Ah……..the good old days……………………real football- don`t you just long for them to come back?
You remember………the ball would be in the air…….smudger would swing a boot at it sending it on another aerial journey in the opposite direction!
That was by no means the end of it though , as the ball ,having travelled 60 maybe 70 yards ( definitely yards -metres had not been invented then ), would be wellied back again, usually by Smithy or one of his entourage, and the 100 or so `players` would be off on the charge after it once again.
Should anyone be foolish enough to put his foot on the ball( usually the kid with specs on)he would instantly regret the action and be submerged under 100 or so flailing legs hoping desperately to survive!
Ah yes………those were the days alright….oh to be back in the playground again!
Unfortunately, for large parts of County`s game against Gloucester City, those days appeared well and truly to be back with us as the ball went aerial and stayed there for much of the time, thanks to two deeply unimpressive teams.
Unfortunately County were the more deeply unimpressive of the two, as yet again the game was surrendered without much in the way of resistance.
It was awful…..it really was- and oh how Mark Battersby must have wished he had stayed at the M5 motorway services where the departed team bus had inadvertently left him pre match.
Once again there were changes on view for County. There was no Kyle Jacobs unsurprisingly after his mugging last time out, and still no Dennis, but at least he was available on the bench.
Fagbola moved over to the Jacobs spot and the patient Stephen O`Halloran came in alongside Lees at centre back.
In the event O`Halloran did pretty well whilst young Jordan unfortunately had another mare – having a hand in both goals. He was not solely responsible for County`s ill`s though -they were endemic in the team…..loose passing….careless set pieces….. no bite…..no cohesion…absolutely no threat! I hesitate to go on, but I must……
Back to the beginning then, as having seen Battersby off in his taxi we soon followed him arriving with 45 minutes to spare at the nicely appointed Whatten Road ground.
Unfortunately the PA announcer was straight from British Snail Training School- waiting until noise levels were at their highest ( when the teams came out)before gabbling the teams out in totally incomprehensible fashion. I did not know a single Gloucester name, and already was in one!
Perhaps County would surge onto the attack and thus brighten my mood, but….no….it was Gloucester who pushed on early doors, giving Duxbury and O`Halloran work to do. Thankfully they did it well, and O`Halloran had to do so again as Connor Walden and Nat Jarvis dashed clear- the Irish defender was decisive and found touch with precision.
After about 5 or 6 minutes of defensive work County at last had a chance to reply, as Milligan hooked the ball clear relieving the pressure. The ball sped on to Jevons, but he was blocked, and it all went pear shaped when the final ball from Battersby was too strong for Oates.
Already 10 minutes had past, but with the ball scraping what clouds there were in the balmy Gloucestershire sky, it seemed like about 20, then suddenly County got a wake- up call as Matt Groves beat Lees before going to ground. The free kick was cleared easily enough, and Oates was unable to capitalise on a momentary lapse by the home keeper following this, so it stayed 0-0.
Duxbury was perhaps County`s best player at this juncture, getting forward nicely and getting the odd cross in, but City found the aerial stuff not that difficult to deal with, so we needed something more subtle if County were to prosper, instead Platt sent a depressingly lack lustre shot skidding yards wide.
That said, I noticed that old heads Milligan and O`Halloran were doing good work with the vocals…organising youngsters like Lofthouse in defensive positions- we needed more of that and O`Halloran obliged- smartly cutting out a driven cross from Darren Mullings.
So far it had been horrendously soporific stuff to watch, but…hey…..the 19th minute saw things perk up a tad as County at last attacked the Gloucester goal with something resembling intent.
It was a half decent move too, but when Oates applied as finish, the keeper kept the shot out with a good save.
That was the 19th minute……………….the 20th saw City come back at us with a vengeance through Jarvis who cut through the County cover down our right with ease. A thumping drive followed, and Ormson did brilliantly to push this over the bar with a spectacular dive.
I was tempted to close my eyes when the corner came over, because Roary Winters reached it in oodles of space. It was a free header, and he should have done better, but instead he powered his effort just over the bar!
After all the barbed cynicism I have offered earlier, I have to admit that I thought that we had taken the lead, on 24 minutes, again it was Battersby to the fore, on the end of a neat Jevons pass, and this time his shot was on the way in until the keeper`s last gasp dive saw him claw it around the post.
Settling reluctantly for a corner, County then promptly wasted it, which was to prove their default position for the afternoon!
