Stockport County 1 Barnet 2 ( Vanarama National League) Tuesday 26 October 2021







( All words by hedgegrower, images by hedgegrower & Andrew Machin )



  Why….oh why, are  these reports so hard to write….so painful an experience?

That`s a question I have asked myself a lot of late only now realising the obvious fact that it is because the pain is merely a reflection of what thousands of County supporters have felt recently .

 The task used to be the precise opposite- a real joy it seldom is anymore.

The change started when the most senseless and illogical managerial change in the Club`s history set us off along this turbulent road.

Since then I, and many others, have tried their best to `do the right thing`, and support the new regime in charge at the Club , after all they have great plans for it and have thrown significant resources its way with the prospect of more to come, and that needs acknowledging.

But I suspect I am not alone in having stood by and largely said nothing as we have lurched from one more illogicality to another…through the Bennett travesty that sealed our fate last term, on to repeats with Newby, Maynard and Walker that tell me that expensive lessons have not been learnt!

 It has been alarming and heart-warming in almost equal measure to see how County fans have conducted themselves throughout this- but supporting the Club is second nature to most of them…I should not be at all surprised.

 Saturday was not a great experience for the 1600+ who followed County to Meadow Lane,and  some serious unpleasantness surfaced under the roof of the Jimmy Sirell that was not massively edifying, but County fans were back last night doing their job backing the team throughout with a will that some people might find surprising, but it`s in the genes!

Sadly though, yet again this priceless commodity…that fantastic support ( over 4000 inside the stadium after Saturday`s vale of tears at Meadow Lane)was in vain as we saw County go behind twice and  eventually lose to a Barnet side that had lost 3-0 at home themselves on Saturday and had managed just 2 wins prior to tonight this season.

It was thoroughly depressing to see County chasing the game late on deep into added time to no avail.

Having said all that, Barnet did show a certain spirit, a willingness to get forward and even play to feet reasonably well, but they would not have been able to, had County imposed themselves on proceedings, after all they were at home!

They never did unfortunately, Crankshaw ran himself into the ground and Whitfield was not far behind him in that regard getting hooked for his pains, by the Manager, when more of that element was needed late on with Dean Brennan`s team resorting to familiar time-wasting tactics.


 Crankshaw- a well deserved M.O.M !




Back at 7.45 County took the field to a decent reception from County supporters, lining up with what looked to be 4 at the back -Southam-Hales, Hogan, Palmer and Kitching.

County looked to get forward in the game`s early moments with Whitfield showing up well, winning a corner off Harry Taylor.


 Whitfield- Mr 100% as usual ( Andrew Machin )



Reiss Greenidge, an impressive performer throughout for Barnet, cleared this, ushering in early trauma for County as orange shirts piled forward in numbers.

Ephron Mason- Clark has looked good in the past for the visitors and he had a chance to underline this in only the third minute of the game as he led the charge up the park, but with County`s goal gaping he dragged a poor effort wide when well placed to do better.

There was an immediate response from County and it came via Nicoli Sarcevic , in his first game for the blues at Edgeley Park, his shot thudding into an upright with visiting keeper Aston Oxborough beaten.

 Nicoli Sarcevic - first County game at EP!




County were getting forward early, Kitching winning a corner on 10 minutes, but Oxborough beat Palmer to this to give the 79 Barnet fans something to cheer.

 Oxborough beats Palmer to it! 
 and this belter of that from Andrew Machin.





It went end to end next- Barnet going close on 15 minutes, Rooney lifting a shot over the bar after Sarcevic and Southam- Hales had combined nicely in the build-up.

 County attack.



With more composure and maybe a touch more luck, County might have given their support something to be happy about, but it could have been a lot worse, and Crankshaw was looking lively forcing a corner on 18 minutes from a Sarcevik pass. 

 `Shirt exchange pal ?`( Andrew Machin )





Palmer and Hogan fancied this but Palmer`s header flew wide.


 That header by Palmer ( Andrew Machin )




Enter Mason-Clark and his pacy break from deep suddenly caused more trauma for blues supporters as Barnet had themselves a corner. Flanagan slung this to the back post where Joe Widdowson headed home to give the Bees the lead.


 Widdowson makes it 0-1 ( Andrew Machin )





Abysmal defending?.......good forward play? take your choice but after 20 minutes we were 0-1 down.

Sarcevic was trying to make an impact but finding Barnet tough opponents defending well and showing a willingness to get forward.




 Sarcevic ( Andrew Machin )


That said it was County who had the next chance to shine, and it came via a free kick. Rooney lifted this into the box, but Hogan was bullied off the ball by Greenidge.

On 27 minutes Barnet ventured forward again through Woods and Flanagan who broke up a blue raid to then force County back. A promising move followed that was thankfully undone by a foul en-route.

 Good catch by Oxborough ( Andrew Machin )





It continued in much the same manner after this, both teams having their moments but not ever looking likely to embarrass the opposing keeper.


Thomas and Woods did well for Barnet, blocking Crankshaw and Whitfield as County tried to probe down the flanks, but there did not seem to be any way through- Crankshaw just unable to apply a finish as a cross pinged over from Rooney on the left on 39 minutes!

