FC United of Manchester 2 Stockport County 0 ( Vanarama National League- North) 12 August 2016




Away End- Andrew Machin.


Well….we thought that Friday night was County Night, but it turned out to be nothing of the kind at Broadhurst Park last night where….despite battling hard at times the white shirted blues were never able to quite reproduce the golden form of 3 days earlier at Stalybridge. The result was a 2-0 win for FCUM and 3 lost points in our search for promotion.

County pre match prep caught by Andrew Machin.

Three games in 6 days was always a big ask in my view ,and the suits in the National League need to have a serious talk with themselves about asking clubs to risk their players in such a manner. Having said that, FCUM had the same merciless workload to cope with and, put simply, they adjusted better than the blues did.

The strain of same told on County who allowed their opponents rather too much possession and time on the ball far too often. A goal in each half , strikes by Wolfenden and Johnson ,  was enough for the Manchester side to claim the points against a lack lustre County side that will look to do better at home on Tuesday night .

Back at 7.45 and there were changes in the County starting line up. The return of Scott Duxbury was expected- Smalley made way for him allowing Ross to move inside along side Clarke. The last change was Amis for Odejayi.

Early action showing unfinished stand ( Andrew Machin )

Off the field of play there was no change at all….Broadhust Park remains unfinished ….the  food was good  if served with a sloth like slowness that would temp a trappist monk to swear....

Tension mounts in the food queue !

.......and Friday was a good night to have a chat with a policeman ( possibly on horseback) thereabouts! 

Banners and a police presence( Andrew Machin)

I was a little unhappy seeing County fans tear down banners at the away end, but then again those responsible for putting them up at that end should maybe think the issue through again for when next we visit the venue, assuming we do.

A series of fouls set up a run of early free kicks for County.


Free kick ahoy from County !


 The first ( on Marsden) saw Ross lift the ball to the back of the box…the second was taken by my M.O.M Minihan who sent his offering wide left, but both set pieces were defended in numbers by our red shirted hosts , and that was the first 3 minutes sorted.
Marsden in action early.

The fourth saw Matt Wolfenden on a run, as FCUM  endeavoured to hit us on the break, but Scott Duxbury, making a welcome return to the side, coped well and saw off the threat in some style.

Andrew Machin sees Duxbury on his toes.

For a time after that first FCUM sortie up field, they took time out to go at us again, but Dale Tonge’s inglorious lob had a snowflakes chance in hell of ruffling Hinchliffe’s feathers.  

Came down with snow on it....held easily by Hinchliffe!

They went again a minute later via Tom Greaves ,but his run was cut short by the composed intervention of County captain Mark Ross.

County under pressure

County replied shortly after with a move started by Duxbury, taken on by Meppen-Walter and concluded by Lloyd, but there was no great oomph about Danny’s finish and keeper Dave Carnell kept it out without raising a sweat.

Provider Duxbury caught by Andrew Machin.

Marsden was distinctly unlucky with a half chance next, and a foul on Lloyd brought County another free kick and with it some trauma for FCUM who eventually were happy to find touch.

Carnell emerges with the ball.....

I was not overly unhappy about the start….yes…..our hosts had hit us a couple of times …..but County had enjoyed a fair bit of possession , albeit without converting it into the currency of goals.

Amis in the thick of the action....

I was slightly alarmed, 16 minutes in, as County were pushed back again, and Clarke did well to block Wolfenden’s run. County did not fully clear their lines however and the result was that Greaves was played in and looked on to open the scoring until Hinchliffe advanced off his line and bravely made the save as the forward prepared to shoot. 

Clarke covers the gaps....

That was a top save…would it inspire County? Well….they did attack almost immediately – Marsden felled in the box but rewarded by a free kick to FCUM.

Good work from Ross saw off another break by Greaves next, but the raid that the County captain’s work set up ended disappointingly again as Lloyd lifted his shot into the covered terrace at the far end. This was not great, and Lloyd did no better a couple of minutes later, shooting tamely at keeper Carnell when reasonably well placed.

There was stuff for the blues to do at the back as well, and we could really do with not giving cheep free kicks away, but we were doing and pressure followed that we could do without – Hinchliffe doing well to punch clear on one occasion, and Minihan earning applause not long after clearing a dangerous cross from Chris Chantler.

Minihan to the fore.

That last action was perhaps a warning ….

Cross coming in from the right....


..........we needed to be quicker to the ball, but we weren’t and when Chantler pinged another diagonal ball to the back of the box ,just after the half hour, a challenge was called for with the ball about to bounce and Wolfenden charging onto it. No challenge was forthcoming and the advancing forward met the ball on the volley, beating Hinchliffe to make it 1-0 to the Manchester side.

