County 1 Histon 0
Now I like a laugh as much as the next man…more so perhaps…you know the sort of stuff…Blackadder….Outnumbered….Fresh Meat.
In the fifties, Brits ,when in need of a laugh-something to lift their spirits , would go perhaps to the theatre where , maybe , Brian Rix would entertain with one of his farces-or to the cinema where they rolled about laughing , and crying, at the antics of Norman Wisdom--the Albanians are still laughing and crying sixty years on.
Before that, yer average Brit had the Music Hall to raise a smile, and anyone missing the genre would have been in their element at EP today where messrs Eaton, Abson and Bissett ( they even sound like a music hall turn ) attempted to reduce the game to a farce and made themselves a considerable laughing stock in the process with individual performances that truly plumbed the depths of mediocrity .
The awful Mr Eaton ( body present although generally 3 yards behind play-mind elsewhere )put simply…got everything wrong capping a malign and rankerous performance with the worst decision I have seen this season when he reduced County to 10 men with over 10 minutes to play, by sending Jordan Fagbola off for the most innocuous of tackles.
Eaton, as I say, got almost everything wrong-usually to County`s cost, and Main Stand liner( why is it always the MSL that shows up the worst?) managed to outdo even his boss with some breathtakingly myopic moments. The Pop Side liner by comparison was a borderline saint, but hey…..I go for guilt by association on this one so tough luck!
It is tempting to think that there was a plan afoot to `do` County….a less charitable person than myself might go for that, certainly that`s the way it looked at times. It may just be , of course, that the officials at this level are just not up to the job….yes….let`s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that ay( whilst trying to keep our faces straight!)
Plan or not…County overcame it and scrapped out a thoroughly well deserved 3 points with as gritty a performance as we are likely to see again this term. A neat strike from Nick Platt did the trick, and did for a fairly lively Histon side, but there were a whole host of `roll your sleeves up` performances to point to as reasons for this win……Moses….Platt….Duxbury…..Fagbola, Jacobs, but most of all for me Jevons ,who was outstanding all over the show, and Ormson who topped a fine showing with a magnificent save late on when the chips were down. It was not that pretty at times, but County`s work ethic allied to a commendable tenacity eventually won it for them-in spite of the officials!
We knew the game was on by 9 o`clock, but monsoon conditions greeted me as I left for EP just before 2pm. I was reliably informed upon arrival inside the stadium that there was to be a further inspection `shortly` but if the pitch looked heavy, it also playable to me, and any inspection, if there was one, went off uneventfully.
So …remarkably…at 3 pm we had a game to watch, but I winced to see County promptly lose possession allowing Andrew Phillips free rein to run for goal. It was a definite chance , but then it wasn`t as Fagbola tracked across and blocked the shot before Ormson was troubled. Lewis Taafe was quick to keep the pressure on, but County kept their cool and were eventually able to work the ball clear.
That was not a great start for the blues, and the fact that Phillips very nearly did the biz again a minute or so later was alarming proof that County needed to tighten up.
Eventually County were able to inch their way up towards the left corner flag, but without looking that dangerous in so doing- Platt emphasizing this by sending a poorly executed volley way wide. Mainly it was Histon doing the attacking at this point and Fagbola and Ormson combined nicely to stop Claudiu Hoban from turning another lively ` made in Cambridgeshire` move into an early goal.
So…it was perhaps something of a surprise when a goal came, 8 minutes in, and it fell to County. It was a neat, controlled portion of play that seemed about to end with Jevons, until he hurried the ball across the box to Platt who sent a first time effort in off the post!
For a period after this County looked to have settled their nerves somewhat, but they were quickly undone when the referee gave Histon a rather dubious free kick. The pressure was on for sure when Zac Mills lifted the kick into the box, but Duxbury applied himself well and was able to work it clear before sending Dennis on a run. For a moment or so this looked interesting, but then it didn`t as Dennis was brushed off the ball on the edge of the box and the chance was no more!
