County 0 Rushall Olympic 1
Having indulged myself munching absentmindedly on a packet of Seabrook`s Cheese & Onion Crisps recently......munched in fact with a touch too much gusto, and then discovered great gaps where parts of teeth should be, I found myself at the dentist a day or two later having the necessary remedial work done.
It was not a very pleasant experience, but in retrospect I rate it as considerably more enjoyable than watching County today as they exited the FA Cup at the hands of Northern League outfit Rushall Olympic.
There was only one goal in it, but that by no means tells the whole grisly story- County were beaten.....well beaten, by a team who concentrated on the basics.......did them well, and got the reward that they deserved as a result.
There was no Gosset on view ( cup tied) and Jevons left proceedings early ( injured), but to point to these happenstances as reasons for the blues demise would be to delude one`s self! Better I think to admit the better team won, and they did, pretty much without unduly extending themselves either.
In Dele Adebola, Rushall had a wise old head who made up with guile what he lacked in pace, and in Carl Palmer they had the stand out performer on show- for 90 minutes as well!
County in response were everything that we thought that they weren`t after their recent revival- slack with their passing.....indolent on the ball......lazy off it, and generally lacking in zest and inspiration!
All it required from Rushall was for them to keep plugging away at the basics, which they did and when the chance came for them to capitalise on County`s habit of giving free kicks away in bad positions( by no means all Mr Salisbury`s fault), they took it - Jimmy Turner lashing a belter of a free kick way past the County wall and Ormson`s efforts to keep it out.
County had loads of time to re-group......fight back, but it didn`t happen and yet again I am left saying that that was about right!
None of this looked remotely possible at 3 o`clock despite the sight of the awful Michael Salisbury in the middle, and a Rushall side that ,man for man, looked on average about a foot taller than their blue counterparts.
Duxbury got in a promising early run but was stopped rather too vigorously by Mitchell Tolley which gave County a very early free kick.
That was the first minute.....60 seconds on and a small flurry of excitement came our way at the Cheadle End as Adebola`s flick on saw Kristian Ramsey-Dixon in the clear. For a moment it looked iffy, but the forward was unable to control the ball and any chance was gone!
The pace of the game was not great and it was another 3 minutes before anything remotely interesting happened , as Howard `s tug on a passing yellow shirt gave Rushall a free kick. This ushered in iffy moment 2 when Adebola latched onto the ball, but the referee had spotted his push on Tunnicliffe, and the County angst subsided.
The visitors were certainly up for it and by no means overawed by the task in hand, and they very nearly took the lead, on 6 minutes, as County stood and watched the kick bounce across the box.
Jacobs could have got to it but instead he misjudged the bounce allowing Matt Wood a free run on goal. Now this really was too much....just 6 minutes into the game and under the cosh, but thankfully Wood`s shot whistled out just past the angle of bar and post.
That was close.......too close!
Jacobs did altogether better, moments later, stopping Ramsey-Dixon from reaching yet another Adebola flick on, but we needed to see something of substance coming back from County instead of this supine reliance on last ditch defending.
There was just no sign of this happening however, in fact Rushall kept attacking again through Adebola who ran clear before sending Ramsey-Dixon on the charge. When the ball was then slipped on to Wood things looked bad again, but there was just too much oomph in the hyphenated forward`s pass and it ran out of play much to County`s relief.
The tenth minute saw County offer the home specs a morsel to sustain them.... hope of better things. Started almost inevitably by Duxbury and taken on neatly by Howard- it ended badly however when the delivery to the back post saw Bateman unable to latch onto it.
Ahmed Obeng then threatened to run us ragged down the right, and Bateman did well to see him off, with others in blue holding off alarmingly. From this action County broke up field, but some careless passing allowed the visitors to track back and clear their lines without much difficulty.
A foul on Jevons then offered County a glimmer of a chance, but whilst the kick that followed was a decent one, that glimmer died a death when Chris Gemmell, the Rushall keeper, kept it out with some ease.
Tunnicliffe and Charnock both did well next keeping potentially telling touches from Adebola away from sundry forwards, and Jacobs did even better setting up a rare blue raid with a lung bursting run which took him past 2 men en-route. The ball then reached Moses and a chance was in the offing, but he sent a poor shot way wide to keep the score line blank after 20 minutes.
Adebola fancied his chances next as the ball came over in his direction in the box, He was smack in front so he was justified in having a go, but Charnock did just enough to deny him the required space, and his shot failed to test Ormson.
So far....not that good.....it was a poor match and one......more over...in which our visitors were chalking up the lion`s share of the chances!
The 27th minute saw Jevons replaced by Dennis, which was interesting in view of Dennis`s pre season form, but also disappointing as Jevons has been in imperious nick of late!
There was no time to ponder over long as to how Jevons` absence would impact on County`s game. Thus far it had hardly been a thing to stand back and admire, so maybe a fresh set of legs..............
Well................yes.....fine thought, but within seconds Rushall gave us a reality check as the energetic Palmer went to ground just outside the box. It looked a doubtful decision, but never the less County had
a free kick to defend again, and they were glad to see the ball fly out for a corner off the wall.
Not a bit of it as Adebola found himself space enough to get head to ball smack in front. The ball flew inches wide and County had escaped, but we needed to tighten up drastically to avoid a reoccurrence! Did we though?.................no we did not as Obeng terrorised the blue back line before going to ground when put under pressure by Duxbury.
Another angst ridden moment was upon us again then, but thankfully Jacobs got his head to the incoming kick and ushered the ball clear. It went to Turner and a small glimmer of hope again flickered for County, but then quickly died when from Turner the ball went back to Bateman whose final ball was easily cleared by one of a line of Rushall defenders.