Marsden ended a decent County attempt to organise a response, by firing wide of the target, but there was nearly more real trauma at the other end, not long after, as Minihan’s late/late intervention saved County’s blushes with Scott Kay allowed possession within sight of goal. I thought County had a legitimate claim for offside with Kay receiving the pill way clear of any defender, but the liners flag stayed down, and Minihan’s work was potentially a game saver.
County under the cosh.....

 For sure …..the goal had perked United up a touch and Ross did well to stem the tide with Wolfenden and Greaves combining with Winter to put the County goal under threat. Keeping possession was key to the success or otherwise of this County venture, and we were letting it slip rather too often, and Montrose was called on to stop Jerome Wright’s run with half time nearing.

Clarke under pressure.

So….we needed to tighten up with possession, but the attacking play could do with  being sharper too, but so far not much was working going forward for the blues, and to introduce another element of concern…Marsden took a hefty knock just before the half time whistle.

Marsden receives treatment.

One nil down then was not what we came for, but not the end of the world with County kicking our way in the second half, which saw Spencer on for Meppen-Walter from the off!


We opened well it must be said, twice going close early on- Amis the prime instigator. 

Amis puts himself about !

But…after a period of concerted County pressure…. we surrendered possession once more allowing Wright to carry the ball forward from deep. It was a real chance as the ball on from Wolfenden sped Greaves’ way, but Hinchliffe read the moment perfectly and denied the ball to the forward to keep it at 1-0.

Carney came on for Lloyd, 51 minutes in, and, for a while things livened up for County who were distinctly unlucky to see a shot from Spencer hit a post with Carnell a spectator!

Distinctly unlucky one moment……fortunate the next as the home team broke clear, feasting on the imprecision of some of County’s work….it looked all over 2-0 as Eckersley advanced on goal. It was a shoo in but somehow the ball squirted upwards off Clarke , hitting the bar before being scrambled clear by a grateful Hinchliffe.

County replied……..  going close from a Spencer free kick but although Marsden’s follow up went closer still, the ball stayed out and the score remained 1-0 to FCUM.


Two views/one free kick ( hedgie above/ Andrew Machin below)

It was end to end stuff  as we past the hour mark….FCUM hitting us on the break again…winning a corner but nothing else, and in reply there seemed more than a hint of `hand to ball’ about the defenders work as Amis was stopped on a run.

Amis....under guard !


 Minihan did his best to make this not count, but his shot whizzed inches wide.

Minihan throw by Andrew Machin.

It went on…Carney failing to test Carnell with one shot, and Montrose making me duck with another!

County promised much at times, but the issue of keeping possession kept recurring , and went centre stage as Clarke was caught napping by Winter. Another headlong charge for goal was on…..and again it looked 2-0 for sure as Wright measured up for a shot on goal, but County survived as Hinchliffe pulled off a save from point blank range!

That was too angst ridden for words ….but within 5 minutes we were back treading treacle at the back again with Dale Johnson rounding on goal. A great save on the line by Minihan kept it at 1-0 but it was a ridiculously close call!

Minihan  non stop hard work.

At the other end….County kept pegging away, but without the spark that lit up Bower Fold on Tuesday. Marsden saw a shot charged down…..Minihan put another wide after one of his typically powerful runs. Another run by Minihan was the prelude to a series of County corners that again promised hope of an equaliser, but one did not
come….instead a Spencer shot was headed behind by Winter, the sequence concluding with a poor effort from Stopforth that went high over the bar, with 6 or 7 minutes left.
2 on Odejayi......

Throughout this, County kept winning free kicks and corners without ever using them to advantage, and more often than not these useful set pieces would dissolve into a miss placed pass and a break by FCUM, and with 4 minutes left one slip too many made it 2-0 as Johnson took advantage to slam a firm strike home to the absolute jubilation of the home specs.
County press late on

After this…County kept pegging away, as FCUM were apparently content to defend –the points in the bag.
More late County pressure....


 Carney had a decent shot saved relatively comfortably by Carnell, and Marsden’s late /late strike was deflected onto a post by a defender , but by the time 4 minutes added time was announced we just wanted the end and to be able to go home.


Last try........

Three games in six….becomes 4 in 9 on Tuesday when we take on FC Halifax at Edgeley Park. 

We will look for an improvement as will JG, so see you there !

FCUM line up:

Carnell, Tonge, Chantler, Kay, Eckersley, Ashworth, Wolfenden( Gilchrist 81), Sheridan, Greaves( Johnson 62), Wright, Winter( Lowe 84).

Subs not used:

Williams, Glynn.

Stockport County line up:

Hinchliffe, Minihan,Clarke, Ross, Duxbury, Meppen-Walter( Spencer 45), Stopforth, Montrose, Amis ( Odejayi 69), Marsden, Lloyd ( Carney 51).

Subs not used:

Ormson, Smalley.

Attendance 3030.

Ian Brown
         

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