County 3 Bradford PA 1
A number of things of note happened this week......
A survey team in the remote Kimberley Islands found a previously unknown population of rare and endangered species of tree rat.....'Northern Quoll( Dasyrus hallucatus)'...... good news......I liked that !
Less likeable....more irritating......was the news that Astrophysicists ( who else ) managed to determine the exact time of Monets `Sunrise`, and by implication the start of the Impressionist Movement, which they pinpointed to 7.35 a.m. 13 November 1872!
I am sure that Astrophysicists the world over found this to be good news, for myself I remain unconvinced, but fast forward to today, and there was some really impressively good news, from Edgeley Park, for County supporters as their team ran out convincing 3-1 winners against previously unbeaten Bradford Park Avenue.
Park Avenue were also the division`s top scorers so this was no mean feat, and the crowd of over 2000 fully acknowledged this fact at the end of the game.
This win has the potential to turn our season around.....Stalybridge on Monday will tell us more on this matter, but for now ....I for one will do a bit of basking in the unaccustomed splendour of consecutive victories.
County were unchanged, which was good to see after the encouraging showing at Tamworth. But this meant playing 5 at the back again though, and home fans are usually not quick to greet such perceived defensive line ups well.
They must, however, have seen the value this time as the 5, shielded magnificently by Tunji Moses and captain Jamie Milligan, and with the truly superb Danny Hurst behind them, performed terrifically well.
Others did well too, and my M.O.M ...... Scott Spencer would have notched at least a couple but for heroics by Bradford keeper John Lamb ( a fantastically good man to have between the sticks).
Richie Baker and Jack Ryan did their bit as well....both notching neat goals, in a team performance out of the top draw. It was not without its moments none the less, and County had to withstand much late pressure after Moses and Milligan had been substituted due to what I assume to be injuries, or niggles, which with older players are much more of an issue.
To withstand the pressure, with not a few rustic challenges mixed in there from their opponents, was good work, but to add a third goal and thus kill off the opposition was just wonderful. How often in the past have we bemoaned County`s inability to kill teams off?......not today.....great stuff!
Back to 3 o`clock then, and County`s unchanged 11 pushed their opponents back in the first few minutes , and me and others were on our feet howling in anguish, just 4 minutes in, as a neat effort from Richie Baker was pushed over the bar by John Lamb.
No less than 4 County corners followed in rapid succession after this, but Bradford held out without further trouble.
Already I was impressed though....there seemed to be altogether more oomph and zest about the blues work, and Scott Spencer epitomised this, only just missing out with a shot, a minute later, on the end of a Milligan/Moses inspired move.
Five minutes had gone by.......not a vast expanse of time.....but time enough it seems for me to be challenged, by a steward, about my use of a camera!
This is the second time this has happened in the short period that has elapsed since football returned to EP after the close season, and it is fantastically annoying! We are in Division 6 and yet still we apparently are willing to stick two fingers up at loads of free publicity! I am gobsmacked at the blinkered stupidity of people who should know better!
Enough of this..........on with the game......
There was time next for Park Avenue to give us a hint of what they could do, and the person doing it was a very lively individual indeed, and seemingly not a bad footballer either....Chib Chilaka.
I had never heard of him before today, but he put himself about impressively all afternoon...not always by 100% legal means, but I nit-pick, and the 6th minute saw him in behind the County back line with only Hurst between him and a goal. It was a heart flutterer alright, but I had reckoned without Danny Hurst, and he did really well to keep Bradford`s number nine out!
One...two minutes later and County were one up, and it came via Richie Baker, who latched onto a loose ball way out before lashing a snorter past Lamb into the net.
Casting my mind back to the Legends game and the two excellent Baker goals in same....these were accompanied by vigorous Baker goal celebrations, and another one followed here, he certainly enjoys scoring! Eight minutes gone......County 1-0 up...does it get any better than this?
Well ....it certainly threatened to.....as great work at the back by Lees saw him free up Spencer for a dash up the park.
It was a good run too, and the shot was on target, but so was Lamb and his dive enabled him to push the shot out for a corner. Spencer went close again from the kick that followed, but then the Yorkshire side came back at County with more than a hint of the steely determination that had seen them thus far undefeated this term.
Joe Coldbeck made headway down the right and watched as his shot flashed across goal before going harmlessly out. Then he had another go ,only for Hurst to thwart him this time, keeping another neat cross out of Chilaka`s clutches.
Grant Black joined Coldbeck and for a time the pair made some progress down the right - crosses from both pinging over but without anyone on hand to do the biz on the end of them. Paul Walker did get to yet another Black cross ,around the 20 minute mark, but he could not keep his header down ,and it stayed 1-0.
So far, County had been under a bit of pressure, but no more than you would expect against a team that clearly fancies themselves, nobody more so than Danny Martin who`s effort screamed across the face of goal before going out, after Lees had performed heroics to deny Matty James.
It was about time that County replied, and they did via O`Halloran who charged clear to set Ryan up nicely. A shot followed but it was a hurried effort and didn`t present Lamb with any problems at all.
On it went... with County moving the ball about nicely , but prone to the odd Bradford break, but it was County who broke clear, on 24 minutes, only for Ryan Qualter to earn himself a yellow with a routine bit of work clattering Scott Spencer.
It fell to Milligan to take the kick, and it was every bit as good as the one that rattled the bar at Tamworth last week, curling relentlessly towards the top corner, only to be tipped onto the bar and out, by a terrific save from Lamb! Say what you will about the outfield play at this level, but some of the keeping is top draw!
This last point quickly emphasised again shortly after as Belezika sent Spencer on another run behind the visitors back line. It was a chance and Spencer looked to have taken it, but he hadn`t.....instead Lamb had pulled off another eye wateringly good save!
