Date:Sunday February 23 2014
I am tempted to take refuge in that old bromide " are well.....you cannot win them all" after County came away from Edgeley Park today sharing the points with Solihull Moors after a 2-2 draw .
With just 4 minutes left though they were 2-1 up and looking very much like they would win the game!
It mattered not that Moors had thoroughly dominated much of the game, and gone in 1-0 up after the first 45 minutes, after all County had shuffled their pack ( Battersby for Moke) for the re-start and powered into the lead thanks to 2 fine but contrasting goals from captain Phil Jevons and new boy Mark Battersby.
But immense credit goes to the visitors whose never say die spirit and almost constant late pressure eventually paid off when a headed goal from Mike Taylor levelled it with the game almost done!
It was disappointing, but hard to deny that Moors deserved at least a share of the spoils, and there was the considerable bonus of Battersby`s performance that augured well for the immediate future- pointing rather firmly towards him starting sooner rather than later.
Back to 3 o`clock then, and again both Dennis and Platt were missing from County`s starting line up- Platt was on the bench ,which was good to see because we miss him in my view, but Dennis was elsewhere and we sorely miss him.
Ormson had himself a start allowing Dibble time on the bench and that was the sole change from Telford.
We had ourselves something of scare early on as a miss kick by Lees allowed Junior English in on goal- for a second or so alarm bells clanged, but Ormson advanced from his goal and clubbed the ball clear to deny the visitors number seven.
That was the third minute....the fourth saw Ormson again in action rising to punch clear as the first of Exodus Geohaghan`s special touchline exocets( throws) whizzed into the crowded box.
Straight from this there wasn`t a Cheadle End seat with a Cheadle End bum on it, as Oates scooted clear.
He had company, but the defender looked beaten as Oates zeroed in on goal...the keeper too looked shot....but somehow the ball rattled into the post and flew clear.
It was almost impossible not to think that that was an enormously important moment we had witnessed, and a crucial miss perhaps, and this was underlined with knobs on when Moors worked the ball clear, and a second Geohaghan exocet brushed captain Rob Elvins head en route to Ryan Beswick who coolly gave Ormson no chance with a top class finish from close in.
Was Oates affected by his miss? I do not know and rather doubt it really, but nonetheless a loose ball from him next teed English up nicely on the left- his cross whizzing across goal alarmingly with County struggling to put something together in response.
The cosh kept pounding down on County shoulders as Moors piled onto the attack, and it took a neat diving save from Ormson to keep it at 0-1 as a tasty strike from full back Jordan Gough threatened.
Already....almost 15 minutes had gone, and not much was thus far coming from County who looked ineffectual up front and under pressure a bit at the back, although Lees was busily making up for his earlier mini blooper with some cool work to keep English quiet as he again threatened on the break.
On it went with County forced to concede a corner which saw Beswick just kept out at the back post.
It really did need County to begin to assert themselves a bit, but Jevons got no response from the referee having gone down in the box.
A corner was absolutely no consolation, especially when Elvins was first to it, and whacked it clear!
I was slightly encouraged next, with the sight of Jevons beating Elvins on the proverbial sixpence, but he was blocked by Alex Dean on the edge of the box, thus when Churchman lost the ball- it was panic stations again as Gough sped clear.
It was an iffy moment was this, but Lees again responded in the required manner stopping Gough with the minimum of fuss before finding touch.
It was now abundantly clear that making up numbers was not what Solihull Moors were about- quite to the contrary- they seemed to have a winning mentality from what little I could see of them, and Ormson had to be at his most alert to stop Beswick and English with 18 minutes gone.
So...we needed County to work at it....do the basics correctly before making a counter attack, but instead there was a certain looseness abroad, which surfaced , amongst other things, via some really over heated/ weighted back passes that threatened to turn Ormson`s hair prematurely white.
The latest wild pass, from Cowen, forced the County keeper to find touch, and this only meant yet another one from Exodus G, and County made a meal of defending it, and only excellent work from Duxbury eventually squared the circle and allowed County to clear the danger.
It`s hard to believe that County were not aware of the long throw situation....it`s not that Geohaghan has just started doing it....it`s been his trade mark for yonks, but........... prepared or not.....County were not coping all that well, and that was a worry!
If we could relieve the pressure by attacking here and there maybe things would get better, but instead I looked up to see another long throw ping in and Moors win a somewhat dubious free kick via a superbly executed dive.
It was nicely central was this, but it mattered not ( thankfully) as Dior Angus put boot through ball sending it hurtling towards Row R at a rate of knots!
Not long after this Moors were back again and Ormson looked on anxiously as a shot by Angus flashed past his far post, after yet another long throw had laid waste to County`s defensive plans.
County were trying, but crosses from Jacobs and Duxbury totally failed to disturb Jas Singh`s day in the visitors goal. Jevons, as usual, was working assiduously, but nobody in blue was thus far reading him correctly and the Moors back line prospered as a result.
Another decent catch under pressure from Ormson saw off another threat after some routine comedy linering( is there such a word...maybe there is now?)from the MSL (who else) had gifted Moors a ludicrous corner after Ormson had been taken out by Beswick near the by-line.
That brought a smile after the angst of the decision, but with County still second best all over the park, there was not that much to smile about really!
That said.....with less than 10 minutes of the half left, something did stir from County, inevitably it was Jevons in the van and a neat flick from him sent Oates scooting clear nicely.
There was a hint of some low level naughtiness from Geohaghan on Oates as he made for goal, but the referee was unimpressed again, and when Singh beat Oates to the ball, we all knew that any chance had disappeared.
Still.....it was perhaps encouraging.......but......not for long as a terrible ball from the out of sorts Churchman, sent Beswick clear.
