A stalemate at Stelfox Avenue
Having not had a home fixture since the first week of September, the travelling Stockport cohort made the short trip to AK to face a team struggling at the wrong end of the table.
On paper and form this should have been a reasonably straightforward game. Port on the back of 5 wins while the home side had only managed 3 wins all season. The AK side had a strangely familiar look to it as Stockport arrived at the club, the lack of 2nd team fixture that day may have had something to do with that.
Stockport still managed to field a strong squad and welcomed back Joe Wooding after an extended spell out with a shoulder injury.
The playing surface was a touch heavy, that could have an adverse effect on kicking (more of that later).
Stockport began playing up hill, AK started brightly and it was clear they were technically good at the break down and had a youthful back line who didn’t mind running ball in hand. Stockport had most of the possession in the first half; some strong running from the forwards and an excellent line break from Dubai Dave Wybourne gave Port the hopes of a good result. The Stockport line out worked well and made good yards with some big drives, however the away side just could not capitalise on the pressure.
Half time arrived, 0-0 and all to play for.
The second half saw much the same from the away side with big hits in defence from skipper Andy English and the pack pushed AK back and they had little attacking field position for most of the second half. Some wasteful play from in the back line led to missed opportunities and not utilising the pace of the wing or centres made it a frustrating 40 mins.
Stockport were awarded a penalty with about 18 minutes left to play, the kick was around 45 meters out and at a tight angle (ok 20 meters out and not really that bad an angle at all). Unfortunately the wooden hamstring of full back and kick taker Lee Percival had snapped and as he was languishing on the side-lines scrum half Jim Finnigan stepped up to take the kick. A combination of the poor surface, wrong boot choice, dark weather, poor quality match ball, referee stood in the wrong place and the rain made the stand in kicker pull his kick wide of the upright (he wrote this report not me, I wasn't even there)!!
The score line remained 0-0.
In the last 8 minutes the home side kicked in to life, they had some good attacking field position and a number of phases in the Stockport 22. The Stockport defence which this season has been outstanding held firm, excellent tackling from all involved left the only opportunity for AK to score some points from a penalty 3 mins from time.
Captain English gave away a dubious penalty, despite the referee telling him 7 or 8 times not to touch the ball at the break down.
The kick from about 18 out and almost in front of the posts would have been a cruel way for Stockport to lose the game, not to be out in the terrible kicking stakes the AK kicker lined his kick up and scuffed it wide and low….To tremendous cheers from the away section.
The last 3 mins were played out in the Stockport 22, a number of AK attacks were repelled by the dogged defending of the ever resilient Stockport defence. leaving the final score as a boggling and baffling 0 – 0 draw!!
First class work from all 18 who travelled to AK this week, despite a number of changes during the game every single player did their bit to ensure we got a share of the points.
Home (yes that's not a typo we are at home) against Burnage next weekend. Please make an effort to get there and remember REPLY TO THE TEXT !!
UP THE PORT …
by Jim Finnegan