Hednesford Town 3 County 1
County went down to a 3-1 defeat at rain swept Keys Park last night at the hands of high flying Hednesford, having played for all bar 20 minutes with only 10 men after Tunji Moses was shown a red card following a typically vigorous tackle.
It was certainly worth a yellow, but referee Mr Hussein saw it differently and from there on out County had a considerable mountain to climb as a result.
Minutes earlier Town had grabbed the lead with a rather fortunate effort from Neil Harvey who capitalised on County`s inability to clear their lines, so to lose a man so early seemed to signal a considerable uphill struggle if not a comprehensive shellacking!
One down, at the break, was not a bad effort from the County 10, but despite a lively start to the 2nd half by the blues, 1-0 became 2 and then 3-0 and a revival seemed about as likely as NASA finding a row of petunias swaying in a Martian breeze.....yes a drubbing looked well and truly on the cards.
This never happened however as County dug deep and fought like heroes to pull one back -the best goal of the night scored by in form Kristian Dennis, who might have had 3 or 4 on another night but for the saves of keeper Dab Crane and a certain absence of luck! In the end they could not improve on 3-1, but the travelling support did not mind- they had tried and did not at any time in the second half look a man down, which was really a good effort!
Again the Flyer got us to the ground in good time- time enough to suss out that there were no pies on offer from the catering unit just burgers- with or without cheese or bacon.
There were onions, and these had been spotted being carried to the unit pre kick off and thus I knew to be fully thawed, ( which was more than could be said for us).
Bugger....no pies.....this was annoying, but not as annoying as the time warp that the PA apparently was in ,as a monotony of 70`s numbers assaulted our ears from our arrival on site to kick off , which came not a moment too soon!
The first 5 minutes or so saw County defending, with Duxbury in there keeping the County ship afloat with some calm work under pressure.
Fagbola and Jacobs joined in with some good work too, as the home side lifted ball after ball high into the swirling maelstrom over head. County held firm, and quickly struck back, but Moses` run was halted by a decent tackle from Thorley on the edge of the box. ......Move over then....except it wasn`t as the ball was loose and Dennis was running onto it with keeper Crane second favourite to get there before him!
He probably should have done better...it certainly was a good chance, but his control let him down and Thorley was able to track back and save Crane`s blushes by lumping the ball clear.
This was a considerable stroke of luck for Town, and they did their best to capitalise on it, but Jamey Osborne`s shot was deflected for a corner , which Fagbola ran clear, and Durrell fluffed a decent half chance when played in down the right.
Under the cosh...County so far were doing OK, none more so than Duxbury and he even found time and space to get forward and lift a real tempter into Dennis`s path. It was another possible half chance, but although the ex Curzon Ashton man got a shot off this time, it cleared the bar much to the disappointment of a decent County following!
Back came Town, urged on by their fans and encouraged by Mr Hussein who kept penalising County and ignoring fouls, by Harvey and Blissett , which was worrying. One free kick saw 22 goal striker Elliott Durrell ( who had already missed a couple) dart to the by-line where he lifted the ball towards Harvey smack in front.
It might have been another chance, but it wasn`t as Duxbury got a vital touch at the last gasp to save the day.
Did I say `save the day`?
Well.......this was only temporary as a minute later we were one down, as a failure to act and clear their lines by County, enabled Harvey to bundle the ball home at the back post! All of a sudden a cold wet night felt more so and my occasional musings as to the climatic deprivations endured by Oates on his little walk way back gained flesh in the communal shiver that ensued from behind Ormson`s goal.
County had a struggle on their hands, but hey.....what`s this....they were making a go of it as Duxbury`s free kick saw Crane climb to pluck the ball from the sodden night air with something approaching aplomb. When Duxbury followed this by sending Dennis in with another incisive pass, things looked distinctly brighter for an instant until Campion swung a leg at the ball and kicked Dennis`s goal bound shot off the line!
If that was disappointing...more followed in shed loads as a somewhat vigorous challenge from Moses saw the referee reach for red with equal if not more vigour! Hmmm............there was no real debate about the merits of the referee`s actions amongst the County following, just annoyance and dismay and for me red was a touch over the top, a fact possibly magnified in my eyes by Mr Hussein`s inability to penalise Town when it was repeatedly called for, but then again we do seem to rather not get the benefit of any doubt don`t we!
County were under pressure for a time after this and indebted to Ormson and Jacobs a time or two - Ormson doing particularly well to keep one shot out with the home side seeking a second goal, but they were losing out with most of the second balls thus keeping the pressure on, and matters went from bad to worse for the blues ,on 36 minutes, when Cowen had to be replaced by Lees having pulled up short with what looked like a niggle or some such.
