Stockport County 1 Gainsborough Trinity 0 : ( Vanarama National League- North)15 November 2016

Perhaps a visit to the dentist is not the best way to fill the long hours that stretch out, on a Tuesday or Saturday before any County game, but that’s how it was for me yesterday ahead of County’s game with Gainsborough Trinity.

However…..if I thought the pain was over …I was mistaken there was loads more on offer as the two teams engaged come 7.45pm.
Teams out( Andrew Machin )

It was not that County struggled to win this one…. despite some pressure late on from Trinity, they won it far more comfortably than the 1-0 score line suggests , but there were other elements at play, in addition to County’s familiar lack of punch in the last third, that racked up the tension somewhat!

The game was won via another piece of Hinchliffe/ Lloyd magic, but this proved to be a rare oasis of excellence in a desert of frustration and angst brought about by the overly aggressive Trinity approach and the abysmal performance of the officials.
Just one of many cassualties ( Andrew Machin )

Trinity were extremely fortunate to finish the game with all eleven on the park. They had ….err….six men booked, which probably was about 4 light of how it should have been, but I was not alone in noting that the Trinity centre half Adam Quinn  appeared to have been  shown 2 yellows. That was just one of the wind up’s the Edgeley Park faithful had to endure at the hands of Referee Darren Strain and his assistants- they were constantly disrupting play to award free kicks for inconsequential or none existent `fouls’  – the match was a mess as a result. When, at one point, Danny Lloyd was mugged in front of the main stand, and a throw in resulted things could have got very nasty indeed. They didn`t thanks to a terrifically disciplined showing from James Gannon’s team , if they could just find that extra spark up front we would be quids in!

Back at 7.45, confusion abounded as absolutely no detail, other than an announcement that ` the County team is the same as Saturday except that Odejayi is in for Amis’ was available to us, due apparently to Gainsborough’s late arrival.

Alex Jackson ( Andrew Machin )

Twitter told us that County’s subs included Alex Jackson, one of Alan Lord’s lads, but there was no return yet for Sam Minihan which was something of a surprise after his energised entry into proceedings late on on Saturday.

Early County pressure.

The early play saw County pressing their opponents back into their last third, and after good work from Stopforth and Lloyd, Ball was inches away from providing us with the opener, just 3 minutes into proceedings.

Ball on the ball ( Andrew Machin )

There was a brief moment when the ball flew across the County box from the right with Jarman and Wiles showing an interest, but strain as they might there was no early alarm for the blues, indeed County went close again, on 7 minutes, through Montrose whose shot again narrowly missed out , following a break by Ball.

Montrose about to pounce !

It went on with a Lloyd run setting Meppen-Walter up for a shot that was deflected for a corner. County buzzed energetically in the box as the kick came over, but it stayed 0-0, at least for a couple more minutes.

Trinity under pressure ( Andrew Machin )

Ten minutes had gone, and already the frustration was mounting ( think watching Ant & Deck and then multiply  the angst by umpteen) as the referee gave Trinity  a ludicrous free kick. Justice was deliciously seen to be  done however as when  Thornhill lifted the kick into our midst in Row R.......

Spot the ball ?

......….Hinchliffe lifted his response deep into the Gainsborough half where one bounce had the ball in the possession of Danny Lloyd. A moment’s  contemplation, and it was 1-0 as the keeper advanced and Lloyd beat him with an exquisite lob!
This was justice indeed, but it did nothing to improve the visitors disposition and they were constantly in the referee’s face. It was clear that the rigours of the motorway system in and around the North West had taken its toll on the visitors from Lincolnshire.

They probably had reason to be so disgruntled, as County were shaping up reasonably well, and only the bravest of last ditchers from Quinn stopped Ball’s run on goal. A Ross throw set Meppen-Walter up for another near miss, and good work from Thornhill did for a lively run from goal scorer Lloyd, so…all in all the average County fans within the 2000+ crowd, notwithstanding the `eccentricities’ of the officials I guess would be feeling reasonably chipper with 15 minutes gone.

County press......

There was an eventual response from Trinity, but Wiles’ effort was comfortably saved by Hinchliffe. 

That Hinchliffe stop ( Andrew Machin )

Thewliss joined the fray next – his first sortie ended  by a good bit of work from Montrose…..the second by Smalley who ushered him out of dangers way and the ball out of play.
Smalley- in good nick ( Andrew Machin )

Tensions mounted next as Hinchliffe despatched the ball up the park after having disposed of a poor free kick from Thornhill. Lloyd was on it in a trice and away …and then he wasn’t as he was taken out by Picton. 

Lloyd taken out ! ( Andrew Machin )
A yellow disappointed …but was no surprise, and the miscreants won out this time as nothing came from the free kick that followed.

I will fast forward through the blizzard of comic cuts decisions that followed from the officials- suffice it to say ,it did nothing to enhance the quality of play as the ball was constantly being lumped up and down the park, from set pieces, with mid-field a mere rumour!

Well...Mr Straines found it amusing !

Beyond the 30 minute mark, and Trinity began to stretch their Lincolnshire legs in front of the Cheadle End, and Smalley did well to block Reid as he made it into the box at one point. Cartwright did even better, when Thewliss took a hand a couple of minutes later, but having intervened nicely and played the ball out off the forward, he and 2000 others were dismayed to see the liner flag for a corner! Smalley blocked this, putting it behind…..and Hinchliffe’s punch did the rest from the second flag kick.

