Things Looking Up?
County recorded their first home win of the season today, overpowering a lacklustre Leyton Orient side with a very good team display at Edgeley Park.
Two superb goals won the tie for the Hatters after a second half of free-flowing, 'attack attack attack' football from Ablett's young side.
ounty gaffer Gary Ablett had to observe from the stands as former Liverpool youth team coach Hughie McAuley took the manager's role from the dugout for the day.
New loan signing Paul Huntington carried on in the side for his home debut, along with two other home debutants in Liam Bridcutt and Nicholas Bignall.
Defender Luca Havern dropped to the bench as skipper Michael Raynes came straight back into the side.
A pretty poor first half from a spectators point of view was quite void of any goalmouth action from any of the two struggling sides, although man in from Carl Baker (who received a standing ovation from the County fans as the game got under-way) had a rasping shot tipped onto the post superbly by keeper Jamie Jones.
From the resulting kick from the keeper as he collected the ball, striker Ryan Jarvis got in front of Raynes and, well...fell over. Conveniently just inside the area. The referee decided to give a free kick on the linesman's advice. A poor decision on both counts, considering that it was what they call 'simulation' on Jarvis' part, and that if it was a foul, it should have been a penalty.
From the following free kick, Charlie Daniels' drilled goal-bound effort was deflected wide off Mullins' shin.
In an otherwise uninteresting first 45 minutes, Orient defender Stephen Purches sadly had to be stretchered off from the field of play after a nasty collision with defender Michael Rose.
HALF TIME - County 0-0 Leyton Orient
County came back out for the second half as a seemingly changed team, and in particular Carl Baker and Liam Bridcutt, who both looked a class above in the second 45.
With Baker's bags of tricks and non-stop style of play, and Bridcutt's holding style and his knack of sitting back and winning the ball, County should enjoy this midfield pairing while they can, because on this form, it won't last for long.
Four minutes into the second half, and an impressive home debut from Nick Bignall was capped by a superb individual goal from the on-loan Reading striker.
Baker slid a neat ball through just past the halfway line for Bignall to run on to. Defender Tamika Mkandawire looked to have the situation covered, but Bignall muscled him off the ball before leaving him sprawled in a heap on the ground.
The youngster then showed impressive pace to run clear of the on-coming Orient defence and cut inside from the left wing before rolling the ball under Morris and celebrating in front of the jubilant Cheadle End.
The goal seemed to lift the fans spirits, and choruses of 'Gary Ablett's Blue 'n' White Army' were belted out for the remainder.
And this seemed to have an effect on the County players, as Bridcutt & Co. stepped up their game and strangled the life out of the U's midfield.
Another flowing move led to County's second and the killer goal, which I'll do my best to do justice to in the explanation.
Johnny Mullins and Liam Bridcutt teamed up at right-back to snuffle out substitute Adrian Patulea, before Mullins emerged with the ball and drew both Orient midfielders to him.
As the midfield pair closed in on Mullins, the right-back poked the ball in between the both of them on to Bridcutt, who bombed on down the wing before cutting the ball back to Carl Baker, about 30 yards from goal.
Baker simply stood over the ball and let it run onto David Poole. Poole in turn knocked it back to Greg Tansey, now about 30 yards from goal.
The young central midfielder took two or three strides forward before unleashing a powerful low strike right into Morris' bottom right-hand corner.
And perhaps the show-piece of the match was the substitution of Carl Baker, perhaps intentionally as the game seemed to be wrapped up.
Baker made his way slowly off the pitch, saluting the County fans and his family who were sat in the Main Stand, along with 17 year-old brother Dean, also bravely battling leukaemia.
The emotional ovation that Baker received lasted about two minutes, with even Michael Rose and Michael Raynes applauding the Baker family.
Peter Thompson also made his way onto the pitch shortly after in place of Nick Bignall, and in fairness to the Northern Irish striker looked much sharper as he put himself about and won his fair share of headers.
With 88 minutes on the clock, the impressive Mkandawire slid the ball under fon Williams to set the nerves kicking in the Cheadle End.
But the game was over soon after, and County fans could have a pint or two to celebrate the first home win of this season.
And it has to be said, some of the football has been outstanding. Gary Ablett's barely put a foot wrong as boss, which is an even bigger credit to the Scouser considering he was always up against it taking over from 'Sir' Jim Gannon. But Ablett has taken on this young side with one hand tied behind his back, working on a very little budget and still with the club in administration. He's made shrewd signings and tactical decisions (and hasn't fell out with any of his players yet!). And all this while continuing Gannon's 'beautiful game' style of play, free-flowing attacking, positive football.
OK, we're not going to suddenly charge our way into the play-offs, but with performances like this, why can't we comfortably stay up this season?
Well dome Mr Ablett, and of course your committed young team. Keep it up.