[ Written By Ian Brown ]
County cruised through to Round 3 of the FA Trophy today,with a comfortable 5-0 win at Edgeley Park against National League South’s Truro City.
Four goals from on fire Matty Warburton did the trick for James Gannon’s men, with more flames emanating from Darren Stephenson who crowned a good showing with a goal and 2 assists, as gloomy visions of Tuesday away in Cornwall were despatched early doors by a County side in no mood to entertain failure.
In truth County were never tested at all by Truro, which was a shame because the 33 who travelled down in support of Leigh Robinson’s side deserved better, but County never gave the visitors a sniff from first kick to last- banishing thoughts of a replay the best way possible,with a clutch of goals!
This is 6 straight wins for the blues, and six shut outs, and it is gratifying to see that they show every sign of staying the course in what will be an exacting latter half of the season.
It was good to see Sam Walker get some game time today as well, as he will definitely be needed in the run in- he did not disappoint. That said Turnbull and Keane go on and on – a power house combination in tip top nick, but then the same can be said of all the other units in the side,the central defenders Palmer and Stott were again in immaculate form, as were wide defenders Minihan and Duxbury, whilst going forward, as Thomas continues to thrive with pacy exhibitions of wing craft, the under rated Stephenson now is adding his two penny worth nicking goals and setting up chances and goals nicely.
That only leaves the strikers as far as out field players are concerned, and Warburton’s 4 goals tell you pretty much all you need to know, and Frank just grows with every game- he does not score in every one…but he is always good value, as is keeper Ben Hinchliffe! He did not have much to do at all today, but his contribution should never be underestimated!
Back at kick off time, or thereabouts,the small band of real supporters from Truro were in the far end of the Pop Side and making a decent noise, soon being countered by Yellow Block, who gave Matty Warburton his customary warm welcome.
There were no changes in County’s starting line up although Sam Walker and Jake Kirby were on the bench which was good to see.
It was also good to see County quickly into top gear and running at Truro with a purpose- the very first blue attack winning a corner.
Within 3 minutes County had another…then another and a goal as Stephenson shimmied his way down the left before laying the ball back to Warburton who lashed it home from a not inconsiderable angle.
Three minutes gone,County one up,that was a gratifying start as I mentally cancelled my early morning call for Tuesday!
The goal was the trigger for more concerted attacking from County and a dizzying number of corners as City tried to stem the growing tide hesding Buse’s way. Palmer went closest from all these, but the referee eventually ‘saw something’ and relieved the visitors angst with a free kick.
Six minutes in, and Stephenson was inches from applying a finish to Thomas’s cross as it fizzed across the box.
Thomas was in good nick but, joining with Minihan, had to settle for a corner, which came to nought.
But, I need not have worried as, with just 18 minutes gone, County engineered a second goal, and the construction was a thing of beauty,the ball flying smoothly from Mulhern to Stephenson whose low onward pass set Thomas up nicely for a shot that keeper Buse could only parry. That was a fatal mistake, as Warburton was on it in a flash, and in another the ball was in the net, via another silky smooth strike.
Truro must have been shell shocked by this point, as they tried to break free of what seemed like an unbeatable stranglehold on the game from County.
At this stage I fancied that Niall Thompson offered City their best chance of success down the right, but with Stephenson tracking back down that flank this avenue for the visitors rapidly vanished.
But, Dan Rooney was trying to impose himself in the middle of the park, and forward from him Alex Battle and Jared Lewington looked to be interested in causing County issues, and Tyler Harvey joined in, only to see his effort blocked by the brilliant Jamie Stott. Harvey did hit the target just after this, but the shot sailed into Hinchliffe’s waiting arms, after Battle and Lewington had set the chance up.
In truth County did not look in any difficulty at all, and the 28th minute saw them set about adding to their goal tally, as Stott emerged from the back to pass to Keane. Within no time at all the ball was with Warburton and his finish from the edge of the box was nestling in the back of the net before the keeper could move!
Wow,3-0 – that was simply excellent,but not as excellent as 4-0,and within a minute that was the reality thanks to a Thomas run and cross that saw Stephenson turn and plant the ball in the net in fine style!
