AFC Telford United 3 Stockport County 2 ( Vanarama National League- North) 12 September 2017

County lost out last night taking no points away from a rain sodden New Bucks Stadium losing 3-2 to AFC Telford in a disappointing match.

The Shropshire side’s season thus far has made them largely unfamiliar with winning, and the locals were ecstatic at their young side’s performance against a County team that generally under performed. 

The locals reaction  is entirely understandable, but County contributed to their own demise with some really slack passing under pressure. At the other end of the park it was not dissimilar as Warburton, Oswell, and Stephenson in the first half, awaited a quality pass. They are still waiting I think as mostly the pill headed their way from a distance or at a height that made control and making something of anything, largely a theoretical exercise.

County looked to have  started with 3 at the back, until I realised that Adam Thomas was playing RB. But...3  or 4 constantly  be giving the ball away under pressure was a big problem for County- the result was 3 bad goals conceded along with the match.

There were consolations….new man Bohan Dixon looked a find, capping an encouraging performance with a thrilling goal. 

Dixon -an encouraging debut !
Apart from that…add Hinchliffe ‘s name again – his second half saves alone kept County in the game, and I also gave Scott Duxbury, a second half substitute, full marks for another battling showing, but that was largely that.
Back at 7.45 the rain was bucketing down, being driven hither and thither by a feckless gale. The result  was conditions not ideal for a game of football, but perfectly playable none the less, and an early free kick for a foul on Hampson briefly made thoughts of wind and rain disappear as Ball lined up  the kick. This was deflected for a corner, but whilst another corner followed quickly this was cleared by Jon Royle who did well under some pressure.
It was fully 5 minutes before Telford could respond as County did all the early attacking, and it came via a free kick. It was cleared easily enough, but we needed to not concede free kicks particularly in positions where the young Telford forwards might exploit any weakness.

Ball's early free kick

The first 9 minutes had been a procession of County attacks, but with no product….the tenth saw product…but at the other end of the park, after Telford had worked the ball clear. County were caught by surprise it appeared, and an almighty scramble ensued on the line as the ball came back into play off the crossbar. A massive melee followed on from this, the ball being scrambled off the line somehow. The `somehow’ was apparently the hand of Matty Warburton, and the referee Sam Mulhall pointed to the spot before booking Warburton. 

Hmm….presumably to give the penalty the referee would have to have viewed the `handball’ as deliberate…..and having so done…shown Warby a red card. Well…the card was yellow, make of that what you will dear reader! For good measure I add the thought that I saw no white shirted home player appeal midst all this.

Oh…..lest I forget…..the fact was that it was a penalty , as I have said, and it turned out to be a good one too- ex Hatter Jon Marsden blasting the spot kick home with a venom only former employees reserve for their erstwhile employers.

Anyway…. the locals were happy and celebrated the goal loudly.

It needed a prompt reply from County, but when Stephenson, harried Shane Sutton ( Telford’s  M.O.M for me) into conceding a corner, this was wasted in depressingly familiar fashion.
Oooo its a corner!

Telford were suitably buoyed by their good fortune, and for a time they buzzed about with some energy. I told myself, with alarming over confidence, that County would have too much nous for the Shropshire men.

Well…..I thought I had some proof to back my view up, 22 minutes in, when the next County attack saw them level things up. The impetus came from Warburton , and his run into the box saw a chance open up for him which he took with some eagerness. The shot, when it came from the County number, 10, discomforted Jasbir Singh in the Telford goal to the extent that he could only parry the ball. Warburton had a second bite at it and it was on it’s way into the net when Singh’s despairing backwards lunge gained him a touch on the ball……salvation… …the keeper could only hurry the ball onwards into the net. County had equalised- it was now 1-1.

Beyond the 30 minute mark and it was noticeable how Bohan Dixon was warming to his task, and I was pleased to see him getting bolder with every passing minute.

We needed County to stamp their authority on the game now, and a chance offered itself, after 32 minutes, courtesy of Royle’s foul on Sam Walker.  I was half expecting Walker, whose reputation for taking good free kicks had preceded him to the Club, to take this one, but instead Ball took it, playing it short. It was an interesting variation I suppose, but again there was no end product.
Sibgh holds one....

County were attacking with some purpose if not a great amount of lethality, but we were being caught on the break as well, and with half time nearing,  crosses pinged in from both flanks from our hosts . 

Break on.....?

County did well to defend the resultant corner, but relief was only temporary as Telford caught us napping again forcing Hinchliffe to make a diving save of some quality to keep it at 1-1 with Marsden on his case.
Hampson throw ahoy !

That was the 39th minute, another 2 and County were treading water again, and their inability to clear their lines got severely punished as Tony Dwyer volleyed home impressively from the edge of the box.

We looked about to go in at the break one down, and 2 minutes added time had just been announced , when County again got my over confidence quotient on the rise  with a corruscatingly glorious strike, by Bohan Dixon, that almost broke the truly sodden netting.