It went a bit `playground` for a while after this ,both teams not slow lift it high under the slightest of pressures, and …most depressing of all ….there was an almost total lack of conviction about the blues attacking play. And…..if that was not bad enough they then went one down as a result of defensive error.
Unfortunately Fagbola was involved, and he was turned inside out by Jarvis when then cut inside and leathered a ferocious shot off, that Ormson did well to reach. Unfortunately he could only parry it, and following in,Adam Mann smashed the ball home to give our hosts the lead.
Credit to County though,-they did attempt to get back into it- Duxbury starting it off by lifting a high one to the back post where Oates awaited its arrival. Oates` header was neat and tidy and fell nicely for Jevons, but his shot was diverted for a corner by the keeper.
That was perhaps more of a miss than a save, and Jevons possibly knew it as such, as his almost immediate follow up, a shot from outside the box, failed to concern the keeper at all.
Fagbola and Duxbury did well next as City again came back at us, but Waldon rather overdid the vaudevillian stuff, earning himself a booking for a glorious dive in the box. I gave credit to the referee for this, and much more in the game which I thought he did well in!
The free kick should have set County up for time on the ball, but it didn`t, instead with a flurry of loose balls the blues were under the cosh once more, and more so as Platt contrived to head straight to Mullings ,about 10 yards out! County survived somehow, only to waste a free kick in depressing fashion.
With the half almost done, I pondered a quick kip, but turning to my left I could see Lou Spalding had altogether better ideas!
Soon enough it was the break, and time for a disgusting bacon barm and a palpably weak coffee, but at least I avoided the burgers- variously described thus….” awful”…” the worst I have ever eaten”.
No pies on show only tears as we contemplated the 45 minutes to come.
I exaggerate obviously, but not greatly, and I cheered up to see Dennis on for Lofthouse when the teams returned. Or…..as our man from British Snail advised us….Shane Lewis ( on for Lofthouse).
The cheerfulness did not last long as the pressure was on County straight away, but it was oh……so…..dreary really.” Like watching paint dry” the steward to my left offered, but it was not that good! Neither side over egged the finesse and it was wince inducing to see the ball exit the ground via Duxbury.
There was a brief spasm of forward activity from County to point to, however the shots from Battersby and Dennis both cleared the bar with a bit to spare, and this was followed by neat play from Jevons who set a move in motion only to see Fagbola lift the ball out of play.
That really was the best of it from County as they wantonly wasted a clutch of free kicks and corners.
Almost inevitably it was Gloucester who went closest to scoring. It was set up by Mullings, who won his side a cheap free kick, which whizzed in from Bill Jones, missing the on-rushing Mullings and Mann by the merest whisker.
There was a certain lack of discipline emerging now from County….they weren`t giving free kicks away ( City had the only 2 booked in the game)but they suddenly started complaining overly long to the referee (Platt and Oates guilty 72 minutes in) when the decision made was unlikely to be reversed!
In fact it possibly contributed to what followed, although Fagbola`s unforced slice in mid field set it off – a cross from the left setting Lewis Hogg ( who was a live wire in the 2nd half for City)up to head home unchallenged.
There was notionally enough time (15 minutes) for County to salvage something from this match ,if only a modicum of pride, but , when Winters fouled Oates in a promising attacking position, County contrived to waste the kick and the subsequent corner.
Not long after …AL acted by replacing Oates and Milligan with Howard and Moses, but the pain continued as a volley from Mullings went inches wide from a cross by Hogg.
It went on with Mann seeing a shot deflected wide , as corners and free kicks threatened to add to County`s woes.
Fagbola did get one header in, but this flew over the bar, and the attacking play continued to come from the hosts largely via Hogg, but substitutes Marcus Gigglio and Chas Griffin were in there as well, and County were in difficulties handling them.
Thankfully it all came to a conclusion.
We had lost, and….depressingly I have to say again….deservedly!
I`ll be there on Tuesday, but might we expect better?
County line up :
Ormson, Fagbola, Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Milligan ( Moses 80), Platt, Battersby, Oates( Howard 80), Jevons, Lofthouse ( Dennis 45).
Subs not used : Lewis, Charnock.
Gloucester City line up:
Green Matt, Green Mike, Jones, Coupe, Winters, Waldon, Hogg, Mullings, Mann, Jarvis, Groves.
Gloucester City 2 County 0
Ah……..the good old days……………………real football- don`t you just long for them to come back?