Well…..it`s 630+ minutes now, since County scored in a match, after today`s hard fought goal less draw away to Colwyn Bay.
It was pretty much a repeat of recent performances with the defence in rock solid form never really looking troubled, and ably assisted by Jamie Milligan who did his best, along with workaholic Phil Jevons, to forge a link twixt defence and attack.
Moke gave us a pretty decent 90 minutes as well, and if Kristian Dennis tends to disappoint somewhat , he none the less will feel aggrieved to have seen keeper Chris Sanna claw his header from the line with time running out and the blues getting ever more confident as the game went on.
County had looked confident all game long, playing some reasonable football, but it usually fell down in the last third where the ideas ran out. That said Sanna had a couple of more than routine saves to make before the break, and a crucial one late on, so being too critical is perhaps not called for- they were working hard and I will take that!
There were 2 County changes at 3 o`clock as the teams came out- Platt for Moses and Lofthouse in place of Churchman. The Platt move was to work well enough, but young Lofthouse disappointed , and like Churchman the game before looked ready for a rest.
Play opened with Jacobs and Lees in the thick of the action, and Duxbury likewise ushering Gareth Evans out of harm`s way. From this County went long – Moke a whisker away from embarrassing Sanna on the charge.
County persisted, or rather….Jevons did ,and things looked on the up as he picked Dennis out, and again as County`s number nine forced a corner off Danny Taylor. The kick whizzed over, and a further cross from the right, before the ball fell nicely for Platt whose shot unfortunately went wide.
That was a decent start , but what followed wasn`t by anyone`s yardstick as the ball was played out of defence by the Welsh side – reaching the County box , where Ormson was advancing for it. Ormson`s advance gained him the ball, but this fact looked not to concern Evans who ,with the ball not remotely at issue, swung his boot smack into Ormson`s face!
It was a crudely unacceptable assault, and should have seen Evans walking, but instead referee Robert Jones bottled it and waved a spineless yellow at him! The `Chelsea Rent Boy` chants that followed, aimed at the official, were amusing, but hardly enough of a rebuke for such an awful decision.
Lees was to the fore next, blocking a run by Sean Williams and then heading clear from the resultant corner, as Colwyn Bay, with Williams and ex Hatter Cameron Darkwah looking lively, pressed the blues back. In response O`Halloran joined the fray and ended the County angst, but when Jevons and Moke worked it clear, and the ball reached Platt, the move broke down when he lost himself in a brief orgy of over elaboration.
Darkwah meanwhile was giving every indication of wanting to embarrass County , but despite another energetic run from Cameron, O`Halloran…..Lees and company remained pretty much untroubled.
Indeed, with 10 minutes gone the action was at Sanna`s end where the keeper did brilliantly to keep a mighty strike from Moke out. It was a belter….and a good save too! Then Jevons had a go, but his volley met the same fate with Sanna again emerging , feathers unruffled, with the ball.
It was end to end after this, and the 12th minute saw Jamie Tolley head over the bar after a loose ball from Duxbury had set him up. A storming run by O`Halloran then saw Sanna thwart Jevons again with a decent save…..followed by a break by Darkwah for Bay that ended on the edge of the County box.
If the football was perhaps less than wonderful, it was a pretty competitive affair, and with 15 minutes gone, the home side thought they had a chance of sneaking one.
It stemmed from another Darkwah run, and he did well to ping a cross over on the end of it.In a flash Robert Hopley was onto it, but in another the liners flag was up and relief was palpable for County.
Back came County via Moke , but his left footed strike climbed over the bar. Moke was looking lively…very lively in fact, and aided by Kyle Jacobs offered a potentially potent option for AL`s side, but they still had to concentrate and ensure the back door remained locked, and OHalloran did particularly well in this respect blocking the route to goal before joining Duxbury in keeping Evans quiet.
Lees did likewise, but one bit of work saw him run into trouble ,giving Darkwah another chance to show his hand- he lifted his shot wide however.
Bay`s best option in this period seemed to be the long throw and a couple succeeded in pushing County onto the back foot, but without ever suggesting that they would crumble.
The response from County ,usually had Milligan at its source and Moke and Jacobs charged with turning defence into attack, but ,like Bay, they ran out of ideas the closer they were to seeing the white`s of Sanna`s eyes. Instance the 27th minute when a foul on Platt by Jamie Crowther ushered in a welcome free kick. Milligan played this sideways to Jevons only for Dennis to fail to make anything of it. Were County over anxious?
Perhaps well aware of the long goal drought? That may be so as Platt snatched at a shot 30 minutes in ,lifting it high and wide of goal…..then Dennis did the same when a little composure would have gone far. Again….Moke and Jacobs offered hope of something better, more so when Jevons joined in, but when it reached Dennis , he lost the ball and there the move ended.
A series of County throws ensured that they gained ground after this , but with the inevitable breakdown of the move that followed, our hosts had it on the break, and for a moment or so, things looked better for them until Williams firmly struck effort carried the bar!
Darkwah did his best to lift home gloom after this , but Jacobs waited his moment and timed his challenge to perfection- danger over! We were 5 minutes from the break now and Hopley did well to send Evans clear ,but the County middle held and the threat disappeared.
Once more County replied with Mulligan orchestrating things nicely …..yes…..the move was building well ,and Moke again looked on the verge of something, when Hopley laid him out with as slack jawed a challenge as I have seen for some time. It was depressing to see such obnoxious crudity, and the depression only increased when Milligan`s kick hit the wall and Lofthouse lifted his follow up high into the crowd.
