The North Ferriby United web site ran a match preview for today`s game, that ran for 8 paras.
After an opening line that read ` Ferriby entertain mid table Stockport County…….`, there was no further mention of ourselves in the piece which obsessed instead on the rest of their` run in` games.
The temptation was to see this as an insult ( I didn`t ), or a sign of complacency( which I did whilst taking comfort in the knowledge that free scoring Anthony Wilson was side lined due to suspension).
For sure there would be others around in green and white well able to rain on our parade, but after week on soul destroying week of teams firing up and playing out of their skins against us, I took heart in the thought that maybe……just maybe…..here was a team thinking that the 3 points were theirs already!
In the past……( the bad old days) County would face this situation, in reverse, week in …week out….as clubs used to lording it in the dizzy heights of The Championship( Second Division in real money) looked down on us with disdain only to rue the fact after the game in which County had punched way above their weight and beyond local expectation.
That was then however……………..this is now…. so could this current County team roll back the clock and stir something long since dormant in their long suffering support?
Well……. it had to be said ….everybody and his dog seemed to give us the proverbial snowballs chance in hell of pulling something…….anything off in East Yorkshire, and it was particularly annoying to note that William Hill quoted the longest odds on a County win , of all Conference North away teams today- b####y cheek!
But….a disciplined and focussed County confounded the pundits by holding the league leaders whilst being able to say that they were slightly badly done to by the 0?0 score line- a late rally by the blues reducing the home side to desperate measures to maintain parity.
It was an excellent blue showing……one built on sound defence where the back 4 of Jacobs, O`Halloran, Lees and Duxbury played out of their skins. They were superb, offering hot shot Ferriby almost nothing to work with.
And…..when the East Yorkshire side got a sniff of goal there was Ian Ormson for them to contend with, and he gave an immaculate performance, pulling off a string of high class saves!
Just a goal was missing from the equation, and even that might have comer County`s way had Dennis shown more composure late on when decently placed.
No matter…..that was nit picking on my part…..a point away from home against top of the league, is good going by anyone`s book, so `nuff said!
Back at 3 o`clock it was interesting to see Mathew Todd ( son of Lee) on the bench for County along with Sanchez Payne, who could possibly look forward to a few minutes on the park today.
There was more than a few minutes in prospect for Kyle Jacobs, who rather surprisingly, but happily none the less, was in the starting 11. It looked like 4/3/3 to me, which looked to be the right way to go against our alleged betters- we needed to put pressure on them and have a real go at getting something from the game.
Jacobs was soon in action, and he did it well linking nicely with Ormson to snuff out an early flurry from the home side. Then County swung into action through Moke, who cut inside from the right before being fouled on the edge of the box.
The free kick from Milligan was headed clear, but only to Moke again, and his cross picked out the increasingly excellent Stephen O`Halloran ,whose shot, from a Jevons lay off, was charged down .
From that last action, the Villagers had the semblance of a break on via the high scoring Nathan Jarman, but this soon receded to nothing when Moses took charge, and left the home number 10 a bemused spectator.
County were doing pretty well, and with Jacobs and Moke combining nicely down the right, all kinds of possibilities offered themselves up, at least in my imagination. We were keeping the ball though and trying to play with it, and that was reality….not imagination, even though at 5 minutes, it was early days!
It was an interesting opening to the game as County continued to push forward largely through Moke and Jacobs, and a corner saw Josh Wilde hook the ball off the line to save his sides blushes. Then Ryan Kendall had it on the break…or thought he had……as Duxbury`s alert intervention sorted matters.
A foul on Ormson quashed the next raid from our hosts, and from the kick, Moke won a corner with some energetic work. Adam Nicklin, the North Ferriby keeper, punched this out, but not that convincingly, and County had themselves a free kick in a reasonable position.
This fell to Duxbury to take, but the Yorkshire side were able to defend it easily.
It went on with County getting forward regularly- the latest combo twixt Dennis, Moke and Jacobs bringing a good defensive header from Nathan Peat in response. At the other end County were working hard with Duxbury and O`Halloran doing particularly well, coping with what attacking ideas the league leaders could muster.
O`Halloran was really sharp especially in the air dealing with a clutch of long throws. We have struggled with these recently but today….we seemed to have them sussed, which was good because Wilde looked like he could haul them over all afternoon.
A decent catch by Ormson on 13 minutes, saw a lull in the action for a while, but it soon bucked up 8 minutes later , as Kendall scooted clear before cutting inside and unleashing a shot. It was a good effort but someone in blue got a touch to it – just enough to deflect it for a corner, which County defended with calm assurance.
Shortly after……Kendall`s day took a dip again as a foul on Lees, by him, stopped a raid that looked promising.
Then it briefly looked on the up, as the forward darted clear once more, with O`Halloran and Lees looking for an offside flag that never came- that was a dangerous game to play, but when Kendall could only win a corner, and this was again dealt with smoothly by County, the danger was over.
It looked like North Ferriby were finding their feet now, as the attacks from them increased in number if not effectiveness. Wilde was still pinging those long one`s over , but the lessons that Exodus Geoghan had taught us, appeared to have sunk in, as County were able to deal with each incoming missile without a problem.
Then…..just on the half hour we really did have a problem as Kendall was played through the middle behind the blue back line.
Ormson was exposed, and it was 1-0 for sure, and then it wasn`t as somehow Ormson got something on King`s shot pushing the ball for an improbable corner off a post! That was quite simply a fantastic save, and for an encore Ormson came out to catch the corner under pressure!
The pressure mounted on County after this with a Jamie Yates cross bringing the best out of Duxbury.
