Gainsborough Trinity 0 County 1
If medals were struck for hard graft and putting in shifts well above and beyond, County would have earned themselves a shed load, today against arch battlers Gainsborough Trinity, well 13 anyway , and I refuse to give a M.O.M this time around as all 14 were top of the class, in a thoroughly well deserved 1-0 win.
It is always a scrap coming to this part of Lincolnshire and today was no different as from the off Trinity competed for everything in an effort to keep County at bay.
Felix and Gonzales felt the brunt of the treatment meted out by the home defenders….Felix was slammed into the boards at one point and generally roughed up at others, whilst Gonzales nearly always had 2 men on his case ,both of whom were clambering all over him most of the time.
`Par for the course 'you might be prompted to reply` and County should have the nous to overcome the tactic` and you may very well be right, but up until half time, they struggled to do so.
Gonzales and Lloyd each tested keeper Tom Nicholson with tasty efforts, but those excitements were rare ones in a half largely bereft of entertainment.
Entertainment however…is not what its all about, and JG`s half time chat saw an immediate turn around in the play that followed.
County upped the ante noticeably, and got their just reward as, with their attacking momentum building apace, Hampson was upended in the box to set Danny Lloyd up to win the game for County from the spot.
County had to defend a bit late on, but they coped pretty well, with Courtney Meppen-Walter recruited to bolster the back line as Trinity got ever more desperate.
In the end the better team won , and they must be pleased after having had to work so hard for these vital points that keep us very much in the play-off race.
Back at 3 o`clock, the issue for around 500 County supporters was more about avoiding sunstroke as anything else, the Gainsborough weather mirroring that of Stockport .
Most of the away contingent were in the roofless terrace behind one goal, and County got an excellent reception as they came out.
The early minutes saw County have the lions share of possession, they also took some punishment as Felix was run into the boards by the none too fussy Brad Beatson. County had loads of the ball, but with nothing really coming of it.
It was 7 minutes before Trinity could reply, via their top man Jordan Thewlis, who skipped by Hampson before being stopped by Clarke, who along with Mark Ross formed an impenetrable barrier in front of Ben Hinchliffe`s goal game long.
Both teams took turns after this to probe the others defences, but the best of these came , almost inevitably, from Danny Lloyd who waltzed past 2 men to slam a shot goal ward, that Nicholson did really well to turn around the post.
That deserved better, and after the corner was cleared, Gonzales took the play back into the Trinity last third again. He had two men on him and one or the other fouled him, but we were disappointed to again see referee Richard Wild wave play on.
That said, although the referee missed a fair bit early on,I thought he had a reasonable game.
A series of Minihan throws pushed our hosts back on their heels, and from one of these Ball was unlucky to see his effort go just wide.
From another County almost opened their account and would have done but for Nicholson whose brave save saw off a fierce strike from Gonzales that was on its way in.
Montrose led the charge next but earned a word from Mr Wild for something we will have to await the referee`s memoirs to find out about.
It mattered not, as County kept trying to penetrate the home defences- Felix`s run earning a corner from which Nicholson was made to punch hurriedly clear under pressure.
I am aware that this may just be beginning to sound exciting…..it wasn`t though with Trinity`s blocking tactics frustrating the white shirted blues attempts to reward their large support with a goal.
If Thewlis was Trinity`s best bet to cause County issues, Lloyd was again the major County threat, and despite having 2 men on him his next bit of work saw him still get his cross over. It caused all manner of problems for Trinity, but somehow they survived the trauma.
Hampson headed wide, and a Gonzales/ Lloyd raid was thwarted by some eccentric reffing from Mr Wild, and that was that for the first half.
Expecting a James inspired re-vamped County showing, I was not disappointed, as they piled onto the attack from the first whistle, after the break, with Ross, Winter and Lloyd particularly to the fore early on.
It was a real transformation, as Ball won a corner that saw Ross inches away from forcing it home at the back post.
On….it went…Winter close but wide with an effort, and Felix unlucky with a great pull back from the by-line having been sent clear by the inspirational Montrose..
The County momentum was definitely on the climb now and it was no surprise when the next attack saw Hampson forced down in the box with the home goal under the cosh.
It was even more cosh threatened now as the referee had pointed to the spot, where Lloyd stepped up to slam the ball home! The keeper went the right way, but Lloyd's kick carried an extra venom that was too much for the gloved custodian of `onion bag' .
At last we were one up, and the pressure did not relent as the game progressed.
Thewlis still offered County`s opponents their best chance of making progress, but he needed some sign of weakness from Ross and Clarke to emerge, and this looked to have a snowballs chance in hell of coming to pass, as a Clarke intervention underlined as Thewlis made to break and get his team back into it.
Back came County though redoubling their efforts to make the game safe, but Chris Salt did well to ensure Lloyd`s cross eluded Gonzales.
Gonzales was replaced by Amis after 71 minutes, as County kept the pressure on forcing Salt to make a brave diving clearance to keep Lloyd at bay.
It continued with Ball and Felix nipping at the Trinity entrails as a hyena would a carcase. Felix looked on to prosper, until his legs went west in the box.
"Penalty" I instantly offered the referee…helpfully… but he was having none, and waved County`s ( and my) protests away.
There was less than 15 minutes left now, and Trinity were getting a tad desperate as Bailey-King and Chippendale ( two forwards) were brought on to salvage the game for them.
James responded within a minute, replacing Felix ( off to an ovation)`with Meppen-Walter, as Thewlis wasted a half chance on the break by losing control of the ball en route the County last third.
Gainsborough were definitely upping their work rate late on, and County came under some pressure that needed all their best efforts to see the threat off.
Clarke was outstanding at this juncture, as before, and so was Minihan who saw his name go into Mr Wild`s book as he ` took one for the team`.
The free kick hit the County wall and Minihan must have been beside himself with pleasure as a result.
Into added time we went with County pushing Trinity back, and Lloyd`s run was stopped by a foul by Evans. Clarke and Amis vied for the honour of forcing the free kick home , but the ball flew wide and it stayed 1-0.
County kept the pressure up well into added time- Hampson going close with a run down the left. His finish did not live up to the quality of his approach play, but it mattered not as, within a minute, the referee blew for time, and 3 valuable points were County`s!
That was a massive win….3 great points that set us up well for the run in, and with every County supporter behind them 100% we can definitely do it.
See you at Edgeley Park on Friday then!
[ Football in the brilliant Spring sunshine. Take a peek here! ]
Gainsborough Trinity line up:
Nicholson, Lacey, Beatson( Bailey-King 77), Jacklin, Evans, Salt, Thewlis, Nyoni, Jarman (Chippendale 77), Chilaka, Worsfold.
Subs not used: Mc Govern, Davie, Willis.
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe, Minihan, Clarke, Ross, Hampson, Montrose, Winter, Felix ( Meppen -Walter 78), Gonzales ( Amis 71), Ball, Lloyd.
Subs not used; Ormson, Cartwright, Odejayi.