Date: 27th August 2016 at 11:31pm
Written by:

County came away with a well merited point at New Bucks Head Stadium today, where a battling display saw them held to a 0-0 draw by a lively and combative Telford side.

A fair result? Probably, although if two late/ late County strikes had gone in instead of going agonisingly close, it would have been a different story altogether.

Having said that though, our hosts, with ex County favourites Gianluca Havern and Micah Evans on board, must have thought that they had done enough to earn a share in the first half which they shaded, if not by a massive margin.

For County there was a lot to be happy about, the display of Sam Minihan who, in Duxbury`s continued absence from the starting line up, did a marvellous job of keeping it tight down the left flank.

Duxbury did come on for a late cameo, which turned out to be much more than that, the spring in his step galvanising County into a late push that so very nearly was successful.

Elsewhere?Ross was solid at right back, as was Meppen-Walter in mid-field, but Montrose shone like a beacon today grafting, running, passing?thinking-top man for me along with Minihan and the amazingly consistent Hinchliffe who was rock between the sticks for County!

County were defending the Away End at 3 o`clock, and despite an early Telford free kick there were no alarms to speak of at either end. Marsden did flick a header goal ward in this period, but the ball flew wide and that was that.

I did find myself getting a touch over excited next, in the 4th minute, as some neat play twixt Montrose and Meppen-Walter sent Lloyd on a surging run that took him into the opposition box.

Having reached there, under pressure from Darren Campion, he went down. ” Penalty” thought I, but it apparently wasn`t as the referee`s expansive mime vouchsafed( Dubiously in my view, but it must be said that overall Mr Ricky Wootton had a good game, so nuff said!).

Another couple of minutes elapsed with both sides looking for a decisive opening, and Josh Wilson gave every impression of having worked one at this point, and it took excellent work from him to stop the rot as the forward made mincemeat of the County cover.

County pushed Telford back after this, and Montrose was decidedly unlucky to see a shot fly out off a defender. Corners came and went following this action but without County having the wherewithal to capitalise fully on the situation.

A minute on from that action and Wilson was at us once more, swapping flanks to try his luck down the right. The eventual cross from Wilson was good, but found no takers in front of the County goal. Jack Rea looked to be better placed not long after, and it took a decent save by Hinchliffe to keep David Hibbert`s shot out.

Telford were looking sharp and hungry, and Smalley did well to stop Dan Reynolds charge as he made it to the by-line. The pressure from the home side continued, as Hinchliffe was again called on to make a diving save, pushing the ball wide of his far post. From the corner more pressure followed, only eased by the elbow of Dwayne Samuels that connected with Clarke- a fact neatly spotted by Mr Wootton.

On it went in the same vein, and Montrose along with Meppen-Walter did sterling work stopping pressure becoming something entirely worse.

Throughout all this, Telford at times were in danger of overdoing the physicality bit, one of their number going into the referee`s book with just 15 minutes gone. In response??County won free kicks, but then made nothing out of them. The result was that Telford came back at them again, and twice Hinchliffe had work to do, first pushing a shot over the bar and then reacting well enough to ensure that Hurst`s header from the corner went nowhere.

County did fashion a reply, but despite twice having the drop on his marker on the overlap, Ross could not take advantage. Telford hit us on the break as a result, and the resultant long ball saw Hinchliffe just pip Hibbert to the ball on the edge of his box!

Credit to County they were having a go, but they need to be more clinical, instead Amis saw his strike crash out off an unsighted defender. Again we made nothing of the corner that followed.

Back came Telford, and Minihan earned applause by stopping a lethal looking run from Hurst. More and better followed this, as a Smalley/ Clarke cooperation saw off a Reynolds run with half time approaching.

The half was not over however, by any means, indeed we just might have snatched one, with 5 minutes remaining . It began with solid work from Montrose at the back, progressed via Meppen- Walter who sent Lloyd surging clear. It looked a chance?but wasn`t as Telford`s defensive cover held out to thwart him.

Hurst then hit County on the break, and only a save of the very best calibre from Hinchliffe kept it at 0-0 as Hibbert`s header powered goal ward.

