County 4 Winsford Town 4 (5-4 on pens)
County began their defence of the magnificent Cheshire Senior Cup trophy with a right old nerve jangler of a victory against a rumbustiously competitive Winsford United side at Edgeley Park last night.
There were no early nights for anyone however, as the match took in extra time and then penalties before County triumphed 5-4 on pens thanks to steady nerves and the reliable hands of Ian Ormson who saved 2 spot kicks to see us through.
It was all so frenetic at the end, but it had been anything but early on, indeed, with Kaine Felix bestriding proceedings with a masterful showing, County were cruising at 3-1 up with just 2 minutes remaining of normal time.
Alas….a goal on 88 minutes and another late on in added time sent the noisy Winsford contingent in the crowd wild with delight and forced extra time.
Another late goal for Winsford cancelled out Marsdens extra time strike and it was on to penalties, and you can see how those went later in this report……
Back at 7.45 County kicked off with a side of mainly fringe players with the addition of Ross, Clarke, Smalley and Stopforth, with Jimmy Ball the only truly recognisable name on the bench.
County surged forward from the start with Marsden and Cartwright forcing the pace, and we seemed to have the lead, on 14 minutes, when Josh Amis headed home from close in, but the Pop Side liner ruled it out with a dubious wave of his flag.
Amis was putting himself about to reasonably good effect, but he was conceding as many free kicks as he was winning as wave after wave of blue attacks continued.
At the head of these attacks was Kaine Felix whose electrifying pace did for the visitors defensive cool time after time, and it was no surprise when his latest burst of speed saw him surge past 2 defenders before drawing keeper Bill Jones and smashing the ball home.
Twenty seven minutes gone…..1-0 to County…..not bad at all, but it looked like being 2-0 within a couple of minutes of the goal, as again Felix`s pace saw him beyond his marker and heading goal wards. The covering defender …well….wasn`t in a position cover …just watch despairingly as the keeper advanced more in hope than expectation.
It was at this point that the covering defender chose to tackle Felix from behind , and down he went. Trying to regain his footing, in the box, Felix then found himself tripped by the keeper`s outstretched leg!
Oh…..ok…..great…penalty….but no….night is very probably day in referee Woodward`s neck of the woods, and he was seen brandishing a yellow card, not for Jones…but Felix- a truly awesomely bad call!
Winsford rallied for a while after this boost and Ormson did well to cover shot from Brandon Moores and Harry Brazel, as free kicks fuelled the United counter attacks.
County weathered this briefest of storms and went really close in the dying embers of the half thanks to Felix again. He was kept out by excellent work from Caldon Henson, and Jones did equally well to deny Marsden at the back post from the resultant corner.
One up at the break, County replaced Stopforth with Jimmy Ball for the re-start.
Felix resumed where he left off almost putting Amis in after some excellent work- Bill Foster saw the threat off however and kept the United deficit to 1-0.
Ross joined the attack and keeper Jones did well to push Meppen-Walter`s shot around the post from his cross. Clarke headed over from the corner.
On it went…Felix shooting wide…..Jones scrambling back as a lob headed goal ward with him stranded somewhere near Moscow Road. Then Ball hit the post .
Henson did get a shot in for Winsford at one point , but it was pretty much all County, and it was no surprise when they doubled their lead through Felix who slammed the ball home in emphatic fashion from a Marsden corner delivered with precision.
Ball…..Amis both tried to add to the County lead, but their efforts lacked the precision mentioned in the last para, and it was a bit of a shock when Winsford pulled one back thanks to a right footed strike from Scott Taylor.
At this point Kaine Felix was substituted, departing to a warm ovation, from the crowd of over 300.
Within 5 minutes County were 3-1 up as the hard working Marsden conjoured up another beautiful ball teeing Meppen-Walter up to hook the ball home .
With just over 15 minutes left it was more or less `game over` wasn`t it?
I thought so, and so did others especially as County were hunting a fourth goal, and Jones had to work a small miracle to deny Amis.
Smalley had to go off having taken a knock , shortly after, replaced by Jordan Peach,as the County assault of the Winsford goal went on relentlessly, but still it stayed 3-1 despite the best efforts of Marsden and Ball.
