AFC Telford United show grit despite defeat against high-fliers
Playing on Saturday afternoon after a game on Thursday night is very difficult.
AFC Telford United have had to do it twice in as many weeks and, thankfully, they will not have to do it again – at least this season.
It was a case of deja vu as the Bucks followed up a big victory under the lights with a narrow defeat to a good side.
Replicating the intensity and quality of the 3-2 win against Leamington, with so little time to recover, was going to be near impossible.
Rob Edwards recognised that and took a no-frills approach at Edgeley Park. Telford were set up defensively, out to frustrate Stockport County and hopefully grab a goal on the counter-attack.
They would have loved a draw and the Bucks chief felt they deserved one, but a momentary lapse in concentration proved to be their undoing. So where does this leave Telford?
Well, while dropping a place, they are still two points clear of the National league North drop zone having played two games less than third from bottom Tamworth.
There are four massive matches to go and the huge plus is that the Bucks are the masters of their own destiny.
And despite their struggles this campaign, they definitely appear to have enough about them to beat the drop.
Telford made four changes from the victory over the Brakes.
One of those coming back into the fold was John Marsden, who joined the club last year from Stockport, while top scorer Marcus Dinanga dropped to the bench.
Amari Morgan-Smith also had a spell with the Hatters and led the line instead of 20-goal Dinanga, Marsden in the No.10 role. That attacking duo did not see a lot of the ball on their old stomping ground in the first half.
The hosts dominated possession without causing the Bucks any major problems. It was all a bit subdued.
Telford’s plan to knock Stockport off their stride, some time-wasting involved too, was working a treat, although they would have wanted to do more on their occasional forays forward.
A big feather in the Bucks’ cap in the few games before this one was the set piece ability of Wolves loanee Ryan Giles.
He was replaced by Elliot Newby shortly after the interval, though.
The Hatters continued plugging away but could not force a way through, due to Telford carrying out their defensive duties with aplomb.
They were doing great but a slight switch-off allowed Stockport to go in front, substitute Darren Stephenson firing in from close range after taking a few seconds to get the ball from under his feet.
Stephenson almost went from scorer to provider, cutting back to Matthew Warburton who sliced over. Edwards then introduced Dinanga and Henry Cowans in search of an equaliser.
Shane Sutton and Connor Johnson both went agonisingly close to levelling.
Things could have gone better, but the Bucks have nothing to be ashamed about as they held their own against a side who should end up in the play-offs.
Most of the supporters who made the trip, while not beaming, probably would have taken comfort in the knowledge that the players gave it their all.
Some would have been wondering why Dinanga was left out and then brought on with so little time left, while a few others may have thought Giles was taken off too early.
Ultimately, there are positives to take into Tuesday’s trip to Blyth Spartans.
Telford can afford to take more risks at Croft Park as the Green Army have lost their last six.