Altrincham Youth 3 County Youth 5

County`s Youth Team turned in another snortingly good performance ,coming back from 0-2 down ,against Altrincham at  Moss Lane today, to win 5-3 ,after playing half the match reduced to ten when the referee and Kiarno Samms saw red.
Stockport Coach Billy Craven

There were some excellent performances in this superb fight back......Nick Williams covered every inch of Moss Lane in a typically energetic showing. Not far behind on energy was Rodney Ajayi, who weighed in with a fine goal as well. Then there was skipper Leon Murphy who combined neatly time after time with Liam Atkinson to cause Alty no end of problems.......and Ainsley Mantack who was doing well until he had to go off injured with over an hour left to play, but out of adversity County fashioned something of worth, or rather Ainsley`s replacement Ben Spibey did, having a hand in 4 of County`s goals in a powerful display of attacking skills, that saw team mates Demell Cumberbatch and Albert Keeling, on the score sheet.
What of Alty?  Well, they came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, not unlike their first team earlier this term, and looked a decent team, but once County had focussed and realised that they were 2 down-it was game on –a 2 goals in two minutes spell levelled it, and a battling display thereafter clinched the win and kept County clear on top of the league!
It was overcast and dull as the game kicked off at 1.35, but with Alty pressing down the right the play was anything but dull and Murphy did well to stretch out a leg in the box to deny the Alty number 9( no team sheet available so its numbers only for Alty). The centre forward was back again a minute or so later, and Rigby was hard pressed to keep him out, somehow the feat was achieved and County had survived.

It was alarming to witness just how in County`s faces Alty were at this stage as Rigby then kept a shot from the number nine out , and Williams was alert enough to clear up field from a free kick that was taken quickly by the wily home side.
Rigby tries to keep penalty out!

Five or six minutes had passed, and County had been on the back foot pretty much 100% of the time, and it continued in this vein as the centre forward darted clear onto a long ball. I thought he was a yard offside, but the liner`s flag stayed down, and as the number nine rounded Adam Rigby, the young keeper brought him down giving the referee the simple task of pointing to the spot. It was a formality I suppose and number nine duly put the kick away past Rigby`s dive- Alty were one up!
This was not a terribly auspicious start for County, who continued to ship the wet stuff, forcing Rigby to make a good save with his legs to keep the scorer from doubling his tally.
Thankfully.....things began to stir after the 10th minute, and Keeling was not far away from reaching Atkinson`s cross, and even closer moments after as he hassled a defender into error. There was no cigar for Kelling from either effort but it was a decent start, and he was unlucky to see the home keeper on his toes and able to keep his shot out after Samms had laid it off nicely. A lob from Charlie Mather and a free kick from Murphy added to the feeling that County were now in gear and ready to put things right!
County on the attack.

Mantack did good work next to stop a tasty raid from the hosts down the left, but not long after Ainsley took a knock which required extensive treatment from coach Billy Craven. He had to be substituted( by Ben Spibey) 5 minutes later, but not before Murphy and Atkinson had cut a swath through the Alty cover setting Samms up for a crack at goal that the keeper did well to keep out. Further runs from Ajayi and Murphy had me thinking it would not be long before County would demand and get parity!
Hmm.................perhaps.......but instead I looked on to see the centre forward dart clear again- he looked set to add a second and probably would have ,had not Nick Williams come to his teams aid with a sublime tackle that ensured Rigby could tidy up!
County defend!