County defend

County were still looking the better of the two teams, but we needed someone other than Lloyd to chip in, in front of goal, instead when Stopforth’s break set Odejayi up ,his control deserted him and the chance vanished as rapidly as it had appeared.
Odejayi to the fore ( Andrew Machin )

Odejayi looked to have done better shortly after but despite being a yard or so behind a defender he was flagged `offside’ by the Pop Side liner. I had watched a short Laurel and Hardy classic `Block heads’ earlier in the day, and for some unaccountable reason it came again to mind as, immediately after that last nonsense, 


Trinity broke clear via Thewliss whose `hand to ball’ moment en route to goal was ignored by the Danny Stand liner under whose rapidly elongating nose the small felony had been perpetrated.  That Trinity made a hash of applying a finish to what had gone before, was almost incidental as the collective BP’s of the 2000 proceeded to soar.
Pressing on, with half time approaching….County went close again although Ball’s under powered effort, following good work from Odejayi, Lloyd and Ross in the build up, missed the target.
Montrose  had another good game.

A couple more County raids…. A reply from Thewliss who beat Cartwright but not Smalley deep in the County half, and that was it for a somewhat frustrating first half.        
A shot of part of the Cheadle End
When play resumed, Minihan was on for Cartwright , as Gainsborough opened proceedings with a snap shot from Hands that was not that far away.

Twice after this Trinity defenders hurriedly cleared their lines with County pressing. Lloyd was still showing up to good effect – his latest cross just short of reaching Ball in front of goal.
Odejayi & Ball watched by Quinn

The pressure mounted from the blues and Meppen-Walter was twice halted by fouls. Time wasting and some crass procrastination from Jarman who seemed to be top agent provocateur in the Trinity wall, saw to it that neither free kick was used effectively by County.

Ten Yards ? ( Andrew Machin )

A third free kick, and subsequent corner  caused Trinity more of a hassle  and Lloyd’s  kick bounced invitingly at the back post, but with no blue shirted takers anywhere about!

OK....maybe 8.........

Tempers got a touch frayed next as an elbow from Thewliss laid Clarke out. Again a yellow hardly covered it, but that’s what we got!

Back came County through Lloyd ,and Trinity were indebted to Quinn who somehow managed to concede nothing more than a corner with Lloyd’s cross threatening altogether more. 

Trinity u/p ( Andrew Machin )

With Meppen-Walter joining in and forcing a second flag kick the pressure was growing on the visitors back line, and they were mightily relieved to see it end with Stopforth’s shot whizzing wide.

For a brief period, Trinity worked the ball clear, but it did not last long and things looked good for County as Odejayi stole the ball and made to dart clear. He was off and running when Quinn intervened hauling him back and halting the run. This was not only a bookable offence, but I thought it was Quinn’s second booking of the evening! Others felt so too….but he stayed on the park as Mr Strain waved ( another?) yellow in his face! The keeper grabbed the resultant free kick to increase our collective angst with about 15 minutes left of the match.

Quinn still on the park ( Andrew Machin )

County pushed on after this….Montrose in his element with a brilliant run……Ball winning a corner, and Smalley not far away with a header.
With Marsden on for Ball the pattern continued unchanged as Minihan’s run set Lloyd up for a shot that keeper George Willis did well to keep out.

Close call for Trinity ( Andrew Machin )

Stopforth ,Lloyd, Odejayi and Marsden were all in the mix helping to keep the visitors occupied in their own half, but the occasional break from Trinity conjured up unworthy thoughts in my troubled head of them sneaking into the box and Mr Strain having a moment and pointing to the spot!

Clarke offers late County pressure....

I pushed such thoughts to the back of my mind, as Smalley was inches from doubling County’s advantage at the back post after Odejayi had won a corner.

That corner.....

Again I am fast forwarding past a plethora of awfulness from the officials….I am trying to be kind…honest I am , but Lacey might have been punished for a blatant bit of skulduggery as Lloyd threatened down the left – in the event he wasn’t ,and  further disappointment followed when Marsden could not reach Lloyd’s cross…`advantage’ having been played! No card followed.

Again Trinity u/p ( Andrew Machin )

Hinchliffe acted quickly next…punching clear as Picton pinged a cross in from the right. The break was on from this for County as Ross and Stopforth made good ground on the counter, but all their good work went to waste when the ball reached Marsden as he hurriedly slammed it high into the Cheadle End.

From somewhere the referee found 5 minutes added time, and of course, whilst County did most of the attacking, there was the odd moment of angst midst it all most notably when Reid found himself clear and with a decent shooting chance. It was `sharp intake of breath time’ as the forward let fly , but the moment passed when Hinchliffe clawed the ball down and clutched it to him.

Some great …late…hold up play from Odejayi illuminated the games’ dying embers……..and an even better saving tackle  from the County number nine  stopped any anti climax from spoiling things.

Odejayi has company !

Gainsborough were definitely trying a bit in these last moments, and Hinchliffe was twice called on to intervene with Gainsborough forwards circling the County box like so many hungry hyenas tending a carcass. 

But County were no carcass , and decent defending saw them see the danger off to claim the points.

That was a good, if frustrating, win and sets us up well for some further tests most notably Bradford Park Avenue this Saturday- see you all there then!

Stockport County line up;

Hinchliffe, Ross, Clarke, Smalley , Cartwright( Minihan 45), Meppen-Walter, Montrose, Stopforth, Odejayi, Ball( Marsden 77), Lloyd.

Subs not used: Ormson, Jackson, West.

Gainsborough Trinity line up:

Willis, Picton, Lacey, Thornhill, Quinn, Wilson, Hands, Wiles( Templeton 67), Thewliss( Worsfeld 75), Jarman, Reid.  

Subs not used; not known

Attendance; 2112

Ian Brown.


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