County 2 FC United of Manchester 1
County duly extended their unbeaten league run to twelve games, and kept in easy reach of the play off places, with a thoroughly deserved 2-1 win against FC United of Manchester, today at Edgeley Park.
Some might say that County made somewhat hard work of it, but I prefer to note the fact that, having taken a lead…doubled it….then conceded a poor goal via the penalty spot, they then did not fold.
No…. County manned it out, and ,more importantly, saw the game out in a very professional manner, faced with shed loads of provocation from a visiting side that let themselves down badly on the discipline front!
Yep…they did that, all right!
Before the game I was pondering the fact that scientists had just discovered humanity`s earliest ancestor, and that there was a shock along with the discovery, in that ` saccorhytus coronarous` apparently was little more than `a bag with a mouth`.
Yes…..to be sure……natures earliest of risers, who strutted his/her stuff some 510/520 million years ago , is long gone, but judging by the way FCUM played today there is much that still lingers on from that pre-Jurassic age!
For sure some of the assaults suffered by County players at various stages in the game were obnoxious in the extreme. That only one such was deemed worthy of a red card merely acts as a silent commentary on Referee Marc Edwards` laissez-faire approach to the game.
No matter…..let`s instead….. acknowledge a good County win, that keeps them in sixth position I think, and laud some brave decisions by James Gannon!
First off he brought Kaine Felix and Connor Hampson in for starts at the expense of Scott Duxbury and Mark Ross….and then…when…at 1-0…we badly needed a second goal…on came Scott Duxbury to provide it with a coolly taken strikers finish!
A hand to ball moment from Josh Amis then rather took some of the shine off what was looking to be a routine win. That was sad because Amis had had his best game for us by a mile, showing us some neat touches and a willingness to work above and beyond.
Probably Sefton Gonzales` presence on the bench contributed to the extra urgency, but whatever the catalyst…it was good to see. We saw Gonzales on late on and he did OK in the few minutes he had on the park.
For the rest of the County team…name a player…..he did well. Minihan took the M.O.M award justifiably, but others shone to….the usual suspects…Montrose, Osbourne, Clarke, Smalley, and new man Hampson who had a pretty neat debut at LB.
We could maybe have won by more……we certainly could…no……… should have done better with the plethora of corners and free kicks that came our way, but I nit pick…a win is a win is a win…especially when you are in with a definite shout of the play offs.
Back to 3 o`clock then, and with a crowd of not far short of 6000 in the old place ,the atmosphere was electric .
Inside a minute ….Jake Williams had found touch for FCUM , and within another, debut boy Connor Hampson had gained the first of a wearying number of County free kicks, but this saw Williams in position to block Danny Lloyd`s early strike.
A flick on from Montrose interested Lloyd further, shortly after, but when Osbourne and Hampson joined in, another defensive block saw the danger off.
County were making good headway early on, particularly down the right, and Felix was unlucky to see nobody able to reach his cross after being put through by Lloyd.
Minihan was the first to test keeper Dave Carnell, with a shot,8 minutes in, but the FCUM keeper got down quickly to smother the effort in front of his near post.
County were looking OK…..Hampson was in the game with regularity, and looked good in the process, whereas with nearly 10 minutes gone, we still awaited FCUM`s first attack.
A throw from Williams saw the visitors inside the County box for the first time, with 17 minutes gone, but it ended unhappily for them as Nathan Lowe`s shot drifted well wide of goal with Hinchliffe not needing to move.
The action switched ends next, and Carnell only just clung onto Montrose`s shot , after a couple of attempts on goal from Lloyd had softened the red defences up a touch.
Oodles of space were still coming County`s way down the flanks as were free kicks , but we were not making these count, and I winced to watch Ball lift the poorest of efforts nearer the Bung Bowling Green than Carnell`s goal, midway into the half.
Ball did altogether better a couple of minutes later, at least he shaped to do….but having got the drop on Tom Brown, the FCUM number 4 then promptly chopped his legs from under! A shocking `tackle`, and one fully deserving of the yellow it earned!
A succession of corners and free kicks punctuated the next few minutes, with County showing no sign of knowing how to turn same into the gold of goals.
It was pretty much all County though, and Minihan in particular was having a fine time down the right, supplemented here and there by Felix`s input. But the duo having filleted the FCUM left flank suitably….saw Amis head wide from the resultant cross to keep the score blank.
Carnell then got in a tangle next, but having needlessly conceded a corner, he made amends with a firm claim to deny County.
More corners…free kicks to County and then…..another almighty awful assault on a County man!
It was truly awful…..Amis had done well to send Ball dashing clear, and although he was a distance from goal near half way, he was heading goal ward, until…enter Scott Kay who just went right through Ball sending him sprawling…a tangled mix of arms legs and other stuff ! Worthy of a red ?
I felt so….but it was a yellow. It was a free kick also but the least said about that…..
We needed a goal….we just did not need to see the liner flag for offside, but with Amis putting Minihan through, that`s just what happened , and I was still moaning when County went one up on the stroke of half time.
It was great stuff really….Harry Winter had just gone off to have some blood issue dealt with, and he and Jason Gilchrist were way away from where the action was ,presumably listening to Karl Marginson moaning about the bloods bit, and the referee!