That was excellent, but it wasn’t the last action of the half. There was time for Walker’s shot to be deflected for a corner , after Warburton and Oswell had worked hard in the build up, but the kick came to nought and we had to be content with 2-2 as the teams trouped off for a word or three from JG.
Seated County supporters
...and a decent clutch of flags !

and well done the lads with the drum !

The teams returned to the field of play with Duxbury and Smalley now on for County in place of Thomas and Stephenson. 

This meant 4 at the back now for the yellow shirted blues, and County went straight onto the attack from the whistle, Cowan’s cross drawing a horrendous slice from Connor Johnson as he attempted to clear his lines.  

Nothing came of that one, or the next either, although on this occasion, Johnson had to be, and was, precise in his actions as he cleared the ball off the line, after Warburton had seen a shot saved by Singh.
Singh under  a bit of pressure.

It was beginning to look good….I was at it again…but it looked like with reason, as a Ball shot was headed out by Lussey…then Duxbury went close  ushering in the mother of all melees on Singh’s line- finally halted when Jordan Gough hooked the ball clear.

Another  terrific run from Duxbury added to growing excitement behind Singh’s 
goal…but……..despite all the pressure, and there was some, no one could get the required final touch.

Even when Sutton put Singh under the cosh with a terribly sliced attempted clearance- Oswell just could not manage to get that crucial touch!

Sooner or later, using Sods Law as a yardstick, it was surely likely that Telford would eventually come back at us, and they did- Marcus Dinanga’s glancing header missing out narrowly after County had been racked by corner and free kick.
County defend.....

I thought County looked to be defending OK….but then they weren’t as a loose ball would undo all the good work. The next one also teed Marsden up once more, and it took a borderline great save from Hinchliffe to deny him and keep it at 2-2.

Meanwhile a spectacular bicycle kick by Oswell almost got him ( undeservedly ) booked. It was genuine attempt to score however, and thankfully the referee responded sensibly contenting himself with a word in Ossie’s ear.
a word.........

Telford had a free kick though, and almost a goal too  as, with County having great difficulty in  clearing their lines, Marsden  sent a header soaring towards the top corner, only for Hinchliffe to again trump the ex County man with another glorious save!

County under pressure.

Hinchliffe was keeping us in this game , but even he could do nothing next, as he was sorely served by those in front of him, as another loose ball gave substitute Jordan Murphy a chance which he put away with relish!

It was 3-2 to Telford, and the mountain now in view for County to clamber up was looking a steep one now.

There were still 15 minutes remaining of the match, and County still notionally had time to at least sneak a point, but instead a fine run by Duxbury only ended in a corner which Telford were able to defend well enough. Another corner followed quickly on from this thanks to Warburton’s work, but this saw another disappointment as Oswell planted his downward header a yard wide of goal.

Corner ref !!!!

I could not fathom out quite who was the more desperate…County to score….or Telford to somehow keep them out, as the minutes ticked away with County straining every nerve and sinew to get back into it.
Late pressure from County.

O’Halloran’s run saw him upended just outside the box, and Warburton popped up to the fore when the resultant free kick came over, but again the finish disappointed…..the shot drifting wide with Singh rooted to the spot.

With 5 minutes left, Tom Walker came on for Jimmy Ball, but no material change in fortune accrued County’s way in the minutes that remained, indeed it was gratifying to see O’Halloran in position to neatly snuff out an alarmingly lively break,  in the game’s dying embers, by Marcus Dinanga.

The last action saw a County shot thud into the roof of the away terrace, which rather summed up County’s night!

That was that then… points and not that much to cheer.

I have been critical of County in this article, perhaps overly so…perhaps not, but I reserve the right to do so like every County supporter. In doing so, I must clarify that my criticisms concern last nights game and ,with 30 odd games left in which to turn this around, I refuse to panic and over extend any criticism .

We were not in great shape early doors in 96/97, but we ended up promoted and the toast of the UK with long runs in FA and League Cups. So…..sorry to quote Corporal Jones again, but `don’t panic’ JG has seen us right before and will do so again.

Finally……its far too early to ` concentrate on the Cup’ , but we do have a chance to put our league form to the back of our minds briefly with Curzon Ashton’s visit  in the FA Cup this Saturday.

I will be there , and I hope you will be too!

AFC Telford United line up:

Singh, Johnson, Gough, White, Sutton, Royle, Dwyer( Murphy 59), Lussey, Dinanga, Marsden( Cowans 75), Newby. 

Subs not used: Martinez, McGrory, Hayden.

Stockport County line up:

Hinchliffe, Cowan,  O’ Halloran, Hampson,  Ball( T Walker 85) , S Walker, Dixon, Thomas( Smalley 45),Stephenson( Duxbury 45), Warburton, Oswell.

Subs not used: Smith, Brazel.

Attendance; 853



  1. I don't think you've been too critical at all, it was desperately disappointing. Jason Oswell is exactly what we needed, a centre forward who can score with his head and his feet, but we don't put crosses in to him. Their wingers caused problems every time they ran at us, we would do well to try the same ourselves.

  2. Good points, and we do have wide men to do that job.


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