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Stockport County 0-0 Notts County

The Hatters returned to midweek action under the Edgeley Park floodlights for a third meeting in just over two months with Notts – following up league and FA Trophy defeats against the ‘Magpies’ with a goalless draw, after another tight contest of the two ‘County’ clubs.

Simon Rusk’s side took to the field against the ‘Magpies’ on a blustery, drizzly night, and showing four changes from the line-up at Eastleigh three days earlier. Sam Dalby, on loan from Watford, made his first start up front, while Ryan Croasdale and Tom Walker returned from injury, and James Jennings was also recalled – replacing Richie Bennett, Will Collar, Jamie Stott and the injured Macauley Southam-Hales. Harvey Gilmour retained his place in central midfield, after his sending-off at the weekend had been overturned.

Three corners – two of them to the Hatters – were won during the opening 10 minutes, albeit in the absence of any attempts towards the general direction of goal from either side until Jordan Barnett fired wide of the left post for the visitors with a dozen played.

The Hatters looked to have taken the lead – and to have scored for the first time in over six hours – just ahead of the half-hour mark, when Gilmour rolled the ball home after visiting goalkeeper Luke Pilling had parried John Rooney’s close-range shot, but the effort was ruled out after a flag rather belatedly waved for offside.

As the break approached, and with clear-cut chances at a premium against the National League’s meanest defence, Liam Hogan tried his luck with a low shot that took a deflection past the left upright, before his counterpart skipper Michael Doyle fired over from the edge of the box.

HALF-TIME: County 0, Notts County 0.

The Hatters, as they had done in the first half, earned a pair of corners in the early stages following the resumption – which the visitors again followed up with one of their own that, on this occasion, saw Matty Wolfe meet the delivery and head over.

As the contest appeared to open up, Rooney’s through-ball set up Alex Reid with only Pilling to beat – only for the keeper to block. And Hogan stabbed the ball goal-wards, following a corner from Walker on the right, but the captain’s shot was cleared off the line.

At the other end, a Ruben Rodrigues corner from the left was met beyond the far upright by Connell Rawlinson – with Ben Hinchliffe doing well to smother the header – before Dalby unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot that fizzed beyond the visitors’ right post from distance.

As the game entered added time, Rooney struck a free-kick from 25 yards that Pilling tipped around the left post to preserve the stalemate.

FULL-TIME: County 0, Notts County 0.

Team (4-4-2): Hinchliffe; Minihan, Palmer, Hogan (Capt.), J. Jennings; Walker (Bennett, 66), Croasdale, Rooney, Gilmour; Dalby, Reid (Collar, 78).

Unused Subs: Maynard, Keane, Barnes.

Booked: Reid.

Man of the Match: Croasdale.

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.

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