'Take the free kick' I bellowed in Minihan`s direction , and with Gilchrist now in position ,I thought any chance was gone. Well…it wasn`t….Minihan found Lloyd with the throw, and Lloyd unselfishly picked out Osbourne with a neat pass, and he did the rest…slamming a neat finish home before Carnell could move!
It was 1-0 to County, and within a minute or so it was half time too!
One nil was not a bad return from the first 45, but we needed to get a second, preferably early, to ease any angst, but instead our diet of over the top violence continued as Osbourne and Minihan were laid out in rapid succession.
This was tiresome stuff from the Manchester side, and was added to by the sight of Amis`s header from one of the free kick`s looping inches over the top.
County were on top, and piled the pressure on - the Minihan/ Felix combo winning a decent corner, that unfortunately went the way of many before it.
The County focus briefly wavered, with Ball talking himself into a booking, and Montrose making us duck with a loose effort, that rather spoilt Lloyd`s good work in the build up.
Around the hour mark, I chanced a wry smile when Lowe went down in the box over an outstretched leg! The referee`s expansive mime told us `no penalty` but I have seen 'em given!
To add insult to perceived injury, Lowe then saw his follow up shot charged down in front of goal, so….maybe…just maybe…. I would understand his next actions!
No…sorry….no way….Felix was played clear just beyond half way and was leaving Lowe for dead ,when the slackest jawed challenge ever came in from the FCUM man hitting the diminutive County wide man amid ships.
Straight red…..for sure ………except …..unbelievably…..it was a yellow…and another bottle job by a very poor official! The referee then added to his list of debits by seeing Amis force Kay to concede a corner, and then awarding a GK!
I was now a pitiable wreck…mumbling incoherent banalities into the cool afternoon air, as I looked around to see Carnell just nip out to beat Lloyd to an errant back pass by Kay.
Scott Duxbury came on for Felix after the hour, taking up an advanced position on the left, as County surged forward…..Lloyd….Ball both giving the red defenders a hard time. Ball saw Carnell make a fine save to stop him scoring, and Lloyd was inches from a tasty pass by Amis.
I had written the legend` County are revving up for a second`, but I did not entirely expect it to come along so soon. Amis had just forced the keeper to venture from his goal in extremis, and the chance appeared gone, until Minihan`s throw saw Ball head it on into the path of Duxbury who coolly slotted the ball home to a mighty roar from most of the large crowd.
It was 2-0….but it also served to spur the Manchester side on, and within 4 minutes, their efforts saw a dividend when Amis handled in the box giving the referee the simplest decision of his afternoon. It was a penalty and Jerome Wright put it away with aplomb making it 2-1 with a little under 15 minutes left to play.
Cue flares from the travelling Manchester hoards, and also cue a County response, with Gonzales now on for Amis who left to a good ovation!
Straight off there was another ruck….and another first class bottle job from Mr Edwards, as a Lloyd run was rudely curtailed courtesy of a ruthless / mindless lunge by already booked Kay.
Lloyd was flattened…..and it was at least a second yellow…but no……we got the free kick ( so a foul it was) but no card!
On it went….Clarke hacked down … nothing other than a free kick resulting. The FCUM keeper did well to beat Gonzales to the ball from the free kick, which did nothing to calm the nerves at all.
FCUM were beginning to get frisky now as well, so a typically angst ridden last 5 minutes beckoned!
Osbourne however was still in good nick, as was Lloyd, and the former found the latter with a neat ball, that sent him clear. It was a chance and Lloyd made no mistake sending a fierce shot it, but somehow Carnell managed to claw it out and keep it at 2-1 , and his team in the game!
The corner was a rare good one but County`s luck was out as Clarke was inches from reaching the ball ,unmarked, at the back post.
Lloyd kept it up prior to being subbed….. dashing clear one moment ,but unluckily ruled offside…..then inches from glory with a shot the fizzed its way a fag papers width from the top corner of the net!
The last minutes were a Minihan benefit, as he tore into the visitors with a vengeance- forcing a corner then a firm punch out from Carnell one minute, before being set up by the poorest of sliced clearances from Carnell. Minihan was away…and then he wasn`t as his legs were all over the park thanks to Chantler who carted him good and proper.
Even Mr Edwards could not deny that this was a degenerate assault, and he duly waved a red in the defenders direction sending him for an early bath.
County came under some pressure in added time, largely via long throws hurled over from the advancing darkness under the main stand roof. Somehow County were able to keep their shape and defend as one.
Minihan did get another freebie from Carnell( minus the limb threatener this time) , but his pass on for Osbourne to chase was too strong, but it did not matter, the game was over…the points were County`s and deservedly so!
As I have said a good win, one that keeps us there abouts, and maintains our good form. Next week sees the biggest challenge so far away from Edgeley Park when we take on Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough.
That should be a cracker- do not be at all tempted to bet against a County win!
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe, Minihan, Clarke, Smalley, Hampson, Montrose, Felix( Duxbury 65), Osbourne, Amis( Gonzales 78), Ball, Lloyd( Ross 88).
Subs not used; Ormson, Marsden.
FC United of Manchester line up:
Carnell, Williams, Chantler, Brown( Sheridan 68), Kay, Ashworth, Lowe, Winter, Gilchrist, Arnison( Greaves 76), Glynn( Wright 62)
Subs not used: Tonge, Wilkinson.