Then Jacobs followed suit to thwart Kendall. This was good from County , but less so when Jarman headed narrowly over from another Yates pass, and Ormson was called on again with time running out in the first half, to stop the rot as ,for once, Kendall looked on to beat O`Halloran for speed.
But O`Halloran soon re-established who was boss and Kendall got nothing from him a minute later as he chased a through ball.
Howard went close, without getting a shot in, from a Jevons pass, but with free kicks beginning to rack up for the Villagers, mostly it was North Ferriby doing the attacking in the last few minutes of the half.
It was good to see midst all this that County were dealing with the pressure with cool assurance, but at the same time we had again gone 45 minutes without testing the opposing keeper with so much as one shot! That said….0-0 was good against the top of the league, and there was no escaping that fact!
North Ferriby upped the ante upon the restart , and Ormson was in action straight away to keep them out- doing so with a snortingly good save to keep a Jarman shot out, and then adding to it with another belter to prevent Danny Clarke`s follow up shot from opening the scoring.
On it went with young Ian sweeping up in lively fashion with the back four holding a high line. Eventually ….the law of averages says that sooner or later North Ferriby would get through and County`s luck ( if that was what it was, and I doubt it)might change, but when Jarman latched onto Peat`s through ball- he screwed an awful shot way wide into the allotment area behind Ormson`s goal.
It was a decent game now, but to a neutral it would be difficult to pin point just who of the two teams was the table topping outfit. County`s defence, with O`Halloran and Duxbury supreme, looked on top of their game, but we needed something to happen at the other end, but when it did and Moke`s run was halted by a foul, Milligan`s free kick hit the wall and any chance was gone.
This saw the Villagers break clear again through Kendall, whose initial run was blocked by Duxbury. The ball went out to Jarman from this, and then on to Yates, but Jacobs conceded a corner to block this from which Mark Gray headed over to the disappointment of the home specs.
The disappointment was ours next as a good move from County saw Howard dart clear through the middle. Dennis was clearly offside, but he was not involved in the move- Howard was and he had surged onto the ball from an onside position, only for the liner on the far side to raise his flag!
To say that was a poor decision is to understate it, and it probably cost us the game, but then again what do I know!
Kendall went close with a header for Ferriby, and Jevons was prevented from getting a shot in whilst turning in the box for County, as the game swung from end to end. Then it seemed to take a decisive swing County`s way via Moke, who went on a mazy run down the right.
It was looking good as he veered into the box, but as he passed inside, up shot the liner`s flag to bring play back for a considerably belated throw to the home side.
I was not alone in bringing the liners parentage into question after that, and the mood did not improve when Moses and Jevons won us free kicks which were then promptly wasted!- nor when Howard sent Dennis clear and the flag went up again!
Milligan did well next in concert with O`Halloran, to see an attack off, and when Moke surged clear and passed the ball Milligan`s way again, he did even better – cutting inside before beating all and sundry with a precociously cheeky lob.
It was a belter and showed real lightness of touch, but with Nicklin gawping at it helplessly the ball whizzed out an inch or so wide. Now that was unlucky!
County still had to be on their toes though, and it was good to see Jacobs and O`Halloran doing just that as the Villagers looked to keep their promotion push going. But the end to end nature of the game was still apparent as Howard went close with a header one minute and Ormson did brilliantly the next to deny Jarman with a real game changer!
More good work from Duxbury and O`Halloran, set Jevons up for a break, but he lifted his effort over the top.
County were building up a head of steam now, so much so that the hosts were hard pressed to keep them out – Peat going briefly AS after fouling Howard, and getting booked for it. The free kick unsurprisingly perhaps, came to nothing, and Jevons was unlucky shortly after not to reach Dennis with a neat through ball.
Then another free kick came County`s way via Clarke who upended Jevons, and it took a decent save by Nicklin to keep a header from Dennis out.
Midst all this County action, a wary eye still had to be kept for the odd crafty break by Ferriby ,and one such with just under 10 minutes left saw Yates go close, but now the main attacking force had blue shirts on and Nicklin did well to keep a Milligan shot out after a neat dummy by Dennis had thrown the home rearguard. Duxbury`s follow up was then charged down- Dennis going close again not long after from another late blue free kick.
County had the bit between their teeth now and on they pressed through Jevons who sent Howard scooting clear. From the ex Chester man it ran on to Dennis who looked really well placed, but he snatched at the chance and the ball came back out off one of a line of defenders!
A late corner following a run by Moke set up by Jacobs, was then wasted as we headed for 4 minutes added time.
All yesterday`s worst nightmares then threatened to come back to haunt us when Clarke launched himself to the ground in one of the best dives I reckon I have seen for some time.
It was an absolute lulu……unfortunately so was the referee and he awarded Ferriby a free kick in a rather tasty position.
Jarman`s effort was pretty good as well- but not quite good enough ,thus having beaten the wall, it cleared the angle of bar and post by sufficient to bring the smile back to my face!
The game ended with Ormson denying Yates with some more excellent work as the teams left the field of play to a sustained round of applause from the crowd.
It had been a good game……a competitive game, and one in which County had more than held their own. How good is it to read that Hatters? It is certainly extra good to write it!
County line up:
Ormson, Jacobs, Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Moses, Milligan, Howard, Moke, Jevons, Dennis.
Subs not used; Todd, Lofthouse, Churchman, Platt, Payne.
North Ferriby line up:
Nicklin,Peat, Wilde, King, Gray, Hone, Clarke, Fry, Kendall, Jarman, Yates.
North Ferriby United 0 County 0
The North Ferriby United web site ran a match preview for today`s game, that ran for 8 paras.