Stockport County 1 Boston United 1 ( Vanarama National League- North) 10 September 2016

County got a point from this one….a game against Boston United at Edgeley Park, but their display was anything but impressive against a side boasting a 0/0/4 away record prior to today.

To be fair Boston definitely turned up to play, and did so with good application for the most part. As a result Hinchliffe was the busier keeper, having to work harder than he might reasonably have expected to, with passes from County, out of defensive positions either going anywhere or to a yellow shirt.

Teams out- Andrew Machin.

Of course… a point….is a point…. but we were at home and maybe should have done better.

Meppen-Walters for Marsden was the only change in the starting line up for County , and that seemed a reasonable state of affairs to me, with Marsden taking his place on a strong looking bench that had Ormson, Rule, Spencer and Odejayi, also on it.

County managed to get an early free kick, and it was a close run thing as Meppen-Walter tried and just failed to apply a finish!

Jimmy Ball free kick.

For Boston, I had already marked down Lewis Hilliard’s name as he was clearly the engine for United, his work 3 minutes in was worryingly good, but he was prevented from getting a shot off, so no alarm bells were sounded just yet.
Montrose, 2 takes( Hedgie above/ Andrew Machin below)

Two ludicrously cheep Boston free kicks soon followed, and with both fizzling out, I was moved to think any danger was over.

County under pressure.

I was wrong……..because Hilliard latched onto the ball again ferrying it wide right, where a first time cross saw Hinchliffe beaten by  Gregg Smith's header.

That was a shock….7 minutes gone….one down!

County rallied….Lloyd winning a corner, but from this Ball could only shoot wide. Balls header a couple of minutes later, was a much better effort, and he was distinctly unfortunate to see the ball fly wide from it.
County press( Andrew Machin )

Another few minutes and County were in danger of shipping water again, as Hilliard outpaced Smalley heading for the box. A cross followed ,but this was dealt with firmly by Clarke and the danger was averted.
Twice after this Meppen-Walter had shots, but neither required keeper Henry Dion-Curtis to even move in response, and a similar fate befell a free kick….decent position…..nothing materialised.

Boston keeper in action( Andrew Machin )

Meanwhile, with Hilliard still sniffing for scraps, Boston looked keen to add to their goal tally, and County were beholding to Duxbury who just managed to dispossess Jay Rollins before he could turn on the ball in the box.
Ross covers nicely ( Andrew Machin )

That was 21 minutes in…..another minute and a break by Ball sourced a chance for County.  Ball made it to the by-line and from there released a pretty decent cross to the back post where Amis awaited its arrival. Up he climbed……. however….. he could not head the ball home!

Amis miss ( Andrew Machin )

That was massively disappointing.

Ball and Duxbury did their best to make up for it, but this work too fared badly in the end, Duxbury’s goal bound effort being charged down.
The angst continued however, with the sight of Hilliard getting beyond Clarke. Boston got a corner from that, and Liam Agnew did his best to capitalise on it, finding Montrose in position to thwart him and head clear.
Going long via Hinchliffe, County kept plugging away, but Ball’s shot was easily dealt with by the Boston keeper, and the major portion of the action for the next 5 minutes or so took place at Hinchliffe’s end.
Hinchliffe- busy lad !

First off Meppen-Walter was called into action to head clear under pressure from a cross by Jack MacMillan….then Smith added his two penny worth and was mere inches from getting to a tasty diagonal ball into the box from Marcus Marshall.
It went on with Agnew bringing Smith into the action again with a neat pass. It looked iffy when the ball was then played back to Hilliard, but he could only lift it high into the Cheadle End much to our relief.

St Juste whips one over......

Throughout this….Lloyd was a constant…….a continual seeker after scraps, rather like Hilliard only more so! Another `ooo….aah’ was to follow however, as after a dangerous looking run, the ex Fylde flyer hit the side netting with his shot rather than the goal.

The game was meandering towards the break with no sign of great excitement or another goal. The referee did enliven proceedings with a little bit of hallucinatory dexterity though, managing to award a corner when Ross did not get close to touching the ball. He might have fouled his man( might !) so it might have been a free kick to Boston or a goal kick….but no….we had a corner to defend. Thankfully Hinchliffe was on hand to deal and the danger was gone but I was in one now!

There was time for a County free kick….a shot from Lloyd that was charged down and another from Ball that carried the bar, and it was half time, and time for JG to have a chat with his boys!  
Lloyd poised !
And he must have had a very good word with them as within 3 minutes of the re-start they had equalised!
Spencer breaks clear.....
Spencer had come on for Montrose, and a couple of early runs from him excited the fans a bit. The second won County a throw, and from it came the goal.
....and again !

 Not directly….first off there was Duxbury’s powerfully hit cross cum shot that fizzed its way across the box like a Exocet. No one could apply the finish or completely clear it, and after what seemed an age and a multitude of half hit efforts and desperate blocks…..the ball ran out to Lloyd who promptly drilled it home!

Somethings happened I think?( Andrew Machin )

Yesit has ! ( Andrew Machin )

Great stuff… was 1-1, and maybe better things beckoned……maybe!
County were looking an altogether different outfit to the one that had gone into the dressing room area just a short while earlier. They were pressing more now and there seemed an urgency that was previously absent in much of their work.

