Stockport County 4 Leamington FC 0 ( Vanarama National League- North) 24 March 2018

County stormed to a resounding victory at Edgeley Park today, dismissing the challenge of the leg weary Leamington FC 4-0 in front of an ecstatic home crowd of approaching 4000.
Danny & Cheadle Stands ( Andrew Machin )

It was as convincing a win as one could ever wish to witness, and the first half could have seen the blues six or seven up rather than the 3 that they were at the break, so clearly superior were Jim Gannon’s men, as Leamington struggled to put their game together in what has been a busy week for them.

The win keeps County’s play off prospects still very much alive, and the way his team played today will have pleased County’s manager no end. There were champions in blue all over the place. Jimmy Ball won the M.O.M , and I would not grumble with that, but virtually every one in blue showed up today and played as though they meant it.     
Jimmy Ball.
I particularly liked Warburton , Turner, Stephenson and the excellent Scott Duxbury, but thought Oswell was immensely unlucky not to get on the score sheet ( as indeed was Warburton)- he was always in Leamington’s faces and on another day might just have come away with a couple.
Oswell- unlucky !

Elsewhere Stott and Clarke organised as efficient a lock out as you might ever see, and with Duxbury bombing on as usual on one flank and Thomas looking like he had played RB for ever on the other, there was never any chance of the visitors stirring the pot sufficiently to disturb the County hegemony. 
Thomas- at home at RB ( Andrew Machin )

Credit to Danny Udoh though, he worked his socks off throughout showing no little skill to go with it in what was very much a lost cause! 

Clarke and Thomas defend.

 With a shade of luck late on Danny might just have nicked one, but that would have denied  blues keeper Ben Hinchliffe his clean sheet, and although not that busy, Ben very much deserved to claim that!

A word for Harry Winter though, and Harry had another belting first half, but had to be replaced at half time by Paul Turnbull having picked up a booking. Harry is doing OK….but another I was looking forward to seeing return to action after injury, came back today and gave us a very encouraging 30 minutes. That man was Sam Minihan, who looked as though he had never been away.

Sam Minihan- back with a bang!

So …….a great day for County then, but the kick off saw them kicking towards the Cheadle End first off, which is always less than universally popular with County fans.
County went onto the attack from the kick off though, playing some impressive stuff, but Jose Veiga in the Leamington goal was able to deny Oswell by the narrowest of margins as the County man sniffed a goal, after Turner had turned the visitors left flank inside out allowing Duxbury to set Oswell up.
Veiga pips Oswell....just !
and again ( Andrew Machin )

It was a disappointment that such a good move received no reward, but that came within a minute as Ball surged into the box to slam a no nonsense effort through the keepers dive into the net.
1-0 ( Andrew Machin )
Joy ( Andrew Machin )

Just 3 minutes had gone, and 1-0 was just the start that Jim Gannon would have wanted from his team, and they very nearly added to their tally as Warburton twice put Leamington under the cosh, the second time, he was so unlucky on the end of a fine run from Turner, who was on fire.
Warburton- in great nick !
Veiga foils Warburton ( Andrew Machin )

With Thomas taking time out from defensive duties to join the attack, corners came County’s way aplenty. 

Clarke up for it !

Clarke joined the fray for these but it was Oswell who got a shot off, the ball cleared the bar but not by much.
Oswell working hard.....

County were on song for sure- Stephenson bamboozling the Leamington back line with a barn storming run that with less myopic officials would have won a corner. 

Stephenson- flying.

He didn’t though, but Warburton looked to have done better moments later, but his first time effort smacked into a post rather than the back of Veiga’s net.

Warburton surges clear !

Leamington did sneak a corner, 13 minutes in, but despite a Winter hand ball  helping them out, they could not penetrate  the County cover.

The main drift of things was in Veiga’s direction however, and he could only watch as Warburton pinged in a shot that only missed out by the smallest of margins. 
Shot coming from Warbie ( Andrew Machin )

Veiga did well shortly after, dashing out to rob the lively Turner one moment, before following this up by snatching the pill off Oswell’s head as he went for a Turner cross.

Turner- showing great pace and energy !

Only 17 minutes had elapsed, but County might have had 2 or 3 with a shade more luck, but the 19th minute saw Jack Edwards track back to prevent Warburton from reaching a Stephenson cross, after the former had set the raid up with a break from deep.
Good day for Darren Stephenson.

A corner followed, with Richard Taundrey and Edwards doing well to block efforts from County. Midst some mayhem in the visitors box, Jamie Hodd appeared to have conceded a corner under pressure from Stephenson, but again the officials failed to pick this up, giving Leamington the oxygen of a goal kick.
County corner ( Andrew Machin )

That was 19 minutes in….another 2 minutes and County had doubled their lead! 

It started with Hinchliffe whose long ball found Oswell who busily did enough to distract a couple of defenders earmarked to mark him. From Oswell, the ball ran on to Turner who walloped a terrific shot home from the edge of the box!
Turner fires the second home !
2-0 ( Andrew Machin )

That was excellent and County were now sitting fairly pretty at 2-0 up.
That was very satisfying, but I was looking for Oswell to get even a smidgeon of the luck his work deserved, he was creating loads for others however and Warburton was the latest recipient, with 23 minutes gone, seeing his shot deflected for yet another corner, and another disappointment followed when Turner could not keep his header down from it.
Turner v Taundry.

