LOCAL rivals Curzon Ashton and Stockport County shared the spoils in a goalless National League North derby at the Tameside Stadium.
The match was much more entertaining than the scoreline suggests, with both sides having goals chalked off while County struck the woodwork in the first half.
It was a familiar tale for the Hatters, who dominated for large spells but could not find a decisive moment to break the deadlock.
County will have a right to feel aggrieved, however, as the flag was wrongly raised for offside when Micah Evans poked home from close range late on.
Curzon Ashton will no doubt be happy with a point in their first ever competitive game against County, which moves them up 13th in the table, while the Hatters remain fourth but were denied a third straight league win.
Curzon boss John Flanagan made one change to his side from the 4-1 victory over nine-man Lowestoft Town last weekend, with Callum Warburton replacing Shelton Payne who dropped to the bench.
Meanwhile County boss Neil Young made two changes from a fortnight ago at Gainsborough Trinity, with Lamin Colley and new loan singing Modou Cham coming into the starting XI.
It was the visitors with the first chance of the game when a Wade Joyce corner was flicked on by Sean O’Hanlon at the near post and then powerfully headed goalwards by Odejayi, who forced Curzon keeper Hakan Burton into his first save.
Curzon had their first attempt shortly after, Jordan Wright swung in a dangerous cross which was met by Curzon striker Niall Cummins – though he couldn’t repeat his goal-scoring exploits from last week against Lowestoft – and his diving header went just wide of Ian Ormson’s goal.
A minute later and a glorious chance went begging for the home side. A Liam Tomsett ball from the right evaded numerous blue shirted players and fell at the far post to Joe Guest, despite having time and space he blazed wildly over.
It was County’s turn to create a clear chance next when just after half-hour mark Micah Evans roamed into a central midfield position and slid in his fellow winger Cham who forced an excellent save from the legs of Burton.
It was the on loan Blackburn attacker again going close for the visitors as we approached the half-time whistle. A Joyce corner, County’s fifth of the half, was met by Cham, he rose highest and flicked the ball towards the back post where it was cleared off the line by Tomsett with Burton beaten in the home goal.
Curzon Ashton were almost masters of their own downfall at the start of the second-half when they gave the ball away on the edge of their own area.
Lewis Montrose picked up the pieces and lofted a ball to the all-action Cham, he brought down the pass on his chest with great aplomb, but again the finish was lacking and the ball sailed over the bar.
The ball was in the County net a few minutes later, though; the lively Cummins beat Ormson when through on goal, unfortunately for the Nash the offside flag had already been raised by the assistant on the far side.
This prompted the former Chester boss Young to make a change as the experienced midfielder Andy Robinson entered the fray with 25 minutes remaining.
And the change almost paid off, Robinson whipped in a peach of a cross towards Odejayi but his powerful close-range header cannoned back off the bar and away to safety.
Flanagan’s men were still looking for a goal too – Matthew Warburton testing the palms of Ian Ormson with skiddy low effort from 25 yards.
As we entered the dying embers of the match, County finally had the ball in the back of the net. A flowing counter attack ended with Micah Evans converting a ball played across the face of goal from Joe Garvin. The celebrations were short-lived however as the offside flag was raised for the second time in the half.
Curzon Ashton: Burton, Wright, Guest, Hunt (Watson 85′), Flynn, Shaw (Rowney 67′), Tomsett, Brown, Cummins, Warburton (Brooke 76′), Hampson.
Subs not used: Payne, Mason.
Booked: Flynn, Brown.
Stockport County: Ormson, Morton, Roberts, Connolly, O’Hanlon, Joyce (Robinson 65′), Colley (Garvin 54′), Montrose, Odejayi, Evans, Cham.
Subs not used: Hurst, Ellison, West.
Referee: Anthony Backhouse (Cumbria)
By Joe Canavan at the Tameside Stadium