Stockport County 2 York City 0
County stormed back to form big style at Edgeley Park today, where promotion chasing full timers York City, were deservedly beaten 2-0 in front of another crowd of well over 4000.
It was a superb performance from Jim Gannon`s men, and whilst Ben Hinchliffe probably deserved the M.O.M award he took, there were a clutch of other fine showings from the men in blue that merited more than a mention.
Warburton was only on the park for 53 minutes but in that time was a revelation in the way he used the possession to advantage, putting huge pressure on York. He scored one and provided an assist for the other that was scored by Stephenson. Dazzer ran…ran…and ran some more in the County cause- he was well up there for honours!
I thought Harry Winter deserved a mention also after giving us 90 odd minutes of committed graft, but I was even more impressed by the way County kept their shape and refused to buckle with York making determined efforts to make inroads particularly late on.
Two up at half time, we rather expected that County would come under the cosh in the second half, and for sure the visitors had lots of possession and spent a whole lot of time in the County half, but with the blues offering little in the way of clear cut openings, and Hinchliffe dealing with any that escaped the net, there was nothing down for the Yorkshire high fliers on this trip south!
Back at 3 o`clock there cannot have been many in the 4000+ crowd who were expecting a County win, with York well placed for a promotion push enjoying an impressive unbeaten run.
York fans were here in numbers and were making a good noise as kick off neared ,almost as much as the youngsters in the Cheadle End Upper Tiers who ,along with noise gave us a terrific array of flags in support of their team- great stuff….again!
A swift County move………… and within a minute City keeper Adam Bartlett was frantically diving to his right in a vain attempt to get to Warburton`s sweetly delivered shot. The shot missed out….but not by much!
Oswell joined Warburton next and a neat one/ two twixt the pair saw the County number nine just miss out - blocked by a late tackle from Jon Burn. The corner that followed offered a notional chance but Smalley`s header cleared the bar to ensure it stayed 0-0.
I was expecting York to be as rough as old boots, and I was only slightly surprised to see Thomas carted unceremoniously in front of the main stand by the none too particular David Ferguson.
A chat rather than a card was referee Declan Bourne`s response, and he was to take up this posture for the remainder of the match. Warburton went close with the free kick and the visitors had escaped.
It was noticeable how Warburton was making excellent use of possession feeding those around him and keeping errors to a minimum. It was rubbing off on others in blue too as a result, but Winter`s snap shot was deflected wide after Stephenson and Warburton had set him up.
County`s set pieces, corners…free kicks…were not that great at this juncture, and York were able to hold out before running the ball clear from deep from these.
Ferguson seemed to be the man charged with the task of running the ball up the park, and one such sortie saw Hinchliffe tip the number eleven`s cross cum shot over the bar at the last gasp.
The pressure was on County from the resultant corner and Smalley did well to stop Raul Correia from getting to a cross from ex Hatter Adriano Moke.
We were beyond 15 minutes now, and so far so good. York looked neat and business like, but responding …County looked to have the answers, defending well and working together nicely.
Past 20 minutes and County almost took the lead and it was through Warburton, and only another fine diving save by Bartlett was good enough to keep it out. Oswell and Stephenson both went on the offensive from this, the latter unlucky with a shot, the former answered in the negative by the referee as he hit the deck in the box.
York hit back, only to go behind as County used the ball to perfection out of defence sending Warburton scurrying clear.
The reaction from the York defence was akin I guess to that of Belgian sheep upon hearing of the reintroduction of wolves on their patch- panic set in…..but it was too late…Warburton had made it almost to the box whereupon he found Stephenson with a neatly weighted pass.
Stephenson`s response was perfect and his shot as nicely weighted as the pass had been- the ball flying into the net giving the diving Bartlett about the same chance as one of those Belgian sheep!
It was 1-0, and County had their tails up on the back of a lead that if slightly surprising was not at all undeserved.
That said…York came back at County without too much delay- Hinchliffe dealing well with Corriea`s shot after a gloriously unsuccessful but highly entertaining dive by Parkin in the box moments earlier.
Parkin looked on to make amends a minute later until Harry Winter intervened and snuffed the rotund forward`s sortie out. From Winter, County had a chance to attack thanks to Warburton who again used the ball immaculately.
Both he and Stephenson did well lighting O`Halloran`s touch paper wide left, but twice the Irishman`s crosses disappointed thereafter.