Then Mantack had to go off , being replaced by Ben Spibey, which seemed to signal that Mather would drop back on the right with Keeling ahead of him- Spibey doing service down the middle!
For a time things looked OK, it has to be said, as a Samms effort just carried the bar, after Spibey had headed Mather`s cross down to him.
Yes......County were clearly getting a grip.....or so I thought, and no sooner had I scribbled it so, than they were in deep doo doo, started by a somewhat dubious free kick awarded to Alty by the referee. It was some way out, in fact near half way, so really should have been dealt with ,but it simply wasn`t and indecision between Rigby and his co- defenders let the opposing number eight in to make it 0-2!
That was not in the script at all, but it was not the first time County had allowed their opponents a  lead, this season and thus far they had always fought back – it was yet another test then of their fightbackability(“ there`s no such thing” I hear you chirp, but I beg to on! )
First off Ajayi stretched his legs in opposition territory, but Alty held firm, then Samms joined in giving the keeper a severe test on the end of a fine ball from Williams. Again Alty dealt with the situation well enough, but County simply would not go away and the keeper did really well to keep a thunderous shot from Spibey out, only for Albert Keeling to follow up and blast the ball home!
County were back in business, with knobs on, as within a minute the teams were level firstly thanks to Atkinson who`s incisive run won a corner, then to Ajayi who met the kick at the back post and headed  home powerfully!
                                                     County`s equaliser.....honest !
That was simply excellent, and almost got even better next when Murphy was a whisker away from picking Spibey or Cumberbatch out with a tasty cross. County did not have to wait long for further reward however, as Samms did good work on the edge of the box, laying the ball back expertly to Spibey, who promptly sidestepped his marker....steadied himself...before firing an unstoppable missile past the keeper into the net!
3-2 it was then, and there were only 3 or so minutes remaining of the first half, but they were to be eventful minutes ....minutes that threatened County`s hold on the game.
There was no immediate sense that anything untoward was in the air as things progressed as normal with Atkinson and Murphy in tandem down the left- looking a class act, and Spibey and  Cumberbatch involved trying to convert a cross from Keeling into a fourth goal.
Then....with half time almost upon us....I peered into the Moss Lane murk to see the referee ( who apparently has previous where County and Samms are concerned)brandish a yellow card at a clearly nonplussed County number 10. I was fairly close to the action, such as it was, and whilst Samms arguably did himself no favours by keeping the verbals going, I heard no expletives uttered, and the referee was a third of the pitch away and thus not in hearing distance anyway. He was however apparently resolved to act and produced a red card, reducing County`s numbers by one.
Soon enough half time came, with a chance of a break, but County clearly now had an uphill struggle on their hands to keep their lead and unbeaten record intact!    
The second half started as the first had- with the Alty centre forward firing a shot a yard or so over Rigby`s bar. The forward came back for more within a minute and Williams did well to concede a corner when something altogether more obnoxious threatened. County defended the kick only to be pushed back once more forcing Williams to get busy again to fend them off as shots pinged in on Rigby`s goal.
County may have been numerically challenged, but they were not unduly daunted and got forward in due course to good effect- Spibey and Cumberbatch working like beavers in the cause, and Keeling unlucky to see his shot drift inches wide after he had duped a defender into gifting him possession.
Yes....I was quite pleased with how the game was progressing, which is always a sign that something`s about to go haywire....and it did , as with County`s back line in doze mode the number nine stole clear to fire a fierce drive beyond Rigby`s dive. It was 3-3 and we had a game on our hands and no mistake!
County replied through Spibey, but his shot on the turn drew a blank, and I was tempted to think that the extra man was beginning to tell in Alty`s favour as, for a while, they piled forward bringing the best out of Rigby and Williams . Ajayi joined in as well, battling clear from deep defence in fine style, but Spibey `s run following this met a wall of defenders and foundered.
Spibey working hard.

No matter County`s forward impetus continued with Cumberbatch just short of converting a neat pass from Spibey into the gold of a goal.
It was getting good again and a defender did well to stick a leg out and prevent Keeling`s cross from reaching a clutch of County forwards. County were  also defending well it must be said, but not all the balls out of defence were that great, and they needed to be to ensure County`s 10 men prevailed.
Keeling about to receive treatment.

The 70th minute saw Spibey almost in on the end of Keeling`s through ball, and a minute later County were back in the lead thanks to the same two players. It started through the middle with Spibey, and a brilliant turn and pass from him sent Keeling darting clear. There was still work to do, and Keeling did it well- slotting a lovely finish past the keeper to make it 4-3.
The pressure came back on County after this as Alty made a spirited attempt to get back on terms, but their shooting did not match their approach play, and when it did either Williams or Rigby would be in the way. There was also a number of times when the liners flag intervened to County`s benefit, but I agreed with all of the decisions, perhaps unsurprisingly, and County bided their time meanwhile waiting for the storm to abate. 
Late County Pressure.
Then they came at the hosts ....Cumberbatch......Keeling both thwarted by the home keeper.
Keeling even earned applause with a defensive header, but the break from this saw Spibey kept out by 3 Alty defenders. County surged forward from the corner that followed.
I thought I saw Spibey booked, which seemed ridiculous to me, but not out of line with what the referee had come up with previously.
It did not have a deleterious effect of fact quite to the a superb bit of sleight of foot from the County substitute, sent Cumberbatch galloping clear as Keeling had before him. Again......much to do.....but Cumberbatch made light of it and it was 5-3 as he beat the keeper with an immaculate finish.
Time for a Rigby save, and some neat work from Spibey down the left and that was over....match won.....unbeaten record intact......fantastic!
Mantack in one piece at the end!
AL would do well to keep his eye on these lads- more than one is worth his close attention in my view!

County Line up:

Rigby, Mantack ( Spibey 25), Murphy, Barker, Williams, Ajayi, Mather, Cumberbatch, Keeling, Samms( s/o 44), Atkinson.

No Altrincham details available to me.

Ian Brown         


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