Dennis`s luck was no better shortly after ,despite Platt `s through ball giving his a sniff of goal. Keeper Calum Kitscha`s speed off his line being decisive.
All this time Jevons was working away diligently across the park just behind Dennis and co, and so was Jacobs who did well to cut Taafe out as he sped onto a long ball.
I did not quite believe what happened next….it defied explanation as Jacobs won the ball off Hoban with such exquisite timing that he also won his side a throw in……except he didn`t….. apparently, as the referee`s arm was extended the opposite way….Histon had the throw. Jacobs then got a lecture to add further insult, and Ormson had to do small miracles to get to the kick before Remy Clerima in front of goal!
That was excellent from Ormson, but unnervingly bad as far as the referee was concerned, and already the crowd were showing their displeasure as, within seconds, another decision( or none decision) put County under the cosh!
It was an abysmal situation as another long/high ball over the top from Histon reached Phillips and Nathan Hicks who were each about a yard off side. The stand side liner was up with play, but his flag stayed down which was truly appalling, and only excellent work from Jacobs stopped County leaking a goal. Corners followed and County struggled somewhat to clear their lines and it was a relief to see Mills plant his firm header wide of goal!
County applied themselves well after that last action with some good controlled football, but there was no sign of a second goal which, with Histon looking a tad lively here and there, was slightly worrying.
Past half way in the first half and the worries increased as following a number of probing long throws an almighty scramble ensued on the County goal line involving everyone barring Kitscha as far as I could see.
Ormson ,and about four others, at least 2 of them Histon, were grasping, and flailing about, for it in the mud. The ball squirmed from Ormson`s grasp onto the post….in his grasp…out again with Histon players swinging a boot desperately trying for what looked a certain equalizing goal. Somehow…..the goal never came and Moses was able to clear up field to Dennis who was only denied by a decent save by the keeper, as the games pendulum swung the other way.
The keeper did less well from the resultant corner- going for it and missing it, but no one in blue was able to punish the mistake and 1-0 it stayed.
A good header from Jacobs stopped the rot for County next after Hicks had eluded Moses with a nippy run down the right flank. The pressure stayed on us however, largely because the referee and liner chose to ignore a blatant foul on Jevons - Platt cleared with the boos ringing out ever louder aimed in the officials` direction.
Both teams took turns in going for goal after this…..Churchman saw a shot deflected for a corner that Kitscha gobbled greedily, and Hoban was denied by last gasp heroics from Ormson. Ormson was getting rather a lot to do and much of it stemmed from the raft of free kicks that were steadily coming Histon`s way, far from all of them being valid. The County keeper did especially well to grab the latest kick with Phillips charging at him like a raging bull.
The free kicks that I have just mentioned were predominately awarded in what I will call `prime positions` for Histon, whereas any awarded to the blues inevitably were in safe areas- off side awards and such like! All this merely served to feed my paranoia- as I applauded a Jevons block and Platt clearance as another kick, courtesy Mr Eaton, whizzed in!
Then…with 5 minutes left of the half, I and about 2000 others went AS, as a sublime piece of incompetence/ perfidy/awfulness( delete to taste) was acted out before our disbelieving eyes!
Taafe had it on the break and indeed looked on to score until Fagbola caught up with him and ushered him ever so slightly away from Ormson`s goal towards the by-line. This was in plain sight of all in the Cheadle End and how we applauded as Fagbola ensured that the ball was pushed over the line by the Histon man- good work definitely, but the liner`s flag was pointing down to the corner flag, which was just so bad a decision as to defy description!
Thankfully Ormson did the biz when the kick came over, but the applause for this was quickly submerged by an overwhelming cacophony again aimed at the officials who were plumbing depths of incompetence previously thought unachievable!
Credit to County, they kept at it …Jevons setting Dennis up neatly , the ex Ashton man only denied by good work from Kitscha , who kept his goal intact despite Platt sliding in at the near post!
