Date: 19th July 2006 at 5:32pm
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They estimated that around 400-500 would turn up, but Woodley Sports Football stadium was full of around 1000 County fans last night as they all turned up to see the County squad in action for the first pre-season friendly on English soil (it wasn`t real soil though).

Turning up at the ground, I had heard stories off people about the grass not being real, but I didn`t expect it to be like it was. Apparently it also burns if you fall, so we were all hoping that none of the County players took a nasty fall on it.

On the pitch, if you were from a different country you would have thought that Woodley were the professional team during the warm ups.

The County players were just scattered around their set half, kicking balls about and doing kick-ups – on the other hand the Woodley players were all warming up and going through training drills together. However Peter Ward then appeared on the pitch and it seemed as though he got the 10 starting outfield players and did proper warm up and drills with these.

You could hear the County fans saying to each other “Who`s that?! Who`s that one!?” and most people didn`t have a clue. But when I read the official report at home, I realised that we started a trialists in goals and two other trialists in midfield. Apart from that the team was probably at its strongest – Rose started ahead of Robinson at left-back.

And one of the first jobs for the trialists keeper, South African Sean Roberts, was too pick the ball out of the back of the net as Woodley took the lead. Pringle slotted home for Woodley after some poor defending in the corner allowed Woodley to put a cross in, and Pringle was on hand with some free space to put the ball past Roberts.

County failed to get going in the first half, but did have various chances and scored once but it was ruled offside.

A long ball over the top from Malcolm found Dickinson who put the ball over the top of Woodley`s goalkeeper from 25 yards and should have gave County the equaliser. However the linesmen ruled it offside – I was stood in line and Dickinson wasn`t offside.

Michael Rose then played a great ball to Malcolm, who took on one Woodley defender in the box and refused the chance to shoot, he then took on another one and refused another chance to shoot and then he took on another and hit a weak shot at the keeper. While all that was happening, Bramble was stood free 5 yards to his right shouting “Malcs, Malcs, Malcs”.

County were playing mainly long balls, but when the headers were being won by Dickinson and Bramble the ball was then put on the floor. Raynes got the ball on the right wing, passed it to Dinning and Raynes shouted for it back straight away. Dinning held the ball then passed it and Raynes couldn`t reach it – Raynes went mental at Dinning and all Dinning did was point back to the position he should be in.

Burke, one of the trialists, who I thought played really well played a great ball cross field to Bramble. Bramble took a touch to control it, but then hit the shot way over the net and it was only stopped from going out of the ground by a netting that was up behind the stand.

Raynes then had a great chance from a Rose free-kick but he headed wide from 5 yards. This was followed up by a good chance when the ball was played into Dickinson`s feet, he turned the Woodley defender and hit a low hard shot just past the post.

Then on the stroke of half-time, a really bad tackle resulted in the referee telling the Woodley bench to substitute the player. From where I was stood it looked like Burke, and the Woodley player went flying at him from a yard away.

At half time, it was 1-0 to Woodley – and even though it was a pre-season friendly it finished on a rather competitive note and hopefully it would give the County players a bit more urgency and desire in the second half.

In the second half, changes were made to the County team with a new goalkeeper coming on, aswell as Allen and Robinson.

The equaliser nearly came, when a clearance from the Woodley defence blasted against Ashley Williams and nearly went in the net.

A large number of County fans had gathered behind the goal, and it seemed as though the County players might have been able to give them something to cheer about.

Mark Robinson went so close with a free kick, the keeper dived the wrong way and it took a deflection of the wall and just went past the far post. Giving County a corner, a few fans were getting worked up.

The trialists keeper, Deacy, then pulled off a magnificent save at the other end as Woodley nearly made it 2-0. He dived full stretch into the top corner to stop the ball going in.

County seemed like they were creating chances every time they got the ball, and when Malcolm hit a low cross to Dinning it looked like the equaliser was there. However a magnificent save from the Woodley keeper stopped Dinning scoring his first goal in his return to County – Dinning looked amazed at how the keeper had saved from a yard.

Then Le Fondre, just brought on, hung back on a corner when everyone else rushed forward and he had a 2 yard header stopped on the line by a Woodley defender.

Then Le Fondre released Malcolm, and this had to be the equaliser but Malcolm squandered the one on one chance and hit it straight at the keeper. The County fans were getting really frustrated now.

However, in the closing minutes, Rob Dawson another trialists put a good ball into the box, and Damien Allen was on hand to put the ball in the net to save County`s blushes and level the game at 1-1.

 

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