Stockport County 0 Barrow 1 Friendly ( Tuesday 12 July 2016)

County managed another good pre-season work out last night when National Premier side Barrow came to town.

The visitors fielded a strong side that included former County favourite Paul Turnbull, but rather overdid the rough stuff for much of the game.

Paul Turnbull- a welcome return!.

 I am not sure that Josh Amis’s early departure had anything to do with the over muscularity of the Cumbrians, but Montrose’s, on the stroke of half time certainly did, and it was just one of an enduring series of tedious fouls from Barrow that did not impress at all.

County were unlucky to come out of this game… 0-1 down, but they looked well equal to their presumed betters game long, and on another night might have come away with at least a draw.

As at Nomads on Saturday I was impressed by Courtney Meppen-Walter who gave another eye catching performance, but the County man who shone the brightest was  Sam Minihan who provided the width , and a bit more, down the right- one tackle in the second half being worth the admission charge on its own! 
It really was a belter !

That’s two decent games from Sam …in two! The same is true of Scott Duxbury who was busy in both boxes again, and is obviously loving life under James wing, back at EP. With 3 at the back, whether it was Ross/ Clarke/ Meppen-Walter until Amis’s injury…..or Ross/ Clarke/ Smalley after, with Minihan and Duxbury providing width and thrust, County always looked able to cope. Oh…..and I liked Godwin Abadaki’s play again – coming on after 45minutes to replace Montrose, Godfrey  once again showed many good touches and was unlucky not to snatch one late on!

All in all, rough stuff apart, a game well worth the effort to be involved in, and the approach of our opponents on the night only served to show how seriously they took the occasion. Yes…...this was not the Stockport County equivalent of England’s meaningless pre Euro friendlies that ultimately flattered to deceive….no….a real game which hopefully will have served us well!

There was a decent crowd in the Danny Bergara Stand for the kick off .......

One half of crowd.....

....and the other half !

................and it was good to see County kitted out in the new blue gear that looked excellent.
The inclusion of Mark Ross, Josh Amis and Craig Carney for Chris Smalley, Gary Stopforth and Adam Thomas were the only changes in County’s starting 11 from Saturday, and it was good to see Paul Turnbull again in a strong Barrow line –up.

Minihan was quick off the mark getting to the by-line for the first of many occasions in the game with no more than seconds on the clock. Meppen- Walters’ free kick had set this up, and a decent cross pinged in, heading for the lurking Carney, only for keeper Joel Dixon to make the catch and spoil the moment.

Meppen-Walters free kick.

 Meppen-Walter was prominent at the other end of the park as well, and did good work to see off a free kick from the visitors.

....and he's in there at the back too!

County were doing OK…..getting forward well, and Dixon had to look lively to deny Odejayi on the burst. Turnbull joined Dixon earning plaudits for a vital block, stopping Duxbury’s effort following some neat work from Meppen- Walter. Marsden and Montrose had played their part in that last action, and we already could say that County were looking the better side so far.

Hup......Big K  !!!

That said we did ship a couple of unnecessary free kicks that took the edge off the attacking thrust a touch. Thankfully …..Meppen-Walter was on hand to fend the first kick off, only for a foul on Barrow’s best out field player on the night, Ross Hannah, to usher in a second which Turnbull shaped to take. 

Bully's free kick beckons.....

This however promised more for the Cumbrians that it delivered and Minihan’s clearance ended any brief angst on our part after Hinchliffe had pouched the kick.

....held by County keeper !

The game opened out a bit for a time after the last action….Duxbury again going close for County.....

A combative Duxbury in Barrow box !

 whilst for Barrow…Hannah shot against the side netting after combining with strike partner Richard Bennett.

Amis forced off....

We were barely 15 minutes in when Josh Amis took a knock and had to go off, being replaced by Chris Smalley. This was not a `like for like’ move, thus with Chris slotting in at the back on the left, Meppen- Walter moved in front of the back 3 leaving Marsden and Big K to forage up front.

Smalley slots in at the back !

Odejayi was soon to the fore, but despite a lovely…sweet move from Duxbury and Meppen-Walter, he could not control his header and it remained 0-0.

Duxbury puts pressure on Barrow.

County then came under pressure somewhat, and Duxbury showed his defensive credentials by keeping a dangerous deep cross from Jordan Williams who hovered ominously beyond the back post, out. The pressure continued for a while, and we might have shipped a goal, on 27 minutes, as Hannah powered his way past Smalley on the edge of the box. He was in on goal with just Hinchliffe twixt him and glory, but the County keeper excelled himself with a top notch save- diving quickly to his left to clutch the ball greedily!

Odejayi battles  for incoming.

The save might just have inspired County a tad, as they surged forward out of defence through Montrose and Marsden who were looking a decent duo in their opponents half. Barrow looked flustered ….and so did I …as Marsden was decked unceremoniously in the box, and the referee was looking elsewhere! No penalty then…..and my angst only increased  as Dixon tipped a shot from Marsden behind off a post, only for a goal kick to be given!