Close call( Andrew Machin )

That said….Boston were not to be forgotten in all this, and they had eyes on getting that lead back , and a raid 52 minutes in, and the subsequent melee in front of the County goal, ended up with the ball coming out off the woodwork.
That was close…… and so was Smith’s follow up which was pushed over the bar at the last gasp by Hinchliffe!

Hinchliffe in action ( Andrew Machin )

Boston had responded well to County’s equaliser, and kept plugging away- Smith narrowly short of reaching a Hilliard cross on the hour. Hilliard was less convincing a couple of minutes later, receiving a short free kick for a foul by Ross, but lifting it high and wide.
The game was anyone’s really, either side might just sneak it, but I hope I am not conveying the impression that this was all so very exciting….it wasn’t…in fact it was pretty tedious stuff at times.
Spencer and Lloyd did try to lighten the gloom somewhat but a neat bit of work twixt the duo fell down with Spencer’s final ball.
Danny Lloyd ( Andrew Machin )

At the other end Smalley did just enough to prevent Smith from heading home at the back post. Rollins went closer still so much so that the specs in the Railway End thought that United had nicked the lead back, but again the ball stayed in play and County cleared it.    
There was a problem though…..the clearances were not finding anyone in blue and thus the pressure would come back on County and Hinchliffe, time and again after this was called on to do his stuff and keep County afloat. Most of it was routine catches, but not all and some of this work could have been avoided with greater care.
With under 20 minutes left, Rule came on for Smalley, which saw Ross move inside with Minihan taking the right back role.

The pressure was on the blues still and poor clearances quickly morphed into conceded free kicks and more work for Hinchliffe, and he had to punch clear under pressure as the latest free kick sped his way. Again an imprecise clearance brought a sea of yellow shirts back in County’s last third and 3 men were queuing at the back post for a pot at goal as the ball whizzed over again from the left. One of the three got to it…..but fortunately for us, sent his effort wide!

That was a let off, and JG acted again responded by replacing Amis with Odejayi.

Big K on for Amis ( Andrew Machin )

There was hardly time for Big K to get acclimatised when the home crowd went AS at the sight of a horrendous assault from Rollins who  laid Minihan out, with the ball not in the picture at all! That was a straight red if ever I saw one but the referee bottled it with a yellow! 

Assault aftermath !( Andrew Machin )

We could not make anything of the free kick, but we did win a corner shortly after as Rule joined Odejayi  to send Ball  clear. A corner was the result as Boston defended in numbers….then a melee which saw the keeper flap prodigiously at one point with the ball suspiciously close to having crossed the line!  Somehow Boston survived, and the excitement abated as Ball lifted his shot over our heads in Row R.

Ooo...errr... issues for Boston keeper!

Lloyd went close next, and then got a kicking from Marshall for his pains. Again the referee opted for yellow over red, and again I was not impressed with the call!
Boston still had notions though and with those County clearances going anywhere and worse, their chances were by no means negligible, indeed Hinchliffe did well ,late on, to again punch clear under severe pressure from another free kick

A shot from Smith, with a minute to go for Boston, went  wide , and probably convinced them to take the point, which would be a good one for them for sure.
County…for their part kept looking for that winner, but it was all very frenetic, and there seemed not much order about the play.

County kept pumping the crosses in…..Meppen Walter tried to pick out Odejayi only for Robinson to thwart his effort….and then Maguire did the same as Meppen –Walter pinged another over.
Odejayi and company.....

Odejayi was using his skills…the lay offs…the knock downs, when he could, his best effort setting Lloyd up with a half chance that saw his shot just miss out.

Same Big K...different company

Into added time Boston revealed how inaccurate my earlier remarks about ` taking a point’ were- late on Boston were still looking for something more out of the game, and Hinchliffe was a busy lad as County came under the cosh deep into 4 minutes added time.

Late push......

That said…the last action was at the other end involving Lloyd, Odejayi ,Spencer and others in blue ….County too clearly wanted something more from the game, but a blast of the referee’s whistle brought the game to a close and both teams had to accept that the points would be shared.

It could have been worse of course, but it was not great entertainment, and JG has lots to do to knock this team into shape.

He’s the man to do it of that I am absolutely sure…..hang on in there County fans….the season is in its infancy still….plenty to work for and at starting with the visits of Fylde on Tuesday and Hyde on Saturday in the FA Cup.

I hope to see you all at both….but before then…tomorrow in fact…Help the Hatters are staging a Car Boot Sale on Booth Street Car Park, starting at 6am and going on until 1 pm. If you can help or just want a bargain…just turn up.

Later tomorrow, from 2pm until late there is a music festival in support of the Supporters Cooperative Guardian Account taking place in the Spinning Top ,near the Garrick Theatre on the A6.

 Five great bands are playing live and its free to go in and there’s decent real ale to drink as well- what’s not to like?

Stockport County line up;

Hinchliffe, Ross, Smalley( Rule 73), Clarke, Duxbury, Meppen –Walter, Minihan, Mon trose( Spencer 45), Amis( Odejayi 75) , Ball, Lloyd.

Subs not used:   Ormson, Marsden.

Boston United line up;

Dion-Curtis, Marshall, St Juste( Kalern 35), Ngoma, Maguire, Robinson, Hilliard, Agnew, Rollins, Smith, McMillan( Fairhurst 61)

Subs not used;  Colley, Wilden, Price.

Attendance 2466

Ian Brown


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