Stockport County 0 Kidderminster Harriers 1 ( Vanarama National League - North)29 October 2016
Before the game I felt that this was a difficult challenge, but a winnable one, due to County’s renewed resolve under James Gannon, and our home advantage. In reality much of the renewed resolve was present, and Harriers keeper Sam Hornby did have to make a vital save or two, and the Edgeley Park faithful did give their team fulsome backing throughout, but the absence of Danny Lloyd left County without that vital cutting edge that he provides, and this, in my view, was ultimately crucial in deciding the games outcome.
|Teams ( Andrew Machin )|
Harriers captain Keith Lowe gave a commanding performance marshalling his men perfectly…..yes at times the visitors back line developed a wobble, but generally Lowe ensured his defence frustrated all County’s efforts to spoil their day, finding time to get forward and initiate attacking play that at times had the blues defending ever deeper in their own half. Ryan Greasdale got forward too and it was a forward push from him that gave Harriers the lead and eventually the game part way into the second half.
For County I saw no slackers on parade, indeed much hard work abounded up and down the park. James Hooper, in the Danny Lloyd role, took the sponsors M.O.M award, and whilst I might have given it elsewhere, I was impressed with his energy, and he did manage County’s best two efforts both of which brought decent saves from Hornby in reply. Hooper also combined nicely at times with Max Cartwright to batten down the hatches on the left flank where Tyrone Williams was intent on causing County issues.
|Odejayi on the ball ( Andrew Machin )|
County took the field minus Josh Amis and Danny Lloyd, both of whom were injured. Kayode Odejayi and John Marsden were pressed into service in their place, and there was a fairly buoyant atmosphere prevailing in a good sized crowd as the game got underway.
|Shot of Cheadle End.|
I praised Lowe, the Harriers captain, earlier in this piece, but his first act in the game might well have been his last, had Referee Dave McNamara had a pair with him, as a truly awful challenge from the number five went right through Stopforth laying him out for a fair while. Not even a yellow followed….just a chat twixt official and miscreant- it hardly fitted the moment, but….hay ho…..it was ever thus!
|Stopforth receives treatment ( Andrew Machin )|
We did get a free kick from that bit of unsavoury nonsense, and Marsden did plant a decent effort on target, but Hornsby proved up to the challenge and his dive kept the ball out in fine style.
|the save caught by Andrew Machin......|
Twice after this, Hooper saw shots drift wide as he fed on sustenance provided diligently by Odejayi and Ross.
|Odejayi working hard.|
If the first 5 minutes were made up largely of County attacks, Tyrone Williams provided us with the first evidence of what might just be coming our way – his run down the right touchline ending with a dangerous cross that Smalley did well to usher away.
County offered up some pretty good football next, but it all broke down on reaching the opposing last third, and as a result Harriers had a break on via Emanuel Dieseurvwe. In an instant he was into the box and in another he sized up the situation neatly and thus slid the ball sideways to Liam Trustlove who was perfectly placed to make it 1-0! Eleven minutes in…..and 1-0 down….not great…..except we weren’t as the hapless Trustlove coolly stroked the ball wide of the gaping goal!
That Cartwright/ Hooper combo I spoke of earlier came into play for the first of many times next, but when Marsden took the pass from Hooper he was pole axed by another poor challenge this time by Williams, who was no doubt miffed at the Cartwright/ Hooper bit! This time the book came out, but Marsden’s break had been snuffed out by the foul and we failed to capitalise on the resultant free kick, so…pretty much as usual…..the perps prospered!
Harriers looked to prosper again within a couple of minutes, but Dieseurvwe’s run was neatly dealt with by Smalley ,who was looking in good nick. Then Hinchliffe joined the action with an authoritative catch under pressure from Dieseurvwe as Williams pinged one in from the by-line.
|Hinchliffe does well u/p ( Andrew Machin )|
Both teams were working hard for that opening goal, and I must say that Harriers looked as neat and purposeful on the ball as any side I had seen this term. They still had work to do at the back however, and Hornby again did well making a save from Marsden who had been put through by Ross.
