County 5 Macclesfield Town 2
Vanarama Premier side, Macclesfield may be, but they were made to look distinctly ordinary in the second half as County( 1-2 down at the break), swept imperiously to a 5-2 victory .
I had spent the morning reading .....`Klopp warns clubs that Coutinho is not for sale even at £72 million'.....`Leicester kick back a bid of close to £30 million from Roma' and...yawn.....`Costa chooses Athletico , after rejecting a Chinese offer worth £570,000 a week'.
That in the `i' of all papers, so to see some real world /honest football played by players I can still identify with , was truly heartening.
It was also timely reassurance, if indeed reassurance was needed, that County, under James Gannon's stewardship, are on the right track and ready to motor.
The goals came from the excellent Warburton( a hat trick) and Oswell (2), and the way County came back so conclusively ,against the full timers, as well as the way the team is gelling, augurs well for the hard season that now lies ahead of us, when eventually the pre-season skirmishes are put to bed.
It all started very differently indeed, as within 3 minutes of the kick off the ball nestled behind Hinchliffe's back in the net after a Scott Wilson cross had been headed home by Tyrone Marsh.
That was a bit of an early bummer to be truthful, but County, who were annoyingly kicking towards the Cheadle End first half, hit back quickly and keeper Shwan Jalal was seen tipping the ball over the bar at the last gasp to prevent Jimmy Ball's effort going in. Oswell contested the corner, at the back post, with Courtney Richards, but to no avail, it stayed 0-1.
County persisted however but without getting the reward their efforts deserved, and it was not long before Macc came back at the blues, Hinchliffe doing well to stop Elliott Durrell's progress after County's back line had almost sleep walked into a small disaster .
I was pretty miffed next as I looked around to see Oswell on the end of a brilliant diagonal ball from Hampson. He was clear....and he would probably, given his form thus far , have scored, but not so....the liner's flag was up and we were expected to swallow the idea that the County forward was offside!
Hmm.....I was still rumbling ominously with discontent when Oswell went close again a minute later.
That was promising, but the next action was better as Warburton shrugged off a determined challenge from Hodkiss to blast a beauty beyond Jalal's dive into the net!
Great....it was 1-1, and very nearly 2-1 as Stephenson went really close with a fine effort after Ball had set him up with a tidy cross.
Macc started to play some intelligent football after this, and the County defence were in disarray after one spate of passing from the Milkies , allowing Wilson time enough to slot one in off an obliging post.
Macc were 2-1 up now, and they put the foot on the accelerator next, but Marsh watched aghast to see his effort climb into the empty Railway End on the end of another Macc passing spree.
Still Macc pressed but they could not make anything from a corner won energetically by Wilson. It was building into something approaching one way traffic now as Hodkiss put Marsh in only to see him lift his shot over the bar.
On it went with Macc enjoying far too much space and time on the ball, and Marsh missing out again with a shot that drifted past the post.
Over a quarter of an hour had elapsed with County on the defensive, and it was a relief to see them attack , with about 7 minutes of the half left.
County came at Macc down the left , but again Jalal did the biz for his team, tipping Oswell's header, from Hampson's cross, over the bar.
This woke County up and Walker was unlucky to see his shot , a minute later, drift narrowly wide.
Both sides were gaining free kicks and corners but making nothing from them, but having just wrote down that legend ,I could see George Pilkington inches away on the end of a late/ late Macc free kick. That was a close call, and it was half time, which we would take at 1-2 I think, bearing in mind the pressure at times County had been under!
The second half opened as the first had finished ,with County defending and Clarke did really well to dive and head the ball clear as Hodgkiss powered in down the right. From the resultant throw Hodgkiss again pinged a dangerous ball over , and it was beginning to look a tad ominous, a feeling merely increased by the sight of Winter getting a rebuke from the referee, who had just awarded Macc a free kick. The danger was real, but soon faded as Hinchliffe advanced to claim the ball in the packed box.
Good stuff that, and within just over a minute there was more reason to be cheerful as County forced Macc back ,winning a couple of corners in rapid succession, the second of which saw Oswell head the equaliser home just yards away from the visiting support.