He had real chances to double his and his side`s tally, but not for long as Duxbury tracked back and stopped him with a top draw tackle.....excellent!
Midst all this, County continued to struggle...constantly reaching just outside the Moor`s box, but then attempting to walk the ball into the net- it was unlikely to happen.
As unlikely perhaps as the MSL getting one right and another lulu had us up in arms - it was only a throw but so annoying to see his flag stay down until Howard latched onto it about 3 yards in field.
Pressure continued from Moors up until the break- the last action seeing Cowen head clear after the lively Gough had got the better of the otherwise sound Jacobs.
Half time then, and Moors were well worth their lead in my view.....County had to up their game in the second half, which started with new man Mark Battersby on for the largely anonymous Adriano Moke.
County were heading our way this half, and already I was telling myself that something was stirring and that Moors were looking ruffled. Were they?.....I am not sure ,but Gough had fouled Jevons and County did have a free kick, but despite Cowen getting to it at the back post, nothing came of it.
Hmm..................I persisted.......maybe Moors were unnerved a bit, as Singh sliced a clearance into the crowd when pressurised by Oates. Again this was met at the back post, this time by Howard, but once more nothing came from it!
It went on with a Jevons lob totally failing, and Jacobs excelling with a mighty clearance from a long throw, all very routine I suppose, until suddenly Moors confidence took a hit as Singh found himself stranded.
He was nearer the Tea Shop on Castle Street than his own goal line, and what`s more Jevons had the ball albeit outside the box.
The County captain responded magnificently lifting a near perfect lob into the empty net as a clutch of defenders scrambled ineffectually back in an attempt to keep it out!
That was simply excellent, and a mere 8 minutes had elapsed of the second half- there was loads of time for County to build on this.....but would they?
Well....yes....they did....after having to defend free kicks and corners in the interim, as Moors were stung into action again, it took them just another 6 minutes to score again and it was an absolute belter!
County had been pressing ,but without showing that vital spark that would start a fire again under the Moors back line.......enter Jacobs.......and a truly awesome ball from him looked tailor made for Battersby who quickly ran onto it and carried it into the box.
He had Elvins for company and a fare old angle to deal with, but his execution was spot on and Singh groped air ineffectually as the ball sped beyond him going in off the far post...as I say....a real belter!
An hour gone.....2-1 up......time for more......great stuff!
It was.....and more seemed on the cards ,as, after some good defending by Lees stopped any chance of a quick Moors reply, Oates, Jacobs and Battersby all went reasonably close, but Solihull were still working hard.......still inclined and willing to push forward.
Was the first half Moors cutting edge missing? Well.....I told myself that it maybe was, and I wasn`t put off from this assumption as Gough went to ground and won a free kick, because this went straight down Ormson`s throat to end the danger.
Battersby meanwhile was earning applause all over the place with his energy and spark, but it was Ormson who earned louder applause with another save to thwart Gough with less than 20 minutes left to play.
Jevons continued with the neatly inventive final balls, but these were still not being read that well by others in blue, so that much needed third goal was slow in coming!
Indeed Moors looked more likely to draw level, and they must have thought that they had, on 75 minutes, via Gary Birch, who bundled the ball into the net from close in.
The effort was ruled out, for a foul on Ormson presumably, and the disappointed Birch found himself booked probably more for follow up verbals than any violence in forcing the ball home!
County had defending to do now, and Jacobs did really well turning defence briefly into attack with a gutsy bit of work, but mostly now it was Moors getting on the front foot and Ormson did well to keep Mike Taylor from another brute of a ball from Gough.
The substitutes were weighing in well now for Moors, and it took a fantastic save from Ormson to keep a strike from Birch out after Reece Fleet had shredded the County cover down the left.
Moors were piling the pressure on now .....throws....corners.....all contributed to County`s discomfiture, and the blues only survived without conceding via the mother of all melees in front of Ormson`s goal!
There was an occasional spark coming back from County.....largely via Battersby , but the offside flag did for him a time or two , whilst Oates was getting no change from Elvins who was doing a captains job at the back for his team.
We definitely needed a third County goal......and quickly.......a point emphasised as Angus made it to the by-line before, sadly for him, running the ball out.
There were just 5 minutes left of the game now, and I was again encouraged as Jacobs did brilliant work to set County moving forward once more, but it was County`s cutting edge that was looking blunted at this point, and when Birch headed out from under the posts, it was game on for Moors as Fleet burst clear down the left before pinging a whizz bang of a cross across goal to the back post where Taylor rose to power his header home!
County tried to respond but the visitors rearguard looked solid as a rock, and it was Solihull who went closest in added time - County defending valiantly to earn a priceless point in the end!
Not the result that we wanted for sure, but Solihull Moors looked a decent side to me- one that is currently above us in the table, so I suppose a sense of proportion should come into play at some stage.
I look forward to the return of Dennis and more from the obviously interesting Battersby, so .....all is not lost!
But......if the County team is seeking inspiration....they perhaps need look no further than County fan Roy Davies( pictured on http://hedgegrower.blogspot.co.uk/). Roy lives in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and thus every home game is an away game for him as he has to travel 160 odd miles too and 160 odd miles back for each game- and he comes to pretty much all of them, and the away games too.
Inspirational stuff Roy !
County line up;
Ormson, Jacobs, Cowen, Lees, Duxbury, Moses, Churchman, Moke ( Battersby 45), Howard ( Lofthouse 75), Jevons, Oates.
Subs not used; Dibble, O`Halloran, Platt .
Solihull Moors line up:
Singh, Dean, Gough, Denny, Elvins, Geohaghan, English, Taundry, Knights, Beswick, Angus.
Date:Sunday February 23 2014
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County Players Fund (Monday July 14 2014)
Northwich Vics 0 County 1 (Sunday July 13 2014)
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