County 3 Macclesfield Town 2
It was very much Richard Landon`s day today at Edgeley Park , where County were matched against supposedly superior opposition in Macclesfield Town, our Conference Premier neighbours.
The weather was oddly mixed .....rain giving way to sunshine....giving way to......, and the crowd was relatively small at just under 1000, but those present were determined to ensure Richard`s day was a good one.
County `s team more than most it would seem as they produced by far their best performance of the close season which gave them a much warranted victory that was far more comfortable than the 3-2 score line suggested.
There were some superlative performers on show for the black shirted blues, none more so than late signing Richard Baker ,who scored 2 amazing goals...two that deserved an altogether bigger audience !
Captain Jamie Milligan gave an assured performance as well, against a Macc side that had a clutch of ex Hatters on board. But I particularly appreciated Sharps contribution too, and it was a disappointment when he was subbed part way through the second half.
But despite numerous changes in their line-up thereafter, and a bizarrely awarded `goal' to Macc, County never looked anything other than winners.
Back to the beginning then..... which is circa 2.45 when I made my way from the Cheadle End to the front of the Danny Bergara Stand ,where Help the Hatters Chairman John Fitzpatrick was scheduled to present Richard with a silver salver and cheque from the supporters group.
Having been treated kindly at the gate twixt Cheadle and Danny stands, it was ,and I under state it somewhat, something of a disappointment to be accosted by an arse in a suit, with a sad haircut, and advised, as I was about to make my way to the pitch to capture the moment of presentation , that `photographs could only be taken for my personal use and may not be published'.
He was placated enough for me to actually take the photos ,as I had promised Help the Hatters I would, but this approach seemingly marks a departure in the Clubs approach to me and the blog, or am I making too much of it? We will see!
The presentation went off sweetly and it was time for the teams to take the field, and County did so in a `one off' black number, along with an eclectic set of numbers that had Dennis at 2, and Woolfe 4......
A fair number had travelled from Macc, later confirmed as a healthy 138, but they must not have been too impressed to see the opening salvo from their team end with full back Scott Barrow lifting one into our midst on Row R.
Duxbury then broke up another Macc raid, but the first 6 or 7 minutes did not seem to promise any real threats to County`s piece of mind , and Barrow had work to do to keep a dangerous ball from Duxbury out, after much good work from the lively Sharp.
Macc did not look all that confident , and they must have been relieved to see a shot from Woolfe take a deflection when worse beckoned.
Already I thought Sharp to be the prime County mover, but his next attempt to stir something up, was foiled by ex Hatter Paul Turnbull , who was to go on to hold a rather shaky Macc edifice together for the remaining 80 minutes or so.
County continued to apparently punch above their weight , and with Lees and Milligan dealing nicely with a notional threat from the visitors, Woolfe scuttled up field where a peach of a cross looked destined to reach Dennis at the back post.
Dennis ensured that it did , and got a good shot off, but keeper Rhys Taylor managed somehow to keep it out with a fine diving save.
On it went in much the same vein, as County ignored their opponents allegedly superior status and piled on up the park.
Duxbury is ace at the `piling forward ' bit , and his cross ,on 15 minutes, fell to Churchman who leathered it goal ward in a trice. It was an absolute cracker, but Taylor reacted brilliantly and his second top class save of the afternoon kept it at 0-0.
This was not a bad game ,I was thinking, and the notion persisted as Sharp got in behind the visitors back line only to find no takers for his cross, and then Turnbull , at the other end, had a shot charged down.
As I say, the match was pretty watchable, but an element of doubt did creep in, on 20 minutes, thanks to a rather undistinguished cross from another ex wearer of County blue- Adriano Moke.
It was markedly over hit, and should have been routinely dealt with by Jordan Fagbola , but instead he fluffed his lines ,and when the ball landed at the feet of Malachi Lavelle-Moore it was 1-0 to the Silkmen, as he lashed a ferocious drive way past anything Hurst could offer in response!
