Stockport County 0 Grimsby Town 0 ( Vanarama National League) Tuesday 31 August 2021
The old place was fizzing with excitement last night, as Grimsby Town made it back to Edgeley Park for the first time in far too many years!
Amazingly, and creditably, they brought 1200 extremely supportive fans with them who filled the Railway End and overflowed under the roof of the Pop Side- an excellent turn out especially for a Tuesday night.
County supporters responded to the occasion appropriately and well too, the total attendance well in advance of 6000- simply brilliant support!
The trouble was that too much of the excitement engendered by there being incredible numbers of bums on seats, all making themselves heard, seeped into the play on offer as both teams dashed around at pace without ever being able to convert the understandable fizz of the occasion into meaningful and affective moves.
We needed someone to slow it down, put his foot on the ball and excite the crowd further, but it did not happen.
County had a couple of chances in the first half which if converted would have changed matters, but both moments passed without the appropriate finish being applied.
Keane and Raikhy were prominent in the first 45 minutes, with County playing 3 at the back. In the absence of Southam- Hales former Torquay man Ben Whitfield took over providing width on the right, but a goal-less first half was followed by the same after the break.
County worked hard, but lacked inspiration where it counted, and I was disappointed to see us opt for defensive substitutions in the last 20 minutes or so when one goal would have won the game.
Back at 7.45 it was absolutely fantastic to see all 4 sides of the stadium bulging with spectators- the superb `COUNTY` seat lettering at the Railway End totally obscured by those who made the trip from Lincolnshire.
Straight from the kick-off it was high octane stuff both teams were offering the huge crowd, County doing most of the early attacking, surprisingly via Jordan Keane who ventured forth from defensive duties to urge his team mate on with some energetic work up the park.
Arjan Raikhy looked decent also, but at the sharp end there was nothing of note happening Luke Waterfall dampening County`s early impetus by cutting Reid off on the end of the nearest to an incisive move so far on 4 minutes.
Raikhy featured next, on 6 minutes, but the good work saw neither Madden or Reid able to apply the finish in front of goal, and despite all the fizz and excitement in the air, the first 10 minutes had not seen either keeper need to make a save.
It was Keano, still swathed in Saturday`s bandages, who surprised most ,surging forward down the right ..winning ball…..pushing Town back.
County were pressing through Keane and Whitfield, the former winning a free kick not far outside the box, 13 minutes in, but Grimsby defended this well as they would do a time or two going forward.
Rooney, meanwhile ,was Rooney …….spending much time deep in County`s half looking to start something, but his incisive ball 2 minutes later saw Whitfield just unable to get a touch in front of James McKeown`s goal.
Time next for Keano to revert to defensive mode to subdue Seb Raven , and from this Rooney made to switch play picking Rydel out with a neat cross field ball, but Ryan`s response saw him send the ball flying out of play.
It was frustrating but Whitfield and Keane were working on it and the pair turned the left side of the visitors defence inside out ,on 22 minutes, the final ball from Keano just being kept from harms way by Adam Crooks, who I thought showed up well over 90 odd minutes for the Mariners. Palmer was interested in the resultant corner, but the visitors defence held out.
You will know I rate Keano highly, but he was surprising even me with his attacking work seizing onto a pass from Rooney next and only being thwarted by excellent keeping by McKeown.
Grimsby replied but without looking at all threatening , County`s defence coping fairly easily with the situation.
Mainly though it was the blues on the front foot with Raikhy, Keane, Whitfield and Rooney doing most of the hard work, Whitfield occasionally switching wings to keep the pressure on Town.
Giles Coke shone next for the Mariners with some neat work, but Arjan Raikhy did even better with some excellent silky control that almost brought the opener- Reid just unable to force the ball home in front of goal. A defender`s touch was decisive but again the subsequent corner came to nothing.
|And Andrew Machin`s view of that...|
With half time approaching there was a moment of concern as Whitfield hit the barriers in the company of a defender, but after treatment he was OK to resume, showing his fitness quickly with a darting late run to win a corner. This was defended well by Town, but at the expense of a second which sadly saw Barclay`s shot bounce inches wide.
