Stockport County 4 Blackburn Rovers Under 21's 1 ( Friendly) 23 July 2016

County racked up another excellent bit of preparation for the 2016/17 National League North season today, with an impressive win  against Blackburn Rovers Under 21 side at Edgeley Park.

The margin of victory was 4-1 and that more or less said it as it was, County having bossed proceedings throughout, barring a brief period late in the second half, as County rang the changes. Goals from Marsden and Lloyd before the break, and Amis and Carney after, sealed the win for the blues, with Mansell netting one for Rovers,  that  momentarily looked to threaten a Lancastrian revival, until County applied themselves again late on and re asserted their hegemony .

It was a decent test though, and should serve County well, as they await the rigours of Division 6. 

We again got a good chance to run the rule over a set of County names and faces largely new to us.

A few certainties that we have perhaps assured ourselves of, were underlined today maybe….firstly….

Duxbury on song again.
......In Minihan and Duxbury, County have two fullbacks blessed with a firm tackle and an ability to push on to good effect- they again looked top grade performers, as did Ross and Smalley in central defence, particularly Ross who gave us a match long master class in raking pin point passes, invariably to the feet of a team mate.
 Ross was excellent! In midfield Stopforth, Meppen-Walter, and Montrose looked sound throughout, drawing applause from the crowd more than once! Up front Lloyd and Marsden started and both scored and underlined, for me, that we will be well served going forward this term, with Odejayi’s subtle headers likely to cause mayhem to opponents . 
Danny Lloyd, another good showing.

Between the sticks for County Hinchliffe was not overly busy, and one spill apart looked the part as he has done every game this pre-season.

Best of the subs from the bench was Craig Carney who scored a snorter. Amis did well too netting a penalty to snuff out the mini Rovers revival that briefly flickered into life. There was a new….old face given a run out as well…Scott Spencer , and he did OK looking interested and involved in the 20 minutes or so he was on the park.
Scott Spencer captured by Andrew Machin.

OK….back to 3 o’clock ….and County were first to show, and it took a foul on Danny Lloyd to stop him. Lloyd took the kick, and it was a decent effort, that did not miss out by much.

Two kick....

From Andrew Machin .....

and myself.

For Rovers , I thought Ryan Nyambe looked to be offering them options down the right at this point, but his cross was dealt with by Smalley efficiently and any thoughts of Rovers snatching one early on promptly vanished.

Close call.........

County continued on the front foot, Marsden winning a corner down the left. Keeper Andy Fisher had to go full stretch to deal with the flag kick from Lloyd, that followed, but it was enough to deny the blues.
County press.....

If Rovers were seeking a respite…..none was on offer, as Minihan surged clear down the right forcing the keeper to again make a save to keep it 0-0.
Job done up front…..Minihan than tracked back to snuff out a break from Josh Askew, and applause rang out around EP as the County number two emerged from the challenge with the ball.

On it went….Matty Platt’s foul on Odejayi setting Lloyd up with a free kick opportunity. He hit the wall, and his follow up failed to test the keeper, but it was beginning to shape up like another stonkingly good County performance…..could we crown it with a win?

Big K -in good nick today.

Meppen-Walter, Duxbury & Lloyd certainly tried to start that particular ball rolling . A good move from the trio resulted in Lloyd winning a corner, from which Meppen-Walter saw a fiery effort charged down. Odejayi was quick to pounce on the loose ball but his shot drifted wide much to his and our disappointment.

Meppen-Walter & Montrose ponder Stopforth's free kick.

Where were Rovers in all this? Well…they were trying, but with no success….Duxbury looking on top of his game whilst cutting a break by Connor Thompson off in brilliant fashion with the firmest of tackles.

Duxbury stops the rot !

That was 18 minutes in….another 2 minutes and Mansell worked himself a chance to shoot. He missed the target but as a range finder perhaps he would think the effort had value!
The 22nd minute brought us a moment of brilliance from Mark Ross. From deep in defence the County number six unleashed a magnificently weighted and flighted ball directly to Odejaji on the edge of the box. Big K treated us to the first of many deft flick on’s in response, and Lloyd was away ! Lloyd did the right thing….hit the target…made the keeper work, but the keeper’s work was  sound, and it stayed 0-0.

Lloyd & Odejayi in combative mood...

County’s control on the game looked to be pretty much complete- Meppen-Walter going close with a header after Lloyd had beavered a corner off Nyambe, and Lloyd testing Fisher with altogether his best effort yet. Only a goal was missing!
Beyond the half hour mark, I began to wonder whether County were going to make their superiority count.  Lloyd and Marsden did their level best to make it so, but their collaboration over a free kick, 31 minutes in, just failed to punish the offender sufficiently- Marsden’s kick narrowly missing out after a neat dummy from Lloyd.

Lloyd's dummy.....

The 33 rd minute brought us another of those moments of brilliance from Ross, as another belter from him thoroughly filleted the visitors back line, reaching Odejayi near the back post. Odejayi then placed an immaculate header back inside to Marsden who promptly leathered a ferocious drive home…..1-0!

