Leicester City v Stockport A View From Both Ends
By StockyFox
Wednesday 04 Mar 2009 19:26:00
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LEICESTER CITY 1 v STOCKPORT COUNTY 1   – Walkers Stadium, Tuesday 3rd March 2009 KO – 7.45pm
 

This was only my third visit to the Walkers and represented for me a very special occasion. Depending on which hat I was wearing, at the end, overall, I personally had to be satisfied with the final score.
 
On the one hand, as a lifelong fanatical and totally dedicated supporter of LCFC, at the final whistle, I was bitterly disappointed that we had not only failed to go on and achieve an emphatic win after Kerrea Gilbert, (who, according to the official announcer, goes by the name of Lloyd Dyer – but he did later apologise) had given us such a dream start with his exquisite pin-point pass into the back of net, albeit with the merest hint of a deflection, but I also found it quite galling that after that first minute, we huffed and we puffed but couldn’t blow the house down. Indeed, as the second half progressed, it started to get embarrassing.
 
Whatever reason might be advanced for the Foxes failure to exert their supposed superiority– an anti-climax after the exhilaration of MK Dons, the lowest league attendance of the season so far, tiredness, the weather etc. etc.etc. it was a disappointing performance on their part.
 
However, having lived and worked in Stockport for over 40 years, I was delighted for the Stockport fans who, let’s face it, don’t get all that much to cheer about yet are a friendly lot, respect others and give their team loyal support and felt rewarded on the night.
 
I reckon that given the fact it was a Tuesday night together with the inclement weather, their ‘away’ attendance of 453 was quite respectable for a club of their size and stature and they had good reason to be justifiably proud of their team’s performance in more than holding their illustrious opponents, the 22 –games undefeated run-away league leaders, to a draw on their own patch!
 
For many a year, I never remotely envisaged that high-flying Leicester City would ever play Stockport County who were always languishing in the lower divisions of the football league, except perhaps in a cup-tie.
 
When I was a lad, if City had had a poor result, my uncle would say ‘Nasty shower at Filbert Street!’
 
Well, last night, he would have been right - on two counts!
 
After that glorious start, everything went downhill. Furthermore, our cause was not helped by a man in a bright yellow sweater who kept running around, blowing his whistle, like a young child with a new toy. He also had a card the same colour as his sweater which for some strange reason, he would suddenly show to selected players. In fact, his antics were such that the City faithful ultimately felt it necessary to politely inform him that he didn’t know what he was doing.
 
Former Foxes player, Chris O’Grady must have enjoyed every minute of the game. He announced his return to the Walkers, only minutes after Kerrea’s opener, with a well-taken opportunist goal that, had any of our team scored it, we would have been in raptures. Thereafter, he always presented a potential threat with County players under fairly obvious instructions to go Route 1 via him.
 
A week last Monday, I made the comment on RL Football Forum Monday night moan-in that I would like to see the Foxes put a greater emphasis on possession. Last night, County, having equalised, proceeded to give us a demonstration of ‘retaining possession’. Foxes fans became increasingly frustrated and angry with these tactics but I actually thought it was quite humorous. It was up to us to go and harry them and get the ball but the Foxes just stood by, watched and waited.
 
Last night was also a tale of two goalies. David Stockdale, brought in at a moment’s notice from obscurity, having been cruelly denied the prospect of keeping a clean sheet by O’Grady’s early goal, put that setback behind him and produced some fine saves in helping to protect Foxes unbeaten record, whereas Owain Fon Willliams who had so ably kept the Foxes at bay in the reverse fixture last August, seemed at times to be unsure and lacking in confidence.
 
To the match itself, played on a greasy surface with the rain lashing down on the players, coupled with an unpredictable strong wind, especially in the first half, attacks from both sides were promising rather than fulfilling.
 
With Jack Hobbs returning to the Foxes side in place of Wayne Brown, the more notable attacks on County’s goal by the Foxes in the first half came from a Matt Oakley free-kick; a positive attempt from Michael Morrison; Kerrea Gilbert nearly doubling his tally with an almost identical effort to his earlier success; a rather poor attempt by Matty Fryatt which the fans could have expected to be better; and another shot from Matt Oakley that sailed gloriously over the bar. Two mins. of added-on time proved to be nothing more than a temporary delay for the crowd to escape to warmer and dryer locations.
 
The second half from a Foxes point of view is probably best forgotten, the most notable events being Tom Cleverley’s introduction, replacing Bruno Berner and later Barry Hayles replacing Steve Howard who had not had the best of games – to put it mildly and politely. Possibly because it had a ‘matt’ finish, Oakley and Fryatt were privileged to be shown a yellow card by the ref who to my mind, had by now completely lost the plot. Four minutes of added-on time proved to be nothing more than delaying the end, in sharp contrast to that of the MK Dons game.
 
Well that’s about it. On the night, I thought Stockport tried to produce the more attractive football, especially in approach play and indeed in the second half, looked the more likely side to succeed in breaking the deadlock.
 
I personally do not enjoy seeing the close bunching on one side from goal kicks. Looking from the West Stand, all the players were over on the far side with Lloyd Dyer in the middle of the centre circle. Furthermore, I am an advocate of the long diagonal ball to the opposite wing but we rarely give ourselves the opportunity to open defences this way.
 
Having travelled down on one of the two County supporters’ coaches, I took advantage of LCFC’s ‘Straight from Work’ Hospitality offer and I would recommend the like to all fans, even if you felt you could treat yourself just once in the season. I also managed to have a brief chat with and personally congratulate the Birch who was delighted to put a face to the voice.
 
We arrived back at Edgeley Park at 12-01pm, having had a smooth pleasant journey home, whilst  enjoying watching a couple of entertaining DVD’s.
 
Stockyfox



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