The last minute of the half was lit up by Duxbury who went on a Bale type run that carried him from deep ,well into the Colwyn Bay half. Into the box he went ending it all with a decent strike, but Sanna was equal to it and his dive kept it at 0-0 as the referee blew for the break.
585+ minutes had now elapsed since County had scored in a game,but Police and Stewards, who generally had an easy time of it, spent the break `dealing with` about 2 dozen travelling fans who were viewing proceedings from a vantage point outside the ground. Some element of illegality was no doubt involved but I cared not and left them to it.
Straight off upon the re-start Colwyn Bay had themselves a chance ,thanks to Tom Smyth having lumped a high one into the County box from distance. It looked to be a chance anyway , but Evans, who should by rights have been viewing proceedings from beyond the touchline, fluffed his lines sending the poorest of shots wide.The quality from Bay did not noticeably improve either even when assisted when the referee obliged them with a ludicrously iffy free kick.
It was nicely placed as well, and Tony Stephens definitely fancied it, only to send his kick hopelessly wide of the target!
Moke then took matters in hand – creasing Bay with a cross that Smyth did well to head clear. Then he treated us to a real dazzler of a run, going past 4 men before veering inside at speed. Bay responded through Royle who lumped the pill out of the ground.
The mother of all scrambles followed, with County just unable to apply that final touch. Then…….they could( apply that touch) as Jevons slid the ball into Dennis`s path and he leathered it home. Joy was short lived however as referee brought play back for a Bay free kick for……err……offside?…..foul by Jevons ? It matters not ,it was still 0-0!
It got a tad lively after this, with Darkwah running at us again, and Duxbury sparring in lively fashion with Crowther, who came off rather the worse………….. Dennis had a shot saved by Sanna, and O`Halloran stopped Williams with an excellent saving tackle, but County were not being faced with overwhelmingly good opposition, in fact I felt that the Welsh side were pretty ordinary, so maybe something slightly special might be possible later on!
Meanwhile I looked on to see another Moke run ended with a tug of his shirt from Tolley,which earned County a free kick ,but the offender not so much as a gentle rebuke from the referee, whose mind I felt was now probably occupied on the perils of the traffic on the M53 etc between the ground and the Wirral rather than a rigorous punishment of felons, and seeing the free kick come to nought only served to increase my cynicism!
The mood improved slightly on seeing another magic tackle by O`Halloran stop substitute James Ellison in his tracks. Jevons waited his moment and with Mulligan in tow forced Bay back again, and I was aghast to see the referee signal a corner after the outstretched leg of Danny Taylor had sent Jevons sprawling in the box. I should have known really….we do not get them do we?
Jevons and O`Halloran both tried to make the corner count, but then exchanged strong words having each felt impeded by the other- Jevons getting to the ball but heading over the bar. County were playing some OK stuff , but it all prompted the rather obvious question……” where`s the meat?” Well…young Payne was on the bench….could he not have something to contribute?
This was distracting stuff to ponder on, but matters got temporarily iffy on the pitch next as following good work by O`Halloran the otherwise excellent Jacobs upended a forward giving Bay a free kick in a scoreable position.
Again Stephens fancied it and lined up accordingly, but so did Ellison and he took it ,and Ormson did not have to budge as the kick went well wide.
There really wasn`t that much of substance coming at County from their opponents, the trouble was that County were struggling themselves to make anything from some promising approach play, which made the continued absence of Payne all the more puzzling.
Colwyn Bay did keep trying to breach the County back line, but the closest they came was a back header ,after 80 minutes, from Williams which Ormson dealt with comfortably. Then it happened……an attack of real penetration from the blues and it was started by Milligan who kept pegging away until he could get a cross in. It was a belter too and so was Dennis`s response.
Dennis had been disappointing but the header that followed was spot on and on target. It was going in for sure ,but Sanna, who was falling backwards towards goal, stretched out a hand to somehow keep it out. County thought it over the line….unsurprisingly I agreed, but liner and referee did not and it stayed 0-0!
That last action seemed to have unnerved Bay and both Lofthouse and Duxbury saw shots charged down with the home defence in disarray, not long after. Then Moke applied the pressure via a lively run that ended with Dennis picking Platt out, but watching aghast as he was blocked on trying in vain to turn and shoot in the box. Jacobs, Moke and Jevons kept the momentum going, pushing Bay ever further back, but the ball just would not oblige and nestle in Sanna`s net, and the keeper was obliged to thump the ball over the stand with a minute or so left, when
Platt sent Jevons scooting clear!
A Dennis shot that just cleared the bar……a corner and some excellent defensive work from O`Halloran and that was that….the game was over.
County left the field to generous applause from over 800 supporters. I felt that that was the right response……OK…..the quality of the football on show was not that great, but County were trying…working hard…and their defensive excellence is there for all to see! Here`s to next Saturday and a goal or two against Harrogate at Edgeley Park in front of a bumper crowd!
County line up :
Ormson, Jacobs, Duxbury, Lees, O`Halloran,Mulligan,Lofthouse, Platt, Jevons, Moke, Dennis.
Subs not used; Charnock, Payne, Todd, Howard, Churchman
Colwyn Bay line up:
Sanna,Taylor, Stephens,Royle,Smyth,Crowther,Evans,S Williams,Hopley, Tolley, Darkwah.
Attendance : 1056
Colwyn Bay 0 County 0
Well…..it`s 630+ minutes now, since County scored in a match, after today`s hard fought goal less draw away to Colwyn Bay.