Hat­ters close in

Stockport Express - - Sport - VANARAMA NA­TIONAL LEAGUE NORTH CUR­ZON ASH­TON ........... 0 COUNTY ............................ 2 GARETH EVANS

THE Hat­ters com­pleted a highly sat­is­fac­tory week on Satur­day as they fol­lowed up their vic­tory from four days ear­lier over table­top­ping Chor­ley with a tri­umph, and an­other clean sheet, against near-neigh­bours Cur­zon Ash­ton at the Tame­side Sta­dium.

In do­ing so, they moved to within two points of the Na­tional League North play-off po­si­tions.

Sam Walker’s penalty just be­fore the break and an El­liot Os­borne thun­der­bolt 16 min­utes from time saw off ‘The Nash’, who re­main without a com­pet­i­tive win at County’s ex­pense in eight at­tempts.

On this oc­ca­sion, the Tamesiders fin­ished with 10 men af­ter Cameron McJan­nett saw red.

The Hat­ters took to the field in the 4-2-3-1 for­ma­tion that had op­er­ated for the pre­vi­ous six matches of their eight-game un­beaten run in all com­pe­ti­tions – but with two per­son­nel changes.

Matty War­bur­ton, fresh from net­ting a hat-trick against Chor­ley, started in pref­er­ence to Dar­ren Stephen­son, and Dan Cowan re­placed Jamie Stott who had in­jured an an­kle in train­ing.

It was County’s first ven­ture on the road in five weeks – and, with the same num­ber of min­utes played, the hosts put the ball in the net when Adam Mor­gan headed home from be­yond the far post a short cor­ner on the right.

Thank­fully for the Hat­ters, he was flagged off­side.

There fol­lowed more than half an hour’s play that fea­tured pre­cious lit­tle ac­tion in ei­ther fi­nal third – with the one chance of note fall­ing to Nyal Bell, who, hav­ing been played through by War­bur­ton, drilled nar­rowly wide of the right post.

But with half-time ap­proach­ing, for­mer Hat­ter Danny Mor­ton fouled Ash Palmer in the home area, and Walker, for a sec­ond suc­ces­sive Satur­day, calmly sent the goal­keeper – on this oc­ca­sion, Cam Ma­son – the wrong way from the penalty spot to put County ahead.

The Nash again had the ball over County’s line within a minute of the re­sump­tion.

And, as be­fore, Mor­gan was the player to con­vert – in this in­stance af­ter latch­ing on to Joe Guest’s through-ball – only to be ruled off­side for a sec­ond time.

Dis­al­lowed ef­forts not­with­stand­ing, the hosts had failed to launch an at­tempt on goal un­til the 50th minute, when a curl­ing shot by Con­nor Hughes from the edge of the box was palmed over by Ben Hinch­liffe.

But, fol­low­ing a bright early sec­ond-half show­ing on the part of The Nash, County re­gained the at­tack­ing ini­tia­tive.

Ma­son did well to smother a low drive by Os­borne, as well as par­ry­ing be­hind an­other from War­bur­ton.

Some six play­ers had al­ready seen yel­low by the mid-point of the half – in­clud­ing Stoke City loa­nee McJan­nett, who picked up a sec­ond, to­gether with his march­ing or­ders, af­ter clat­ter­ing into Adam Thomas.

The dis­missal sparked an­gry scenes in the dugouts – with non-play­ing County cap­tain Paul Turn­bull and as­sis­tant Cur­zon man­ager Ian Le­vi­son be­ing sent to the stands.

Within six min­utes of the send­ing-off, the Hat­ters had dou­bled their ad­van­tage – cour­tesy of a splen­did shot into the topright cor­ner that gave Os­borne the first goal of his sec­ond loan-spell at the club.

And seven min­utes from the end of nor­mal time, the first-half tally was so nearly tre­bled, af­ter a pin-point Thomas cross from the right was met by sub­sti­tute Frank Mul­h­ern, whose header struck the far up­right.


●●Sam Walker cel­e­brates his goal against Cur­zon


●●Nyal Bell at­tracts the at­ten­tion of a host of Cur­zon de­fend­ers in Satur­day’s clash

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