Alfreton Town 1 County 1
County came away with a point from the ill named Impact Arena today, but with Alfreton stealing their point via a late/late goal line scramble from a dubious corner, in added time, this represented a big disappointment.
It was also very probably 2 points lost rather than 1 gained, with Alfreton seeming to have little or no chance for most of the game.
It was not that our hosts did not attack….they did quite often, but with the County back line impeccably set up, and singing sublimely to the correct song sheet, there was no way through as Town were restricted to long range punts and shots for the most part.
The County defence and midfield were excellent, with Minihan top marks earner with another impressive all round performance.
Montrose and Osbourne both put shifts in, and in Osbourne`s case, with a touch more luck, might have had a goal or two in the first half.
Josh Amis actually did get one and it was a good goal too, as well as a testimony to the lad`s determination and grit as he was given a shed load of welly from a couple of the home defenders from the off.
In the end…we needed a second…..could not get it…..and that always makes us vulnerable to the late fluke or touch of illfortune….there hangs the tail!
It was ever thus…. but at 3`oclock optimisms abounded near the rain lashed corner flag as a 3 man/ 1 woman debate came to an early agreement…..County to win by some today!
Well……we would see wouldn`t we….but it certainly looked so, and quickly as the exotically named home keeper Fabian Spiess had to claw an effort by Osbourne out of the dank afternoon air.
That woke everyone up, as did a sudden break by Mark Shelton for Town.
After stealing possession in fine style though, the striker found Michael Clarke on his case and some excellent work from him saw to it that Hinchliffe was protected fully, and the chance snuffed out.
It was a corner however, and Craig Westcarr did his utmost to see the chance converted, but this amounted to supreme optimism on his part, as a Clarke, Smalley, Ross combo did the biz and cleared the County lines.
It was looking like a good end to end encounter, and Osbourne stepped up again, with just 5 minutes gone, to sting Spiess` fingers with another little cracker.
`End to end ' did I say? Yes…it was and Hinchliffe did really well to emphatically punch clear with the Alfreton battalions snapping at his heels in the box.
Then play switched ends where Spiess was seen scrambling back to hurry the ball around the post with County in there and interested.
A game long pattern( from both sides) then commenced as the resultant corner failed to test the keeper.
Ross then put Alfreton under pressure with a strong run out of defence, but having seemingly won a corner, he was disappointed ( as was I, only more so )to see the liner flag for a GK!
On it went with Ball shooting over from close in…….and Ross having to double back to stop Westcarr and Tom Allan as they worked the ball up the park.
More open play resulted in Montrose trying his luck but seeing the ball fly wide, after a neat County move, and Allan, for Town, looking crestfallen seeing his cross go astray, courtesy of some tight defensive play from Smalley.
Allan kept trying forcing Ross to concede a corner, but the curse of the set piece struck again as the poorest of kicks allowed County to break via Osbourne , who did enough to set Minihan up with a half chance which sadly went a couple of feet wide.
The attacking from Alfreton continued, but the County response inspired confidence as Duxbury did for a run from Paul Marshall and Montrose joined young Scott to blunt another Town sortie.
Alfreton were attacking with a purpose for sure, but they were not getting within sniffing distance of Hinchliffe.
Minihan meanwhile was a master at both ends of the park- stopping Westcarr with a brilliant bit of work one moment…..up and at 'em at the other end the next……
And…..the 41st minute saw Sam on the ball just beyond half way……he was off and running, as was Lloyd to his left.
It screamed for a pass to the diminutive County wide man, and that`s just what happened as Minihan stroked an immaculate pass into the ex Fylde striker`s path.
Would he shoot…score?.... well…no….he lifted a nicely weighted cross into the box where Amis did the rest planting the firmest of headers into the net way beyond anything Spiess could manage!
County seemed to be on song now with half time nearing, and they very nearly made it 2-0 as well, as Lloyd sent a fine drive heading for the far top corner, only for Spiess to spoil the moment with another spectacular diving save.
Credit to Alfreton….. they kept working , and County had to work themselves to keep it at 1-0 in the minutes that remained of the half.
A one goal lead was very satisfactory really, and a neat cushion for the second half, but we would need the addition of a second goal to reduce the angst factor.
The second half saw Alftreton trying their best to get level, but as in the first 45 County were forcing them to resort to pinging in crosses from deep, and Clarke and company were finding these easy to deal with.
Meanwhile Lloyd was finding his range, and it took desperate defending from Terry Kennedy to stop him some 10 minutes into the half.
Minihan and Montrose for their part were providing the engine to County`s effort, whilst Town had hard working Andy Monkhouse to point to….OK…his shot ,on 66 minutes, was well wide, but we would do well to up the anti and snuff him out.
Then…… like magic….the game came to life…..
County were defending….then they weren`t, and Spiess was in `full on panic mode` ,as were his fellow defenders with Amis bearing down on goal.
Out came Spiess to the edge of his box, at the very moment that Amis`s legs were taken from behind by Mc Gowan. The ball ran loose and Spiess continued his advance taking him outside the box where his outstretched hands made contact with the ball.
The contact was sufficient to stop the immediate rot, but not entirely as the ball ran out to Lloyd and with Spiess nearer Hinchliffe`s goal than his own…the goal was gaping. It was a good chance, but Lloyd put his shot wide- chance gone.
But….what of the incident just described? Well the defender saw a yellow for the foul on Amis, but there was absolutely no admonishment for the keeper despite him handling a yard outside the box!
That was a game changer from referee Saunby, and a classic bottle job!
Odejayi for Amis and Felix for Lloyd freshened up the County set up, and with Alfreton continuing to apply pressure we perhaps needed this fresh input from fresh legs.
Felix was a particularly welcome arrival on the park and was soon skipping past his man on the right before winning a corner.
This came to nothing, but Felix offered hope- I thought, and insurance against complacency. We needed that 2nd goal badly to put the game to bed….and we needed Odejayi to get to a through ball before Spiess, but the pass was too strong and the keeper won out.
With time ticking away, Alfreton kept plugging away….inspiring a collective " yes" from the home specs with 2 minutes left, but the ball went wide much to their chagrin, and it stayed 1-0.
County tried as well- Ball foiled by Jordan Richards` good work.
Soon enough we were in added time, and also soon wading waist deep in the brown stuff. It did not seem so, as, with Town attacking down the right, we had defended well enough to win a goal kick, but we apparently hadn`t as the liners flag indicated a corner!
Bugger…it oh so very wasn`t apparently, but we were now in Sods Law territory as an almighty scramble ensued in front of Hinchliffe`s goal, from the none corner, and eventually a toe poke by substitute Liam Hearn made it 1-1 and saved the home sides bacon!
It very disappointing was that, and doubly so due to the nature of the goal, but we have to live with that and perhaps learn from the situation.
County tried to get that second late on, but it was never going to materialise …1-1 it was …no disgrace…..but disappointing none the less.
So…its pick ourselves up….do the dust down bit…and apply ourselves again …against FCUM on Saturday…..see you at Edgeley Park.
[ Excellent pictures from a miserable looking Alfreton can be found here! ]
Alfreton Town line up:
Spiess, Richards, Heaton, Kennedy, Mc Gowan, Nyoni, Monkhouse( Clayton 74), Marshall, Westcarr( Hearn 82), Shelton, Allan.
Subs not used:
Priestley, Jordan, Gascoine.
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe, Ross, Clarke, Smalley, Duxbury, Montrose, Minihan, Osbourne( Brazel 86), Amis( Odejayi 72), Ball, Lloyd( Felix 82).
Subs not used: Ormson,Marsden.