Nantwich Town 1 County 0
County`s somewhat iffy Saturday pre-season form continued at Nantwich Town`s Weaver Stadium, where the Dabbers won 1-0 courtesy of a soft penalty awarded by referee Adam Dean.
You have to look rather further than refereeing calumnies to account for the defeat though, whilst admitting at the same time that the season hasn`t started yet and that teams that win pre season games, do not necessarily transfer that form to the league.
A bad injury to Paris Bateman( apparently a broken arm)was a further blow to County`s preparation, and a big big blow to the lad.
Not all is doom and gloom however....at the back County seem well blessed with Fagbola, Jacobs, Windsor and new boy Mike Riley looking top of the range. Fagbola saved the day more than once from situations created by miss placed passes from others in blue and white......Jacobs did his usual solid job as did Windsor slotting in again at the back part way through and looking ultra comfortable. Young Riley played 90 minutes and looked a real find at left back - loads of energy....plenty of hard work and very tidy- expect to see him signed!
The trouble was that as good as the defence was, they were constantly put under pressure by a mid field that required one touch too many much of the time and continually threw possession away as a result.
The forwards therefore, largely had to fend for themselves thus, apart from one dazzling bit of brilliance from Rhys Turner in the second half, not much was seen of them. That said.....County did have the ball in the net twice, one certainly looked a good goal to me, but the officials saw things differently and both were ruled out.
Disappointing?.......yes, but on balance Nantwich deserved the win and as I say, it`s early days is it not!
A delve into the detail then ,and it started sedately enough- OK Nantwich were keeping hold of the ball mostly but nothing alarming occurred for the first few minutes which saw Jamie Hand lift a shot over the bar .
Then it all went decidedly hectic as Craney lost the ball allowing Harry Clayton and Mark Jones to head for goal. First Clayton was blocked by Riley, but when Jones fired it back across goal again, it took excellent work by Jacobs to stop Max Harrop.
It began to get a touch alarming next when King had to dive full length to prevent Jones from turning a dangerous ball from Russ Courteney into Towns first goal.
Then twice the Dabbers went close - Burns just failing to force Harrop`s cross home from close in ,on 8 minutes ,and captain Adam Carden seeing his shot ricochet off a defender to King 2 minutes later.
It went on.....Fisher losing the ball, and Clayton failing in response to hit the target with his shot, then conceding a free kick that Town wasted.
It would not be long ,it seemed, before a goal would go in at the wrong end, if County did not tighten up ,but they didn`t slack play allowing Danny Lambert a shot on goal. He was a full back thus we escaped , Burns was more used to putting the ball in the net, but despite another gaffe from Fisher the forward was unable to get the vital touch and convert Harrop`s cross into a goal.
Then...............when Burns finally did manage to position himself correctly, shortly after, Tunnicliffe gave us a glimpse of what might be possible from him with a lovely bit of work that left Burns for dead.
Typically perhaps Tunnicliffe`s next action put County back under the cosh- his tackle earning him a warning from the overly fussy referee, and Nantwich a free kick.
It was not quite all Nantwich, and Brooke will perhaps think himself unlucky, being cut out brilliantly by Earl Davies when sent clear on 21 minutes ,and pulled back by the referee ,5 minutes later, for a perceived foul on Tom Moore , after the ball had been despatched into the home net!
Howard was definitely unlucky to be the near side liners first blue and white victim of the game on 29 minutes- dashing clear onto a superb cross field ball from Jevons only to see the liners flag up raised midst a chorus of abuse from the stand!
There was however much work to do for County and time after time Riley and Jacobs would be there when required to stop the rot in the face of pressure from Nantwich. Howard impressed me as well, and to an extent Hand, but we still needed to tighten up.
Half time came but not before more trauma for County as Burns saw a shot drift past the post with 3 minutes left of the half, King easing tension slightly by diving on the ball to prevent Carden from forcing Harrop`s cross home.
The re-start saw Ormson, Turner, Dennis, Fagbola and O`Halloran on in place of King, Jevons, Brooke, Jacobs and Charnock, and for a time things improved as Dennis did a salvage job on a Tunnicliffe bad ball and converted it into a chance for Howard who`s first time effort carried the bar. Then Fisher was not far from getting to Hand`s through ball, before...best of all( or so I thought)a belting pass from Howard teed Dennis up on the charge. He was clear in no time, but we hadn`t reckoned with the near side liner who`s flag was up. He was wrong, but it mattered not the score stayed at 0-0.
Then, 53 minutes in, it all went pear shaped .Not immediately because O`Halloran did good work in stopping Burns initially, but the ball came back and Tunnicliffe did rather less well causing something of a melee to result near the by line, where one of 2 or 3 home forwards went to ground under pressure from Fisher. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Burns promptly fired the spot kick home to put Nantwich 1 up.
With pressure again mounting on County after this and Tunnicliffe taking a knock from Jones, the County number 5 was replaced by Brandon Windsor.
Within 2 minutes it looked like County were level as Craney started a move that ended with the ball nestling in the Nantwich net. It was a sweet move and I saw no element of offside about it, but it did not prevent the man in black immediately in front of us from raising his flag and ruling the goal out!
County were stung a bit by this and both Hand and Riley saw shots kept out by keeper Terry Smith with his co-defenders somewhat rattled.
The Dabbers replied however, and it was not long before the Nantwich dogs were barking at County`s door once again. First off Matt Langham and PJ Hudson found O`Halloran in implacable form as they attempted, vainly, to pass him. Then Chris Amadi who had only been on the park moments, spoiled a run by shooting straight at Ormson, before falling foul of more good work by O`Halloran a minute or so after.
To give County credit they were trying to get back into it, and amazingly despite their poor first touch at times and slow reactions, I thought that they had done just that.
Fagbola and Ormson had just earned applause for a couple of decent bits of work when the ball went from Fagbola to Howard and thereafter on to Riley who wriggled his way to the box whereupon he was upended. `Inside` said I and a big majority of the 307 present, but the referee would have none of it awarding instead a free kick.
The free kick appeared to have been wasted, until Rhys Turner latched onto the ball with a dazzling turn of speed that saw him turn on the proverbial sixpence before slamming a thunderous drive goal ward. It thudded into the woodwork and came out, but with Nantwich desperately seeking out the brown trousers, the liner again came to their aid with his up-raised flag. Offside we were led to believe- but we didn`t and told him as much!
After that we rather guessed it was not County`s day, and soon enough the whistle went to bring the game to a close.
Game lost.....world still turns....
See you on Tuesday at Ramsbottam!
County line up ;
King ( Ormson 45), Jacobs( Fagbola), Riley, Fisher , Tunnicliffe( Windsor 63), Charnock ( O`Halloran),Hand, Bateman (Howard 16), Jevons( Dennis 45), Brooke( Turner 45), Craney
Nantwich Town( Starting line up only)
Smith, Courtney, Lambert, Devenney, Davis, Moore, Carden, Jones, Burns, Clayton, Harrop.