Date: 20th November 2013 at 7:11pm
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I guessed that after last night`s epic disappointment what you and I needed was a good news story ….preferably one with a County connection.

Word had reached me, that the Borough boasted a really decent team within its boundaries, one which was unbeaten so far this season, topping The Football Conference Youth Alliance with a massive 19 points out of a possible 21, and that team wore the blue of Stockport County and was proud to bear the Clubs name!

Today`s game was at Stockport Sports Village Woodley and featured that table topping County team and Harrogate Town, who placed ninth in the table, so off I trotted , duff camera in pocket and sporting more layers than Scott , Amundsen or any of their ilk ever did, in time for the 1.30 kick off.

County were quickly into their stride and looking assured, but Albert Keeling twice pierced the Town back line only to be ruled offside on both occasions. Both teams were keenly contesting matters, but most of the early pressure came from Stockport who went close with a free kick from Rodney Ajayi that grazed the bar.

Nick Williams found the route to goal blocked by the Harrogate keeper who looked sound as the proverbial pound in diving to make the save and then repeating the action to thwart Demell Cumberbatch, who had powered onto a flick on from Keeling.

Cumberbatch was to be one of the games prime movers with his close control, ease on the ball and powerful running, but for a period Harrogate pushed County back on their heels with a series of free kicks and corners, and Adam Rigby had to look lively to keep his goal intact under some pressure.

Past half way in the first half and it was still 0-0 and anyone`s game, but it was nearly 1-0 ,on 23 minutes, as Cumberbatch fed Keeling nicely with a well weighted through ball. Keeling was in…..but his shot stayed out, not missing by much, but missing none the less.

County did not stop working for one another though, and that was a major feature of their play for me- they played as a team, one that actually knew each other – hence you would think….their success!

The defence was well marshalled and captain Leon Murphy was constantly probing and setting things in motion, whilst in attack Cumberbatch and later Kiarno Samms dominated.

County`s well constructed play received due reward, 26 minutes in, when Kameron Palmer nipped in to drill the ball home on the end of a looping cross from Williams on the left.

The half hour mark saw the ball in the County net this time, but the referee saw a foul on keeper Rigby and promptly ruled it out.

A series of free kicks and corners had again fully tested County and they had emerged intact, indeed they might have doubled their advantage, on 35 minutes, when Keeling`s abundance of energy saw him latch onto a loose ball in sight of goal.

He was one on one with the keeper and maybe should have scored, but he shot wide and it stayed 1-0.

It was a busy time for the Harrogate defence and their keeper did exceptionally well to keep a curler from Williams out, and prevent Keeling from reaching a cross from Samms fashioned on the break.

Much of what followed prior to half time happened in County`s half as Harrogate pushed them back striving for that equalising goal, but County did actually think that they had scored another when

Palmer repeated the action from another Williams tempter, slotting a fine finish beyond the keeper into the net! It was ruled out for offside which was a shame.

Half time then and 1-0 to County and time for a coffee!

When I returned the game had already re-started, but I was in time to see County win a free kick, which was powered home from close in by Dean Nolan to make it 2-0 to County.

Credit to Harrogate………….they fought back well forcing County to concede corners and free kicks to stay afloat, but it was County who came closest to scoring as Johnny Poyser hit the bar with one effort. Poyser was nearly there again minutes later heading Kris Livesey`s free kick narrowly wide.

We were into the last 20 minutes now and County were beginning to dominate as Cumberbatch set things rolling with a typically powerful run, which ended with a free kick when Ainsley Mantack was brought down just outside the box.

The keeper did well to keep substitute Ben Spibey from latching onto the kick, as corner after corner was conceded- Samms unlucky not to finish the action off with a goal.

Yes…..some decent stuff was coming from County now as captain Murphy urged them forward and the keeper saved well from Spibey who had been sent clear by the increasingly influential Samms.

The 76th minute saw Samms to the fore again after Murphy`s incisive run had seen the Harrogate keeper spill the ball. Samms was on hand and put his foot through the ball but it thudded against the bar and rebounded who knows where!

I thought Johnny Poyser was unlucky not to earn a penalty, on 78 minutes, but the referee saw no foul as he crashed down in the box. County were clearly in the ascendancy now and Town were beginning to tire, and I looked on in amazement to see the Town keeper dive to keep a thunderous drive from Cumberbatch out.

That was a brilliant save but he did it again as County surged forward in numbers hungering for a third, possibly decisive, goal.

The action was at the Harrogate end for sure as we went into the last 6 or 7 minutes with County pounding away…..Murphy……Atkinson……Cumberbatch all having a say….all instrumental in pushing the Yorkshire side back.

With 5 minutes left a shot from Cumberbatch crashed into a defender on the line and flew straight into the keepers arms- perhaps lucky, but hadn`t he deserved a slice or two?

Well yes, but his luck ran out not long after, it started with another pulverising effort from Cumberbatch that came back to him off a defender. He lifted it back without delay for Samms to head home from close in, in fine style.

His celebration was good too, and he had a repeat for us, with 2 minutes left, as another cross from wide right came his way and he dived forward to head home to end the scoring at 4-0.

Great stuff……excellent team performance and so very good to report in a time otherwise bereft of glad tidings.

I recommend you study the fixture list, and if you can go along and support them- they deserve it!

County line up;

Rigby, Mantack, Murphy, Livesey, Nolan, Ajayi, Palmer, Samms, Cumberbatch, Keeling, Williams.

Subs Poyser, Atkinson, Spibey.

Ian Brown


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