It was depressing to see Rushall getting so much of the ball.........and in the County half too, and wince making to see Charnock capitalise on some good fortune as Obeng threatened to run riot once again.
Half time was not that far away now and still County had not tested Gemmell at all- on the contrary, all the testing was going on at the other end, and Adebola and Ramsey-Dixon emphasised this with another neat cooperation that pinned County back on their heels- they just could not fashion anything resembling a response, it was worrying....where was the impressive form of just 4 days ago?
Well.................Howard did have a run that promised something, and Dennis did get a shot in, but this climbed and climbed into the empty Railway End and once again Gemmell was not troubled.
Howard and Duxbury followed on with further sorties into unfamiliar enemy territory, but Rushall were able to deal with these without undue difficulty and follow good defensive work with good use of the flanks that again pushed County back.
All this said........almost smack on half time , following good work first by Duxbury and then finally Jacobs, the ball sped across the box to Howard who looked well set to score. He did ......but he lifted his shot over the bar from close in to keep it at 0-0.
That was just about it for the first half apart from a booking for Bateman for retaliation after a foul on Turner had been ignored by the referee.
I refrained from a pre-break rant, but only just, after all it was 0-0 and still all to play for!
I was a bit surprised to see O`Halloran replace Duxbury when the game re-started, but maybe the youngster was injured, possibly early on?
I am not sure whether kicking towards the Cheadle End had given County a lift, but the early play took place in the visitors half, and a foul on Dennis by Wood gave County a chance to take the game by the scruff, as the free kick was in a decent position. It was a decent kick too ( from Dennis),but Gemmell reacted well and kept the shot out in confident style.
If that was encouraging, the feeling was relatively short lived, as Rushall went straight onto the attack and County were relieved to see a shot from Obeng whizz out just beyond Ormson`s far post.
Generally the football on show was of a poor standard in my view, and neither team looked like ending the deadlock although the next 5 or 6 minutes saw them both try. From County`s point of view their passing was simply too slack and the tempo of their play never looked likely to cause Rushall any discomfort.
For Rushall.......Adebola and Ramsey- Dixon pressed on regardless causing stress and angst for County aided and abetted by Farmer who seemed to be covering every inch of greenery in his team`s cause. When
Obeng showed Charnock and O`Halloran the facts with a tasty run , things looked decidedly bad for the blues ,until Ormson dived to keep the resulting shot out.
Eventually something came back from County, as Howard won a corner after Turner had set it up , but with Tunnicliffe powering in for it smack in front, the kick flew over everyone`s head out of play- rather typically!
It was past the hour mark now, and County were still really struggling against a side determined not to give them an inch. Frustrated, and with Rushall buzzing just outside the box, County conceded another free kick.
It was reasonably central but with the County wall in position, it did not look to be a concern, until Jimmy Turner lifted an excellent kick over the wall and beyond Ormson`s groping hands into the net. There were 55 travelling fans in the far end of the Pop Side, and they must have been made up- their side was one up and deservedly so!
There was no immediate response from the blues either, indeed it was Rushall that went looking for a goal next as Obeng charged clear causing all sorts of mayhem until Charnock managed to stop the forward`s gallop.
It didn`t stop Rushall`s forward push however, and Wood was allowed to drift inside past 3 men before placing a shot just wide!
This just had to stop....County had to fight their way back into the game or go out of the Cup!
Instead however it was still Rushall on the up through Obeng one moment then Adebola and Ramsey- Dixon- a second goal for the visitors began to look not that unlikely, especially when Adebola led Charnock a dance before turning him and getting a shot off! It carried the bar but not by much.
County`s frustration continued apace with Turner fouled on the end of one of his typically brilliant runs, and Rushall given the free kick ,and Bateman put through only to pick out a yellow shirt with his cross.
There was a bit of a sign that County knew what was required ,but the execution fell well short of the ideas involved, and as County queued to shoot, Rushall just got back and defended in numbers ....didn`t panic and consequently weathered the storm, such as it was.
It was at this point, with 5 minutes left to play, that a rainbow was spotted midst the gathering gloom above the stadium- I doubted that any pot of gold lay in wait for County, but there was notionally still enough time to steal a goal.....nick a draw....take them back to their place!
Five minutes became 2 as a lob from Moses was deflected for a corner by Wood. A chance looked on from this as the kick was good, but O`Halloran could not get a touch and the chance was gone.
County were getting frantic now ,and their mood did not improve when Howard burst clear only to be flagged offside by the Main Stand liner- it was a poor decision, and another chance was gone along with
County`s Cup chances probably.
It was heartening to see Tunnicliffe charging forward in the last few minutes of added time ...trying his best to snatch something from the wreckage, but whilst the effort was there, the finesse wasn`t and when dear old Mr S added to the angst by giving Rushall a free kick after Tolley had leaned on Tunnicliffe we knew then that the game was up.
All that said I get back to what I said earlier - the better team won, and to point to refereeing miss deeds is to delude ourselves!
Good luck to Rushall......back to that drawing board County!
County line up:
Ormson, Jacob, Tunnicliffe, Charnock, Duxbury ( O`Halloran 45) Bateman ( Craney 81), Moses, Lofthouse, Jevons ( Dennis 27), Turner, Howard.
Subs not used:
Jones, Hand, Fagbola, Windsor.
Rushall Olympic line up:
Gemmell, Turner, Wood, Tolley, Caines, Farmer, Spink, Adebola, Ramsey- Dixon, Obeng.
Attendance; 2185 ( 55)