County’s visit to the `Winner Recruitment Stadium ` was an altogether happy one last night as James Gannon’s team came away with a well earned 4-1 win against Evo Stik Northern Premier side Warrington Town.
As against Everton on Saturday, but in reverse, the scoreline probably did Paul Carden’s side scant justice, as they gave County a real game for the first hour, and for a time might have squared things up, with a shade more luck and a less alert Ian Ormson in the County goal.
As it was both sides swapped the personnel about in the second half, and County’s use of substitutes proved, perhaps unsurprisingly, a decisive factor in the game’s outcome.
Sam Walker stood out amongst the subs again looking well worth a start, and young Jordan Downing deserves a word, having the combative ex Hatter Richard Brodie to contend with, and when he went off another ex Hatter, Josh Amiss who has been scoring of late. Jordan did well!
Elsewhere Frank Mulhern again gave a top showing, and Nyall Bell, operating wide left mostly, but not exclusively, was always looking for an opening, but the one who really caught the eye was Connor Domaio who looked sharp as an axe scoring a superb goal as well.
Overcast skies greeted the teams circa 7-40 as they took the field, and the first thing I noted was Richard Brody’s presence amongst the men in blue ( Warrington ). He was to give his usual show of petulant aggression, his charge sheet this time including a lulu on Cowan and much in the way of verbals aimed at a very lenient referee. Generally, he got nothing from Palmer and company though and that is what matters.
The early exchanges saw Warrington push County back and playing some attractive football whilst about it. The first five minutes, however, raised no real alarms for County fans present, save that Ian Ormson had an intended clearance charged down. The ball flew wide, as it did again when Ian repeated the error later, but he was fortunate.
A cross from the left saw one of a number of Town trialists 7 head over the bar, and another trialist ( number 3) send a drive over the top on the end of a lively run.
For Warrington, I saw the trialist number 3, and the young trialist centre back 5 having much to commend them up against a decent County attacking line up.
County replied through Thomas who was promptly upended in the box, but Referee Ben Atkinson was unimpressed, so no penalty.
Another minute though and Warrington’s indiscipline let them down as County took full advantage by taking a quick free kick teeing Warburton to slam a lovely strike home from outside the box!
It was nip and tuck for a time after the goal, but Warrington were still making a good fist of trying to get back in it, and Ian Ormson had to pull off a brilliant save to deny Tony Gray who turned in the box to send a fine strike heading for the top corner!
A foul on Mulhern again set County up not long after, but his kick just missed out, and another effort from the County number nine carried the bar a minute or so later.
County were warming to their task now and Bell was unlucky with a pacy run that somehow attracted the attention of the near sideliner who flagged for ….err….something…..
It went on with Bell’s lay off sending Warburton through on goal, but his side-footed effort was saved comfortably by the experienced Tony Mc Millan- in goal for Town.
Mulhern went close, on 23 minutes, and the 24th saw Ormson reprise his sleepy time moment to forget, at the other end, before County doubled their advantage.
It was started and emphatically ended by Connor Domaio whose tenacious want of possession and the retention of same saw off all opposition as he headed for the box. An exchange of passes with Bell, and when the required return came his way from Nyal, Connor simply leathered the ball home giving County a 2-0 lead.
Credit to Warrington though, it took them about a minute to get one back through Tony Gray who beat Ormson with a neat strike into the bottom right corner from the edge of the box. A decent goal that, and irritatingly it was now 2-1 and Town now probably had some added wind in their sails!
Both sides had a go in what remained of the half…..Bell and Mantack sending Mulhern through only for good work by Alex Honeyball to deny him.
Bell continued to impress, shooting over though as his luck still was out.
Brodie’s was too or was some other element abroad as he failed to get a touch to a decent cross. Trialist 7 did better, and got a shot off, only for Ormson to snaffle this will the minimum of difficulty.
Into the last 5 minutes of the half, we went with County looking to have made it 3-1 as Palmer rose to head home. A mixture of Mr Atkinson and his near side liner contrived to rule that out ( don’t ask !).