But Lamb was not alone in providing the spell binding heroics....Hurst could do so also for County, and he had to as Chililaka burst clear and blasted a shot goal ward.
It was going in until Hurst`s dive saw him beat it out, but Chilaka had the ball again and once more powered it for goal, only for the County keeper to fling himself to his right to keep it out at point blank range!
Absolutely too good for word......wow!
County were showing much greater sharpness going forward today though, particularly Spencer, who must have been totally mortified to see yet another effort miss out- this time a snap header from a corner!
We needed one of those efforts to have sneaked in, instead it was still 1-0 and County were back defending as Nathan Hotte lifted a shot high over the bar. That was poor....what followed wasn`t as Chilaka was behind it with a typically powerful run.
Thankfully Gregson was on hand to apply the required balm and ease County`s pain, whilst disappointing Chilaka.
Moses sent Ryan scurrying to the by line just before half time, but the half ended with County defending ,and doing it well, in the unlikely shape of Spencer who having tracked back, then produced a snorter of a tackle to stop Black on the charge. It was a corner, but Martin again managed to make Row R duck with his attempt on goal and that was that for the first half.
The early moves came from the blues upon the re-start.....Spencer curling a shot just wide, whilst an exciting run by Belezika was halted by a prodigious slider from Paul Walker.
Meanwhile Grant Black continued to be Bradford`s player `most likely to` and his cross, 10 minutes into the half, had Hurst punching out under pressure.
Twice Chilaka was foiled by the liners flag, which was just reward for County`s patient refusal to rush in and commit to rash challenges. I would guess that someone`s had a word with them, and it shows, and I bet the free kicks against count is way down of late as a result!
Just before the hour, Moses was replaced by Woolfe, which was an attacking move for sure, but what would the affect be on our defensive stability?
Well............there was no time to wonder as Belezika went on one of those trademark leggy runs of his laying two opponents waste en-route( legally), but the stand side liner hallucinated badly and flagged for a foul by the County man which was plainly absurd!
Then, with the next County move any doubts about the substitutions were placed into context as, just 3 minutes after the change, County added a second goal.
It started with a beaut of a ball from the back( I did not see who from).....and Spencer was away and heading for goal.......WHAM@@@!!!!##.... an absolute pile driver left Spencer`s vicinity and also headed goal ward.
Well......2-0 then.......except it wasn`t......yet.....because Lamb bravely got to it and blocked it somehow.
The power knocked him sideways however and the ball spun back towards goal where Jack Ryan nipped in and prodded it home....and it was 2-0!
After this....Woolfe and Spencer combined to good effect ...Spencer filleted the visitors back line with a mazy run that took him into and across the box, only for Lamb to thwart him yet again, and Lamb had to look lively to keep a chested back pass by Qualter from making it 3-0.......it was good stuff from County, but still a surprise to see Milligan replaced by Lofthouse with around 20 minutes still to go.
Milligan left to a deserved ovation, but would County be able to cope without him?
Spencer tried to make all those kind of thoughts irrelevant with a terrific run that saw him stitch two defenders up completely. He was through ....he was....but Lamb was on his toes and his rush from goal saw him down at the County forwards feet to make another impressive save!
Spencer...Ryan....Belezika....all had a try to get that elusive game ending third, but without success, instead the likes of Gregson...Lees and Baker were called on to get serious and make decisive interventions as gradually the pressure was re-exerted by Bradford, and Belezika did best of all....ushering the ball out off the line as a Chilaka inspired move raged in the County box.
Eventually the pressure told and Danny Frost was able to sneak clear and take advantage of a mix up at the back for County, to reduce the arrears to 2-1.
Hurst took a fearful knock from this last action and was laid out for some 5 or more minutes, before resuming swathed in bandages. He looked best advised to go off, especially with Ormson ready and willing to come on, but he bravely stayed the course to earn a massive ovation at the end
It must be said that some of the `tackling` from Park Avenue was overly agricultural, and Hotte was lucky to still be on the park after the ludicrously over vigorous limb threatener he treated Spencer too, with around 3 minutes of normal time left.
88 Minutes.......89......... and still Bradford were hell bent on getting a point from the game, and Lees and O`Halloran did excellent work at this point to keep County`s craft afloat.
With 6 minutes added time announced, Kristian Dennis came on for Spencer, who received generous, well deserved applause as he trooped off.
The pressure remained mainly on County however, as Chilaka...then Frost appeared like spectres at a feast in and around the blue box.....and Black was still pinging those hopeful crosses over to compound County`s discomfort.
It looked like a typical County type nail biter.... the type we routinely lose, but...what`s this.....something was stirring from the blues and Woolfe gave the pot an almighty stir with a lovely pass that saw Dennis scoot clear.
On.....on ...past one...past two men ....Dennis could now see the whites of Lamb`s eye`s but a split second later he could see the keeper pull off another marvellous save to keep it at 2-1.
That was an absolute bummer......but the angst lasted but a minute or so longer when the ball reached Ryan on the edge of the box.
He held the ball for a moment or so before releasing it to Woolfe who fired a cross in that teed Dennis up for a shot that Lamb, despite his obvious bravery, could not keep out. It was 3-1 to County and before long the 3 points were ours as was a second win on the bounce.
Terrific stuff County....well done!
See you all at Stalybridge on Monday for a repeat!
County line up:
Hurst, Belezika, Lees, Gregson, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Milligan( Lofthouse 68), Moses( Woolfe 58), Baker, Ryan, Spencer ( Dennis 89).
Subs not used: Ormson, Sharp.
Bradford Park Avenue line up:
Lamb, Black, Martin, Price, Qualter, Coldbeck, James, Hotte, Chilaka, Kerr, Walker.
Rea, Banton, Marshall, Frost, Mallory.