Date: 10th July 2016 at 11:45am
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County headed off to the Heath this afternoon for the annual tussle against near neighbours Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads from the Cheshire League.

This fixture always turns out to be a keenly fought affair and thus well worth not missing, doubly so due to the good relations twixt County and today`s hosts whose excellent training facilities County enjoy.

On this occasion the weather did its best to put a considerable damper on the occasion?.you know the drill?.monsoon conditions from dawn until 1 ish , and then some annoying drizzle to top it off when the game got underway.

That said?the game was a good run out for both clubs, and I am guessing that James will be pleased with much that he saw today from his boys, who saw off a decent challenge from Nomads with a 3-0 win.

With Ryan Ellison injured and Glenn Rule, Mark Ross and Danny Lloyd on holidays , County`s squad was the expected mix of those retained from last term along with the new arrivals , some trialists and one or two from Alan Lord`s locker.

The result was a game that pleased me and I am guessing all who made the short trip to the Heath.

Top performers??.?

For County Courtney Meppen-Walker stood out deployed as he was in front of the back four . He had Lewis Montrose and Gary Stopforth for company in midfield ,and they both did well- Stopforth particularly so in the first half.

Scott Duxbury showed us 90 minutes of good runs and intelligent positioning, and arguably edged Courtney out of M.O.M, but not by much and others shone too?..Thomas before the break?.and a clutch of new faces afterwards.

Sam Minihan might have scored three but for the home keeper who was simply excellent. Sam`s attacking play late on was top notch, and perhaps expected, but pleasant surprises came via Josh Amis who was a constant presence after the break.

Trialist Craig Carney did well also ?.notching a goal and doing much else to please, and the other trialist Godfrey Aberdaki made some telling passes and looked well worth another look.

Add some useful first half work from lanky wide man Adam Thomas and, as I have hinted, there is reason for optimism for County fans, with the knowledge that the likes of Rule and Lloyd will soon be joining the fray!

The game opened with the Nomads keeper beating out a shot from Gary Stopforth.

County piled forward early on with Thomas and Stopforth combining to probe down the right whilst Duxbury did the biz on the other flank.

Nomads were trying to ruffle County`s feathers but the back four, shielded neatly by Meppen-Walter looked on song. However no sooner had Smalley been called into action to mop up a two man break by Nomads, than play switched ends where Thomas was unlucky to see his effort cleared off the line by a defender.

At this juncture Nomads were under the cosh and were perhaps fortunate to see the liners flag rule an effort by Stopforth out 12 minutes in.

County kept the pressure on, and it paid off some 5 minutes later when Marsden`s corner was not cleared by the home side. That was a fundamental error on Nomads part as the ball landed wide left where Meppen- Walter lurked!

In a flash?and disregarding the difficult angle Courtney whipped a firm strike home past the keeper`s despairing dive.

County pushed on after this?..Marsden twice going close. Thomas was still pinging those crosses over and the corners were piling up for County as shot after shot rained in on the Nomads goal. Again?..on 25 minutes?.it looked like we had notched another, when Montrose unleashed a whiz bang that flew like an Exocet into the net, only for the same flag to disappoint us!

So?it was still 1-0?? but it was not for the lack of trying that more goals did not come just yet. No?..the home keeper was playing a blinder?.a double corker thwarting County at one point- Montrose and Stopforth both going close without luck. But it was not a case of luck?.Nomads were defending judiciously and well, and promising to ruin County`s day big style!

And that keeper was making saves right up until the break?..Marsden exasperated by one save that prevented a certain goal with his defence filleted.

Luck did lend a hand to Nomads with 5 minutes left of the half. Duxbury caused panic in home ranks with a run and then a cross that saw a Smalley header come back out off a defender. Immediately Marsden latched onto the loose ball ?swivelled ?before unleashing a terrific shot that thudded into the post and went infuriatingly clear.

That was about it for the first half and by now you will have noted the absence of photos. Apologies?.I managed to break the number one camera during the game, and the photos I took with the emergency number two did not turn out!

However ? was still raining and the County team had a string of fresh faces on show upon the restart?Josh Amis, Adam Etches, George West up front?..trialists Craig Carney and Godfrey Aberdaki ?..Max Brown from AL`s set up, and relative old stager Ian Ormson .

The changes seemed to enliven County, and Nomads struggled to deal with an early cross from Carney.

Amis was making his presence felt in no uncertain manner, and Nomads were not coping too well with the injection of pace and ideas the new faces brought to the party. It was not long therefore before County made it count and it was Carney who did it sending a lovely firm strike way beyond the keepers dive into the net.

County piled forward now seeking that third, but West was foiled by the keeper`s brave dash off his line. Minihan was dealt an even unkinder hand ?his first shot on the break was beaten out by the diving keeper ?..his follow up looking to have gone in?..instead hit the side netting. Some felt that in the build up that we deserved a penalty when Amis was floored in the box?..I amongst them?.but the referee did not agree and it stayed 2-0.

Minihan was working tirelessly and so was Amis who was inches from converting a Carney cross into the gold of a goal.

I looked up at this point to see Ian Ormson make a good diving save to stop Nomads nicking one on the break, but mainly it was County on the front foot, with Meppen- Walter and Duxbury leading the charge.

It went on?.Amis and Etches unable to capitalise on a rare spill by the keeper, and Etches in the action again on the end of a neat prompt from Aberdaki.

Eventually the pressure paid off again, and after Duxbury had won another corner, a header of imperious quality at the back post made it 3-0 from the flag kick.

On it went?.an Aberdaki ball finding no takers in the box??West foiled again by the keeper who then produced a fantastic save to deny Amis.

Courtney Meppen went off with 15 minutes left to a decent round of applause – another of AL`s lads, Ben Whitey replacing him.

It was one- way traffic now and Aberdaki was getting nicely in the mix with some neat balls. Nothing was materialising however?..a decent save here?.a close shave there?. And George West was distinctly unlucky to see one strike drift agonisingly wide from Duxbury`s tasty cross.

And so it continued?there was one further personnel change?.Akreal Chambers coming on with 3 or 4 minutes left for Minihan, who left to a decent ripple from County fans.

Soon enough the referee blew for time and another enjoyable encounter twixt these two sides had ended. County were victors ?.3-0?.but Nomads had made a good fist of it and could be pleased with their output too!

Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads squad:-

Tyrer, Campbell, Rodgers, Stuart, Yuille, Power, McKenzie, Ball, Hare, Walsh, Grandison L, Harrison, McGregor, Dangher, Taylor J, Taylor D, Hussain, Hibbert, Garndison W.

County Starting Line up:
Hinchliffe, Smalley, Duxbury, Meppen-Walter, Clarke, Montrose, Minihan, Stopforth, Odejayi, Marsden, Thomas.

Substitutes used ( 45 minutes)
Ormson, Etches, Amis,West,Carney,Brown.Aberdaki.

Substitutes later?..
(75 Minutes) Tom Whitey, ( 85 minutes) Akreal Chamber

Ian Brown

[ Fantastic puctures from the game can be found here! ]

With thanks as ever to Ian Brown for the super report.


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