The half hour mark saw York go close, Cowan heading clear on the line, and within a minute County had doubled their advantage, via Warburton who benefited from excellent work by Stephenson before beating the keeper with a wondrous strike!
That was simply brilliant, and 2-0 to County hit the spot nicely!
York did a fair bit of attacking in what remained of the half - Cowan and Hinchliffe doing particularly well as the Yorkshire side strained to get back in the game, but it was still 2-0 to County when the teams went in!
The re-start saw something akin to wholesale changes in the visitors line up with Josh Law and Raul Correia replaced by Dan Parslow and another ex Hatter Amari Morgan-Smith.
Best of the early action on the resumption, came via a Stephenson/ OHalloran link up that won County a corner. Ball got to this, but his header was dealt with comfortably by Bartlett.
The game kept flowing nicely with both sides getting forward looking for a goal that might change the game decisively, but York were disappointed ,as substitute Morgan- Smith`s shot was pushed around the post by the diving Hinchliffe.
York piled in from the corner but remarkably Hinchliffe emerged with the ball after the mother of muddy melees in the box.
Warburton was understandably replaced by Duxbury 53 minutes in, with County looking like they were now in a notional 4/4/2 set up.
I feared that all Warburton`s good work might just go for a bucket of chalk as York set about us in what remained of the game, but this hopeless viewpoint took little account of County`s resolve, and O`Halloran showed a lot of it combining with Stephenson to push York back.
Stephenson was in the box in no time, but he had 2 men on him and when the referee made it 3 by giving York a free kick the visitors were saved.
Back came York after that last action, and it took an absolute blinding save from Hinchliffe to deny Parkin as he went one on one smack in front of goal.
Parkin shot wide not long after and must have fancied that his luck was out today, and he wasn`t wrong as Stott and Duxbury combined to frustrate the York forwards again.
Then Parkin thought that his luck had changed….Mr Bourne had sorted York a free kick smack in front on the edge of the box. Parkin wanted this….got it….but looked on in anguish to see Hinchliffe keep the strike out to loud applause.
Dixon was on for Oswell, with under 20 minutes left, and within 5 minutes he tested the keeper- Bartlett diving to keep the ball out after Stephenson had set up the chance.
Winter then sent Stephenson clear with a neat pass, only for Moke to rob Dixon who was slow to react to Dazzer`s pass.
York reacted, with time running out, and somehow County managed to usher the ball off the line at one point with York queuing for a shot. Ferguson did better than most and sent another snap shot on target, only for Hinchliffe`s dive to shatter Yorkshire dreams again.
County were defending tenaciously……still, and if the cultured incisive ` working the ball clear ' of when Warburton was on , was now absent, and we were now getting used to long balls heading out from deep positions sometimes in hope rather than anything else, some of those efforts from deep had something about them…..instance….Dixon`s ball , on 84minutes, that was almost a great one until it was cut out by Burn with Stephenson in its path.
York kept the work rate up…pinging ball after ball in from deep , but Hinchliffe just plucked them out of the cool Stockport air, and did better when Parkin met one just a yard out with a goal bound header- making the cleanest of saves as his name was announced as the sponsors M.O.M.
Stephenson went off to an ovation with 2 minutes left, replaced by George West, but the next action was top quality stuff as Bartlett was almost caught napping by a terrific drive from Duxbury that went ever so close!
County came under the cosh in 4 minutes added time, but really excellent defending served them well in this period.
We just needed one of those breaks to work out, but when Dixon ran clear, he hesitated to pass to the better placed West, and the chance disappeared in a flash as a result as Burn thudded in with a tackle.
Dixon reacted better a minute or so later, and actually got his pass off in the direction of West, only for Moke to nip in and steal the ball and snuff out another chance.
West was just short of another pass not long after, but soon enough the game was over, and County had won 3 very valuable points…..kept an excellent clean sheet…and made their supporters very happy indeed.
Well done …that was a fine team effort that augurs well for the remainder of the season.
Catch you at Maidenhead next Saturday then!
[ Great photos from the encounter here! ]
Stockport County line up
Hinchliffe, Cowan, Smalley, Stott, O`Halloran, Ball, Thomas, Winter, Oswell( Dixon 71), Warburton ( Duxbury 53), Stephenson ( West 88).
Subs not used: Ormson, Mc Kenna.
York City line up
Bartlett, Brown, Law( Parslow 46), Bencherif, Burn, Moke, Newton, Heslop, Parkin, Correia( Morgan-Smith 46), Ferguson.
Subs not used: Smith, Simpson, Gray.