There was more to annoy next as Smalley was penalised mysteriously smack in front. It was scoreable……. But trialist 11 lifted an inglorious effort high and wide.
Meanwhile Domaio and Warburton spent the rest of the half worrying the life out of home defenders, but it was still 2-1 to County as the teams went off at the break.
When play resumed, Walker and Downing were on for Turnbull and Palmer- a bit of a tasty test for young Jordan with the `feisty` Broadie to contend with.
Gray continued as he had left off before the break being thwarted by the alert responses and strong hands of Ian Ormson whose last-ditch save was really excellent with Gray looking to score easily.
For a time Warrington gave every impression of being likely to nick one back, and that save was a vital factor in ensuring that they did not and that County were able to apply themselves and take control again.
In this respect, Walker and Domaio looked in charge for sure, and Mulhern again drew a foul and a free kick on the break. He had the drop on his cover again from the well constructed free kick that followed, but …whilst anticipating another neat finish from Frank, I had forgotten to factor in Mr Atkinson’s input and that of the liner on the opposite flank, and Mulhern was pulled up when clear!
Irritated…..you betcha…..but more was to follow as much good work from the tireless Bell ended with Mulhern sliding in to make it 3-1, only for the effort to be ruled out. Offside?……..foul ?…… Mulhern’s aftershave?….your choice…it stayed 2-1 so that was that.
Warrington brought on a couple of subs on the hour and Brodie was now off with Amiss his replacement, and for a while Town pressed a bit….trialist 7 going close, and Gray even closer being denied by another terrific reflex save from Ormson.
This was brave stuff from the Northern Premier side, but gradually County regained control – Mulhern inches away on the end of a long through ball.
Warburton kept up the impetus, his run with 20 minutes left, thoroughly filleting the right side of the Town back line. He drew the keeper but McMillan somehow got fingertips to the lob and saved the day for his side.
County were looking good once again, and only a shade of good fortune was missing now, as McMillan again worked a small miracle pushing a Thomas shot over the bar at the last gasp.
Bell was unlucky from the resultant corner….then set Warburton up again to just miss out……going close himself not long after denied of course by McMillan.
The keeper did well to punch the corner clear, but looked exposed when Mulhern threaded the perfect ball into Domaio’s path as he sped goalward.
3-1 then…………….but no……offside !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Still fulminating over that one, I was immediately mollified as County defence instantly morphed into an irresistible attack, as Ormson’s trademark long ball took `Route 1’ picking Mulhern out as he darted clear in the box, drawing the keeper before planting an emphatic finish in the back of the net.
Another 2 minutes and Mulhern was replaced by Stephenson, and more changes followed that saw Minihan and Duxbury on for late cameos in place of Mantack and Thomas.
County’s changes did not affect their rhythm and McMillan and Charles Arewa were in action for Town clearing goal bound County efforts off the line.
County were hungrily looking for that fourth, none more so than Duxbury who was at the heart of an excellent move that ended with Bell firing over the bar.
Bell had impressed me, and in him and Mulhern I think we have the definite basis for a decent strike force going forward, it was just that his luck was out tonight.
Or was it……as more late/ late County pressure saw the ball come his way out of a melee in the box, whereupon he made no mistake beating the keeper to make it 4-1.
A fitting end that, and another good work out for County in what was a very good game.
Just one friendly left, Saturday against Macclesfield at Edgeley Park, and then the season proper starts, and I think that we can look forward to better things this time around!
See you Saturday!
[ Photos from the game can be found here! Anyone think that Warrington’s amber socks would suit our firast time strip? ]
Warrington line up:
McMillan, Carden, Trialist( Jennings 81), Trialist, Trialist, Honeyball( Arewa 46), Trialist( Davis 67), Garritty( Vassallo 60), Broadie( Amiss 60), Gray, Trialist( Hynes 67).
Subs not used: Makinson.
Stockport County line up:
Ormson, Cowan, Mantack( Minihan 85), Turnbull( Walker 46), Palmer( Downing 46), Smalley, Thomas( Duxbury 85), Domaio, Mulhern( Stephenson 80), Warburton, Bell.
Subs not used: Hinchliffe.