wide after good work by Carney. Yes….County were trying hard to sort matters….but the goal would not come…instead Marsden’s final ball outpaced Amis and it stayed 1-0.
There were just a couple of minutes left of the half now and again play swung ends via Sampson who burst clear at pace, being denied by the alert reactions of Hinchliffe between the sticks for County.

County pressed a lot in the final minutes of the half and again might squared the circle in the dying moments with the Macc back line in panic mode again. Lloyd was the instigator but Carney could not apply the required finish with the goal gaping. Macc were all over the place at this point…no one more so than Branagan who seemed to be nearer the Stockport Road than his goal midst the confusion. Again County did not take advantage of this and it remained 1-0 as the teams were beckoned to the dressing rooms by the Referee’s whistle.

Part of County's following...

...and some of the rest....

There were a number of personnel changes at the re-start….County swapped Thomas and Smalley for Stopforth and Clark, whilst Macc now had  James, McCombe and Sutherland on the park along with…err… ` arumpha dump’- that’s the best I can do I am afraid- please don’t look for him in the list of subs!
County u/p.

The early second half action took place mainly in the County half with Danny Rowe working overtime to embarrass his former employers. He almost did as well…his cross finding no takers in front of goal. That was a let off for County, and another followed rapidly on from it as Sutherland found the target with a shot of thunderous power. It was going in…and then it wasn’t as Duxbury was there to clear the ball off the line and save the day for his team!
Duxbury in the thick of the action !

That was a relief ,and County tried hard to sneak something in the immediate aftermath only to see Lloyd’s shot climb over the bar, and one from Duxbury shortly afterwards after good work again from Carney.
Craig Carney on the burst....

Rule was now on for Lloyd as County pushed hard for that equaliser- but Minihan’s latest run was ended by Sampson who tracked back nicely to apply a neat tackle to thwart the County man.

It continued with Montrose cutting a swathe through the Town back line , only to then pull his shot hopelessly wide of goal. Runs from Amis followed......
 
Amis puts Macc u/p.
...... and a Carney/ Marsden link up, but without success, and it was something of a surprise when a goal eventually did come that it was Macclesfields!

Danny Rowe started and ended it cutting through the centre of County’s defence like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Hincliffe had no chance …it was 2-0 as Rowe slotted a neat finish beyond the County keeper.

With 20 minutes left Spencer and Odejayi came on for Marsden and Amis, and this change seemed to light a spark in the County works, as Branagan was forced to make a save to deny Montrose…... then another to stop Thomas from snatching a goal. 

Branagan thwarts Thomas watched by Andrew Machin.

Spencer and Minihan had linked up nicely for that last one, and the ex Hyde striker did even better next, but it was a massive disappointment to see his shot crash into both posts before being hurried off the line and out of play by a defender. 

 
Odejayi- deft flick on sent Spencer in.
 Odejayi’s knock down had set Spencer off on that one, and with Ellison on for Carney, we looked on to see  shots from Montrose and Rule fly over the bar.

Late pressure from County.

The action was all at one end now….the Macc end, and it was indicative of the home side’s frame of mind that Neil Byrne hacked the ball into the crowd to waste time with County pressing hard for a goal, earning the Referee’s wrath in so doing! 
Duxbury having a go.

Rule had a shot charged down late on, and George West, a late /late substitute for Smalley, saw an even better effort whistle inches wide even later.

Game over….match lost…so what….a decent work out, and grist to JG’s mill as he prepares the team for game one of season 2016/17.

I am looking forward to that one.

See you at Edgeley Park next Saturday for Stockport County v Alfreton Town !

Macclesfield Town line up;

Branagan, Halls, Fitzpatrick, Byrne, Pilkington, Mackreth, Lewis, Holrord, Sampson, Rowe , Whitaker.

Substitutes:

McCombe, Cowan, Ross, James, Norburn, Sutherland, Fletcher, O’Connor.

Stockport County line up;

Hinchliffe, Minihan, Duxbury, Montrose, Clarke( Smalley 45/ West 87), Ross, Carney( Ellison 82), Stopforth( Thomas45 ), Amis( Odejayi 70), Marsden( Spencer 70), Lloyd( Rule 60).

Subs not used:

Ormson, Etches

Attendance: 990            

Ian Brown 

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