Stockport County 1 Woking 1 ( Vanarama National League) Saturday 22 May 2021
All photos and words by hedgegrower
Was I alone in this, experiencing this familiar but almost forgotten tingle as 3 o`clock neared today?
That was something of a rhetorical question of course because all the 2100 or so who were lucky enough to be inside Edgeley Park today for the return of spectators to football, would have been experiencing the same excitement along probably with the massive army of County supporters throughout the globe, from SK3 to Tokyo and beyond who were not so fortunate.
It would take more than an anticipated deluge of wetness to deter the County faithful, 100+ of whom turned up willingly to support their team despite knowing they might spend the whole game lashed by wind and rain in the uncovered Railway End.
To a man and woman, we needed to be there, and …by the beard of Rubeus Hagrid…we were!
In the days leading up to today, the usual complacencies abounded….
” It`s only Woking, and we whacked `em comprehensively at theirs earlier this season”
Well, we knew to disregard that type of opinion, glance back at County history and see how we have, now and again, managed to lose in such circumstances.
Yes, some respect was due to Woking, but not too much as we really hoped for a `turkey shoot`.
It was not to be of course, and Woking in the event came out to play a bit, in the first half anyway, and County floundered at times against a side that looked anything but on a nine game losing run, taking the game to the blues from the kick off.
The first half was not pretty. County earned a shed load of set pieces …corners…free kicks….and made nothing of any of them.
Meanwhile Woking with Ashford leading the charge for them, took the lead within sniffing distance of the break.
That was not that much of a surprise to be fair, as for periods in the first half the visitors had done the more progressive work.
But……just when a half time break of naval gazing and manic introspection beckoned, so County came to life drawing level almost on the stroke of half time as a Reid shot went in off central defender Ben Gerring.
The resumption saw Bennett on for Rydel and that was a good move, giving us more oomph up the park than we had in the previous 45 minutes.
| Bennett hungry !|
County shaped a whole lot better from that point on, going so close quite a few times in a second half largely spent in Woking keeper Craig Ross`s face.
But there was no cigar at the end of it for the blues, only loud applause from the home specs who were simply delighted to be back.
There was of course the not inconsiderable matter of the extension of our current unbeaten record which now stands at 17 games, but 1 point today leaves us watching BT tomorrow and looking for a Sutton win with Pool on our case.
Back at 3 o`clock EP was swathed in glorious sunshine from end to end, as over 2000 football starved County fans made their way into the ground and into position, and I have to say it seemed to be organised pretty well, and the obvious delight of the 2000 + was writ large via a tumultuous reception gifted the County players on their arrival on the pitch.
| The warmest of welcomes back !|
County, with Hogan to the fore made early efforts to make inroads and further blunt the confidence of a team well versed in taking defeat.
|Hogan pushing County forward.|
Southam- Hales was lively too in this period, but disappointed to see his first effort rest in keeper Ross`s welcoming arms.
| Southam - Hales in good nick again !|
A run by Rydel, prompted by good work from Walker, earned applause next but made no serious impression on the visitors back line.
Sam Ashford surfaced for Woking after that action, and there was more applause this time for Palmer who did well to get a decent block in and thwart the visiting number 25.
The first ten minutes ended with Hogan heading over under pressure from Jack Cook, from a corner won by Walker`s good work.
|Close from Hogan|
We got a first glimpse of what might befall us if we were not at our best next, as a throw from under the Danny Stand roof put County in difficulties, indeed John Freeman was clear, but his finish was abysmal clearing the bar by some distance.
Back came County through Newby who hustled a corner energetically. He had duped Ross with that one, but the keeper responded with a confident catch as JJ`s kick headed into the box.
| Good catch by Ross.|
It was about this time when I began to feel the need for the BP tablets, as the otherwise excellent Newby fashioned the most surprising of back passes that seemed to be heading into County`s unguarded net before Hinchliffe made ground to his left and made light of the matter.
But County were still having to defend rather more than most felt that they would be doing against today`s opposition, a corner headed over….eluded Hinchliffe before being cleared off the line, I thought by Palmer but I could be wrong there!
County replied, and duly got themselves a free kick, that saw Reid dart clear linking nicely with Newby. The move fizzled out, as did another free kick a minute or so later from Rooney that failed to test the keeper.
|Break by Reid and Newby....|
The free kicks were racking up for County now, the latest saw Freeman in the referee`s book after he had hauled Newby down as he broke through the middle.
| Newby- excellent !|
Again the free kick came to nothing, and it looked iffy straight away thereafter as Ashford ran clear through the middle. He was in and the opening goal looked not too unlikely as he made ground in the box. His shot was on target, but Hinchliffe made the save with his legs to keep it 0-0.
|Ben v Ashford !|
After 25 minutes I had Woking shading it, but County started to work at changing that, Rydel and JJ working particularly hard, the former going close with one effort, the latter winning a free kick on the edge of the box. This became a corner, and County went close….but…..
Beyond the half hour we went with County still attacking ,Rydel a whisker away from getting to Walker`s cross in the box.
That signalled a response from the visitors via Ashford, but his good work was not best served when Kretzschmar missed from close in.
