Stockport County 2 FC Halifax Town 1( Vanarama National League) 6 October 2020
All photos in this report taken by hedgegrower.
County secured 3 excellent points at an eerily deserted Edgeley Park last night, coming back in emphatic style from 0-1 behind to beat a strong FC Halifax side with two top quality goals from Kitching and Thomas.
If I was bubbling with excitement when Kitching`s effort screamed home beyond Town keeper Sam Johnson`s grasp, I was in hyperbolic overdrive with Thomas`s stunning effort- a goal fit to win any match at any level….a real belter!
It was clear from the off that both sides wanted to win this one, and if at times Town were a touch over combative (the card count was 3-1 to the visitors -Summerfield, Clarke and Williams , with Bennett seeing yellow for the blues), and certainly might have conceded a penalty early on when Williams brought Southam-Hales down as he sped clear in the box, but that said , and the fact that I thought that Bennett was unfortunate to get booked, there were signs of a decent side from the Yorkshiremen who look like a side likely to offer a challenge this term.
Halifax put a lot of effort into getting back into the game at 2-1, but a County team bereft of skipper ,and defensive kingpin Liam Hogan excelled themselves as a defensive unit in response and gave notice that when we are talking challenging going forward , the blues are going to be decidedly in the mix.
Again I was impressed with Kitching, and Connor Jennings fully deserved the ovation he received from the bench and others when substituted late on, but I was really pleased to see the input of the County `old guard` .
|CJ ....on it !!|
We had Minihan and late on Thomas reprising exploits of old as they terrorised Town down the right flank, and Keano was in the thick of much that was good too.
|Pressure from Keano....|
Indeed, JG has done really well in a short space of time to get the `oldsters` gelling so well with the new faces, and without key man Hogan as well…simply awesome!
|Keano in good nick !|
Back to 7.45, and Hogan`s absence was still resonating with me as County swept forward with 3 minutes gone – Connor Jennings` snapshot flying just wide.
C J was in the van again shortly after, as was Keano, Southam-Hales and Minihan , but there was no way beyond Johnson in the visitors goal.
|CJ / Keano to the fore !|
There looked to be a change in that certainty next as Rooney sent Southam – Hales darting through on goal only for Williams to bring him down. Unsurprisingly perhaps I looked for a penalty, but Mr Herczeg felt otherwise and Town had escaped.
|Well....I`dd ave given it !|
That was disappointing, but there was more of that to come and quickly as Earing broke clear to the by-line before beating Hinchliffe from the acutest of angles to give Town a shock early lead. At this point it is fair to point out that there were those amongst those present that thought that Earing had brought the ball back into play from a couple of feet beyond the touchline to score, but….the officials did not see it that way and it stayed 0-1 in the visitors favour.
County replied promptly, but Rooney was unfortunate to turn inside on the edge of the box but see his shot fly past the post with Johnson a spectator.
|Turn & shot on way from Rooney !|
The County pressure continued, but a series of niggling fouls from Town threatened to disrupt the games flow- we needed to punish the indiscretions, but instead Johnson was able to make a good save from CJ, and another effort from Keano did not get the reward it deserved.
It was not all County for sure, and Summerfield looked an item for Town striking the woodwork with a lively effort.
Then County seized their chance and it started with C J ,who slipped a neat ball out wide to Kitching who promptly leathered the sweetest of strikes across the face of goal into the net.
We were level, but for now a lead eluded JG`s men as Johnson held onto Palmer`s header from one of a run of corners.
The County captain then showed his metal at the other end with an excellent blocking tackle , but Halifax weren`t impressed losing their discipline noticeably as Summerfield clattered Kitching to earn a yellow card, Southam- Hales was chopped down on the break , before an unruly wrangle twixt Bennett and Byrne forced Referee Adam Herczeg, who I felt did well under pressure particularly later on, to have a word with both captains.
|Southam -Hale- down again !|
Back came County after a routine Hinchliffe save from a free kick, and C J combined well with Minihan , and Southam-Hales with Keano , but the visitors defence held firm.
|Not deterred though !|
It held again minutes later as Bradbury and Johnson combined to thwart an interesting run from C J.
|CJ on the ball again !|
In the run in to half time Johnson dealt easily with a County free kick for a foul on Minihan, and Hinchliffe was called on to do rather better as his dive saw him tip Summerfield`s latest effort , a wickedly dipping shot ,over the bar .
|Sam`s the man ....|
Hinchliffe was in action again when the game resumed after the break, and he did well to see off a shot from Summerfield.