I was getting a tad concerned with half time almost on us, .with Hibbert in the van, Telford were still having a go at sneaking one before the break. County`s response , with the number nine looking to latch onto a pass from Reynolds, looked to lack urgency. Clarke eventually twigged the situation and did the necessary to deny the lanky forward what he desired, but that was a bit close!

Twice after this Hibbert went close, but a blast of the referee`s whistle took the teams in at the break with it still 0-0.

County were up and at their opponents when the game re-started with Lloyd at the by-line in a flash. Telford looked decidedly discomforted, but despite this no one was able to apply a finish to Lloyd`s final ball to keep it at 0-0.

Both teams continued to look for that elusive opening goal, but with no luck?first off Telford pushed County back, but despite the best efforts of Hibbert and Campion had nothing to show for it. County fared no better as Stopforth sent Amis clear only for his shot to carry the bar by a foot.

It went on, Gianluca Havern, who always seems to reserve good performances for when we are in town, blocking Amis on the charge in the box, and Hibbert disappointing the locals with an under powered header after being put through by Campion.

Just before the hour, both teams made a change- County swapping Meppen-Walter for Thomas, whilst ex Hatter Micah Evans replaced Hurst for our hosts.

Stopforth took on the Meppen-Walter role it seemed , but it was Thomas who was first to shine with a pass of some quality that teed Lloyd up for a shot that did not reach keeper Jim Montgomery, being charged down by a line of defenders.

Evans replied for Telford finding Minihan as unyielding as ever in response.

Carney was the next change, coming on for Lloyd, but not before Thomas had stung Montgomery`s hands with a snap shot.

County`s effort began to rev up a touch now, and I was anguished to see Marsden`s shot deflected wide for a corner that came to nought.

A loose header from Clarke opened up opportunities for Telford next, but despite more angst on my part, County managed to track back and keep their goal intact.

Duxbury came on for Amis with under 15 minutes left, just as County conceded a free kick in a scoring position, which they defended brilliantly.

As I hinted earlier, .the introduction of Duxbury injected added verve into the County effort, and his lively work teed Marsden up for a shot that screamed inches wide with the keeper no where.

With Duxbury on fire, Telford looked shell shocked as another shot from Marsden whizzed across the box to go out an inch or so wide. Telford were opting to put the ball anywhere now as County hounded them relentlessly, Montgomery doing really well to tip another Marsden effort over the bar.

Clarke could only head over the bar from the resultant kick, and Evans fluffed a rare late chance for his side on the break, as County prepared a final assault.

Duxbury led the charge and, joined by Stopforth forced the home side to concede a free kick. It was a good one too as was Marsden`s foraged shot, but despite a wicked ricochet off a defender?the ball stayed out thanks to a fine save by the keeper.

Shot after shot rained in from County after this, to no avail?

Telford did have time for a late/late break , and the locals did their ” handball” routine for our delectation, and the referee`s of course, but he did not buy it , instead awarding a corner that Evans made something of a wakes of putting away.

Time still for more from Duxbury, who with Minihan , combined to set Marsden up for a shot that deserved better.

It was not to be, and perhaps after all 0-0 was indeed a fair result. It was certainly a decent one as far as County are concerned, and I am sure they will be happy with the clean sheet having shipped so many goals recently.

Good stuff?see you on Monday for the visit of Worcester City to Edgeley Park.

[ No goals maybe, but plenty of action shots here! ]

AFC Telford line up:
Montgomery, Hurst( Evans 55), Samuels, Preston, Havern, Rea( Dawson 75), Reynolds( Peers 72), Williams, Hibbert, Wilson, Campion.

Subs not used;
Bailey, Gittings.

Stockport County line up ;
Hinchliffe, Ross, Smalley, Clarke, Minihan, Meppen-Walter(Thomas 55), Stopforth, Montrose, Amis ( Duxbury 77), Marsden, Lloyd( Carney 68).

Subs not used;
Ormson, Spencer.

Attendance: 1311

Ian Brown

Ian Brown