Marsden ,scored a cracker!

Lloyd was inches away from a bouncer in the box next as County sought to increase their lead

For Rovers…..Nyambe still looked their best bet, but he had Duxbury on his case, and when he did manage to get a cross in there was Ross and Smalley to contend with and the duo did the biz with but a few minutes remaining of the half. This good work allowed Meppen-Walter to clear County’s lines. Marsden won a corner not long after this …. Lloyd & Smalley joining the fray near the keeper’s right hand post as the kick came over. The County central defender was poleaxed midst the melee that followed and…as Lloyd extricated himself from same….he was brought down , stepping up in double quick time to slam the resultant penalty into the net beyond keeper            Fisher’s dive.

Kick on way by Andrew Machin.

And...its in.....

As seen by Andrew

and myself .

Job Done !
That was 2-0 and very pleasing, and would have been 3-0 had not Joe Grayson dished Stopforth’s lively run with an inch perfect tackle.

Meanwhile …Ross continued to ping in these quality long balls into the box, but, despite this cheering fact, there was no further addition to the score, and the teams went in, at half time, to a good response from the crowd.  
Odejayi goes close ( Andrew Machin )
County continued to press upon the re-start- the best of a series of moves seeing a header from Odejayi hit the bar from a Lloyd corner after Smalley’s goal bound header had been cleared off the line by Platt.

Odejayi  ready to challenge Platt.

It was full revs from the blues now and both Lloyd and Stopforth were unlucky with efforts. Twice Minihan had surged clear, and twice …somehow been kept out. A foul on Odejayi did seem to offer us the chance to get another, but with Ross and Meppen-Walter vying for the ball at the back post, Fisher clutched the ball to his chest much to County’s chagrin.

Minihan again had a good game.
Although County were having the large majority of possession, Rovers were making an effort, it was just that there was nothing whatsoever on the end of it all, and County’s back line as a result looked rock solid!

With Lloyd going close again, County started to ring the changes bringing Carney and Amis on for Meppen-Walter and Odejayi. Carney was in the action straight away with a telling ball that switch play nicely, only for keeper Fisher to spoil the party with a confident catch.
Corner on the way...
....sorted by Fisher.
Another Minute on from that last action…..another Fisher save as he acted firmly to deny Amis….another 2 minutes and again Fisher excelled ,his save thwarting Marsden’s efforts to apply a finish to another neat pass from Carney.

Seventy minutes had now gone, and Rule and Spencer were now on the park in place of Marsden and Lloyd.

The flow from County persisted despite the changes and Fisher did well to deal so cleanly with Amis’s header from Minihan’s cross.
Fisher again !

County pushed on …Spencer’s header just missing out, after good set up play down the right from Amis.

There were less than 10 minutes remaining now, and Stopforth and Montrose had left the scene in favour of Abadaki and Clarke.

Within a minute of the last changes, County shipped a goal as Mansell sneaked clear to slot one home, thus halving his team’s arrears.

For a minute or so , after this, it was tempting to think that perhaps the pendulum would now swing dramatically against County, and the sight of Smalley heading out from under the bar from Askew’s cross, did nothing to dispel this unworthy notion.
 Alarmingly…Nyambe joined in, but after forcing a corner he watched in alarm, I guess, as Thomson’s shot climbed and climbed into the almost empty Railway End.
Spencer did see a shot on the turn charged down, but at the other end, Nyambe was still working his socks off, setting another one up with the neatest of crosses. It was a belter…..I might have netted it……maybe…..but somehow …free at the back post, Hinchliffe having failed to cut the cross out, the forward fluffed the easiest of chances.

That was a crucial miss…. a pivotal moment for sure….as County surged clear …Amis's nippy run being rewarded with a penalty as he was upended when about to shoot.

In it goes....3-1

 Amis duly stepped up to smash the ball home from the spot…it was 3-1!
Amis on the charge !

That I think did for Rovers spirit and County piled forward in an effort to do it even more harm.
True to form…..this intrepid reporter had just put his camera away ( well it was the 91st minute !!) when Carney sidled forward just beyond half way to slam a pile driver home off the keeper’s left hand post!.

Late try by Spencer.

What an excellent way to end a decent match…..well there was time for Carney and Spencer to win us a corner after the last goal, but not time enough for us to take it.

Another close call.

Game over….job done…well done County.
Looking forward to Tuesday’s game no end …see you there then!

Stockport County line up:

Hinchliffe, Minihan, Duxbury, Meppen-Walter( Carney 62), Smalley, Ross, Stopforth( Abadaki 77), Montrose( Clarke 81), Odejayi( Amis 62), Marsden( Spencer 70), Lloyd( Rule 70).   

Subs not Used:


Blackburn Rovers Under 21’s line up:

Fisher, Nyambe, Askew, Grayson, Magloie( Doyle 86), Platt, Thomson, Travis, Mansell, Renkin-Costello, Haworth( Rittenberg 55).

Subs not used:

Powell, Mois, Pemberton.

Attendance: 415

Ian Brown


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