Hats Off To Richie!
Richie Allen's penalty 10 minutes from time cancelled out Danny Lloyd's first half opener for Stockport
SATURDAY 18th MARCH 2017
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH
SALFORD CITY 1 STOCKPORT COUNTY 1
0-1 Danny LLOYD (13th min)
1-1 Richie ALLEN (80th min, pen)
Stockport County became the first side to take a point away from Moor Lane since Harrogate Town in November as this afternoon’s hard-fought derby ended all square. The Hatters edged the first half and went ahead courtesy of Danny Lloyd but despite a much improved second half showing Salford had to wait until 10 minutes from time for Richie Allen’s leveller from the penalty spot.
There were two changes from the side that started last week’s 1-0 win at Brackley Town, with Patrick Brough back in at left-back. In midfield David Norris was replaced by George Green and James Poole was back amongst the substitutes having recovered from injury.
Over consecutive Saturdays in October Stockport ended Salford’s FA Cup hopes and won the first ever league meeting between the two sides. The Ammies were looking to redress the balance this afternoon and a sell-out crowd of over 1,700 gathered to see how they would fare.
On a grey, wet and breezy afternoon the game got off to a brisk start with both sides winning their first corner within 3 minutes of the start. The first opportunity of the game fell to County’s Scott Duxbury but from the left-hand side of the penalty area he could only drag an effort wide of the target.
The Hatters probably enjoyed the bulk of early attacking possession but in the 10th minute Salford created a decent chance for themselves. Jordan Hulme’s pass to the right found Josh Hine and the former Chorley forward aimed a cross towards the near post. Mike Phenix moved to meet the ball but under close defensive attention he could only bundle a downwards header wide of Ben Hinchliffe’s left-hand upright.
George Green had made a promising start to the game and within a minute he nicked possession away from Harry Winter before setting off on a left-of-centre run. Having made it to the edge of the area the Burnley loanee’s low cross found Josh Hine only for the assistant’s raised flag to bring the move to an abrupt end.
A decent opening spell for The Ammies but they went behind to a quality County goal scored during the 13th minute. Sefton Gonzales – who had a loan spell with Salford a couple of seasons ago – flicked on for Danny Lloyd who clipped a pass back to Jimmy Ball. The County midfielder advanced then threaded a diagonal pass to the left where Lloyd got between Michael Nottingham and Billy Priestley, outpacing both before placing a low, angled left-footer that beat Jay Lynch's dive on its way inside the far post.
A great finish, understandably relished by Lloyd who had scored against Salford during the FA Cup tie at Edgeley Park earlier this season.
Roared on by 500 of their supporters in the West Stand, County were buoyed by their goal and went on the hunt for a second. In the 17th minute Lloyd’s free-kick from the left was flicked on a couple of times before Chris Smalley hit a powerful volley from the edge of the area that slammed into a defender and out for a corner. The delivery from the right fell for Ball, also on the edge of the box but he couldn’t keep down a shot that flew yards over the Salford crossbar.
At the other end Salford were using Hine’s prodigious ability to throw long and in the 19th minute one of his ‘specials’ fell for Green whose shot was blocked, with the offside flag denying Phenix a chance to follow up. Two minutes later Hine hurled another one in from the right, with Nottingham getting up highest at the far post to glance a header just wide of the upright.
Hulme was the next to put pressure on Stockport’s defence, doing well to engineer a little space on the right right but his low ball to the near post was hacked clear.
County were defending intelligently, with two well drilled banks of four facing a Salford side who hadn’t yet clicked into attacking top gear. Thirteen minutes before the interval they tested Lynch again when Gonzales found space to hit a rising 18-yarder from just right-of-centre but that one was straight at the Salford keeper.
