Tamworth 2 Stockport County 2( Vanarama National League-North) 22 November 2016
Ridiculously ……..I felt disappointed coming away from the Lamb after County’s game with high flying Tamworth ended all square at 2-2!
I say ridiculously because reason tells me that ,with Tamworth sitting in a handy fourth place in the league, on the end of an unbroken run of five victories, to come away with a point is no mean feat on County’s part.
The disappointment stems from the fact that with just 6 minutes left to play, elation abounded in the ranks of the County faithful, as a masterly double substitution by JG had seen County snatch a late lead via Josh Amis’s first touch of the ball. Within 4 minutes however…elation turned to anguish when a somewhat dubious free kick earned Tamworth a share of the points via Stephen Tomassen’s 88th minute header.
Neutrals will say that a draw was a fair result, and to a degree it was as the two teams each had their chances and looked evenly matched for much of the game . That said……. County, with Montrose in tip top form again, and Ross and Lloyd not far behind him, looked the more likely winners to me. They were undone by the concession of late goals in each half- a familiar frailty, and a worrying one, albeit the winner, as I say, was the product of a poor refereeing decision( or rather one induced by a liner cowed perhaps by the baying horde of home specs immediately behind him). James will work on what can be worked on I am certain and over all County’s display gave reasons to be cheerful.
|Part of County contingent|
New boy Kaine Felix was in the starting line up in place of Courtney Meppen-Walter as the teams took the field minutes before the off.
|Felix & Montrose....|
The early action largely took place in the County half , but there was an early glimpse of what Montrose might have to offer , as 4 minutes in he turned defence into attack for the first of quite a few times . His run won County a corner, but as is frequently the case, the moment of greatest danger TO us is when we are attacking ( usually trying to make something of a set piece in our opponents last third). Tamworth defended the kick well and in no time Jed Davies was in the box with ambitions! He looked handily placed for an early shot, but before he could sort this, the moment had gone as Gary Stopforth had taken the ball off the forward’s toes and dispatched it up the park.
|County under pressure.|
That was how it was to play out for a time…both teams having their moments- County via Lloyd whose shot was charged down in the box after a neat back heel by Felix had set him up, and Tamworth through Greg Mills who did so..so well until Montrose arrived in the vicinity and ended the home side’s raid.
Corners came and went at both ends next, but the 9th minute saw Tamworth come as close as either side had to scoring, thanks to a pacy run down the right by Mills. His cross eluded everyone …except Jack Lane, and he hit the target with his shot only to see Hinchliffe make the save to keep it at 0-0.
|More defending for County....|
County replied through Montrose who ran through the home midfield like a dose of salts. In a flash he sent the ball on to Lloyd, and in another Lloyd’s shot forced the Tamworth keeper( and M.O.M) to make a good save to keep it out. The ball was scrambled away when the resultant corner came over, so the chance had gone….but only just!
|Tamworth free kick.|
As I eluded to earlier…the teams were evenly matched and play switched ends again with both Dan Newton and Ross Dyer going close- kept at bay by good work from Hinchliffe and then a Clarke/ Smalley combo.
County had their moments too, and a very tasty one too occurred 22 minutes in, as Cartwright went down under pressure in the Tamworth box. I was mentally pointing to the spot, but the referee decidedly was not, and another chance had disappeared.
Past half way in the first half, and I thought that County were doing OK….in fact a tad more than just OK….two corners in quick succession and a header by Smalley ( just inches away) adding grist to this mill.
|Smalley close with header!|
In addition, Ross was putting much pressure on our hosts with a run of crosses, delivered from deep positions. To be fair, Tamworth were holding out reasonably well, but I could not help but observe that it was County who, to me, looked the more assured- Tamworth looked neat and tidy on the break, but without looking likely to sustain the pressure.
Half an hour had now gone by, and Tamworth had just defended a free kick and a corner after Davies had got on the wrong side of the referee with what I felt was a fairly innocuous foul. Nothing came of either set piece, except that the break was on for Tamworth. A loose ball set this situation in motion, and for his part Newton looked well capable of applying a finish, but before he could ….Ross came to the rescue for County, snuffing Newton’s run out with great aplomb.
There was time for a free kick to Tamworth, and for a routine save from Hinchliffe to see this off, before ,at last we had a goal to cheer!
County were defending, and doing so to good effect, when defence switched to attack as Cartwright picked out Ball wide left. Ball’s response was immediate and subtle, and a finely weighted ball from him landed with Lloyd who dispatched it past the keeper with the minimum of fuss!
|Cartwright started move.|
We were 1-0 up with just 10 minutes left, and might have been 2-0 to the good shortly after had Ball made better use of his free kick rather than sending it straight into the keeper’s arms.
Tamworth were under the cosh now and County were unfortunate to see Stopforth’s shot deflected for a corner after Odejayi and Ball had set the chance up. Clarke headed over from the kick that followed, as we headed for the break in confident mood.
This mood took on oxygen as Montrose forced Tamworth back with some imperious running. Odejayi and Stopforth also obliged, testing keeper Belshaw with efforts that on another day………
But it was 22 November and Belshaw was in determined mood – somehow managing to claw the ball out with Ball and Cartwright on his case. Despite all the pressure…and another County corner- there was no second goal! Not until very nearly the last kick of the half that is….and when it came, it went to Tamworth!