A mugging for Reid from Gerring…..a shot from Walker held by Ross, and it looked like the game would drift its way to the break still without a goal to cheer the crowd up with.
|Walker- worked hard today !|
But……that changed, on 43 minutes, but there was no cheer for or from the crowd as it came at the Cheadle End where Cooper`s free kick was ushered on by Cook to Kretzschmar who buried a fierce drive out of Hinchliffe`s reach into the net to give Woking the lead!
| Woking take the lead .|
That was a shock, but another almost followed it straight away as Croasdale lost the ball to Robinson who really should have done better than firing the dampest of squids tamely into Hinchliffe`s waiting arms.
We were into added time now and County had rediscovered some urgency in the half`s dying embers, and it was something of a shock as Rooney`s shot ricocheted onto a post and came out.
|Rooney on the ball.|
Thankfully, Reid kept the attack alive and more…......
| Reid keeps the move alive.......|
and his resultant shot took a deflection off Gerring before going in for a late late County equaliser, the teams going in at the break level at 1-1.
| .......the result...it`s 1-1 !|
Now some crowd shots:-
Bennett was on for Rydel when the game re-started almost nicking the lead for County within minutes of the resumption , looking on in anguish as his header, from Southam -Hales` cross, crashed into the under side of the crossbar …bounced down and out. The Cheadle End thought it might have been in, who am I to challenge that!
| So close for Bennett !|
County looked altogether more lively in this second 45, Rooney and Southam -Hales were urging them forward, and Newby was continuing to shine brightly making a decisive block at the back before emerging seconds later at the other end to get a shot in.
| Newby- all energy still !|
There was a hint of hand to ball from that by a defender but the referee wanted none of it, and the push ended with Walker`s shot carrying the bar.
On it went County attacking…Woking defending desperately and sadly taking time out en-route to waste time by going to ground in numbers- that was just sad!
Reid saw a shot saved…..
|Fine strike by Reid !|
Rooney wasted a corner…the pressure was on Woking, and Gerring did well to only concede a corner under pressure from Bennett.
Enter JJ, and there was massive applause for him as he made his way to take a corner in front of the Cheadle End, but Rooney could not apply a finish beyond the back post.
| JJ- crowd favourite !|
A quick break by Woking and a soft free kick( there was a growing number of those about now as a seemingly endless list of men in red and white shirts queued up to fall down).
County survived that though, going nerve shatteringly close again on the hour- Rooney capitalising on Walker`s run and cross but seeing his drive crash into the woodwork with Ross a spectator. Corners followed a pace after this but no goal- Reid went close…twice in 5 minutes, and there was an appeal for a penalty in the mix there too as Alex hit the deck midst the mayhem, but again there was no response from the man in black.
20 minutes left, it was time for us to redouble our efforts, but a glance right
told me that Croasdale had been caught in possession again allowing Ashford a
run at goal. This was a real chance
, and I gave the BP pills a preparatory shake as Ashford made to shoot, only to put the bottle away again as the forward dragged an awful effort wide.
On it went….JJ and Newby in potentially lethal combination…Southam -Hales offering more threat down the other flank winning corners for fun now. Palmer reached the next one only to see Ross tip his goal bound header over the bar.
| Palmer foiled .|
It was another corner of course and Ross flapped prodigiously at this under pressure from Bennett, but the corner from this saw Hogan`s header held confidently by the keeper.
|Pressures on Ross !|
The pressure continued from County as the game entered it final 15 minutes …..Reid and Southam Hales forcing a corner after 78 minutes……Hogan blocked at the back post from this by Cook a minute later.......
| Cook blocks Hogan .|
....... and despite flapping again at yet another flag kick Ross survived as did his team………… somehow.
| Pretty close is that !|
Lofthouse took advantage of another fairly soft free kick for Woking next, and things might have gone pear shaped for County had Napa or Ashford shaped better , but they could not get a shot off when seemingly well placed inside the blue box. Full marks to County back line, who came under more pressure almost immediately as the referee gave the visitors another free kick, booking Bennett for good measure after a coming together twixt he and the remarkably fragile Lofthouse! Amazing recovery powers apparently are closely linked with Fragility, and Lofthouse was up and in the mix straight off following the kick which Hinchliffe gobbled up hungrily in the crowded box.
Williams was on for Walker with 4 minutes of normal time left, and I had myself fantasising a last-minute winner from the much under used forward.
It was not to be of course, the referee did punish the Woking time wasting with 6 minutes added time, but despite another clutch of corners-Croasdale going close…Rooney closer – his shot thudding into the bar and flying anywhere but in.
| Late pressure on Woking.|
Yes…County kept attacking……..the Cheadle End kept roaring loudly, but it stayed 1-1.
There was a good reception for the team at the end, so we hope that Sutton do a job on Pool tomorrow.
Yeovil will be no pushover for sure, but we always win away don’t we!
I O County
Stockport County line up:-
Hinchliffe, Southam -Hales, Hogan, Palmer, J Jennings, Croasdale, Rydel ( Bennett 45), Newby, Walker ( Williams 83), Rooney, Reid.
Subs not used: Fitzsimons, Keane, Minihan .
Woking line up:-
Ross, Cook, Cooper, Gerring, Kretzschmar ( Hodges 87) , Collier, Freeman( Skinner 77), Lofthouse, Robinson ( Napa 77), Hamblin, Ashford.
Subs not used: Smith, Dalby.
Attendance : 2273