Stockport County 1, Aldershot Town 0

A mini grilled breakfast is the order of the day as we mull over events yesterday at Stockport County.

STOCKPORT COUNTY

Ross; Keane (Hogan, 67), Palmer, Fryers; Southam-Hales, Rooney, Croasdale, Kitching (Rydel, 72); Crankshaw, Madden (Capt.), Whitfield (Quigley, 76).

ALDERSHOT

Walker, L Kinsella, Lyons-Foster, Whittingham (Wagstaff 73′), Edser, Andrews, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aouachria (Bettamer 58′), Phillips, Vennings, Willard (Ndjoli 58′)

GOAL: Madden 45 (+1)

Attendance: 6,132.

This was a difficult one to call really. Did we deserve anything from that game? To say no would be just too harsh. We gave it a good go near the end and went close a couple of times with the chances we created. And County fans I spoke with afterwards said two things in the main.

One, that we don’t look like a team in the bottom three and two, we will be fine IF we get a striker. And as I’ve been saying for more than quite a while, how we miss a decent marksman like Madden or Mullen and it’s sad that we cannot either attract or afford a Tshimanga or Effiong.

The train journey up was nice, met up with three friends who boarded at Reading and then continued into Manchester to meet other Shots fans.

We were advised by local police not to go into the pub that we did but there were no problems with both sets of fans congregating in the beer garden although at one point the bar staff decided to stop serving away fans.

On my first visit to Edgeley Park, I was impressed by the big home end, a towering stand in contrast to the rest of the ground but unimpressed with the home support frankly. First half it was about as noisy as Harrogate and Shots fans, as they so, sung throughout the whole match, trying to give this new outfit confidence.

And I’d like to know the official number we had as it looked anything around 200 but neither clubs’ reports detail this or the BBC and I don’t know if it’s in the Non League paper because I’m not a subscriber.

The Shots made just the one change from the midweek victory against Dover Athletic from last Tuesday night, as Charlton loanee Wassim Aouachria came in up front for Mo Bettamer, with latest signing Scott Wagstaff and also the returning Jayden Harris taking their place on the bench.

The Hatters took to the field showing three changes from the initial line-up at Weymouth one week earlier. Zeki Fryers and Jordan Keane both returned from injury, and the previous Saturday’s match-winner Ollie Crankshaw was handed his first start – with Liam Hogan, Ethan Pye and Alex Reid the players to make way, and Madden taking the captain’s armband in Hogan’s stead. Striker Scott Quigley, who had not played since suffering from a hamstring problem at Southend on August Bank Holiday Monday, was named among the substitutes on a bench that also included the regular skipper and Reid.

A number of crosses came into the box for both sides early on in the game, but to no avail with the best opportunity of the game to open the scoring so far came in the 22nd minute for Stockport’s Macauley Southam-Hales.

Andrews caused County problems once more on the right, before unleashing a low delivery across the face of goal – with which Wassim Aouchria just failed to connect – but the Hatters were to have the final, and decisive, say of the half as it entered time added on.

The Shots again continued to push for the opener and created an even better chance to take the lead in the game, as great play from Aldershot Town allowed Edser to drive forward and release Andrews again through one-on-one, but could only see his effort turned behind by Ross who was up to the task with a great save in the 29th minute and kept the score-line goalless up until that point.

SHOTS UNDONE JUST BEFORE THE BREAK

A free-kick by John Rooney on the left was passed short to Ben Whitfield, who proceeded up the flank before crossing for Madden to head home inside the far post for his third goal in as many games – not to mention a first one at the home end in league or cup since pre-pandemic times for the County faithful to savour in person – and put his side ahead, going in at half-time.

I missed the goal because a lot of our fans kept walking back with these hot dogs and I was hungry by that time and it was as I queued at the back of the stand we were in that the big roar went up and it was a huge disappointment because the game was so even during that first half.

The Shots looked to respond in the second-half and had their first opportunity of the second half come in the 53rd minute, with Andrews finding Willard with a clever reverse-pass but the young forward could only see his effort blocked bravely by a sliding challenge of a Stockport defender.

Walker’s opposite number, Ross, had his hands stung by an Alfy Whittingham shot, before  recent signing and substitute for the visitors, Mikael Ndjoli, struck County’s right post – and Andrews and Kodi Lyons-Foster respectively drilled and headed narrowly wide of the same upright. 

There was time in the time late on for a flurry of penalty-area efforts from the 87th minute as Stockport were just about able to see out the relentless Aldershot Town pressure, leaving Mark Molesley’s men looking ahead to their next game, which is a change of competition with the visit of Bowers & Pitsea in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round next Saturday.

There was a change of tactics following this chance, with Kodi Lyons-Foster changed to a make-shift centre-forward as Aldershot Town pushed for an equaliser with Lyons-Foster almost on the end of two wicked crosses in the 81st and 84th minute, but couldn’t quite reach them.

Six minutes of added time – primarily because of an earlier injury to Lyons-Foster – hardly did wonders for any County nerves there might have been. But the Hatters held on without further ado for their hat-trick of wins and a move back up into the National League’s top 10.

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