It’s been a turbulent winter for Matt Porter’s Stockport side, but they are still in playoff contention as the calendar turns to March. Can they cement their place in the top 6…or go even better? Catch up with Part 11 here
It’s Spring in Stockport! Their team overachieving in the playoffs, house prices are going through the roof, the hat museum is going from strength to strength, blokes are sitting through 3 hours and 15 minutes of cringe worthy iceberg/biggest ship in the world related drama just to see Kate Winslet’s boobs for 30 seconds, life is good for the County faithful. I’m feeling the pressure though, my sky high expectations are in danger of being failed, I want promotion, I want the glory, I want an open topped bus tour in no doubt grey drizzle…. It was never about avoiding relegation. Now if my strikers could start scoring please that’d be great.
The speech wakes a few of my players up, I’m sure Remi Garde has a tear in is eye, I’m pretty sure Wenger never made such a rousing speech, probably just waffled on about ‘don’t worry mes enfants, whatever happens we can blame ze referee anyway’. Ian Gray looks surprised and drops his brew, which in itself isn’t a surprise. Turns out he didn’t realise we were near the playoffs, not the sharpest tool in the box, or the best handler in it either, hopefully we don’t have to call on him anytime soon.
Our first match is Tranmere, we’ve had some classic ding dongs against them in recent matches and we’ve generally come out on top, so more of the same would be very welcome. Only one change from the disappointment at Portsmouth, the fit again Cavaco comes in for the suspended Youngs. Goal scoring is still a major issue, but we have quality so surely they will come good soon?
7 minutes gone, Danny Coyne fouls Armstrong through on goal, gets sent off, penalty, excellent! Even better when it flies in, I’m half way down the touchline celebrating when I see the referee gesticulating for a retake. I go mad, fly off the handle, and inevitably the retake is blasted over the bar. Rest of the half goes exactly as you would expect, plenty of chances, no goals. Surely even we can’t cock this up, can we?
Well I know it was against ten men, but I was damn happy with that. Kiko Charana’s name is so chantable, and boy did Edgeley chant as he banged in a hat trick despite missing the penalty in the first half. Steve Simonsen had a great game and yet we win 3-0. Same again next week please boys!
Back up to third! We’re still chasing, but we’re still being chased. It’s gonna be a nervy last ten games, but a win against a rival was very well received.
We have a trip to another rival next, Ipswich away. Alan Partridge hates the place, and we could do with hitting the back of the net a few times today, but we are missing two stars in Flynny and Armstrong as they both start 2 match bans. Tomlinson impressed off the bench last time out so he gets a start with Youngs still banned, and Matty Bound has been Mr dependable this year and comes in and takes the armband.
Well I tempted fate. Mr Dependable scores an own goal to give Ipswich a 2-1 half time lead. Bloody wonderful. Still it’s been an open game, and we’re still in it. Come on boys we need a point here at least.
Forgot to screenshot half time, too preoccupied, but the second half is entertaining too, but as we close in on another defeat…. Shit! Did you see that?! He must have a foot like a traction engine!’ (When in Rome and all that), Tomlinson scores a screamer to send the commentator into meltdown and the away end delirious. We have had enough draws that feel like defeats but this one feels more like a win. Come on County! Our day can’t even be spoilt by Bjorn Heidenstrom insisting on playing a 4 hour documentary on the fjords of Norway on the coach on the way back to Stockport.
Automatic promotion is starting to look distant, but I still fancy the play offs, but there is work to be done.
An interesting name in the Champions League semi finals, oh how the mighty have fallen (if they were ever that mighty, which they really weren’t:
For fucks sake
Martin McIntosh comes in for the injured Kevin James with Flynn and Armstrong serving out their bans. Other than that I don’t have many options, but I think my defence should hold together. Its 2nd place Sheffield United up next at Edgeley and if we do win it’ll keep alive a faint hope of the automatic slots. I tell the players we have nothing to lose, and Ian Gray, who has got lost on the way to the players bar, pipes up, ‘but what if we lose boss?’ I send him for 3 laps of the pitch as punishment for such a comment, ignoring his protestations that he is dressed in a suit. Pillock.
Kiko Charana! Kiko Charana! Kiko Charana! One nil up and the opposition down to ten men, plus we hit the bar 3 times. Come on boys, make it count.
We hit the bar 8 times. 8 times! We all know what normally comes next don’t we, the inevitable….. but it doesn’t! 1-0 will do me, slightly worrying that we couldn’t finish the game, but that is a massive 3 points and really starts to cement our play off credentials. We have some celebratory drinks and I wake up with a hazy memory and a feeling of regret. For a minute I am horrified, I vaguely remember telling the Chairman we should definitely give Ian Gray a long term contract and a pay rise, but thankfully he didn’t listen to me.
We’re closer to second than seventh…
Things don’t get any easier as we have top of the league Middlesbrough away next, but at least we have Armstrong and Flynn back, plus a week to recover.
The transfer deadline passes with rubbish bids for Connolly and Bennett but I reject, and thankfully I keep hold of my stars. Flynn and Armstrong return for the unlucky McIntosh and Tomlinson, I have players in form though now so I hope we can carry on riding the wave. My ‘nothing to lose’ speech gets another airing, and thankfully I have left Gray in Stockport so it is understood by 100% of the recipients.
It’s a good first half performance, Boro create nothing and we have a few decent chances, but cannot put them away. I hope they don’t come back to bite us as has so often been the case.
That’s why they are top of the league, They batter us in the second half although we do create some chances. Edwards plays a blinder but then drops the ball and Chris Freestone’s feet and its game over. We have to improve our chance conversion rate if we’re going to succeed, but other than that our performances is good. Onwards!!!
Well another month is gone, and I’m pretty pleased. 2 wins, a draw and a defeat away at the runaway leaders. We are still in this and we’re well placed for the play offs. Sheffield United also lost so the slim chance of automatics is still there. See you in the pivotal month of April, I’m nervous already!
You can follow Matt on Twitter @PorterMatt