Darlington 1883 1 Stockport County 1 ( Vanarama National League-North) 7 October 2017





County battled their way out of any residual hangover from Tuesday evening’s happenings to share the points today with a Darlington side that played high octane stuff at times at Blackwell Meadows.

County went behind to a deflected free kick from Terry Galbraith, much as at FCUM on Tuesday early in the second half, but with County attacking at will late on, thoughts of  a repeat of that evening’s result were dispatched with the neatest of finishes from Jason Oswell, deep into added time.
Collins  v Oswell- a game long duel !

A share of the points was probably a fair result although the locals may dispute that opinion. After a first half pretty much bereft of anything approaching excitement, both teams attacked with gusto ,but County had the greater stamina of the 2 outfits  and maybe with a shade more composure in the last third might have prospered further, but…that said we’ll take a point will we not!?

With no segregation in place, and both sets of fans mixing amicably, a decent atmosphere prevailed as the game kicked off in bright north- eastern sunshine.

There was an altogether better shape to County’s line up, and whilst Clarke, Stevenson, Minihan and Warburton were still missing, Oswell and Duxbury were back, which was a very welcome sight indeed!
Welcome back Scott Duxbury !



The early action saw Darlington take the game to County, with Tom Portas in the van , linking up with Stephen Thompson to gnaw at County’s perceived tender bits. These held firm allowing a counter by the blues, who…hallelujah….were actually in blue!
Duxbury and Oswell were the early movers/ shakers for County, but neither side got within reasonable sniffing distance of an opener in the first 5 or 6 minutes.

That Collins Oswell thing again....



The seventh minute threw up a blue raid of more substance, but after some excitement  it dissipated quickly when  Collins headed clear, and within seconds, with play switching ends rapidly, County were indebted to Duxbury whose alert responses ensured that Harvey Saunders  could make nothing of his break.

Darlo under pressure.....



Twelve minutes in, and an even better move surfaced down the right for County, and there was only inches in it as the deftest of flicks from Oswell almost converted Thomas’s cross into a goal. It was inches from sneaking in at the back post…..the same distance that  Walker was away from tapping the Oswell flick in at the back post!
Play meandered along for a time after this- Walker’s  free kick( defended well by the Quakers) the nearest thing to a highlight.
County go close.....


Some minutes later, Darlington threatened to do better with their set piece, and might have done had not Hinchliffe been on his toes to keep Collins’ header out.

That was 20 minutes in, and Oswell went close for County not long after, thwarted by Adam Bartlett in the home goal.
Have I said....Collins v Oswell ?



County were pushing forward down the flanks….Cowan (right)…Duxbury ( left)- both looked promising moves ,so much so that Scott’s run had to be halted  by a foul from Galbraith. 

Duxbury  (top + Walker) Cowan (below)

Walker’s free kick was a decent one - foiled by a last gasper from Bartlett that saw the ball tipped over the bar! Duxbury’s shot from the corner took a deflection, but that was that for a while as Darlo cleared their lines.


Walker preps the free kick....


...and Bartlett makes the save !



Thirty three minutes had gone by when the last action took place, it was a further 10 before anything else of note materialised- O’Halloran doing well to stop  a run by Josh Gillies.

O'Halloran on the ball.


This was followed by a late / late rush on the Darlo goal via a County free kick, but with all and sundry up for it ( most notably Smalley and Duxbury) the excitement was to no avail- Darlo cleared their lines, and that was that as far as the first half was concerned.


Pressure from County....

When the teams returned for the second half, Ball was on for Winter, but…just as at Broadhurst Park just a few days ago….County shipped water in dramatic style within a few minutes of  the re-start. Saunders’ run was halted just outside the box by O’Halloran, who in time honoured fashion ` took one for the team’. He was booked, but County had been spared leaking a goal hadn’t they? Well…..yes….and no….because Saunders  then whipped his free kick in in venomous fashion the ball flying into the net off Duxbury!

0-1

County were one down but with almost all the second half left in which to salvage matters, so there was no need to panic!

Indeed…there was no sign of panic or anything remotely like it from the blues, and Bartlett was in trouble and juggled the ball better than a master juggler  conceding a corner after Hampson’s rasping drive came back his way having thudded into a post.
Bartlett survives a Hampson howitzer!