Expecting Macc to come back at County, it was no surprise when they did, and Clarke drew warm applause from the County fans for a fantastic last gasper to thwart the onrushing Ryan Lloyd. Lloyd was an unlucky lad , as within a couple of minutes he was through again only ,this time, to see Hinchliffe on his case making a fine save.
From that last action, play switched rapidly to the other end as County ran at their opponents with the resolve of an alligator gripping yer wildebeest's leg!
Macclesfield were all over the place as Oswell drifted goal ward before slipping a peach of a ball into Warburton's path. Warburton made no mistake....3-2 it was !
The visitors replied through Marsh, but again they wasted the corner, and County didn't, sending Stephenson galloping off on a headlong charge for goal. Panic set in for the Milkies who only just managed to prevent Ball applying the required finish to Stephenson's good work at the back post.
No goal...but seeing County strike from deep, was heartening, and we had a corner , and from that came County's fourth goal, as Oswell glanced a neat header home !
Macc rang the changes at this point, presumably hoping to disrupt County's progress . They did draw a fine blocking tackle from O'Halloran as substitute Ben Pattie drifted goal ward, but with County making 2 changes themselves ( Minihan and Thomas for Stephenson and Ball) it was County who came closest to scoring as a superb Oswell/ Warburton move opened Macc up decisively. County did not score from the resultant corner kick, but it was clear that, far from reviving, the Vanarama Premier side were rapidly wilting under growing pressure from County.
That said..... the County defence had to be on the alert, especially as the officials were not picking up all the infringements, and the main stand liner was oblivious to a foul on Hampson, thus allowing Noe Baba a free run on goal. Clarke did the biz and pulled off a great block, but it should not have been necessary! A Hinchliffe punched clearance sorted my angst from the resultant corner, and better was to come .....
Yes indeed....and County had Macc very much on the rack with Warburton jinking into the box and within sight of the whites of substitute keeper Alex Gogic's eyes! Down he dropped under the less than kindly attentions of Lowe.
The referee pointed to the spot....Warburton did the rest.....it was 5-2 .
Credit to Macc....they responded , but O'Halloran reacted brilliantly to salvage the situation when Hampson had been caught in possession . Hearteningly from deep defence...County again mounted determined...quick attack, but as Thomas got clear he was brought down. The free kick from Walker was good, and Oswell's finish better , but the celebrations were cut short as the liner had flagged for something...offside....foul on the keeper......bad haircut ? Anyway it stayed at 5-2, and ridiculously I found myself feeling disappointed at that !
Cowan impressed next in a tight corner, but that was his last contribution as JG started to ring more changes.....Smalley and Duxbury coming on for Oswell and Cowan.
Warburton was then played in by Walker and I was surprised to see the liner again raise his flag. It was offside apparently this time, and County had been dished.
Meanwhile JG continued to ring the changes.....Brazel and West on for Walker and Warburton.
Brazel....Minihan both went close for County, whilst Meppen-Walter ( on to a good round from the County fans late on)similarly was disappointed at the other end seeing Hinchliffe's dive thwarting Patties' charge onto the CMW ball.
A late/ late swap of Etches for Winter and Whitty for O'Halloran and the game was over.
County had won and will be well satisfied with this performance, although JG will doubtless have more words to say to them over the first half, but that said it was `job done' and a good job too.
On ...on to Barrow at EP on Tuesday.
Oh...and the Fingerpost Flyer to Spennymoor is now full.
[ Pictures from a sunny Edgeley Park, featuring that new home top can be found here! ]
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe , Cowan( Smalley 77), Hampson, Clarke, O'Halloran( Whitty 90), Winter(Etches 90), Ball( Minihan 63), Walker( Brazel 84), Oswell( Duxbury 77), Warburton(West 84), Stephenson( Thomas 63).
Subs not used; Smith.
Macclesfield Town line up:
Jalal ( Gogic 45) , Hodkiss, Fitzpatrick( Meppen-Walter 62), Lowe , Pilkington( Lloyd 45), Baba( Hancox 45), Richards( Adeloye 62), Arthur( Burgess 45), Durrell( Kennedy 45), Wilson( Whittaker 45), Marsh( Pattie 62).