Stockport County 0-0 Gillingham

The Hatters’ second home match in three days saw them earn another point, albeit again without troubling the scorers, under the Edgeley Park lights against Gillingham.

They will, without doubt, have been disappointed not to secure all three, following a contest they dominated in terms of both possession and chances – and during which both Tanto Olaofe and Kyle Knoyle struck the opposition’s woodwork.

County took to the field on a clear, cold evening for a match which had been rearranged due to even more freezing conditions back in December, and showing just one change from the starting line-up at EP against Doncaster over the weekend. Neill Byrne was recalled to the back three – replacing Akil Wright, who dropped to the bench.

The ‘Gills’, for their part, included among the starters midfielder Ethan Coleman, who had turned out for County as a trialist during the 2020 close season.

In the course of the opening 10 minutes, Ryan Rydel sent over a couple of deliveries – the first a corner, the second a cross – from the left, which narrowly evaded the respective heads of Fraser Horsfall, who was continuing to act as captain, and Kyle Wootton. Chances then remained at an absolute premium until two minutes before the half-hour mark, when another Rydel cross from the same flank found Will Collar, who headed beyond the far post.

Having played provider on three occasions, Rydel cut in from the left to unleash, a shot of his own, which visiting goalkeeper Glenn Morris did well to grasp – before Jacob Davenport was teed up by Antoni Sarcevic on the edge of the box to fire directly at Gillingham’s Number One.

With the break three minutes away, Olaofe produced the best effort of the half – courtesy of a first-time shot from just inside the area that bounced off the top of the crossbar.

HALF-TIME: County 0, Gillingham 0. 

The trio of Hatters to have launched the three first-half shots of note played no further part in proceedings after the interval, as Olaofe, Rydel and Davenport were replaced as part of a triple-substitution upon the resumption by Paddy Madden, Ryan Croasdale and Myles Hippolyte, respectively.

Five minutes later, one of the replacements tried his luck, as Madden connected with a Chris Hussey free-kick to head straight at Morris – and, just ahead of the hour, Hussey crossed from the left to find Knoyle, whose header brushed the outside of the near upright before looping behind.

Collar fired an attempt over the Railway End bar, and another Madden header – this time, following a Hussey corner from the right – was deflected past the far post by Coleman, as County continued to press.

The visitors, still without a shot on goal to their name, brought on a quartet of substitutes with a quarter of an hour remaining – and continued to hold firm at the back, with David Tutonda making a last-ditch block, and Morris executing a one-handed save, to keep out two  strikes by the newly-arrived Jack Stretton.

The draw saw County inch up a position to sixth, four points off the automatic promotion places.

FULL-TIME: County 0, Gillingham 0.

Team (3-5-2): Hinchliffe; Byrne, Horsfall (Capt.), Hussey; Knoyle, Collar, Davenport (Croasdale, 46), Sarcevic (Stretton, 77), Rydel (Hippolyte, 46); Olaofe (Madden, 46), Wootton.

Unused Subs: Jaros, Wright, Camps.

Man of the Match: Sarcevic.

Attendance: 8,168 (212 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


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