York City 2 County 0
Fresh from a Tuesday night tonking of Southport, County came down to earth fast today , coming away from Bootham Crescent without the points against a very useful York City side.
Two goals in a ten minute first half period did the damage, as York always looked dangerous from whistle to whistle.
County had their moments too, having a decent effort ruled out mysteriously by referee David Underwood , but their lack of composure in the last third betrayed the approach play that had preceded it, and despite having as much possession and pressure as York, it was the Yorkshire side that looked the more likely to……
That said….Ball, Duxbury and O`Halloran can point to quality performances, others tried but, without much luck on the way. It did not help, of course, that key defender Michael Clarke was carried off with a knee injury 28 minutes in, courtesy of Jon Parkin. Clarke was still on the deck near half way as the ball reached Amari-Morgan-Smith who then made it 2-0.Had Clarke been in position…..had the referee seen the foul by the rotund number nine that I saw……..
A key moment?....Yes of course, but we had possession enough to come back from this deficit , but ….the disallowed goal apart……… we never really showed enough devil when and where it mattered to deserve the points.
There were nearly 800 County fans inside Bootham Crescent as the game started on time to disconcertingly bright sunshine( disconcerting because the forecast was `thunder storms and heavy rain).
Both keepers had early work to do….Hinchliffe dealing with an awkwardly bouncing ball that came his way from a York free kick, and Jon Worsnop, the onion bag custodian at the other end, had to react quickly as Minihan`s run caused a flurry of excitement in front of City`s goal.
The large County following gave us an opening salvo of `Jimmy Gannon`s Blue & White Army` at this point as the referee chose to ignore Hamza Bencherif`s foul on Oswell.
York were maybe encouraged by this bit of good fortune, Sean Newton seeing his shot charged down.
If City were playing it about to good effect, they also looked potentially open to the counter attack, but after Warburton had won a free kick, Walker`s delivery only succeeded in bringing Dan Parslow into the game to head clear.
That was 10 minutes in….another 3 minutes and we might have been one down….
It started with Theo Wharton , and his pass went straight to Newton, and from his pass Morgan-Smith was in on goal. Chance?............Yes……Goal?....It should have been ,but with Hinchliffe severely challenged at the near post, the forward`s shot flew wide of the far stick to the merriment of the County fans behind that goal.
County were under the cosh now- Ball hurriedly clearing up the park after more dangerous work from Morgan-Smith, who looked a likely lad for York.
Not far behind Morgan-Smith ,in the kudos stakes, in these opening minutes, was former Hatter Sean Newton, and again it might have been 1-0 to our hosts, as he lifted one in from almost on the left touchline. Unbelievably….it was going in, and Hinchliffe was in difficulties, enter Stephen O`Halloran and his header saw the ball off the line and away!
Fifteen minutes had gone and we might well have been 2 down!
Another couple of minutes and County`s luck ran out. A long throw from the left started the rot, which only got worse when County neglected to clear their lines. This was manna from above to Simon Heslop, who promptly fired home from close in!
County tried to respond but Worsnop was again too quick off the mark for the yellow shirted blues, getting to the ball before Walker, after good work by Stephenson.
Possession was coming County`s way all right , but not the luck as Worsnop recovered just in time before Oswell got on his case, after he had fumbled Jimmy Ball`s effort. Then the keeper again had to react as Duxbury 's run caused a problem or two for the York defence.
We were 25 minutes in, when things started to worsen for County.
First off Minihan was replaced by Cowan, and I presumed injury…..and then we lost another player as Parkin mugged Michael Clarke just beyond half way to no response from the referee. Clarke was still on the ground many yards away from the action, when Morgan- Smith curled a neat strike home to double York`s advantage.
With Smalley on for Clarke, who had been stretched off to generous applause from the home specs, County set about putting matters right, and it looked that the County effort had paid off as, with Worsnop all at sea, County had the ball in the York net.