A Turner run again showed just how good a day he was having, but no further goal came County’s way, Veiga doing well to keep a Turner shot out when County’s number seven ran at Leamington once more.
Turner rattles Brakes cage ( Andrew Machin )

A foul on Kieren Dunbar by Harry Winter saw him booked, and rather took the edge of things, and this probably meant that, as a precaution, JG would have to replace HW with Turnbull at an earlier stage than he would have liked to.

 Then….the 32nd minute arrived as did County’s third goal, and it was another belter!
Its origins were in a sweet/sweet move involving Duxbury/ Warburton and Stephenson, and before we knew it the ball had been played inside to where Ball lurked beyond the edge of the box- enough said….Ball swung a foot and the ball was in the net- a brilliant strike!
Another excellent game from Duxbury.
3-0 ( Andrew Machin )
Joy again ( Andrew Machin )

It was 3-0, and it might have been 4-0  just 2 minutes later, but first Warburton’s shot hit Oswell, and then Oswell struck the angle of bar and post having got up and got his shot off.

That was unlucky, and more good quality play followed from County – Stephenson seeing his shot charged down, but a Warburton/ Turner/Thomas move  was badly served by Duxbury’s corner, but the County number 3 was excellent otherwise so…`nuff said!

The last 5 minutes of the half saw Warburton go close again from a Winter pass, and Harry followed this up with a neat/ neat tackle to stop Udoh who broke from deep.
That was about that for the first half and 3-0 was a very satisfactory position for County to be in at this stage.

Also at this stage, I must pay tribute to the visiting supporters from Leamington. There were a decent number of them present, and they made a good noise. To travel 120 miles in the knowledge that your team is not likely to win, is the stuff of real supporters!

Good...loud support from true supporters !
A closer shot from Andrew Machin.
and here's the very lad.....

As expected, Turnbull was on for Winter when the teams came back out for the second half.
Turnbull- on for Winter.

County’s opening salvoe was encouraging, as Oswell combined with Warburton to win another corner. Veiga just managed to keep Oswell’s strike out from this, and did even better to recover and stop Turner from forcing the loose ball home.

Great work from Stephenson, sent Duxbury clear next, and he was unlucky not to get more than another corner from the enterprise  , but it was Leamington who would count themselves as unlucky shortly after, and this started via a clunking foul by Turnbull. Leamington had a free kick and it was handily placed and central to boot. Dunbar stepped up to take it crashing the ball against the bar to the dismay of him and his team mates.
Prelude- as kick is lined up
Aftermath as the ball strikes bar and rebounds.

Chance gone  though, and within a minute JG  had responded  by bringing Sam Minihan on for Rhys Turner, and almost immediately he very nearly scored with his first touch!

Minihan Returns ( Andrew Machin )
Minihan in the van...

Oswell picked out Warburton who in turn fed Minihan, but despite being smack in front and not far out Sam placed his shot over the bar! What a return that almost was! 
A Leamington double subbing not long after meant that they had all their subs on, but it did not stop Minihan who twice in rapid succession ran at the visitors back line in fine style.

County were steadily getting back into their stride after Leamington had worked hard to limit the arrears and keep in the game- Warburton seeing a shot deflected for a corner after another really fine move.
County go close.....

The County defending was in good nick too, and both Clarke and Stott, although fairly lightly pressurised for much of the time, did their jobs well, giving Hinchliffe fine cover.

Stott- solid.

Indeed, it was rare to see a shot penetrate the aforementioned cover, and when one did, from Jordan Sangha after 75 minutes, Hinchliffe’s dive and safe handling saw it off.
By this stage Bohan Dixon was on the park for Warburton, but the next action saw Stott underline what I said earlier about the County cover, as excellent work from him stopped a dangerous run from Udoh from fermenting into something nasty.  

Late cameo from Dixon.

Dixon’s late inclusion offered fresh legs in attacking positions, and having previously won a corner, he now sent Minihan clear down the right. The rest was a heady mix of disappointment and exhilaration, as first off Minihan nimbly stepped inside past his man before picking Oswell out in front of goal. Oswell reacted quickly to this, but his shot smacked into the post. Was the chance gone? Well…no…because Duxbury was on hand to force the ball home to wide acclaim!

It was 4-0 now and there were just 6 minutes left…….and then 5 as a shot from Udoh came at Hinchliffe through a forest of legs.  It was odds on 4-1…but Hinchliffe somehow scrambled the ball around the post to keep his clean sheet intact.
Late County pressure ( Andrew Machin )

Minihan and Stephenson continued to push Leamington to the limit, and Udoh did his best to do likewise for Leamington in what remained of the match, but….a late/ late flurry apart….for Veiga deep into added time as Oswell still chased that elusive goal  , and that was all the action from what had been a particularly good County performance.

Oswell still wants a goal !

Great stuff . No one did not shine today, and we are set up nicely for the seasons climax.

See you at Bradford on Friday then!

Stockport County line up:-

Hinchliffe, Thomas, Clarke, Stott, Duxbury, Winter ( Turnbull 46), Ball, Turner ( Minihan 61), Oswell, Warburton ( Dixon 76), Stephenson.

Subs not used : Ormson, O’Halloran.

Leamington line up:

Veiga, English, Taundry, Gittings( Canavan 64), Hodd, Mace, Dodd( Magunda 46), Dunbar, Udoh, Edwards, Obeng( Sangha 64).

Subs not used: Nicholson, Moore.

Attendance: 3673



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