Northwich Vics 0 County 1
County revisited the scene of their 2-1 defeat last pre-season ,when they took on James Gannon`s young Northwich Victoria side at Flixton today.
Much remained the same....the weather was humid and very hot....a decent crowd turned up to watch, and there were loads of new faces about the place, most notably in County colours, which were yellow shirts and blue shorts, but County were in no mood for a repeat of last terms result ,and ran out narrow but still convincing winners .
The score was 1-0 to County and hints at a close run thing, and to be fair to Vics they did have an opportunity or two, especially early on, when County`s venerable central defence was still in warm up mode.
The home forwards speed threatened to undo the yellow shirted blues, but once O`Halloran and Lees had re-booted ,the chances dried up, and what few materialised were dealt with confidently by Danny Hurst, before the break and Ian Ormson after.
Hurst looked a particularly fine addition to our numbers, and he wasn`t alone in this respect.
I thought Nathan Woolfe showed great skills and energy throughout- with pacy runs and intelligent passes on both flanks( left first half/ right second).
Then there was trialist Chris Sharp. I have enthused too often too early in the past over trialists and been proved wrong, but that said he did look lively, and topped his 90 minutes with a neat winning goal.
Elsewhere, O`Halloran and Milligan bossed matters largely , their experience and willingness to shout and coach, stood out, whilst a relative lack of experience proved absolutely no handicap for the excellent Scott Duxbury, who was on top of his form already!
There were other new faces on show who impressed.....Glenn Belezika played really well at Right Back and then Centre Back after the break before being forced off with an injury.
New signing Jordan Lazenbury also came on after the break and showed some classy touches, so overall things were not bad at all considering it was County`s first outing of the current pre-season.
The first half saw County pressing for much of the time but the speed of the impressive Aboubacar Sanogo almost proved their undoing, as County were caught on the break.
Sanogo hurried the ball on to Gary Burnett who simply did Lees for pace , before setting Reece Fishwick up for a shot. It was a screamer too, but somehow Hurst got something on it and pushed it for a corner, which saw Joseph Evans head over.
County meanwhile had won several corners but despite Milligan and Churchman sharing the load none of them came to anything, and I was tempted to worry a tad as Vics keeper, the impressive Richard Jones, did brilliantly to keep a strike from Woolfe out.
Then....things changed with the next corner , and this found its way inside to Sharp who wasted no time in despatching it into the net, to open the scoring.
Vics were by no means done for though, indeed Sanogo was proving a thorn in County`s side at this point and Hurst did well to deny Burnett after more good work from the lanky number seven had set him up.
Thankfully however County were keeping cool and with Duxbury and Belezina simply rocking down the flanks there seemed to be no real reason to worry, and it was still 1-0 at the break.
AL rang the changes after the break but not on a wholesale scale as last year...hence the different result!
All the named subs got a run out after the re-start and there didn`t seem any noticeable interruption in the organisational flow from the blues, with O`Halloran and Belenika sewing up the centre of the park nicely allowing others...most notably Woolfe , who operated on the right this time and showed much promise, to flourish!
One nil appeared the likely outcome , despite Ormson having to look lively to stop Burnett from latching onto a high bouncer delivered long by Jones.
But then it looked to be 2-0, when Jones let a shot from Sharp slip from his grasp allowing Dennis to bundle the ball home.
It did not look a foul and was not signalled offside but, disappointingly, the referee ruled the `goal' out!
Jones showed no after effects from this encounter and did well more than once after this denying Dennis and Sharp , with a couple of terrific saves!
Northwich continued to try to square things and will think themselves perhaps unlucky to see a cross cum shot by Claran Crosswaite graze Ormson`s bar in the games dying embers, but the young County keeper stayed cool and rose to grab the ball under pressure as the latest of late corners offered Vics a glimmer, shortly after.
In the end it remained 1-0 to County and the teams left the field to a good reception, which was about right ......it had been a decent first effort !
County line up;
Hurst, Belezika, Duxbury, Milligan, Lees, O`Halloran, Sharp, Churchman, Spencer, Lofthouse, Woolfe.
Substitutes: Ormson, Murray, Gregson, Dennis, Fagbola, Lazenbury.
Northwich Victoria line up;
Jones, Elfitory,Norris, Meadowcroft, Henry, Flanagan, Sanago, Evans, Burnett, Clarke, Fishwick.
Headlam, McCoy, Ali, Crosswaite, Abdullah.
Ian Brown http://hedgegrower.blogspot.co.uk/
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