That was a bit of a shock and probably against the run of play , but that said Hurst had to be awake to deal with a free kick not long after, after Gregson had fouled Chris Holroyd. Macclesfield pressed for a while after this with Gregson and new boy Baker making essential clearances under pressure.
You might just have been tempted to think that Macc would now play beach bully to County`s 8 stone weakling now, but this was not how it was panning out at all , instead Sharp again compromised the visitors defence with a tasty run that forced Taylor into hurried action to deny Baker who was ably supported by Duxbury.
The half hour mark came and went marked by an inglorious two footed tackle from Churchman.
I could perhaps understand the need for the lecture that followed from the referee, but did he really need to give us the first movement of Mahlers First whilst about it?
Still....I nit pick, and it was soon all forgotten, as another irresistible run from Sharp laid the Macc defence waste.
It was another one aimed at the back post and Dennis hot footed his way there meeting the ball with a firm header.
It was on target , and the keeper did well to get a hand to it, and push it upwards, but it was to no avail, the ball was over the line and it was 1-1.
Belezica had to come on after 37 minutes when Fagbola sustained a hamstring type injury, and he did well to block a Moke run , just doing enough at the same time to ensure Holroyd`s eventual shot went wide.
A run from Dennis.....a flagrantly awful slider from Andy Halls on Baker , and the first half was over, and the teams left the field to a decent round of applause.
On loan Jack Ryan was on at the re-start for Sharp, and the opening moments saw Macc push forward through Waide Fairhurst and Mathew Barnes- Homer, one of 4 or 5 subs brought on by Macc.
Gregson was borderline dismissive in his handling of the pair and danger was quickly averted.
Macc did continue to press- a free kick being headed clear by the impressive Milligan, and a Moke run dished by more good work from Duxbury.
County were doing well....earning applause......and the place was about to get a touch excited next , but it started serenely enough with routine mauling of Dennis by George Pilkington.
This brought Milligan centre stage, and he had already given us a classy long ball or two, and this one again had distance about it , he being situated just in front of the dug outs.
No matter....the kick was an absolute peach, and the finish ,if anything, from Baker was even better and the County new boy whooped with joy as the ball sped past Taylor into the net!
Moses replaced Milligan beyond the hour, and he left to warm applause, but there was no let up in the County forward movement , epitomised by Belezica who took on and beat David Gonzalez- Diaz and Alex McQuade, before running out of grass near the by-line.
Yes.....County were looking anything but 2nd best, and the place erupted again, on 67 minutes ,when Baker unleashed a blistering drive from the edge of the box, under pressure. Wow.......another terrific goal .... it was 3-1!
County began ringing the changes in earnest now, but it was nice to see Jordan Rose get a decent ripple from the home specs upon his return for Macc.
It was all so very routine now...there was no real threat coming from Macc .....until on 77 minutes Joe Mwasile chanced his arm with a snap shot.
Ormson stopped it but it ran clear and Mwasile had another go, which again Ormson appeared to have dealt with successfully.
Somehow the Pop Side liner saw it as a goal...... he was about the only one who did, but the referee acquiesced and , as Jon Kieran announced ' it`s a goal to Macclesfield....APPARENTLY!'
After this, and probably buoyed by the last action, Macc chased the game a bit, but with Belezica in outstanding form, and others in black showing up well too, County held out without undue alarms, until the final whistle when a gloom of Armageddon proportions descended on SK3, accompanied by the mother of all rain storms to see us off home.
No matter....it had been a splendid performance by County, and I hope Richard makes a decent sum from it all- he truly deserves to!
County line up;
Hurst , Fagbola, Lees, Gregson, Churchman, Milligan, Baker, Sharp, Dennis, Woolfe, Duxbury.
Ormson, Moses, Todd, Belezika, Lofthouse, Spencer, Murray, Lazenbury, Ryan.
Macclesfield Town line up:
Taylor, Halls, Barrow, Sigurdsson , Pilkington. Turnbull, Fairhurst, Lewis, Holroyd, Lavelle-Moore, Moke.
McQuade, Branagan ( GK), Thornton, Barnes-Homer, Mwasile, Cowan, Gonzalez-Diaz, Rose.