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Pendle 1-0 County
A goal by Jordan Hughes was all that was needed to give Pendle a precious win over title rivals County, and move them to the top of the league.
There was much anticipation in the air before the kick-off between the two colleges, as this was a game which could have a huge impact on the destination of the title.
County were at a disadvantage before kick-off as captain Dale Vardy was forced to watch from the sidelines due to an injury. Things got worse for County when Pendle forced them to play against the wind for the first half.
Pendle came out of the blocks quickest and within five minutes they had a great chance when a ball from the right found its way to striker Niall Peaker. His effort went straight at County keeper Tom Kay from six yards out.
Pendle saw a lot of the ball but both Peaker and Hughes continued to be caught offside as County’s defence played a high defensive line.
Pendle almost took the lead after 10 minutes when a cross by Chris Timm troubled Kay, but the keeper managed to keep it from crossing the line, saving potential embarrassment.
After continued early pressure, Pendle got what they deserved. Hughes found himself in space and managed to fire a shot from the edge of the box past Kay to give Pendle the lead after 13 minutes.
The goal however didn’t spur County into life. Instead, Pendle got a free kick which again troubled Kay who was struggling to deal with the high ball.
Eventually, midway through the first half County began to put pressure on Pendle when Jordan Duncan fired a shot just over the bar from the edge of the box.
Minutes later County had a second chance when a header from Scott Hirst scraped over the bar.
Towards the end of the half, Pendle had a penalty shout when Hughes seemed to be fouled on the edge of the box. The appeals were waved away by referee Ferdinand Deopel.
The second half started slowly but County, desperate for an equaliser, managed to gain control of the game.
They had the majority of possession but were unable to create any clear cut chances. Duncan managed to get a shot away from the edge of the box after a well worked move but it went well wide.
Pendle then against the run of play, had the chance to wrap up the points in the 58th minute when Niall Peaker found himself clear through on goal but only managed to hit his shot straight at keeper Kay.
County then suffered an injury blow when Jack Pattison went down in a heap whilst chasing the ball. Pattison was carried off with what looked to be a serious knee injury.
County managed to get a free kick midway through the half on the edge of the box. However, Greg Galloway failed to take advantage and hit his free kick straight at Pendle keeper Martin Brewin.
County had their best chance minutes later when substitute Rupert Roberts headed wide from yards out after a good ball in from the right.
County continued to press but they couldn’t create a goalscoring chance as Pendle defended strongly to the finish.
The result puts Pendle one point ahead of County and Fylde and means that they remain unbeaten. It also puts them in a great position and if they can get positive results in their remaining fixtures.
County will feel disappointed to leave without a point but they can take heart from title rivals Fylde falling to a surprise 1-0 defeat to Furness. They still have a good chance of winning the league, but they are going to need to win their remaining fixtures.