Then…just a minute later a looping ball from Sarcevic from wide left found Crankshaw bursting onto it in the box - he volleyed the ball home with impressive venom!

 The celebration was all old hedgie got of that excellent moment!

But Andrew Machin did better :-


 It was 1-1 …..and all to play for!

Barnet made a good fist of replying to County in what remained of the half- Mason-Clark impressing with another raking run from deep. Wes Fonguck did good work for the visitors too but despite a couple of corners Barnet could not make inroads and get their lead back before the break.


Some crowd shots from Andrew Machin :-










There was a rousing reception for County when they returned after half time with an increasingly cool wind whipping my corner of the Pop Side, but that show of warmth deserved to have a positive impact on what followed.

 Kitching to the fore !



It certainly started well enough with Kitching and inevitably Crankshaw probing down the left, but after a period of attacking County were eventually pushed back via a Barnet free kick.

 Crankshaw a menace( Andrew Machin )





But the County forward push did not end there, or with a subsequent shot from Southam-Hales that Oxborough saved well, because the keeper then fluffed his clearance causing something of a goal line panic job for Barnet as a clutch of orange shirts sped back to stop Whitfield`s lob from giving County the lead.

 Ooops moment for Barnet !
 Andrew Machin`s view of that .





Greenidge headed the corner out under pressure from Crankshaw , the visitors hitting County on the break forcing a corner as Palmer deflected Mason- Clark`s shot behind. Flanagan`s delivery from this was again first class allowing Fonguck to head back across goal where Greenidge supplemented his good defensive play with a smart finish.

 1-2 it is


 Andrew Machin`s view of that.




County were 1-2 down now and facing another uphill slog!

Whitfield continued to look to do something, but he found Taylor blocking his path to goal shortly after.

Play was not all that lively in the next 10 minutes or so , until that is a loose ball from County saw them also lose their discipline  Palmer conceding a free kick on the edge of the box. This had Croasdale tracking back to head the ball over the bar from on the line. The corner was not one of Flanagan`s best and despite also winning a series of throw in`s Barnet`s forward push abated.

The hour mark saw the Manager opt to bring Quigley on, but he chose to hook Whitfield to facilitate this, and the Cheadle End were not that impressed.

Barnet kept having a go but without further success, and Greenidge had to look very lively indeed to thwart Quigley as he went for a long punt from deep just outside the Bees box.

 Quigley up for it.




Barnet had possibly their best chance to put the game to bed on 68 minutes, and it came via Mason-Clark who made it to the by-line before sending a neat ball across the box. Thankfully for County nobody in orange could get to it- chance gone!

But pressure from Barnet continued and County looked in all kinds of trouble as the visitors played the ball about with alarming ease deep in the County half. It was at this point that the game took an even more alarming turn as Southam-Hales tackle laid goal scorer Joe Widdowson out. I missed the referee showing the County man the red card, as all attention was on Widdowson who was receiving treatment for 13 minutes before being taken by ambulance to hospital.


 Widdowson receives treatment

........ Is taken to hospital.....


 ...and applauded off  !

 Ref shows red card to Southam-Hales ( Andrew Machin )



Eventually play resumed with County down to 10, but this numerical disadvantage lasted no more than 4 minutes whereupon Referee Parsons evened it out by showing Thomas a red card for pulling Quigley back as he surged clear.


 Thomas sees red too ( Andrew Machin )




Rooney`s free kick was promisingly positioned but flew wide of Oxborough`s left hand upright.


 Rooney close....but....





Fifteen minutes added time was no real surprise in the circumstances, but could County square this circle in that time?

Crankshaw thought he had, going down in the box following a fantastic run, but the referee disappointed him and the Cheadle End- no pen!

 Crankshaw still a threat.





County redoubled their efforts with time receding fast- Rydel( on for Kitching earlier) providing ammo for Quigley and co, but  blocked by Taylor , Madden shooting wide from the resultant corner.

 Quigley in the box.




Crankshaw was still in there fighting but faced with a defence that was now beginning to run through its repertoire of time wasting tactics.

It was frenetic stuff now….a County raid broken up…..Mason-Clark hitting the blues on the break…..Greenidge again doing wonders to stop Quigley .

 Reid wanted a pen...the ref didn`t !

 This view of that from Andrew Machin




Reid came on deep in added time looking for a penalty within minutes as a goal mouth melee almost saw him make a telling contribution.


It was not to be, and we winced again as Rydel drilled a shot wide after Mason-Clark had mis-directed the ball to him.

The rest was all County chasing the game but ultimately losing out.

That was a poor result and, whilst not being absolutely certain to, looks likely to contribute to keeping us at this level next season.

I have probably said far too much in this report, but it needed saying in my view.


Stockport County line up:-

Ross, Southam- Hales, Hogan, Palmer, Kitching ( Rydel 68), Croasdale ( Reid 99), Sarcevic, Rooney, Madden, Crankshaw, Whitfield ( Quigley 61).

Subs not used: Collar, Keane.


Barnet line up:-

Oxborough, Thomas, Brundle, Mason-Clark, Marriott ( Richards- Everton 88), Greenidge, Flanagan, Funguck ( Tasdemir 97), Widdowson  ( Bllomfield 80), Taylor, Woods.


Attendance : 4363( 79)

















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