Harriers came under the cosh for a while after this and only just managed to survive a messy melee in the box after Dieseurvwe had fouled Smalley as he broke clear. The pressure continued via Montrose, who seemed to be in prime form, setting Hooper up nicely. The young Rochdale striker hit the target with a good strike but somehow….someone kept it out on the line- not pretty defending….but pretty affective!
|Montrose & Hooper on the prowl....|
Down to 10 briefly , with Stopforth off the park for treatment, County had defending to do, and again Smalley played his part well( twice) to stop the rot, and he was joined by Clarke who hooked the ball clear ,half a yard out, after all and sundry had failed to get to an incoming corner.
|Good marking job from Clarke !|
County recovered once Stopforth returned to the action, and Hornby had to pull out all the stops to keep Marsden’s strike out, following a free kick for a foul on Odejayi.
Half an hour had gone , and the game was anybody’s really….both sides wanted it but it was not quite clear yet just who had that necessary extra something to make the difference. For Harriers…..Williams was still legging it down the right to good effect, and Ross did some really sharp work to deny Dieseurvwe's efforts to add a finish to Williams’ latest cross. Ross was doing well for County and was again to the fore, stopping Tyrell Waite on a run.
Was it still anyone’s? I thought so and County trump card was probably going to be their discipline, as Harriers had not a lot of it as yet another foul ushered in yet another free kick. This one, from Smalley, was good and put the skids under the visitors back line for a time, but if the kick was impressive Smalley’s follow shot was less so and drifted yards wide of the target much to our disappointment.
|Good free kick from Smalley !|
Harriers came back at us impressively next, but what looked like a good move promptly foundered on the efforts of Montrose who stole the ball off two or three red/ white shirted players before dashing clear to send Hooper in with a chance of a shot. The shot duly followed and it was on target, but so was Hornby again, and he made the save to keep the full timers in it.
Montrose was in fine form and applause rang out around EP as he again halted a break with some excellent work.
|Great form from Montrose ( Andrew Machin )|
Into the last 5 minutes of the half we went, and I am always nervous about this period in any game….willing the opposition to not sneak one. They have not done that so much though with JG in charge, so I really should have a talk with myself about this legacy issue!
But…as the man said….`just because I am paranoid, it does not mean they are not after me!’ and it was edge of my seat stuff as Cartwright curtailed a run by Waite at the last gasp. Then more buts as James Mc Quilkin surfaced in the box to ping a shot in that Hooper did well to block. The danger did not pass however as the ball came back with interest and I was again thinking 0-1 as it flew at a tempting height straight to Dieseurvwe . He was less than a yard out and should have put the easiest of chances away and then dined out on it for yonks afterwards, but somehow he contrived to plant his header wide.
|Andrew Machin sees County under pressure.|
I was tempted to laugh…but I didn’t as County had more defending to do in double quick time afterwards as a free kick put them under pressure. The ball just would not be cleared at any price, and Hinchliffe had to make a grade one top/ top save with his legs to keep it at 0-0 as Arthur Guahoua bore down on goal.
I was glad when the whistle brought the half to an end. It had been a decent 45 minutes play in which both teams had done stuff that was pleasing…...and yes….the game was still anyone’s!
|Players Fund push by Fitzy ( Andrew Machin )|
The re-start saw a re-run of the first 45 as both sides gnawed away at the perceived soft under belly of the other.
It was stalemate for a time, but things looked likely to improve for the blues, 7 minutes into the half, when Marsden won a somewhat fortunate corner. Corners then proliferated with Harriers defending in numbers and County going at it hammer and tongues. Hooper’s shot took a deflection( corner 2)….Montrose added his ten pennyworth( corner 3). Try as we might however …the ball stayed in play….Lowe finally heading clear after a Marsden effort had been charged down. From this action, Harriers thought to hit County on the break , but thanks to Stopforth’s sharp responses , when Trustlove charged clear the chance vanished.
Back came County, and I was thinking good thoughts about our chances as Odejayi pushed Kiddy back. Ross added a couple of throws to the mix and a corner followed . Marsden took this and it was not bad at all and it was only half cleared by the visitors.