It looked a good goal to me…..it also looked a good one to the liner under whose nose the action took place, and he confirmed a goal signalling celebrations from the County forward`s, and the big County following. But….bugger….it was the home specs turn to celebrate as the referee had disallowed the goal. `Warburton`s after shave again!` I told myself, but it could quite easily have been anything at all, and it really was immaterial…it was 2-0 to York and that was that!
York looked to be buoyed by that action and Smalley did well to block Louis Almond as he darted into the box. Morgan- Smith followed suit and Newton should have done more with the pass that followed.
He didn`t however….his shot instead going straight into Hinchliffe`s arms. Newton did better a minute or so later , latching onto Parkin`s pass before lashing one in on goal. It was on target but Hinchliffe had its measure- a decent diving save keeping it at 2-0, as the teams went in at the break.
Full back Alex Whittle opened the second half with a flourish ,but his poor finish was not what the home crowd expected on the end of a leggy run down the left flank.
County came back at York…Ball running the ball out of defence with supreme confidence- Oswell was close to getting to the product of that one. County piled forward still…Duxbury unlucky to see a shot charged down, and Warburton saw one saved by Worsnop.
That was encouraging, and more followed with Parslow forced to head clear in a panic as Duxbury pinged another neat one over.
This had the County following roaring loudly…we just needed the added oxygen of a goal…but despite a neat link up twixt Oswell, Warburton and Stephenson one just would not materialise.
Indeed….looking to my right ,just a minute later, and I saw Smalley in action heading the ball off the line with a line of red shirts in his face.
A foul by Cowan put County under more pressure, but by now I was hugely distracted ( and a touch wet) as the glorious summer weather was suddenly replaced by monsoon style rains- it was abysmal! County were very much under pressure now ,as corners and throws pushed them back, and a fantastic last ditcher from O`Hanlon was needed to steady County`s ship with Newton pushing on down the right.
County replied….but no sooner had Worsnop saved Ball`s effort, than County were back defending again through O`Halloran whose header off the line kept it at 2-0.
Credit where it`s due though…County kept plugging away and Worsnop had to make a couple more saves to keep County at bay.
We were now inside the last 20 minutes, and both sides were still having their chances, and twice O`Hanlon did the dyke/finger bit blocking Almond`s run with a gloriously timed tackle, before doing just enough to ensure Morgan -Smith 's shot went wide when he was well set before Stephen appeared.
The next minute and this time Almond`s luck looked to be on to change, and a goal looked certain as he stepped inside on his run to unleash his shot. It was on target , but so was Hinchliffe, and his dive saw the shot saved to the consternation of the home crowd.
On it went…..Smalley doing well to block Morgan-Smith`s run….Hinchliffe plucking Newton`s cross out of the air in the crowded box not long after, and Newton again thwarted by…………..you guessed it O`Hanlon!
Both teams rang the changes with just over 10 minutes left, County swapping Ball for Thomas , whilst York opted to replace the rotund Parkin with the even more rotund Mike Rankine, and Almond with another ex Hatter, and one of my former favourites, Kane Felix.
Thomas , switching flanks, offered County options, and Warburton was inches from capitalising on the winger`s cross with 10 minutes left.
Twice more after this Warburton went close , the crosses coming via Thomas and Duxbury, but still a goal would not come. Not even when Oswell joined in- he was inches away from turning O`Hanlon`s cross home.
The last minutes were largely, but not exclusively, made up of County pushing for what probably would be a consolation goal, but it was not to be, and with the sun shining again, the referee ended our misery by signalling the games end.
Disappointing ……yes.....but can we expect better on Tuesday at Telford?
I guess so…see you there then to check this out!
[ Great pictures of the County support can be found here! ]
York City line up :
Worsnop, Law, Whittle, Bencherif, Parslow, Wharton, Newton, Heslop, Parkin( Rankine 77), Morgan-Smith, Almond( Felix 77).
Subs not used; Muggleton, Smith, Sukar.
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe, Minihan ( Cowan 25), Clarke( Smalley 30), O'Hanlon, Duxbury, Ball ( Thomas 76), Winter, S Walker Stephenson, Oswell, Warburton.
Subs not used: Smith, Hampson .