County 1 Airbus UK 2
County went down 2-1 to Welsh League high flyers Airbus UK at a sun scorched Edgeley Park today [Saturday].
The crowd was a sparce 455, but the game was fairly competitive, and with Andy Preece`s side having the benefit of a few extra weeks together and the not insubstantial addition of European football under their belts already, the reverse was by no means surprising and definitely no humiliation!
County had by far their strongest line up so far out today, but it was clear from the onset that former Hatter Andy had them well drilled, and the extra competitive games showed in sharpness all over the park.
Ryan Wade scored two goals for Airbus, but he also rather overdid the sharpness , causing referee Pete Gibbon to call on Andy for a word part way through the game.
Wade was perhaps lucky still to be on the field of play, offering a constant stream of clearly audible abuse to the officials and his opponents.
He stayed on however, and despite Kristian Dennis snatching one in the second half for County, the game was Airbus`s, and I saw no one complaining!
There was no Stephen O`Halloran on show at the start, but the back four of Lees, Gregson, Belezika and Duxbury looked about as strong as any we have thus far fielded, and with Milligan and Moses patrolling ground immediately in front of them, it seemed that all defensive options had been covered, but the early pressure was on the blues and Milligan had to hurriedly head clear, and both Duxbury and Gregson had to look lively to prevent Wade from scoring a very early goal indeed (twice).
An early corner was played back to Matty McGinn , but he lifted a poor effort into the crowd.
The first 5 or 6 minutes saw Airbus camped in the blues half and looking very lively about it, but as Belezika covered a run into the box by Glenn Rule , the forward accidentally tripped the County man up, putting him on the deck.
As I say...it was entirely accidental but Belezika saw it wholly differently and chased Rule grabbing him at one point.
Sanity eventually prevailed thanks to a cooling word from the referee, but I am hoping that this was a one off from the County Glenn.
Crucially in this respect ,there was no carry- over of hostilities, and both players earn browny points for that!
Matty Owens then completely miss judged a high bouncer from Danny Hurst and Scott Spencer was in, but somehow keeper James Coates rose to push the shot for a corner, but it was a definite escape alright, and the corner was cleared!
Already Wade was looking to be a danger and he escaped all his markers next making great headway down the right before releasing what looked to be an inch perfect ball for Andy Jones to despatch.
Jones was smack in front , but he scooped his shot way past the post, much to County`s relief.
Some neat play surfaced from County after this with Milligan, Woolfe and Dennis all involved, but Spencer shot wide on the end of it, and it remained 0-0.
That was a good response from County, but Airbus came back at them again, and Belezika did well to block Jones, as did Milligan with Rule.
The pressure continued to build with Andy Jones and Ryan Wignall both getting shots off that called for saves from Hurst.
It went on with Gregson under the cosh from Rule, and Belezica similarly placed with Wade, who then proceeded to treat the liner to a choice volley of ripe abuse.
Well worthy of a word in my view and it was not long before Mr Gibbon sought Andy Preece out, presumably to call for order!
We were past half way now in the first half and County were definitely up against it as Hurst tipped a header from Ian Kearney over the bar after the defender had steamed into the box at speed.
A corner it was then, and for a moment it seemed like County had dealt with it satisfactorily, but they hadn`t and they paid for it as Wade , in glorious isolation, just inside the box, made no mistake with a cool finish!
Sharp had a shot blocked , but then the mini siege of Hurst`s goal resumed as Belezika ushered a shot from Wignall off the line, and Wade dived in vain to head a cross from McGinn home!
Sharp and Woolfe did keep trying to respond but their attempts to send Lees through on the overlap met with implacable resistance from McGinn, which again put the pressure back on County.
Matters were not improved by a loose ball from Belezica, but he recovered his composure and did well to stop Rule capitalising on the situation.
On it went......John Barrow robbing Moses, as another McGinn cross forced Dennis to track back and head off the line.
County continued to defend doggedly as throws and free kicks pegged them back, but crucially they did not concede any more goals, indeed Duxbury and Dennis had a couple of tries to change things, but Airbus were as tight at the back now as they were up front and it was 1-0 to the Welsh side at the break.
At the re-start Belezica went to RB ,whilst Lees took his place alongside Gregson.
After some early Airbus pressure things started to improve a touch for County as a Dennis run pushed their opponents back, but the blues were always potentially likely to be hit on the break, and Ellis Healing did just that after 50 minutes, but Hurst`s decision to stand tall and not go to ground, proved crucial and the forward was thwarted!
Not long after this the handbags were out as Sharp and McGinn lost it for a brief second or two, but a soothing word from the referee calmed things down, and play resumed with Moses and Milligan trying their best to impose themselves in mid field.
It was a big ask though, as Airbus looked a well drilled outfit, and Moses had to content himself with a defensive header that conceded a corner as the Welsh side toyed with ideas of a second goal.
Healing had ideas of his own apparently and a neat dribble by him caused a bit of a stir ,which only subsided when Jay Owen lifted a poor effort into the near empty Railway End ( 2 men and 3 stewards).
Duxbury then did well to deny Andy Jones, before starting a charge up the park which looked like ending well when Sharp latched onto the ball and powered away down the left.
The he crossed into the box, and it was a pretty good effort, but the advancing Dennis could not hit the target with his shot!
We needed that one to have counted as , it was clear that another Airbus raid would not be long in arriving, and so it was as a superb cross by Lee Owens teed Healing up with a chance.
He was well placed , but Hurst did not need to move to make the save and it stayed 1-0. Not for long however as once again ,having done the hard bit, County then thought they could relax and they couldn`t, as Wade had the ball, and then he hadn`t because he had lashed his second goal into the net!
A.L started to ring the changes now.
Churchman had come on earlier for Woolfe, and now Belezica and Spencer gave way to Fagbola and Lazenbury, and within a couple of minutes the blues had pulled one back, when another break from deep by Sharp saw the ball head inside the box, where Dennis toe poked it home expertly.
That was a good effort by County, but it had a cost as Airbus redoubled their efforts again mainly via Lee Owens who was running at County with rare energy down the right.
In response Lees...Milligan...Duxbury...all made crucial interventions- it was quite hairy for a time, but it changed with a foul on Sharp and a corner which Sharp and Lazenbury went for but just could not force home.
That was disappointing but things brightened again next as a long ball from Hurst saw Dennis fouled just outside the box.
Dennis took the kick but it hit the wall and ran on to Churchman who forced the keeper to make a spectacularly brilliant save to keep his shot out- it was a cracker, and Airbus`s misery did not end there as Coates had to deny Churchman again with another good stop, following which the mother of all melee saw Fagbola force the ball against the post , with defenders charging about like so many headless chickens in the confusion!
That was a good effort, but so....so...disappointing, and a final punch out by Coates ended the Welsh sides angst.
Lazenbury and Dennis were unlucky late on when their good work saw the latter skip clear to the by-line, but the liners flag was up, and County were denied, and Airbus held out fairly comfortably until the final whistle.
Game over then.... but a useful work out in my view, against a side some weeks further forward training wise than us, so nil desperandum!
See you Tuesday at Glossop!
County line up;
Hurst, Lees,Duxbury,Gregson, Belezica ( Fagbola 64), Milligan, Moses ( Lofthouse 75), Sharp, Spencer( Lazenbury 64), Dennis, Woolfe ( Churchman 52).
Airbus UK line up;
Coates, L Owens, McGinn, Spittle, Keraney, Rule, Barrow, Williams, A Jones, Wignall, Wade.
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