Another shiver rippled through the away end as a result, but I guess it was a wise move by AL and anyway we needed to see what Lees could do!
Hednesford surged forward now, but still Duxbury looked as cool as the proverbial cucumber in responding and dealing with the situation.
Platt too did well to block a cross from Burrell enabling another Duxbury clearance, but the ball just whizzed back via full back Campion, and Blissett only just failed to make contact sliding in at the back post.
On it went with Dennis conceding a corner.....Platt clearing his lines, and Duxbury on hand to deflect a shot from Durrell for yet another corner which saw Harvey in there desperately trying to double his goal tally .
The pressure and the half ended well with a fine catch from Ormson, and I had to admit it could have been worse than a one goal deficit that we were facing after the break!
There was a spirited opening from County when the teams returned to the fray as Churchman and Jacobs drove them on into the home half, helped in part by Blissett`s latest foul and a rare free kick from Mr H, but somehow Hednesford held firm, and Jevons was unlucky to see McCone on hand to deny him on the end of one move.
But I suppose it couldn`t last could it, and not long after Town had a break on through Osborne who blasted the second goal home off a post! It was 2-0 and probably game over, and depressing to see Osborne quickly on the ball again ( and looking offside to me!) shortly after.
From Osborne it sped across goal to Durrell, the 22 goal man, who was better placed than the Town number 7, but he could only pull his shot well wide of the target to ease our pain!
Past the hour we went with Crane just managing to keep a Dennis shot out at one end ,and Ormson doing terrifically well at the other to deny our hosts as the blues were caught out on the break. The relief though was only temporary as County had a corner to defend and they didn`t allowing Harvey to head home from close range.
Dickinson came on for Howard ,but at 3-0 down all was surely lost for the blues now, and my abject mind set was perhaps highlighted as I began to ponder wandering off ,Oates like, but towards the catering unit where those darkly mysterious burgers lurked siren like!
You will be relieved to learn perhaps that I stayed hungry - the action rather demanded it as Lees did well to stop Osborne on the end of a run from John Disney. A shot from Osborne came next...climbing up and over the bar, before County retaliated through Dennis who turned beyond Francis neatly in the box. Only a fine save from Crane kept it at 3-0, that and Town`s greater numbers when the corner came over.
County`s appetite seemed aroused and a neat move followed and another belter of a shot from Dennis that Crane infuriatingly kept out with some brilliance. Town survived the corner, but not the follow up which saw Dickinson hold the ball up before slipping it out to Jevons to his right.
Over it came from the County captain and in a flash Dennis had spun past his marker and fired a real gem home! County might have won FA Cup and League Title judging by the noise that followed from behind the goal- no matter County were trying....no...playing OK.....and that was all that mattered!
So.....they kept at it....Fagbola unlucky with a header from one of a series of corners, it was hard to see just who was down to 10 at times, but the numbers were important and did have an influence - County being caught on the break on 77 minutes by Blissett whose pace took him beyond Jacobs into the box.
The goal gaped, so Blissett took a shot at it , and it was going in until Ormson scrambled back and snaffled it on the line to rapturous applause from around me!
That last bit was however becoming a rarity.....it was Hednesford largely doing the defending and happy to find touch or the roof of the stand, and Jevons was unfortunate twice in rapid succession, as was Dennis who again saw Crane pull off a marvellous save to keep another effort out!
Yes......County, with Churchman looking in charge in midfield where we let`s remember were a man light, were on top - Jevons inches away from getting to a Jacobs ball. The corners kept coming and somehow Hednesford managed to keep County out......numbers again?.............probably!
But numbers did not prevent Churchman and Jevons combining to send Dickinson clear. He lifted the shot over the bar unfortunately which was scant return from some decent football in trying conditions.
A setback was avoided in the last minutes ,thanks to Fagbola who reacted well with Ormson stranded in no man`s land, and Blissett and others in the vicinity. Young Jordan did well again moments later to get a decisive clearance in from a late free kick after Lees had been booked rather ridiculously by this most ridiculous of referees!
The game ended with County attacking valiantly and Platt just kept out after he and Jevons had ploughed a neat furrow through the middle.
Game over...time to give the team a cheer and head for the Flyer and a brilliant coffee kindly provided by the saintly Lou! The result may have gone against us but nobody was downhearted indeed by journeys end 2/3 rds had booked again for Guiseley!
County line up:
Ormson, Jacobs, Fagbola, Cowen( Lees 36), Duxbury( O`Halloran 80), Moses ( s/o 19), Platt, Churchman, Howard( Dickinson 62),Jevons, Dennis.
Subs not used; Lofthouse,Charnock.
Hednesford line up;
Crane, Disney, Campion, McCone, Francis, Thorley, Osborne, Durrell, Harvey, Blissett, Thompson-Brown.