Boreham Wood 0-3 Stockport County

A superb County showing made it eleven games unbeaten for The Hatters, as two first-half goals set Simon Rusk’s men on the way to an emphatic 0-3 win at Boreham Wood in the National League.

After Ash Palmer had headed County into an early lead at Meadow Park, John Rooney doubled the advantage with another stunning strike before the break – after which super-sub Alex Reid celebrated his recent contract extension with a fine finish to seal a first ever win over Boreham Wood.

County boss Rusk made one change to the side which started in the 2-2 stalemate with Maidenhead Utd at Edgeley Park last Saturday, as midfielder Will Collar came back into the starting eleven in place of leading marksman Reid.

The Wood’s dangerman Kabongo Tshimanga, who had scored in each of the last three fixtures between the two clubs prior to Saturday’s game,  went close to opening the scoring early on when he burst into the County area and saw his close-range effort blocked superbly by Ash Palmer.

And, having denied the hosts the early lead at one end, Palmer provided his side with the lead at the other after quarter of an hour.

James Jennings curled in yet another pinpoint corner kick, with Palmer rising highest at the back post to plant a trademark header past a helpless Nathan Ashmore.

The opener seemed to really settle The Hatters, who could have doubled the lead on the half-hour when Harry Cardwell sprang clear and forced a fine fingertip save by Ashmore from the edge of the area.

But just two minutes later, County did have their second with another trademark finish, as John Rooney continued his own personal Goal of the Season competition when he curled an unstoppable effort past Ashmore from distance.

County held firm in defence as the hosts looked for a route back into the game before the interval, led by the imperious form of skipper Liam Hogan who kept the lively Tshimanga at bay for the remainder of the half.

HALF-TIME: Boreham Wood 0-2 County (Palmer, Rooney)

Play resumed with no changes made by either side for the resumption of proceedings, with Rusk’s men seeking to see out another big three points on the road.

Rooney almost had his second of the day five minutes into the restart when the former Barrow man almost latched onto Macauley Southam-Hales’ low cross, as County looked to take the game away from the home side early on in the second half.

Striker Tyrone Marsh teed up Tshimanga to blaze an effort well wide of Ben Hinchliffe’s goal from a tight angle as the tie approached the hour mark, before the Hatters’ top goalscorer Alex Reid did enter the fray in place of Chorley loanee Cardwell.

Keiran Murtagh’s outswinging free-kick was nodded inches wide by Jamal Fyfield with Luke Garrard’s men pushing for a goal to make things interesting into the final twenty minutes, before Reid made his mark on proceedings off the bench moments later.

A superbly-worked move saw John Rooney, Paddy Madden and Macauley Southam-Hales all link up down the County right, with the former pulling back for Alex Reid to emphatically fire home his 19th goal of a superb season – marking the news of the former AFC Fylde forward’s two-year contract extension at Edgeley Park in style.

Lois Maynard replaced the tireless Ryan Croasdale into the final quarter of an hour as County sought to see out the remaining minutes and hang onto another invaluable clean sheet – with half-hearted handball appeals against skipper Hogan waved away late on.

Ben Hinchliffe remained alert to tip Gus Mafuta’s fierce low free-kick wide into the final five minutes, before Elliot Newby – who, earlier in the week, had made his loan deal from Chorley permanent with The Hatters – replaced the goalscorer of that stunning second, John Rooney.

Four minutes of additional time at the end of the ninety allowed Newby some time to show off some fancy footwork down the left, with Reid coming close to adding a fourth when he almost met the winger’s fizzed cross.

The hosts sought a late consolation, but again Hinchliffe stood firm to superbly save Matt Rhead’s header as County sealed a superb three points with a deserved clean sheet.

The impressive win on the road saw Rusk’s side move to within five points of third-placed Torquay Utd, and a superb eleven unbeaten for The Hatters.

FULL-TIME: Boreham Wood 0-3 County (Palmer, Rooney, Reid)

County line-up (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan (C), Palmer, J. Jennings; Southam-Hales, Collar, Croasdale (Maynard, 76), Walker; Rooney (Newby, 88); Madden, Cardwell (Reid, 60).

Unused subs: Fitzsimons, Minihan.

Bookings: Southam-Hales.

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