After a manic 24 hours off the pitch following the news of Joey Barton joining Fleetwood Town for some training sessions, Micky Mellon’s team returned to action on the pitch at Edgeley Park, scene of
By David Mitchell
After a manic 24 hours off the pitch following the news of Joey Barton joining Fleetwood Town for some training sessions, Micky Mellon’s team returned to action on the pitch at Edgeley Park, scene of a famous victory last season in the Blue Square Bet Premier League.
Town’s starting eleven showed wholesale changes from the Blackburn game and featured new signing Conor MacLaughlin at right back. Town’s Danny Rowe, back on loan at County, started from the bench and the game kicked off in glorious sunshine, weather bearing little resemblance to that left behind on the Fylde!
Town made County chase the ball in the early stages with McLaughlin showing some assured touches and a team with little collective experience before the game started to blend well. Andy Halls struck the first shot in anger in the eighth minute for Stockport but straight at Town keeper, Chris Maxwell. County began to gain more possession and Town’s defensive clumsiness earned the home side a number of free kicks. Two challenges, on Danny Whitehead and Craig Hobson, resulted in bookings for ex-Preston players Barry Nicholson and McLaughlin. Sean Newton’s free kick passed narrowly wide of the target following Nicholson’s transgression.
Alan Goodall gave County keeper Ian Ormson his first test of the evening with a dipping shot from outside the area while Andy Mangan tried an audacious shot from 40 yards as Ormson patrolled the edge of his area.
Town were guilty of giving the ball away too easily at times during the first half, allowing the power of Hobson and Danny Hattersley to emerge and there were some anxious moments for Town’s defence. Hobson brushed off a Kieran Charnock challenge after 35 minutes and, soon after, Hattersley was to outstrip McLaughlin. Fortunately for Town, both were wasteful in their finishing. Hobson also failed to find the target with a header from a corner after 40 minutes.
Town made three changes at the break with Nathan Pond, Ryan Crowther and Ball joining the action. Pond was twice needed defensively in the opening minutes of the second half but the Conference champions enjoyed a better period in the second half, dominating play and showing some quality footwork. Ball set up Rose with a clever pass just before the hour.
The game burst into life in the 68th
minute with three chances in a two minute period. Sam Sheridan forced an excellent save from Maxwell and, from the resulting corner, Alex Kenyon headed on to the Fleetwood crossbar. Town broke immediately, exposing the County defence, but Ball failed to capitalise on a one-on-one situation with the keeper. Junior Brown, on for Rose, and Ball had further opportunities soon after. Alex Titchiner replaced Mangan with a quarter of an hour left and just failed to get a foot to a cross from Brown on the left. Brown nearly secured the win with a late header at the far post.
Micky Mellon was happy with the work-out:
‘There was some very, very good football from an eleven who have not played together before. Ball showed what he’s all about and there was a fantastic display from Conor McLaughlin. There was some great technique and movement and I’m delighted with where we are at in our preparations.’
Town: Maxwell, McLaughlin, Charnock, McNulty, Goodall, Nicholson, Kinsella (triallist), Rose, Milligan, Allen, Mangan
Substitutes: Crowther (for Milligan), Pond, (McNulty), Ball (Allen), Brown (Rose), Titchiner (Mangan)
Booked: Nicholson, McLaughlin