For now the game had developed into something of a midfield scrap with neither side able to create much. In the 39th minute Hulme had a shout for a penalty after he appeared to have been held down when contesting a Hine cross but referee Wild did not oblige. The Ammies continued to press and when Hine found Phenix on the right Salford’s top scorer darted for the line before slamming in a rising drive that Hinchliffe managed to parry at his near post. County looked to hit quickly on the break and for a moment they had a 3:1 advantage inside the Salford half. As he has so many times before this season Burton came to the rescue, sliding to get in a perfectly timed challenge on Amis before he could send one of his team-mates on a clear run to goal.
Soon after that Burton was booked for a foul on Amis having earlier been warned following a similarly full-blooded challenge on Lloyd.
The last action of the first half came in the 44th minute when Lloyd’s inswinging corner from the left appeared to be dropping under the bar until Lynch acrobatically tipped the ball clear.
HALF TIME: SALFORD CITY 0 STOCKPORT COUNTY 1
A frustrating first half from Salford’s point of view – they’d seen plenty of the ball but Hinchliffe had only been forced to make one save worthy of the name. The visitors had got their game plan right so far and the stage was set for an intriguing final 45 minutes.
Within a minute of the restart Green latched onto Hulme’s touch to send a half-volley wide of the target. Shortly afterwards it was Hulme’s turn to have a go but his low effort from 18 yards and right-of-centre clipped off a defender on its way wide of the far post.
Two early openings and although County were still looking solid and working hard they were being pressed back by a reinvigorated Salford side. In the 58th minute The Ammies went very close to levelling the scores after good work from Brough on the left won them a corner. Green’s delivery was flicked on and as the ball dropped towards the far post Phenix got there to power in a close range header that looked a goal all the way. Hinchliffe had other ideas, flinging up a hand to tip the ball over – a tremendous, instinctive save from the much travelled keeper. Salford had another corner and when this one dropped beyond the far post Simon Grand put in a header that dropped a few inches over the bar.
This was much better from the home side and just past the hour mark they brought on Nick Haughton for Hine. The on-loan midfielder soon made an impact, picking up possession well outside the penalty area before setting off on a jinking run the took him past a couple of flailing challenges, and suddenly a little space opened up on the left-hand side of the box. Once again though the Stockport defence closed up quickly and Haughton’s attempt to get in an angled effort on goal was charged down.
Haughton was involved again midway through the second half after Hulme chested down deftly on the right. Phenix’s pass up the flank sent Haughton clear and he got to the line before whipping in a dangerous low cross that was knocked behind for a corner.
The Hatters were soaking up quite a bit of pressure and Lloyd – less effective since half-time – was replaced by Kaine Felix with just over 20 minutes to play.
Meanwhile Salford were still working hard to unlock their opponents’ defence and in the 69th minute a clever flick from Green gave Haughton the chance to cross from the left. It was a decent delivery but once again there was a blue shirt on the end of it and County’s narrow advantage was still intact.
Green chipped a ball into the box next but it wouldn’t sit up for Phenix and once more Stockport managed to clear their lines. The visitors hadn’t managed to summon an attacking threat since half-time but Felix used his pace to break forward on the left in the 72nd minute. The County substitute cut inside and along the edge of the box but after a half collision with team-mate Minihan he could only lift an effort over the crossbar.
A timely warning for Salford who had otherwise been territorially dominant for nearly half an hour but they were almost caught again a couple of minutes later. This time Minihan’s combination with Felix had a stamp of quality as the full-back’s lofted pass with the outside of his right boot sliced open the Salford defence. Felix set off in chase of a ball heading diagonally to the right but his progress was halted by a great Billy Priestley challenge.
This was turning into a good little spell for the Hatters and within another minute Ball pushed forward on the left before getting in a low cross that Lynch claimed at the second attempt.
After a long, yet fruitless spell on top Salford had now started to concede chances to a County side who were beginning to emerge from their defensive shell. An unbeaten home league run of 8 games looked like it might be coming to an end as Stockport closed on what would be a 'triple' for the season.
Managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley responded to the balance shift by bringing on James Poole and Richie Allen for Hulme and Green, but the next chance went the way of County. A Salford attack broke down and Stockport worked possession out to the right where Felix skipped past Burton before surging over the halfway line. Once again though Priestley had anticipated the danger, getting across to put in another great challenge to avert the growing danger.
Salford desperately needed goal and with 11 minutes to play they finally reaped the reward for their second half efforts. Haughton twisted and turned on the right before getting in a cross that dropped onto the head of Nottingham on the edge of the 6 yard box. His effort drifted wide of the far post but the referee has noticed a spot of robust manhandling from Minihan and had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
You need a cool head in a situation like this and fortunately for the home supporters the man for the job was on the pitch. Allen stepped up in typically languid fashion, placing a low finish to Hinchliffe’s left as the keeper committed himself the other way - after 65 minutes chasing the game Salford were finally back on level terms.
This was a game that neither side could really afford to lose and the final 10 minutes yielded few moments of goalmouth action as a safety first approach was generally adopted. Five minutes from time Harry Winter found Scott Duxbury on the left but the subsequent cross was too near to Lynch to cause any real flutters of alarm. In the 1st minute of time added on there were a few Salford hearts in mouths as Felix went down inside the area following another robust Priestley challenge but despite cries of outrage from the away end the referee waved away claims for a penalty.
The Ammies exerted a late spell of pressure but County were in no mood to relinquish their grip on a share of the spoils and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
FULL TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 STOCKPORT COUNTY 1
Three years ago to the day Salford City slumped to a 2-0 defeat away to bottom of the table (Evostik League First Division North) Wakefield at the home of the town’s Wildcats Rugby League club. The crowd on that dismal evening was 48 and the travelling Ammies who made up nearly half of it would never in their dizziest dreams have imagined where their team would be within those 3 short years.
Hosting Stockport County at Moor Lane with supporters occupying a smart new covered terrace – and for the first time an impressive all seater stand - is a mark of how far this club has come in so short a time.
A funny old game indeed, but as far as today is concerned relief at Allen’s late leveller will be mixed with a measure of disappointment. A so-so first half was followed by a powerful performance after the interval yet Stockport keeper Hinchliffe was forced into only one save – although to be fair, it was a cracker.
Credit is due to a Stockport side who played very well before the interval and defended determinedly, in numbers after it. There were murmurs of discontent over the penalty decision of course but the Ammies deserved their equaliser by that time – and perhaps a little more.
Results elsewhere didn’t go too badly but it’s imperative that focus is retained in a division where most of the teams are capable of picking up a result against any other.
Stockport travel to AFC Fylde in midweek while Salford entertain Chorley in another crunch game at Moor Lane. It’s not impossible that today’s fixture may be repeated in the end of season play-offs but there’s quite a bit of football to be played before then.
Eight games to go – eight to go and win – come on boys….it’s getting serious again!
1) Jay Lynch
2) Michael Nottingham
3) Patrick Brough
4) Scott Burton
5) Simon Grand (c)
6) Billy Priestley
7) Jordan Hulme
8) Brad BARNES
9) Mike PHENIX
10) Josh Hine
11) George Green
12) Sam Walker
14) Craig King
15) Nick Haughton (for HINE, 62nd min)
16) Richie ALLEN (for GREEN, 77th min)
17) James Poole (for HULME, 77th min)
1) Ben HINCHLIFFE
2) Sam MINIHAN
3) Scott DUXBURY
4) Lewis MONTROSE
5) Michael CLARKE (c)
6) Chris SMALLEY
7) Josh AMIS
8) Harry WINTER
9) Sefton GONZALES
10) Jimmy BALL
11) Danny LLOYD
12) Mark ROSS (for AMIS, 65th min)
14) Connor HAMPSON
15) Courtney MEPPEN-WALTERS (for BALL, 82nd min)
16) Kaine FELIX (for LLOYD, 68th min)
17) Ian ORMSON
Referee: Mr. Richard WILD
Assistants: Mr. Aaron BANNISTER & Mr. Edward STAPLETON