The half ended with Histon on the attack and Fagbola doing well to stop Phillips after Taafe had darted clear. The pressure on County increased as the officials ignored a foul on Platt allowing Histon to carry on going for goal. The fact that Jay Dowie`s eventual shot went wide is rather beside the point- we should have had a free kick and the shot would not have been on.
Time for another joke free kick, in the dying moments of added time, and another Histon chance. Omar Beckles headed this one wide, but it didn`t stop the level of angst in the air from ruining chances of a tranquil half time break!
Ormson was busy again as the game re-started plucking two corners from the wintry afternoon air.
A series of long throws again pushed County back until a rare County free kick turned the tide allowing Platt in on goal- he was repulsed, but it was a start, and we badly needed a second goal to kill off the Histon challenge! On a run…the referee then spotted another foul, this time on Jevons, and the free kick almost saw Howard in.
Before too long though Histon were back attacking and Ormson did well to keep a snap shot from Taafe out, and Jevons continued to look every inch a captain with a coolly authoritative performance that could only have inspired his team mates.
But County were having familiar difficulty in clearing their lines and I was glad to see Taafe lose his footing and shoot wide when put clear down the left on the overlap.
Time next, for some more nonsense as Howard took on Clerima and O`Malley near the left corner flag. Howard was about half the size of both of them, and made no significant contact with either, but the referee still managed to halt County`s forward push and award Histon a free kick.(Cue more unrest from all 3 occupied stands!)
That was irritatingly bad refereeing !
County persevered though ….Jevons and Howard unlucky with one move…….Duxbury and Platt close with others. But long throws from Histon were proving a potent weapon and keeping one out Fagbola went into Mr Eaton`s book for……..err…..no idea! It was another `prime position` jobby was this kick but Ormson saved neatly from Clerima`s header.
With 20 minutes left, Dickinson came on for Platt, who left to warm applause. Maybe Dicko`s added weight would prove decisive in holding onto the full quota of points?
There was no immediate sign of this though as those long throws kept pinging over forcing Jevons and then Howard into making crucial defensive interventions. Ormson continued to be busy as County still found it difficult to work the ball up the park.
They were struggling a bit it is fair to say but when Hicks went for the ball along with Fagbola ,and the County man prevailed, there seemed nothing untoward about the situation at all. It was decidedly irritating to see Mr Eaton award Histon a free kick, but there the errors would end wouldn`t they….hell…no…..the man was pointing to the touchline and waving a card at Fagbola- not sure which colour…it didn`t matter anyway did it…he still walked even if he was showing `Mr Bun the Baker`.
That was far and away the worst decision I have seen since the days of the Harrow Horror, and the crowd erupted. To his credit Fagbola did not, walking off the field undemonstratively.
County were down to 10, but one of these was Ormson and when the kick came in he had it in a flash despite the close attentions of a couple of visiting forwards.
With Moses now in central defence, and Lofthouse on for Howard ,County backs were firmly pressed against the wall as Histon fussed and scurried about on the edge of the box desperately hunting that equalizing goal.
Time still for a booking for Taafe after he had hauled Duxbury down- based on the Fagbola scale of offences this merited a very deep shade of red indeed, but inevitably and unsurprisingly, Taafe got yellow.
Into added time we went with Histon still searching for that elusive goal ,but still finding Ormson in prime form- denying them with a magnificent one handed save to keep a scorcher from Mills out. Dickinson blocked the corner, and Ormson did the rest…..game over….match won!
Much mutual congratulations came next…crowd to players and vice versa.
As for the officials, they are best forgotten, but we all know there will be more of that ilk along soon, so keep taking the tablets Hatters!
See you at Boston on Tuesday!
County line up;
Ormson, Jacobs, Fagbola, Lees, Duxbury, Moses, Platt( Dickinson 70), Churchman, Jevons, Howard ( Lofthouse85), Dennis ( Charnock 88).
Subs not used:
Histon line up;
Klischa, O`Malley, Mills, Clerima, Beckles, Roberts, Taafe, Dowie, Phillips, Hicks, Hoban.