That was an escape for our hosts and another followed swiftly as Ball headed over the bar from the resultant corner.

Much pressure followed from County, and Hampson was again closest to squaring the circle for his team, with a fine run down the left.



2 shots of Hampson in the thick of the action.

But an equaliser just would not come for Jim Gannon’s side, despite a period of attacking and a decent sprinkling of corners.

Darlo under pressure.



A reply from Darlo was perhaps overdue, but when it came, force of numbers did for Thompson as he jinked into the box eluding Cowan and Smalley on the way. More of the same followed quickly on from Thompson’s effort, and Nat Cartman was unlucky to see his shot hit a defender and go to safety.


Just after the hour, Darlington replaced their best man, Tom Portas with Josef Wheatley, but it was County doing the attacking biz, it was just that vital added spark at the death that turned scraps into goals, was missing- Oswell  thwarted by excellent work from Leon Scott one moment from more Hampson prompts, and Collins in the van the next hooking the ball clear from almost under the bar.
 
Oswell -buzzing !
There were 22 minutes left now, and County piled it on – Bartlett doing brilliantly to deny Thomas! 

Bartletts ball....just !


Walker’s shot , from the corner, cleared the bar, to increase County’s angst, but surely this level of attacking play would reap a reward soon!

Good stuff from Thomas.

But instead I winced to see Thompson go close at the wrong end ….and Hinchliffe follow this up with a remarkably brave save to rescue County after Thompson had skinned Cowan with a tasty run.

This was worrying and the beads were out again with the sight of a massively under weighted ball from Cowan sending Thompson clear once more.  Somehow O’ Halloran sorted that one out, and Hinchliffe   managed to hold onto a strike by Gillies not long after…..

We were into the last 10 minutes now, and JG was ringing the  changes, and these had an attacking look about them…..McKenna on for O’Halloran, and Dixon for Thomas .
 
Dix....on
As per Tuesday…..McKenna was quickly in the action, a foul on him teeing Walker up for a free kick that just missed out.
McKenna- lively


County were pounding away in search of that elusive equaliser….and almost inevitably they were caught out, and a second Darlo goal looked a nailed down certainty as Saunders bore down on a County goal with only Hinchliffe to protect it.
 `Only Hinchliffe ‘ did I say? Wow…… the County keeper’s response was magnificent… a borderline great save denying the forward !


That was simply excellent….inspirational stuff even…..but  County just could not capitalise on the Hinchliffe magic, whether it be via one of many high long one’s from Smalley or the latest tricky run by McKenna- that vital final touch was always missing.
McKenna and company....


Then it wasn’t…..the PA had just announced 4 minutes added time, when Oswell latched onto the ball towards the edge of a crowded box. There was much to do…but….head down….Jason did it ………..smacking a shot of brutal force into the net beyond Bartlett’s despairing dive.

County had equalised, and their supporters worried frowns had changed to happy smiles, and more beckoned as McKenna sparkled his way down the right flank teasing the home back line with another neat cross. Oswell met it with his head, only for Bartlett to spoil County’s late party with a sobering save.
Terrific save from Bartlett !

Time for more good work from Oswell, spoiled by Ball’s poor response to same , and that was the game put to bed.

Late reaction by Ball.....

That was a decent result all things considered and one that sets us up for a home game next Saturday when perhaps more of our missing men might be back.

Let’s hope so….meanwhile well done County!

Darlington line up:

Bartlett, Marrs, Scott, Turnbull, Collins, Galbraith, Gillies, Portas( Wheatley 63), Cartman, Saunders, Thompson( Syers 84) . 
  
Subs not used: Wilczynski, Vaulks, Dawson.

Stockport County line up:

Hinchliffe, Cowan, Smalley, O’Halloran( Mc Kenna 79), Hampson, Winter( Ball 46), Walker, Duxbury, Thomas( Dixon 84), Stopforth, Oswell.

Subs not used: Ormson, Brazel.

Attendance: 1758

hedgegrower

And.....just in Andrew Machin's photos from the game which we include as 




an   Additional Gallery...............

















































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