Then….with County in cruise mode, Winsford took the bit twixt their teeth and went for it and, with just 2 minutes left…their efforts paid off when a period of United pressure saw Lee Duckworth head home from close in.
Hmm…..worrying? Yes probably , but I looked up to see Marsden skin the last defender head for goal. It was a shoo in…..well I thought it was…..but with the goal at his mercy Marsden`s shot glanced off the bar and fizzed off into the empty Cheadle End!
A decisive moment that, as into added time and with Winsford throwing everything at County in a determined effort, their effort again paid off as Riley took advantage of confusion in the County dfence to slot in the equaliser.
Bugger…..3-3 and extra time , and both teams went close early doors….Meppen-Walter for the blues and the rotund but effective Taylor for Winsford.
It stayed 3-3 and then it didn`t and it was County who inched ahead again, via the deserving Marsden who finished off fine work by Cartwright to make it 4-3 with a fine finish.
I was thinking that 4-3 would now be 5-3 as after Jones had saved brilliantly to keep Marsden out, Amis surged clear. It looked a good chance until the Danny Stand liner raised his flag and spoiled the party.
The first half of extra time ended with a Jones save from Ross , and the second opened in the same vein with Marsden shooting wide.
For Winsford….Taylor was still looking to be United`s most potent option, but his shot cleared the bar after Ormson had worked hard under pressure to keep the visitors at bay.
It was end to end fort a time….Collins shooting wide for Winsford……Callum Scott foiled by the keeper for County. In fact Scott had the ball in the net from a Marsden pass with just 6 minutes left, only to have what looked like a valid effort disallowed!
It looked just a matter of time before County added a fifth- it looked like Amis would do it….but his shot drifted agonisingly wide of Jones`s far post….then Ball and Marsden went oh…so close…….so…just a matter of time then…..
But…..hey ho… the valiant Winsford team had other ideas and pushing forward ,and seeing a shot crash into a County post, Dean Clarke followed up to make it 4-4.
There was barely time to draw breath, before a blast of the referees whistle told us we were into penalty shoot out time.
I was already at the Cheadle End gambling that it would happen at that end ,and so it would be.
First up for Winsford it Riley, and Ormson brought the house down with an immaculate save…..0-0
Up stepped Meppen-Walter for County …..1-0
O`Brien then scored for Winsford …..1-1
As did Ball for the blues…….2-1
Clarke then made it 2-2……
And Marsden restored the County lead…..3-2
Collins was next for Winsford and he made no mistake…..3-3
Cartwright ,who had had a decent night, then saw his effort saved by Jones….3-3
Ormson went ever so close to reaching Henson`s kick ,but it was 3-4 and for the first time Winsford had their noses in front….
The pressure was on when Ross stepped up …miss it and County were out…..but he made his kick count…4-4
Brazel took the first sudden death kick for United, and Ormson kept the best for last pulling off a great save to keep it 4-4
So….it was up to Michael Clarke to do the biz under pressure and that`s just what he did…..seeing County home 5-4…..
Great stuff…not perfect by any means but loads of `fringe players, needing match minutes got these and in a match that was not unimportant.
Felix made many fans last night , and again impressed me no end, and it was clear that Marsden wants to be in James` mix.
Elsewhere some young players got valuable experience against gritty opposition, and it was good to see Cartwright bad a doing well.
And then there was Ian Ormson… and he did really well under pressure -producing the goods when very much needed…really pleasing to see ,but not a surprise to Ormson watchers!
Here`s to continued progress in this years Cheshire Senior Cup, and of course the FA Trophy - see you Saturday!
[ As ever, great under the 'lights pics here! ]
Stockport County line up:
Ormson, Ross, Cartwright, Meppen-Walters, Clarke, Smalley, Felix, Stopforth, Amis, Marsden, Wardle.
Smith, O`Brien, Ball, Peach, Scott.
Winsford line up:
Jones, Henson, Duckworth, Bennett, Parr, Foster, Taylor, Brazel, Riley, Johnson, Moores.
Burton, Egan, Clarke, Collins, Riley.