The ball landed with Hooper who treated us to his second worthy strike of the match. It was on its way in when Hornby twisted in mid air to tip the ball over the bar at the very last gasp! Not for the first time however County’s set pieces let them down and the poorest of short corners allowed Harriers to run the ball clear.
|Andrew Machin catches the keeprs fine save !|
After that action, Kidderminster got their game together again, after being severely examined for a fair while. Responding….County defended well, none more so than Hinchliffe who made the best of saves to stop Williams feasting on Trustlove’s provisions!
Yes…County were doing well…..and Montrose as well as anyone drawing applause for industrious work in the County engine room.
But……as I say….Kiddy were getting themselves organised again and it looked ominous as Jordan Tunnicliffe and Tyrell Waite took the play into the County half exchanging passes as they went. Eventually the duo had company in the shape of Ryan Greasdale, and he stole in to slot the coolest of finishes home.
There were 25 minutes left when the goal went in- time enough for County to turn it around…but would they?
Marsden tried…..but could not apply a finish to Stopforth’s intuitive pass.
Although the visitors probably wanted to press on for a second ,game killing, goal( Hinchliffe did have to make a spectacular save to deny Trustlove on 74 minutes), they were also indulging in time wasting tactics…playing `keep ball’ with over 15 minutes to go!
County kept trying though and Hooper was unlucky to see his run ended by the outstretched leg of Dieseurvwe. It was a legal challenge it must be said but mightily frustrating, and doubly so as Clarke headed over from the subsequent corner.
Carney was now on for Montrose ( Ball had come on earlier for Odejayi) , but with only 7 minutes left, it was very much an up hill slog now for the blues!
|Clarke tries to square the circle ( Andrew Machin )|
That said they kept at it……Ross won a corner…..Marsden saw a shot strike a hand in the box as County piled the pressure on in shed loads. Mr McNamara wasn’t having a penalty, and our frustration mounted as a Ball shot thudded into a defender, and Hooper again watched as Hornby pulled out another terrific save from his locker to deny him yet again! It went on….Clarke….Ross…Ball all seeing efforts charged down by a Harriers defence that was earning its full time corn for sure!
|Late charge by County.|
Into added time we went with a real chance emerging and then flying away disappointingly for County. Hooper was back defending after seeing yet another shot charged down at the other end. He did well to not only win the ball but bring it out of defence where his pass to Ball freed the ex Staly Vegas man for a run on goal. There was a fair distance to travel but I would maintain it was worth a go. Marsden perhaps offered an even better option to his right and Ball, to his credit, saw this and sent his pass off, but it was a poor one and Marsden was in no position to make anything of it- chance gone!
The `keep ball’ tactic, came back to the fore from the visitors, deep into added time. County for their part kept trying to equalise but what turned out to be their last raid, broke down allowing Harriers to surge clear down the left.
County were caught napping and when the ball came over from the left and landed at the feet of substitute Andre Brown- it looked 2-0 for sure as there was nobody twixt him and goal. He did not seem to overly hesitate and got his shot off pretty well only to see Hinchliffe fling himself at his feet and smother the effort somehow- totally brilliant stuff that from the County keeper!
Not long after…… the game was over…the points were Kidderminster’s.
The EP faithful were disappointed for sure but did not leave without applauding their team off the park for what had been an honourable defeat against a full time outfit pushing for a return to the National Premier.
So are we…..so watch this space!
See you next Saturday when again for the FA Cup clash with Woking ( for just another week only the report will be published on Sunday morning again)
Stockport County line up;
Hinchliffe, Ross, Clarke, Smalley, Cartwright, Montrose( Carney 83), Minihan, Stopforth, Odejayi( Ball 69), Marsden, Hooper.
Subs not used: Ormson, Meppen-Walter, West.
Kidderminster Harriers line up:
Hornby, Williams, Francis-Angol, Greasdale, Lowe, Tunnicliffe, Waite( Austin 88), McQuilkin, Dieseurvwe( Brown 77), Trustlove, Gnahoua.
Subs not used; Stambolziev,Carter, Palmer.