Would You Adam & Eve It? County Bold Er Googly At The Death...
The last meaningful kick of the season’s inaugural evening-fixture at Edgeley Park - courtesy of North Ferriby’s substitute, Adam Bolder - proved to be a kick in the teeth for the Hatters, as their winning sequence came to an end beyond the minimum of previously-announced added time.
More positively, the team remains unbeaten - having now taken points in the first four matches against the complete set of League sides whose names contain the word ‘United’. And the sharing of honours with North Ferriby did, at least, halt the Villagers‘ own 100 per cent record of victories in SK3. But there could be no hiding the disappointment of home players and supporters alike, on having seen an even happier conclusion denied to them in the dying seconds.
Earlier in the cloudy mid-August evening, Neil Young had made one change to the line-up from that which had taken to the field at Telford three days earlier. Micah Evans, following his County debut as a substitute on that occasion, was now handed his first start in place of Joe Garvin. On the bench, Paul Tyson was restored, by way of goalkeeping back-up, for the first time since the opening day of the campaign.
North Ferriby created the game’s first chance, when towering forward, Tom Denton, nodded the ball back from within County’s box to his Captain, Liam King. The visiting Skipper ran along the area’s edge before teeing himself up to shoot - but lost his footing in the process, and fired high into the Cheadle End.
Calum Dyson, having edged ahead as County’s leading goal-scorer at the weekend following his decisive strike at Telford, was looking hungry for more of the same - and proceeded to go close on three occasions. His free kick from twenty-five yards curled its way around the North Ferriby wall but fizzed wide of the right-hand post, before he was twice thwarted by Adam Nicklin in the visiting goal. Dyson’s low drive from the left was parried out by the FA Trophy-holders’ Wembley penalty-saves hero, who, prior to that, had dived to finger-tip behind a side-footed effort from ten yards by the young loanee, following a Karl Ledsham cross from the left.
That save, incidentally, was to result in the only corner of the evening. By contrast, the contest in its entirety featured some thirty-eight free kicks, in all their guises, as play was frequently broken up - and scoring opportunities, whilst evenly spread between the two sides, were relatively few and far between.
The Villagers did have one glaring miss of their own to rue ahead of the break, when Josh Wilde’s cross from the left found Denton unmarked eight yards out. Connecting his head with the delivery naturally posed no great difficulty for the tall target-man, but he will have been disappointed with the end-result as his glanced effort flew wide of the far post.
HALF-TIME: County 0, North Ferriby 0.
Danny Hurst’s first half may have been an untroubled one, but the County ‘keeper was called into action, and needed to be at his sharpest, inside the first minute of the re-start - blocking a close-range effort from Ryan Kendall, after the one-time object of County’s transfer-attentions had broken through on goal.
The Hatters began to liven up, both in the stands and on the field of play, following the introduction of Sefton Gonzales and, subsequently, Lamin Colley, to spearhead the attack. In between the two substitutes’ respective arrivals, County had also fashioned a chance of sorts, following a Gareth Roberts chip to Ledsham beyond the right-hand post - although the latter’s attempt to scissors-kick the ball home led, rather, to its launch into Cheadle End orbit.
Gonzales was next to try his luck - glancing a header from a long Roberts throw-in straight into the arms of Nicklin. And the Hatters were somewhat up in arms (as it were), when Glenn Rule’s cross into the visiting box from the right looked to have struck Curtis Bateson’s hand - but appeals for a penalty were waved away by Referee, Paul Marsden.
Mr Marsden was remembered by County fans, as having sent off two Hatters during the defeat at Gainsborough early in the calendar year. On this occasion, he was again to brandish a couple of cards in the direction of County players - albeit yellow, rather than red, ones in both instances - together with five for the visitors. His more lasting contribution to proceedings was, however, to materialise at a much later stage...
Each side was awarded a free kick to create potential chances. North Ferriby’s, taken by King from just outside the ‘D’ - and granted after Sean O’Hanlon had appeared to win the ball against Denton - resulted in an excellent save by Hurst, whilst, at the other end, Rule fired a delivery from slightly closer to goal too high for the Hatters.
With the visitors defending solidly, County’s prospects of breaking the deadlock appeared increasingly slimmer. But, with three minutes of normal time left on the clock, a poor Wilde clearance was gratefully picked up by Lewis Montrose. The midfielder proceeded to play in Colley, whose shot within the visiting box was deflected high by Nicklin - but only as far as Ledsham, who, from the right of goal, headed home to send all but twenty paying spectators into raptures.
Ledsham’s goal-celebrations - most memorably, his flawed knee-slide at FC United a week ago - have already become the stuff of Club legend, no matter who has scored for the Hatters. And, by way of marking his own first successful competitive strike, the corner flag between the Cheadle End and Main Stand was made to demonstrate the art of bending back as far as possible before returning to its more customary upright position!
Five minutes of added time were displayed on the Fourth Official’s board, as Bolder entered the fray by way of North Ferriby’s first and only change for the evening. Towards the very end of the time announced, Ben Middleton fired high over the County bar - and it felt, for all the world, as if the full-time whistle would sound within seconds...
But still play continued. And County hearts were broken following a route-one move by the visitors that culminated in a left-footed curling equalizer by Bolder from just inside the home area. No sooner had the Hatters retrieved the ball from the corner of the net and kicked off again, than Mr Marsden brought the contest to an end. Timepieces all around indicated somewhere between close on 96 and 98 minutes to have been completed.
In the cold light of the morning after, and being brutally objective, one has to say that the final result was not unduly unfair - and that North Ferriby had worked hard for a point to take back home. And it is, in part, a measure of County’s recent progress and supporter expectations that will have led to disappointment over drawing against one of the League’s better teams - which, for good measure, just happens to love its EP away-days.
But, oh, how cruel football can sometimes feel. We might have guessed that fête would play a part, with the Villagers in town...
FULL-TIME: County 1 (Ledsham, 87), North Ferriby 1 (Bolder, 90 + 6).
Team: Hurst, Morton, Roberts, O’Hanlon, Thorniley, Rule, Dyson, Montrose, Odejayi (Gonzales, 51), Evans (Colley, 61), Ledsham.
Unused Subs: Tyson, Robinson, Ellison.
Booked: Dyson, Colley.
Man of the Match: Morton.
Attendance: 3,140 (20 away).