[ Written By Ian Brown ]
The sun was a crimson ball of furious heat, above Meadow Park today, making the seeking of shade an absolute necessity.
Twenty seven minutes had elapsed in the game, and my head was splitting but not from the affects of the sun, from the fact that County were already 2-0 down.
Their opponents, Borehamwood, had opened with all the confidence of a team that sensed it was their day, and with County fielding a fairly makeshift eleven due to injury etc, they were not far wrong!
Injury to defensive king-pin Ash Palmer in the pre match build up , saw the Blues take the field with Cowan, Arthur, Keane and Jackson as a back four, with Ian Ormson stepping up for his first game of the season twixt the sticks due to Ben Hinchliffe`s unavailability.
Further forward matters looked no brighter, personnel-wise as Piggott`s injury ( playing for Wigan ) left a hole that looked all too apparent at the sharp end, where Bell and Leesley looked for possession in vain.
Sam Minihan was to replace Jackson in the first half, and I made him and Thomas County`s top performers in what over all was a thoroughly poor performance.
Home keeper Dave Gregory did not have a shot to save before the break , and by way of contrast Ian Ormson must have been shell-shocked having picked a third goal out of his net almost on half time.
Whilst things improved slightly in the second half, as Thomas and Minihan , and later Dimaio and Mulhern, strove to get things moving, it was not ever enough of a turnaround to make an impact, a fourth goal late on sealing a comprehensive win for the southerners.
The game opened with our white shirted hosts in possession pushing County back into their last third.
Three times in quick order Keane produced good blocking tackles to deny Borehamwood who had a seemingly potent prime mover in their midst in the form of Kabongo Tshimanga.
Three, four, five minutes passed with County on the rack, with Borehamwood lining up for shots . Sorba Thomas looked the man` most likely to` in this period , but he was denied by another block from the hard working Thomas.
Corners racked up for the home team, relief eventually coming when Jackson was able to run the ball clear from deep.
Nothing came of Jacko`s run, and the pressure came back on the blues again, Ormson doing well to deal with a clutch of white shirts on his case.
That was 7 minutes gone, the 8th saw Tshimanga do a small mountain of spade work to set Kieran Murtagh up with a good opening, only for him to lift an inglorious effort out of the ground.
County were trying to utilise Leesley, but with Bell, he was largely floundering in a sea of white shirts.
Mainly though the ball was at the other end of the park, and 19 minutes in it was in County`s net as the middle of the blue back line melted away to allow Tshimanga to round Ormson to make it 0-1.
County responded but Leesley`s shot came back out off a defender, and a subsequent free kick, for a foul on Bully, came and went with the keeper able to stand and watch the final ball drift wide.
Twenty seven minutes had now passed, and County had been hard pressed almost throughout. Thomas was starting to get forward but little was forthcoming in the way of support as he went.
Then Borehamwood doubled their advantage, as Ricketts stole possession before surging up the park to send Sorba Thomas clear. He still had it to do, but he made no mistake with a peach of a finish that offered Ormson no chance at all.
The white-shirted Thomas was in again moments later, but lofted a poor effort high and wide, the signal for a counter from JG `s men.
Osborne was central to this forcing a couple of rare County corners, the second of which Leesley curled within an ace of going in at the back post.
We needed that to have sneaked in, but it didn`t and, with Minihan now on for Jackson, County were back defending and grateful that Femi Ilesanmi fluffed a heading chance at the back post.
Minihan slotted in on the right, with Cowan now on the left, but it made no difference to the flow of play, which was towards Ormson, and everyone bar the burger man was up for our hosts, as the pressure mounted on the blues via a corner. It might have been….maybe should have been….but instead Tyrone Marsh lifted a lulu over the bar.
For the next 4 or 5 minutes I convinced myself that things were improving for County. Some promising play was materialising involving Thomas, Minihan and Turnbull, but without end product.
Then ..from nothing it was 0-3 as Tshimanga ferreted his way in behind the County back line beating Ormson with another prime finish.
Minihan, Thomas and Osborne tried hard in what remained of the half to get something from what was rapidly becoming a lost cause, but it was still 0-3 when the teams headed off for the break.
County opened the second half brightly, Thomas unlucky twice in rapid order after combining neatly with Minihan.
Osborne forced a corner in this period , but nothing came of it.
Inevitably Borehamwood came back at County, but Marsh found no takers as his cross pinged in from wide left.
Tshimanga fancied he could do better though, and his over head effort was going in until Ormson cancelled it out with some sound keeping.
The 56th minute saw Dimaio on for Osborne, and his energy almost declared an early dividend , his deep cross seeing Thomas burst a gut to apply the required finish , but stretching instead to send the ball over the bar.
We were beyond the hour mark now and Minihan and Thomas were still engaged trying to start something for the blues, now with Dimaio`s assistance, but there was always the chance of a break by the home side and that`s just what occurred on 65 minutes with Sorba Thomas carrying the ball up the park where Murtagh and Marsh were only just kept out at the cost of a corner.
This appeared to have been sorted but, in running the ball clear, Minihan pulled his man back. The pair went to ground and the referee pointed to the spot!
Hmm….Tshimanga v Ormson…….. Hill`s would have Tshimanga as odds on favourite to put this away….but we know better do we not, and Ian dived to his right to brilliantly save the kick, and the follow up effort to boot…..fantastic keeping!
Mulhern replaced Thomas with just over 20 minutes left, and Frank went close within minutes!
Murtagh and Mingola pressed for Borehamwood next , and the pressure mounted again on the blues via a free kick conceded by Leesley who shipped what I thought was a harsh booking as well.
The kick was poor and the follow up attacking from County`s opponents insipid, so I looked for something to lighten the gloom from JG`s men.
Frank almost obliged as Gregory pulled of his best ( only?) save of the day to keep a corking drive from County`s number nine out, following good work from Minihan!
Into the last 10 minute we went with both sides having a go….Keane ushering a shot off the line….Frank seeing another shot charged down…..Bell heading over on the end of a decent ball from Keano.
It was frenetic, if not highly skilful stuff, and I was more than a touch disappointed to see County`s defences breached again right at the game`s death.
Started by a languid run deep into the box from Shaibu, and emphatically finished by Marsh .
Dimaio went close twice in the game`s dying embers but a County goal by that juncture, was looking very unlikely indeed.
Game over…game lost.
Not sure what to say further, other than we go again Tuesday.
See you there then!
Borehamwood line up:-
Gregory, Ilesanmi, Ricketts, Champion, Stephens, Tshimanga ( Mingola 70), Murtagh ( Shakes 79), Marsh, Fyfield, Thomas ( Shaibu 81), Smith.
Subs not used : Mc Donnell, Thompson.
Stockport County line up:-
Ormson, Cowan, Arthur, Keane, Jackson (Minihan 32) , Turnbull, Walker, Thomas ( Mulhern 68), Bell, Osborne ( Dimaio 56), Leesley.
Subs not used : Gorst.
Attendance : 744 ( 370)