Season 1, Leg 11 - Stockport PDF Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Saturday, 04 October 2008 12:43

Stockport County v Oldham Athletic – League One

Edgeley Park, Stockport

Friday 4 October 2008, 19:45 K.O.




A local Derby, on a Friday night, under floodlights, in front of a large travelling support, with Latics attempting to reclaim top spot.  This had all the makings of a cracking atmosphere. As so often before though, a large away support failed to live up to billing.

This match had originally been scheduled for the traditional Saturday 3pm kick-off but due to a fixture clash with Sale Sharks the decision was made to switch the clash to Friday night. Bad news for many, particularly as the decision was made so late, only two weeks prior to the fixture. Good news for me though as it meant I could attend. Shortly after the date had been switched the announcement was made that Latics supporters would be allocated only 2000 tickets. It was clear that with Latics flying high this would be nowhere near enough. In the days leading up to the game it was clear from the OWTB message board that many regular fans had not managed to get tickets, as they had sold out even quicker than expected. There was talk of tickets being obtained in the Stockport end, despite the attempts of the Stockport ticket office to prevent this. As ‘The History of Stockport County Football Club’ isn’t my chosen specialist subject, I was relieved that I didn’t need to go down this route, Mark having kindly bought my ticket on the first morning of sale.

Edgeley Park

With ticket obtained I needed to sort out travel arrangements. As my parents were spending the day in Oldham I would need to “let the train take the strain”, getting a lift home afterwards. So having swapped my shift to finish work at 2pm, I quickly stopped off at home to get changed and pick up some essential supplies for the journey. By quarter to four I was on the first of three trains, from Burton-on-Trent to Derby. With half an hour to spare at Derby I crossed the road for a swift pint in The Victoria Inn, a live music venue which has photos on the wall of acts who have played there. Having a good look at this collection of ‘has-beens‘, ‘never-have beens’ and ‘before they were famous’ killed time before I crossed back over the road to get the train to Stoke. This train was notable only for the most pedantic piece of graffiti ever written on a toilet wall. On the sign which read “Press lever downwards to flush” some young vandal had written “The correct English would be “To Flush Press Lever Down.”” No respect for property, but plenty of respect for the correct use of English, it would seem! After changing at Stoke it was just a short hop to Stockport to conclude an uneventful train journey.

A five minute walk to the Sir Robert Peel pub was extended due to me getting lost but at least there was a pint waiting on the table when I got there. The Sir Robert Peel will always be fondly remembered by Latics fans for a spectacular missed sitter by Ryan Giggs in a televised match prior to a previous visit to Edgeley Park. With each subsequent replay of the miss the ironic cheers of the Latics faithful had grown louder and louder. This visit was notable only for a spectacularly drunk United fan, slurring his way through United songs, to the bemusement of the assembled Oldham fans. Luckily everyone treated him as the harmless village idiot he clearly was, and ignored him.After a couple of pints it was time to set off for the ground, wishing we’d taken the photo outside the ground earlier, when the light was better and there were less people around.

Photo taken, we headed for the turnstiles, joining the queue at the turnstile for the away end. Immediately next to our turnstiles were turnstiles for the home end, at which there were no queues. Once we got into the ground we found that both sets of turnstiles led to exactly the same part of the ground, making us wonder why we’d had to queue! We then had to walk across the length of the stand, in front of the Stockport fans to get to the away section. This was very unusual and the potential for trouble in this arrangement is clear to all. A new-look Latics defence lined up with both Richie Byrne and Daniel Jones making their full debuts. The influential Lee Hughes and Sean Gregan were missing, and we hoped we could cope without them.

It was a pretty even opening to the game, with two efforts from Taylor, including a snapshot into the side netting, the only times either side came close. The match had kicked off to a surprisingly muted atmosphere from the massed ranks of Latics fans. This changed on 24 minutes when Andy Liddell swung in a corner, directly over the head of Williams in the Stockport goal and into the net. This sparked wild celebrations in the Oldham section of the Popular Stand. Unfortunately, it had also appeared to spark celebrations amongst Latics fans in the Cheadle End, as for a few minutes it turned very ugly. From a distance it was difficult to see what went on but it seemed a very violent reaction from a large number of Stockport fans. Possibly the worst violence I have seen inside a ground, which I couldn‘t help feel could have been avoided with a more realistic away ticket allocation. It is to be hoped that Stockport re-think this policy before the visit of Leeds United in particular.

Match action

Latics could have increased the lead with a Davies drive from 20 yards which flew just wide. However it was Stockport that finished the half the stronger. From a left wing cross Pilkington appeared to force Crossley to tip the ball onto the top of the bar. The referee inexplicably awarded a goal kick. Late Stockport pressure led to two corners and some desperate defending from the new look Latics defence. Latics held firm though and went into the break with a lead which on balance they just about deserved. Lee Hughes mingled with fans in the away end at half-time, happily chatting and posing for pictures. It was Chaddy the Owl who was the real star at half-time. Having placed the ball at the corner flag he repeated Liddell’s feat of half an hour before, expertly curling the ball past the Stockport mascot and into the net. It was clear that Chaddy had thoroughly enjoyed this as he took the applause of the Latics fans.

The atmosphere appeared to be improving as the second half began. A sustained chant of “Sheridan’s Blue and White Army / We are top of the League” seemed to be spreading from our section to the rest of the Latics support. This was stopped in its tracks two minutes after the restart by the Stockport equaliser, and the vocal support for the rest of the game was very poor. Stockport increased in confidence as the game went on, whereas Latics created little of note for the remainder of the game. Crossley needed to pull off a good save, and was lucky that the ball didn’t fall to an onrushing County player. Stockport’s second goal was a near carbon copy of the first. The first goal had come from a flicked on cross, volleyed home by an unmarked Turnbull. The second was from a flicked-on throw-in, finished expertly by an unmarked Thompson. With ten minutes to go Crossley again pulled off a good save, this time from a spectacular Gleeson overhead kick, as Stockport continued to grow in confidence.

It must be said that the linesman in front of us was struggling to keep up with play as Stockport broke quickly time and again, and he missed two blatant offsides, including one just prior to the move that lead to the third goal. That shouldn’t take anything away from Raynes, who hammered the final nail in the coffin with a clever lob over Crossley after a well-worked move. This was the cue for hundreds of Oldham supporters in all four stands to head for the exits, as the party began in the Stockport end.

On the drive home to Burton-on-Trent I felt thoroughly disappointed, not only with the second half performance of the team, but also the lack of atmosphere created by the numerically-impressive Latics support. I had hoped for so much more when I started my journey.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 11 June 2011 20:53