County meanwhile were looking for that lead , but Clarke took exception to Bennett`s attempts to win possession, and his handbag was out despite the ref having ( erroneously in my view) awarded Town the free kick.
|CJ and Maynard make a point !|
Both players got a card which was not Mr Herczeg`s finest moment for me, but County rebuffed the free kick and went looking for that second goal again… with Kitching and an undeterred Bennett driving all before them.
|Kitching ignores the rain !|
We might have expected to get more from the corner that resulted, but instead Halifax turned dire defence into promising attack, and Minihan did really well to track back and sort what looked to be a dangerous moment.
Back came the blues….back came Bennett , but there was no County free kick when C J was mugged just outside the box !
|Bennett and company...|
At this point JG acted to replace Southam-Hales with Thomas- an attacking move, but it was Hinchliffe who was called on again just a couple of minutes later to make a good stop at the foot of his post with Town looking distinctly interested.
They looked interested shortly after as well but Allen`s neat slide rule pass in County`s last third saw King waste the chance by stabbing his shot wide under pressure from the advancing Hinchliffe.
That warranted a reply from the blues, and it came via Bennett who did well to combine with Rooney, who was visibly disappointed to see Johnson keep his shot out with a neat save.
|Rooney ups the revs !|
We were into the last 20 minutes now, and the revs were being visibly increased by County, with a consequent effect on the visitors discipline- it was not improving , as Keane tasted mud…twice in rapid order thanks to Allen`s attention.
The free kicks came to nothing however, indeed County had to defend with skill being hit on the break from the second of them!
But something was building down our right flank as Minihan and Thomas resumed a long established `conversation`. It had Town reeling….won us a corner…..but despite Stott and a couple of others doing their best to apply a finish , there was no way through, as Johnson defied everything thrown his way by County, and there was a lot of it!
Rooney and C J pressed determinedly being blocked by equally determined Halifax defending, then …utter jubilation as the ball ran out to Thomas who stepped inside before crashing a superb strike home . It was a brilliant goal and fully deserving of the celebrations that followed!
|They liked that !|
That was terrific, but it was not all over yet, and Halifax went looking for an equaliser with some determination. County defended with their usual calm and solidity.
With Reid on for CJ , and JJ for Kitching County faced a testing last 5 minutes , blocking a rather fortunate late Halifax free kick.
They did that well, and the newly installed Reid set about harrying the visitors back line in typically energetic style.
But Town definitely wanted that equaliser, none more so than King, but JJ did enough to ensure he shot wide when set up as 4 minutes added time were announced.
|Great stuff from JJ !|
The pressure continued from an increasingly frantic Town side, but resolute County defending and a welcome free kick eased the tension , and the referee did well in what could have developed into a fair old rough and tumble late on.
And then there was Adam Thomas……still running….still winning a corner at the game`s last gasp !
Great stuff…excellent win , well done County!
For me it was good to have been allowed in by the Club, under strict Covid 19 rules of course, and it was good to see that in what is a desperately dangerous situation for all of us, despite the nonsense emanating from UK Government on the subject, the Club are treating the matter with a seriousness that when eventually supporters are allowed back in at games, gives me confidence that our safety will be well looked after properly!
Stockport County line up:-
Hinchliffe, Minihan, Palmer, Stott, Southam- Hales ( Thomas 60), Kitching ( J Jennings 85), Keane, Rooney, Maynard, Bennett, C Jennings ( Reid 89.
Subs not used: Barnes, Croasdale.
FC Halifax Town line up:-
Johnson, King, Williams, Byrne, Clarke, Bradbury, Summerfield, Woods ( Green 46), Earing, Omotayo ( Neponycueno 67), Allen.
Subs not used: Tear, Davison-Hale, Benn.