Mills had just been thwarted by the joint efforts of Ross and Clarke, and danger seemed but a distant possibility as County sought to work the ball clear.But it was not to be, and the simplest of through balls pierced the centre of County’s defence with chilling efficiency. It only needed a simple toe poke from Newton and the teams were level, and within no time at all it was half time as we set about analysing what went wrong, in so far as that was possible.
The debate was still raging when the game re-started, and Tamworth seemed buoyed by their late first half good fortune, and they took the game to County with gusto. A free kick eventually relieved the pressure on County, and Felix’s run saw him go close with an effort that Belshaw might possibly have been wiser paying attention to.
|Felix- bright start!|
Belshaw did better shortly after ensuring Ross’s free kick came to nought.
For a time, County had a fair bit of defending to do after the last action, with crosses pinging in from both flanks, and the odd free kick, as Montrose was booked for what looked like a namby- pamby slider that made precious little contact with its alleged recipient. County responded well, and never really looked in difficulties. On another day….on most days even…..Tamworth might have expected their pressure to result in goals, but we were past the hour mark and it was still 1-1.
It was time for a response from the white shirted blues, and Ball tried to give us one, but his run fizzled out close to goal. Felix stepped up next, and a decent run from him won a corner for his team, and twice Belshaw had to claw the ball away from goal with County doing their lions / wildebeest bit in the box, with the noisy blue following…..err…..getting noisier! Ross sent his cross over the bar to end a period of significant angst for the home side.
|Belshaw- busy !|
However…..the pressure was not over, and increased as Luke Jones fouled Lloyd smack in front just outside the box. It was a free kick and tension increased as Lloyd stepped up to take it, forcing Belshaw to a fine save as he pushed the ball over the bar at the last moment! County were firing on all cylinders now and Ellis Deeley winced as Lloyd’s shot, from the resultant corner, thudded into him in the box.
|County line up a free kick.|
Again the finish was absent and when Ball’s shot climbed into the midst of the County contingent, Tamworth again felt that perhaps County’s moment of greatest opportunity had passed!
It hadn`t though, and Andy Burns had to look lively to prevent Ball from reaching Stopforth’s cross, after a delightful lay off from Odejayi had set the chance up.
|Odejayi maintaining good form.|
It went on….Stopforth seeing a shot just carry the bar, and Montrose his effort charged down. Belshaw meanwhile was busy earning his M.O.M tag from the home specs – punching clear under more pressure with County all lions/ wildebeest again!
Tamworth were genuinely rattled, and it was noticeable that, with 15 minutes left, that they had used 2 of their subs ,whilst County had used none, but the fresh legs were not buttering any Tamworth parsnips as Felix put more angst their way with a speedy run down the right! Repelled the first time, and sent clear again by Montrose , Felix again ran at Tamworth – pinging a decent ball over that Jones did well to head clear.
|County push on.......|
The County hegemony was briefly interrupted by a couple of raids from Tamworth , but the crosses that pinged in from these lacked accuracy and threat , and it was not long before County went at `em once more through Montrose whose shot was kept out by more good work from Belshaw.
It was pretty much all County as Ball went close from a Ross throw, but with 8 minutes left JG made his play…bringing Amis and Marsden on for Odejayi and Felix.
It was master stroke, and within a couple of minutes it paid off with a goal, as with Tamworth seemingly wilting under yet more blue pressure ,and unable to clear their lines, Amis stepped up to force the ball home with his first touch of the ball- pure magic!
|Amis- one touch...one goal !|
It was time for the Blue Army to go AS….and they did, as the game seemed all but won now with so little time left to play!
|Blue Army go ever so slightly AS !|
Then…with just 2 minutes left……….it all went pear shaped!
Things looked OK….as County weathered a raid by Tamworth and cleared their lines- a neat ball allowing Ball to head off after it. He had Burns for company and both went for the ball. Have I used `namby-pamby’ yet? Well that’s what I thought of the alleged contact between the duo that followed. It mattered not……Burns was in Old Vic mode plummeting to earth giving every indication that his life signs had been extinguished!
Meanwhile the liner, behind whom a raging horde of baying home specs were stationed, was suitably energised.
At first I thought it was his innovative interpretation of the Mumbles Mambo, but no...he was waving his flag in a manner that suggested that Ball would soon be walking. Thankfully only a lecture followed ,and a yellow for Ball ,which was rubbish …and….oh….you will want to know about Burns……well he made a speedy recovery, and we were suitably relieved!
County however now had a free kick to defend and it was a good one landing on a home head in the box. The ball was headed back across the box to Steve Tomassen who headed home to the great relief of the home team and their supporters.
The rest of the game was a bit of a blur….yes…both teams kept at it trying for a winner, but by now we knew we had to settle for the point that before the game we would have thought a good return.
Despite any disappointment, a point IS a decent return…this season….against this team…at this venue.
After the whistle County supporters and the team exchanged salutes before the trek home.
Bradford Park Avenue again this Saturday in the FA Trophy, so we need everyone who is able to get to Edgeley Park and get behind the team.
See you there!
Tamworth line up:
Belshaw, Burns, Morley( Tomassen 65), Deeney, Jones, Lane, Mills, Clarke, Newton, Dyer( Taylor 80), Davies( Briscoe 75).
Subs not used: Smith, Opoku.
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe, Ross( Minihan 88), Clarke, Smalley, Cartwright, Montrose, Stopforth, Felix( Marsden 82), Odejayi( Amis 82), Ball, Lloyd.
Subs not used: Ormson, Meppen-Walter.
Attendance : 710