Tamworth 3 County 1
County flattered to deceive at the Lamb today, taking an early lead through Sam Minihan, before surrendering same seven minutes later, and then the game in a second half best forgotten.
Despite County`s early dominance, and the shock of seeing the lead slip away, 1-1 at half time, with County playing towards their vocal support , looked to maybe be a reasonable platform from which to sneak 3 points in the second half, but it was not to be. Ostensively this was down to Reece Styche who capped an all action second half display with 2 goals, but County`s inability to impose their game on their hosts was also a cogent factor in my view.
One of the Styche strikes came via the penalty spot, but by that time, although we were building up some momentum, there was always room for Tamworth to believe they would get another. For a time though, it appeared that Ben Hinchliffe would keep County`s ship afloat as a string of saves from him kept Styche and company at bay- as I say however…..it was not to be, and in the end you would be hard pressed to argue that our hosts did not deserve the points.
County opened in a blizzard of attacking moves, but after Hampson`s early effort had been deflected for a corner, which was headed over the bar, it was 3 minutes before anything further of note emerged from either side.
The instigator was Duxbury who gave every indication of continuing where he left off on Saturday, pushing the home side back with a series of neat runs. The latest of these saw him lift a cross to the back of the box, where it was played back to Minihan who was surging at speed into the box. In an instant it was 1-0 to County as Minihan hurried the ball into the net to the consternation of the locals.
Nothing untoward happened next- it might have…but Smalley was alert enough to block Bradley Reid as he sped clear.
At the other end meanwhile, Warburton and Stephenson exchanged passes sending the latter clear, but a not unreasonable offside flag did for that effort.
Twelve minutes had gone, and County were maintaining their control, but they allowed Ellis Deeney ( a decent performer for Tamworth)to sling over an impudent long ball from wide left. This took out 3 maybe 4 County men, landing at the feet of Reid, who rounded Hinchliffe to make it 1-1.
That was a shock, and another almost followed, just 3 minutes later, and a sense of deja vu reigned as Deeney again pinged one over from wide left. Again the delivery was excellent, but to the back post this time, and Styche seemed to have the easiest of jobs to head home and make it 1-2, but instead he planted his header wide!
It must be said that despite enjoying the majority of possession, County might easily have been one down- a worrying thought!
I worried again to see Stephen Morley test Hinchliffe with a live one from way out……
I needed to perhaps get a grip…after all Minihan`s forward runs proliferated, and Duxbury was still giving us options down the left, but centrally speaking the Tamworth captain Luke Jones pretty much had Stephenson in his pocket, and nothing of note was coming from Warburton either.
Meanwhile Minihan`s latest run ended with a County corner, and a decent catch by home keeper Shaun Rowley, from which County were hit on the break by Darryl Knights . This looked a tad iffy until Clarke intervened with a neat bit of work to snuff out the forward`s run. Knights was a persistent rascal though and was back in no time winning the ball before sending Reid clear in the box. Iffy does not quite cover it…..but thankfully the liner`s flag was up, and County were saved.
Corners came and went for County next as Warburton and Stephenson tried to make something from almost nothing. Rowley ruined the plan again, punching clear under pressure.
It continued in much the same vein for a time, with Stephenson trying to work something, being denied by the combined efforts of Jones, Morley and Deeney.
I felt sure this pressure would pay off, but instead….the 37th minute saw, the ball head into the County box from the left destined for Styche. Again it picked him out with precision, and again the goal gaped before him, but this time he chose to shoot , and his shot went wide of the far post- an escape…another escape!<
Stephenson did look like he might snatch one back, with 4 minutes of the half left, but he pushed his man en-route, and it was no surprise when referee Ben Speedie penalised the Stockport man.
County pushed on in the half`s dying embers, Cowan doing well down the right. A series of corners followed and at one point Smalley almost had the ball in the net….it was close, but the action ended with Duxbury clearing the bar with his follow up effort.
The re-start saw County attacking down the flanks, with Minihan down the right, and Hampson down the left. Both won corners , but on each occasion the delivery was poor and Tamworth were able to clear..
A foul on Styche on the edge of the box, as Tamworth replied, almost turned the tables on County , and Hinchliffe did brilliant work to tip the number nine`s free kick over the bar.
Pressure was on County for a time afterwards, but relief came finally when Stephenson was fouled breaking up field.
Stephenson was still out of luck, being inches from Warburton`s pass in the box, but the better chance again materialised at the other end where Styche played for, and won ,a free kick on the edge of the box. Tamworth had 2 attempts to force this one home without success, being again frustrated to see Styche`s header nestling on top of the netting at the end of it all.
Back came County , Hampson`s run earning a corner, but the delivery from this was truly awful, and once more enterprising play had been laid waste by us not doing the basics correctly.
Straight from that….Tamworth hit us on the break and Hinchliffe did well to keep Deeney`s strike out, after Morley had feasted on a Deeney through ball and turned the right side of County`s defence inside out.
It was becoming worrying again, and more fuel to this fire came with Styche lashing one in from way out. Hinchliffe was magnificent in his response flinging himself to his right to push the ball around the post.
Rowley offered County a scintilla of hope with a flap from Cowan`s cross, and corners and free kicks came and went , but nothing of substance was emerging to bolster thoughts of a County win- indeed I looked to my left to see Hinchliffe claw Styche`s latest effort down from under the bar!
Styche was a real threat throughout this encounter, and it was only a mild surprise when eventually he gave his side the lead, shooting home to punish County`s inability to clear their lines.
There were less than 15 minutes left now, and thus time to put matters right, but would we?
Well….they did keep trying, so much so that Jack Lane almost obliged by heading into his own net from a County corner.
County were trying for sure, but over eagerness was getting in the way, and inevitably perhaps Tamworthy sneaked another to kill the game off.
The ex Forest Green striker had fallen easily all afternoon and under pressure, with time ebbing away fast,he did so again, and the referee pointed to the spot to local acclaim.
Stepping up, Styche duly put the kick away to make it 1-3, winning the game for Tamworth.
Disappointing...definitely....end of the world?...definitely not.
Needs working on of course, but Jim is the man for that job I have no doubt at all.
See you at Edgeley Park on Saturday, for the game with Bradford Park Avenue.
[ Photos from the game here featuring County's smart white a black change kit. ]
Tamworth line up:
Rowley, Burns, Morley, Deeney, Jones, Lane, Upton, Verma, Styche, Reid( Curley 68), Knights( Fox 78).
Subs not used: Ezewele, Jezeph , Walters.
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe, Cowan, Clarke, Smalley, Duxbury( West 80), Ball, Minihan, S Walker, Stephenson( T Walker 68), Warburton, Hampson.
Subs not used ; Ormson, Peach, Brazel.
Attendance ; 1170