Cue naughtiness next,as Connor Riley-Lowe got a touch tasty with Thomas, who he was having trouble stopping by legal means. Minihan’s shot from the subsequent free kick was pushed around the post by Buse, who then survived without conceding again, despite a flap at the back post when the corner came in.
County continued to press for goals, particularly Warburton whose pass from the by-line to Thomas, was cut out by Thompson. A corner resulted but nothing else as Riley-Lowe was able to welly the ball clear under pressure.
Just a minute later and it might have been 5-0, as Thomas sped to the by-line before pinging the ball inside to Warburton, who in view of his form thus far must surely put this away! Well he didn’t ..instead lifting the ball over the bar into the Railway End.
The 39th minute did see Truro force their first corner through Harvey, and almost force an error from Hinchliffe, but Minihan had his back and cleared his lines nicely.
That was the closest Truro were to come to nicking one, and the play quickly switched ends with a Turnbull drive just flashing wide from a Stephenson pull back.
The half continued in the same vein, with a Keane shot taking a deflection before thudding into the advertising hoardings inches wide. Buse eventually emerged with the pill, but not before Keane had turned the screw once more with what is now becoming a speciality of his…a neat lob slung brilliantly to the back of the box!
That was that though for the first half – a most satisfactory 45 minutes from County’s perspective!
The second half opened with the action still heading Buse’s way, largely via Duxbury. He was joined by Stott, but Stephenson was unable to get a shot in when well placed.
It was Minihan and Thomas applying pressure next, and from it Mulhern saw his shot pushed around the post by the diving Buse.
Corners came thick and fast now, as did half chances,.Palmer unlucky at one point,Frank the next as his neat glancing header just missed out.
It looked like just a matter of time before County got a fifth goal, but no one told Jordan Bentley who did excellent work to prevent Mulhern getting to Duxbury’s pass at the sharp end.
It continued. Warburton going close from a Stephenson pass,Mulhern seeing a shot charged down after Minihan had been fouled.
The fifth was not coming as easily as County supporters fancied it possibly would, and more anguish followed as Stephenson side footed wide from Mulhern’s neat pass from the by-line.
We hit the hour mark with the pattern continuing- Warburton’s snap shot warming Buse’s hands but no more,then it changed, and County got that elusive fifth goal!
It was a little beauty as well as a lovely one/two twixt Stephenson and Warburton saw the latter make it 5-0 with an emphatic finish!
Sam Walker was on for Turnbull after the goal, as County kept the pressure up – Mulhern going close again.
Truro did come back at the blues some minutes later, with Dan Rooney prominent, but nothing of note came from it, Harvey heading wide following a rare Truro free kick.
Mainly though it was County calling the shots – Duxbury almost adding a sixth with a cross / cum shot that almost squeezed past Buse.
Kirby (on for Warburton after 73 minutes) fired wide from a Mulhern pass shortly after coming on, and Buse had to make a decent save to stop Mulhern rounding off Duxbury’s excellent work with a goal.
The last 10 minutes were ushered in with Hinchliffe’s sole save of the game blocking a poor effort from Harvey, who might have been disappointed at not doing better.
But,as earlier,the way of it was that it was the blues on the offensive,be it Duxbury ( usually) ,Walker(probably), or Kirby or Osborne who had replaced Stephenson.
All the aforementioned had efforts, and Kirby added another with just 3 minutes left – a rasping drive that Buse did well to keep out!
Kirby’s fuse was clearly lit and another couple of minutes saw a fine run from him set Thomas up for a shot that brought another save from Buse.
Walker shot over, after County queued for a shot at goal, and Thomas saw his shot blocked en route to goal, and that was that,County were in the Third Round by dint of a very business-like performance.
Impressive stuff from County, that keeps the momentum going nicely. More of the same next Saturday please, when York City visit Edgeley Park!
See you then!
[ Pictures from the game are here! ]
Stockport County line up:-
Hinchliffe, Minihan, Palmer, Stott, Duxbury, Keane, Turnbull( Walker 67), Thomas, Mulhern, Warburton ( Kirby 73), Stephenson ( Osborne 80).
Subs not used: Ormson, Cowan.
Truro City line up:-
Buse, Thompson, Riley-Lowe, Richards, Bentley, Booth, D. Rooney, Battle, Keats ( L Rooney 85), Harvey, Lewington.
Subs not used; Bignot, Meaker.
Attendance : 1677