Montrose to the fore.....

I am resolved to be kind to officials this term so that’s enough of that….I was given a lift by the sight of Minihan getting a cross in from the by-line again. It was another neat one, and Marsden was on the end of it, but his shot cleared the bar by a yard!
Some good work, from Clarke, to deny Hannah, came next, and from this Minihan once more made it into the heart of the Barrow back line. 
Marsden sniffs as Odejayi  battles again....

Again….the neatest of crosses pinged over, and Carney looked to be salivating as he awaited its arrival towards the back of the box. It looked good….but wasn’t as Dixon took a hand and snaffled the pill before Carney could add his two penny worth!

All for the half?

Not quite……….. there was time for a nasty foul by Nick Anderton to lay Montrose out smack on the break. It was an awful challenge and clearly sickened Montrose who played no further part in the game, being replaced for the second half by Godfrey Abadaki!

The mood lifted somewhat during the interval, when Steve Bellis made a presentation on the pitch to mark the effort that the Club and its supporters had made in support of young Michelle who has Locked in syndrome. Some £1400 was raised and is a credit to all concerned!

Steve Bellis does the honours !

The re-start saw County replace Hinchliffe with Ian Ormson between the sticks, and Ian was called to action early doors to keep the score blank.
Abadaki- ready to rumble !
At the other end, with Abadaki  in the mix, things were looking good as County hit their opponents on the break. Abadaki set the break up and was on hand to deliver a finish on the end of it, but although the shot was good…so was Dixon’s response and somehow he kept the ball out, to the ire of the crowd of almost 600.

Abadaki....almost !!!

An open game was beginning to develop now with both sides having a go- Turnbull volleyed over for Barrow from a good position, whilst Abadaki was to the fore again almost turning the ball into the net from a free kick- inevitably…it was Dixon who prevented this from happening!

Having said it was an open game….it was still a surprise when County went one down. There did not seem great danger even with Hannah in the vicinity, but County were caught napping and the forward sneaked a cheeky one as a result!

Hannah on way to making it 1-0

Duxbury…..Marsden…..Meppen-Walter all made efforts to put things right for County following that unexpected reverse – twice Meppen-Walter  got shots off…the first blocked by a defender….the next thwarted by more good work from Dixon.

On it went with Minihan joining in and very nearly snatching the equaliser on the end of one of many…many County free kicks!

M.O.M Minihan

Eventually the referee had a word with the Barrow captain in an effort presumably to stem the tide of unduly aggressive play, but it seemed not to have too great an affect!

With less than 15 minutes left to play, County swapped George West for Courtney Meppen-Walter and Ashley Knowles for John Marsden, and West was not far away with a header straight away, after more good work from Minihan.

County were enjoying most of the play at this point, but by no means all…and substitute Tom Martin for Barrow must have been mortified to see a glorious pass from him end with Elliott Newby lifting a hopeless effort high into the empty Railway End.

County defend.

As I say…County looked to be pressing hard for that equaliser and via Abadaki they had a corner……then another as a defender hurried the ball out of play with blue shirts descending on him like lions would yer wildebeest. Clarke met the second kick on the volley but the effort cleared the bar!

Abadaki thwarted.....

The rest of the game amounted to County pushing on……being fouled…particularly Abadaki  who was definitely `getting some’ from the Cumbrians.

Carney late free kick

West  was unlucky to see Diarra in position to hook his header clear off the line, with 5 minutes left, and unfortunate again not long after having combined nicely with Minihan.

Abadaki  shot over from 5 yards out….and… last a Barrow man got booked ( 91st minute) as Referee Kelvin Sarsfield took Elliott Newby’s name!
Game over then…..match lost…but I am guessing plenty learnt from a somewhat bruising encounter.
Big K won this one !
As I have said previously….we do look on course to do well this term….and we still have not seen Danny Lloyd and Glenn Rule this pre-season. We will be really motoring when this duo return from holiday.

So its Rochdale this coming Saturday and hedgegrower will of course be covering the game. I am on duty at the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative members meeting after Saturday’s match so the report will probably be delayed until Sunday morning. My apologies for this, but please keep supporting the blog….2400  hits every week tells me that you do…thank you!

I was going to end with a photo of John Gaskin beaming broadly as 590 County fans enjoyed the fruits of his and his Help the Hatters WP's work that had rendered our wonderful home so neat and tidy( John gaffers the WP's).....

....but instead I thought I would go for ' Moon over Cheadle End' .....

Stockport County line up:

Hinchliffe( Ormson 45), Ross, Duxbury, Montrose( Abadaki 45), Clarke, Meppen-Walter( West 72), Minihan, Amis( Smalley 15), Odejayi, Marsden( Knowles 72), Carney.

Barrow line up:

Dixon( A N Other 65), Beeley( Meikle 72), Anderton( Martin 70), Parry, Livesey, Diarra, Hughes, Turnbull, Bennett( Newby 60), Hannah( Ray-Harvey 60), Williams

Attendance : 590

Ian Brown


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