Friendly Fire Gets Hatters Warmed Up For Cup!
Having been denied match action at the weekend, County enjoyed a midweek run-out against Trafford at Shawe View, by way of preparation for entering the FA Cup at York this Saturday.
The friendly, hurriedly arranged with the Northern Premier League First Division North-West outfit following the unfortunate postponement of Dagenham & Redbridge’s National League visit to Edgeley Park three days earlier, offered valuable game-time to a number of squad players, as well as to recent short-term arrivals, left-back Tyler Garratt and striker Devante Rodney, and a trial for former Bury right-wing-back Douglas Nyuapembe.
Both Rodney and – with a stunning effort from the County half – Adam Hammill opened their goal-scoring accounts as Hatters, before Szymon Czubik added a third following the interval and Trafford netted a consolation spot-kick late on.
The opening stages, on a clear mid-October evening, saw the Hatters enjoy the bulk of possession in their hosts’ half, before creating an attempt on target with seven minutes on the clock – when Rodney wove his way inside the box and shot straight at goalkeeper Matt Cooper.
Three minutes later, the Salford loanee went one better, and from a similar distance – latching on to Ben Jackson’s measured pass on the left, before slotting home to give County an early lead.
Hammill, within a couple of minutes, fired one long-range effort well over and went rather closer with a free-kick from distance that fizzed past the left upright. And Elliot Osborne cut in from the left – forcing Cooper to dive and parry the acting skipper’s angled low drive.
Rodney had the ball in the net a second time, after converting Dan Cowan’s through-ball, around the half-hour mark – but the flag was already raised against him for offside as he struck.
Ten minutes ahead of the break, Trafford produced a first effort of note as Michael Jones let rip from 25 yards out. His shot took a deflection en route to goal, only for Ian Ormson to dive to his right and smother the ball at the second attempt.
As the interval loomed, a swift counter-attack by the Hatters saw Osborne release Nyuapembe, whose shot from the right bounced off the top of the crossbar. But that was merely a late first-half hors d’oeuvres, ahead of a truly delicious and memorable main, on the stroke of half-time, courtesy of Hammill – who, from his own half and spotting Cooper off the home goal-line, launched the ball into the net, not only to double County’s advantage, but also to provide the travelling Twelfth Man Representatives with an iconic ‘I was there’ moment!
HALF-TIME: Trafford 0, County 2 (Rodney, 10; Hammill, 45).
County introduced Czubik in attack after the break, and the young forward soon made his presence felt three minutes into the second half, by running half the length of the pitch from the right flank, before firing at Cooper.
Rodney’s shot from the right took a deflection past the far post, before Trafford substitute Tom Schofield, within a few minutes of his introduction, curled an effort just wide of the left upright at the opposite end. And Hammill, clearly by then in the mood for audacious lobs – sent his latest one, from rather closer range than that in the late first half, narrowly shy to the left of goal.
A dozen minutes remained when Connor Dimaio’s defence-plotting pass found Czubik, who took advantage of the space around him before firing home a third for County. And with three left to play, the hosts had the final say after Toyeeb Mustapha went to ground under a challenge in the Hatters’ area, and dusted himself down to steer the resulting penalty past Ormson.
FULL-TIME: Trafford 1 (Mustapha (penalty, 87) , County 3 (Rodney, 10; Hammill, 45; Czubik, 78).
Team (3-4-3): Ormson; Cowan, Downing, Garratt; Nyuapembe, Dimaio, Osborne (Capt.), Jackson; Rodney (Wood, 85), Mulhern (Czubik, 46), Hammill.
Unused Sub: Grimshaw.
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.