That was not a great first 45 minutes , too frenetic , I looked for better in the second half.
Some crowd shots starting with Grimsby:-
|This from Andrew Machin.|
|and this is from Andrew Machin also.|
Grimsby opened the second half on the front foot winning a corner which was headed clear by Croasdale.
Grimsby were fancying this now and more so as John McAtee chased a long ball deep into blue territory. He had Keane for company and the Grimsby fans were soon celebrating as he whipped the ball into the County net. The celebrations by the large away following were premature however as Referee Steve Copeland has already blown for a foul on Keane en-route!
Crooks was beginning to shine for Town now with County looking to push on up the park and County had the ball in the net next following some persistent hard work by Madden, but again the referee had seen something along the way and it stayed 0-0.
It stayed 0-0 again on 57 minutes as Reid fed Rooney whose swing of the boot saw the ball clear the bar by not all that much.
This was looking a tad better, and Raikhy again underlined his obvious potential with a neat break but this ended with Reid inches from getting that decisive touch neat goal.
Two minutes later, with County still pressing and the Upper Tiers ` Dancing Around`County won another corner and this one looked a touch more incisive and McKeown flapped at it under pressure, but Keano was just unable to force the loose ball home in the mayhem that followed.
It was a tense affair a single goal could and probably would decide this one, but Crooks did well for Town to block Whitfield`s progress down the right.
A quick break by the Mariners saw an improbable penalty shout disregarded by Mr Copeland who had had the best game I can remember him having with us involved ( has a sit down…has a word with self!)
The 68th minute saw Reid and the keeper vying for a tasty lob in the box from Rooney, but the keeper won out.
I was disappointed , a minute later, to see Reid replaced by Walker next with one goal likely to take this one. Reid might not have been having the greatest of games, he never offers silky involvement in mazy passing moves, but he will sniff improbable goals out from nothing, and we needed one!
That said, Walker`s first action saw him surge clear to win a corner with some elan from Hinchliffe`s assist, but Whitfield just missed out from this to keep it at 0-0.
Grimsby responded to the urgings from their lively following by forcing County back . The corners came and went in this period for Paul Hurst`s team but without reward Lenell John-Lewis`s effort on 77 minutes the visitors best offering.
It went on with Clifton making it to the by line down County`s left flank. Grimsby perhaps should have made more of County`s difficulties in fashioning a response, but they didn`t and eventually the blues gained relief via Rydel only for Madden`s header to clear the bar with 10 minutes left.
The 82nd minute saw Collar on for Whitfield ( see my earlier comments on subbing) but the mood was lightened a touch by a comedy penalty shout from Town as an unidentified red shirted forward went to ground to be totally ignored by Mr Copeland.
It was worth a try though, and Grimsby kept plugging away it must be said going close twice -Fox crestfallen to see his shot with time fast running out, blocked in the crowded box.
Normal time ended with Madden denied by excellent work from Waterfall.
Both teams had a go in added time although I thought Town had now settled on a point ( a good one in the circumstances).
County won a free kick, contested by Palmer ……Grimsby replied with some disconcerting late pressure, but the game was up for both sides with a blast or two of Mr Copeland`s whistle.
That was disappointing …sure….but you will say that it`s early days, and you would be correct in saying that, but the plan to turn home draws into wins is not , thus far going well, we need this to change.
For now I will cling to the mantra that `Dave Jones` 96/97 side started the season struggling badly only to turn it around in superb style.
For now I will settle for a better showing against Boreham Wood on Saturday- see you there!
Stockport County line up:-
Hinchliffe, Keane, Palmer, Barclay, Croasdale, Raikhy ( Newby 75), Whitfield ( Collar 82), Rydel,Rooney, Madden, Reid ( Walker 69).
Subs not used: Ross, Hogan.
Grimsby Town line up:-
McKeown, Efete, Crooks, Waterfall, Coke , McAtee, Clifton, Longe-King (Pearson 61), Raven ( Fox 77), Hunt, Taylor ( John-Lewis 72).
Subs not used: Bapaga, Souza.
Attendance ; 6432 ( 1200)