Date:Wednesday January 8 2014
The unbeaten record of County`s excellent Youth team went the way that all unbeaten records eventually go, when they were beaten 2-1 in a real battle at Stockport Sports Village today, by Farsley.
Farsley, put out of the League Cup by County in November, were probably still smarting after going out of that competion 3-2, and more than held their own in the first half. That said...into added time County were leading 1-0 thanks to a powerful strike from Demell Cumberbatch, so all the Yorkshire sides good work was seemingly worthless.
But then County went into kamikaze mode, and conceded 2 goals in a 90 second period to go in 1-2 down!
The second half was pretty much all County, who have a reputation for coming back from seemingly dire situations, but try as they would they couldn`t beat the excellent Farsley keeper again
There were several changes in County`s starting line up at kick off time with Callum Jones coming in for Ainsley Mantack, Dean Nolan for Charlie Mather and Ben Spibey, who had a terrific game at Altrincham coming off the bench, replaced Kiarno Samms who I assumed ( wrongly) to be suspended.
Jones and Rodney Ajayi were both to the fore in the early exchanges breaking up lively Farsley raids. County then pushed their opponents back into their own half, and Spibey was a whisker away from putting a cross by Albert Keeling away.
No matter.......somehow Liam Atkinson worked a small miracle keeping the ball in play near the far by-line, and then even better to slip the ball across goal to Cumberbatch who blasted it home from the edge of the box, to give County the lead.
This encouraged County who pushed on again via Jones who made good headway down the right- picking Keeling out with a neat pass. A decent cross followed from the Stockport number seven, and Cumberbatch again looked on to convert it until the Farsley right back intervened and wellied the ball clear.
This was an unusually strong start from County, and it looked to be continuing as Ajayi and Atkinson made considerable inroads into the visitors defences. Once...twice Atkinson won corners, but Murphy found the Farsley keeper on top of his game keeping his shot out, and Ajayi was just unlucky with his effort shortly after.
It went on........... all County, with Ajayi pushing forward to good effect aided by Atkinson down the left and Jones likewise down the right flank- again however County came close , via another long range Murphy shot, without winning the cigar, and it stayed 1-0.
Farsley hinted at a response, on 20 minutes, but good work by Nick Williams and Wesley Barker tied them up without causing Adam Rigby a moment`s anxiety, but it still seemed to be County`s day as only determined defending stooped Keeling on the charge, and Cumberbatch must have been apoplectic to see the keeper tip his shot over the bar at the very last gasp!
If County were doing much of the pressing, at this stage, Farsley were by no means completely out of it, indeed they kept working hard and much of their play was neat and tidy and must have pleased their coach, even so they failed to test Rigby in the last third and that was what counted.
Cumberbatch looked the player most likely to add to County`s tally, and a brilliant run saw him rattle the angle of bar and post with a neat shot, after Nolan and Keeling had set him up.
The pressure kept on coming from County.....Murphy close with a drive....Spibey offside on the end of a neat move involving him, Cumberbatch and Keeling.
Gradually however Farsley eased their way back into it and it took good play from Barker, Jones and Williams to see them off.
See them off they did though and Williams pushed on up field where his free kick pinned the Yorkshire side back in their last third. But nothing came from this set piece and the 35th minute at last saw the visitors test Rigby ....twice in fact in rapid succession......first with a nasty swirling high ball that the keeper dealt with smartly, and then a tasty shot that he managed to push over the bar with some style!
Hmm.....a warning perhaps, not to give the ball away, but after Keeling and Nolan had had efforts charged down, and the game went into added time, County dozed off and paid the price!
There was pressure on County but the whistle would blow soon enough surely , and what did it matter that they had conceded a corner? Well.....it mattered rather a lot as when the corner came over the Farsley centre forward met it sending a fine header way beyond anything Rigby could come up with to deny him!
It was 1-1......but surely the half time whistle would go soon and save County from any further anxiety...wouldn`t it? Err..............well.... it didn`t, at least not yet and with the County defence doing traffic cone impressions they went behind when one of two or three available forwards fired home.
It was half time almost immediately and County clearly had a fight on their hands to keep their unbeaten record intact.
So.....County went about putting it right straight off, but Spibey was inches away from getting to Murphy`s cross, and unlucky shortly after to see the keeper on hand to keep his shot out!
Already it was all County, and Farsley could only stop Atkinson by fouling him as he darted in to the box.....well..................I had it down as a foul.......but the referee thought otherwise!
On it went with Cumberbatch on a typically powerful run that saw him send Jones scooting clear down the right. A decent cross followed and Atkinson`s shot seemed to strike a defenders arm.....at least I felt it did......but the referee etc etc.....
Not long after this Samms came on for Atkinson, but neither he nor Keeling could trouble the keeper, who looked a class act!
If County were having virtually all the play, there was an ever present danger that Farsley would hit them on the break, and Rigby and Barker just survived a scary moment, on the hour, from just such an instance!
In main though it really was County hammering away at the visitors defence which was performing heroics in response as an almighty scramble in front of goal saw Spibey`s shot charged down and Samms fare no better with his follow up shot!
With Mather on for Keeling and County still going for broke the free kicks started to mount as Farsley began to feel the strain. The latest saw Spibey and Williams within inches of getting an equaliser ....then another ended with a Mather effort somehow kicked off the line, and even when the keeper spilled the ball( his only error of the game) County`s luck was out and they could not take advantage.
Murphy again blasted one in only for the keeper to deny him......County were getting full marks for effort ,it was just that composure in front of goal and maybe a shade of luck that was missing!
They pressed on and Spibey`s diagonal ball sent Mather scooting into the box down the right. At the by-line, just inside the box Mather and his marker clashed.....it was no foul, but when Mather tried to rise he was impeded by the defender and denied the opportunity to have a crack at goal. To me it looked a no brainer........ a penalty......but the referee was having none of it sadly and County were dished!
Farsley`s game by this time had been condensed into one of almost constant defending and the balls from them out of defence, that had been so incisive on occasions in the first half, had now degenerated into the hopeful long variety.
Even so County had the odd moment to deal with ....Williams and Barker doing well at least once dealing with breaks and Rigby making a decent save when all else failed.
Mostly though it was County trying to get that equaliser and then....perhaps.....
...but Murphy was unlucky with his free kick after Ajayi had been fouled just outside the box, the kick just eluding Samms in front.
Into the last 5 minutes or so and County were piling forward.....Ajayi `s excellent work forcing a hurried clearance from County`s harassed opponents, and Cumberbatch not that far away with a shot.
Murphy kept on driving his men on.....Cumberbatch....Spibey both looked seconds away from that elusive equaliser, only for the keeper or some other defender to thwart them!
Terrifically disappointing to lose, but all teams lose sometime...even good or even great ones, so I`m backing this excellent County team to bounce back in style.
There were about 50 specs there today, which is an increase on previous attendances. The next game is next Wednesday at Woodley against Guisley in the League Cup ( last 16). The kick off is 1.30, if you can, please come down....its free and you may just like the experience!
County Line up;
Rigby, Jones, Barker, Williams, Murphy, Ajayi, Keeling ( Mather 64), Nolan, Spibey, Cumberbatch, Atkinson ( Samms 55).
Date:Wednesday January 8 2014
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