Stockport County 0-0 Doncaster Rovers

The Hatters returned to Edgeley Park to be greeted by a sold-out home attendance, but had to settle for a share of the points against Doncaster.

The third League Two goal-less draw of the season in SK3 saw County drop two places to seventh, five points away from the automatic promotion positions.

County took to the field on an overcast afternoon showing four changes from the line-up that had begun the game at Barrow a week previously. Fraser Horsfall (who also took the skipper’s armband) and Antoni Sarcevic returned from injury, Jacob Davenport was given his first start as a Hatter, and Ryan Rydel was recalled – with Neill Byrne, Callum Camps, Ryan Croasdale and Myles Hippolyte making way, to be named on a bench that also included recovering club captain Paddy Madden after a five-game absence from the squad.

The visitors, managed by a one-time County player from 10 years earlier, Danny Schofield, included another two ex-Hatters among their starters – namely, James Brown, who had spent the first half of the campaign at EP on loan from Blackburn, and Tommy Rowe, whose association with County went rather further back, as a youth player for four years, and a professional for two more, between 2003 and 2009.

Kyle Knoyle, who had joined County from Doncaster in January, fired the first shot of the afternoon with only 15 seconds on the clock – and came close to giving his current club a very early lead against his former one, as visiting goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell parried away Knoyle’s goal-bound shot.

Knoyle and Mitchell featured in the action again five minutes later, as the former teed up Akil Wright for a cross from the right that found Rydel – whose header from beyond the far post was tipped on to the upright by the ‘keeper.

Chris Hussey initiated the next County chance, courtesy of a low delivery on the right that was collected by Rydel on the edge of the box and squared to Will Collar, who drilled wide of the near post. And Brown looked to fashion an inaugural opportunity for the visitors by crossing from the left to Caolan Lavery, whose scuffed shot bobbled past the near upright.

Attempts were then to remain largely at a premium until the first half’s dying minutes, when a Brown free-kick was headed by Charlie Lakin into the arms of Ben Hinchliffe, and Knoyle’s in-swinging, added-time corner from the left was punched away by Mitchell.

HALF-TIME: County 0, Doncaster 0. 

County went close four minutes following the resumption, as Kyle Wootton connected with Rydel’s chipped cross from the left to head towards goal – only to see his effort tipped away  by Mitchell.

At the other end, Rowe fired beyond the right post, before Hussey bravely blocked a well-struck shot from Harrison Biggins – son of former Stoke striker, Wayne – and Kyle Hurst burst into the Hatters’ box to unleash a low drive that Hinchliffe smothered.

Just after the hour-mark, Davenport’s first-time strike, following a short corner from Knoyle on the left, was deflected over by Brown. And, less than five minutes after his introduction, substitute Hippolyte fired narrowly over.

As the contest approached its end, both Wootton and Rydel saw headers comfortably caught by Mitchell. And late attacks by both sides in the course of four added minutes were  snuffed out – leaving County still looking for a first league triumph over Donny since 1990.

FULL-TIME: County 0, Doncaster 0.

Team (3-5-2): Hinchliffe; Wright (Byrne, 64), Horsfall (Capt.), Hussey; Knoyle, Collar, Davenport (Croasdale, 74), Sarcevic (Hippolyte, 64), Rydel; Olaofe (Madden, 74), Wootton.

Unused Subs: Jaros, Camps, Stretton.

Booked: Davenport, Rydel.

Man of the Match: Horsfall.

Attendance: 9,942 (1,154 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


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