Stockport County 8-0 Sutton United

The Hatters returned to League Two action in emphatic style – hitting a whopping eight against basement side Sutton at Edgeley Park.

Having exited two knockout competitions – at Wigan and, most recently, against Aldershot –  within a week, County began the quest henceforth, as the old adage goes, to ‘concentrate on the League’ with an absolute vengeance, finding the net four times in each half, and maintaining in the process a six-point advantage at the head of the table.

Skipper Paddy Madden scored his second hat-trick of the campaign in all competitions, to add to a Ryan Croasdale brace as well as goals from from Kyle Wootton, Joel Cotterill and one-time Sutton loanee, Tanto Olaofe. It was the Hatters’ first competitive eight-goal haul for 67 years, and their biggest winning margin since the record-breaking 13-0 defeat of Halifax just short of nine decades ago.

The Hatters took to the field for their final Saturday assignment of 2023 (and, indeed, for four weeks) on an unseasonably balmy afternoon, and showing two changes from the Aldershot FA Cup replay starting line-up in SK3 three days earlier. Neill Byrne and Kyle Knoyle constituted the recalled duo – replacing Olaofe, who was named among the substitutes, and the injured Macauley Southam-Hales. 

Six was the number of the day at kick-off, with it accounting for County’s points-margin at the top of the table and games without a win in all competitions, as well as the amount of points keeping the bottom-placed visitors adrift from safety. The ‘U’s’ did, however, strike the first shot of the day, and inside the first minute, as Sam Hart fired over from distance.

In the course of the following couple of minutes, the Hatters earned three corners – with the first of those almost producing a goal – as Odin Bailey’s delivery from the right found Wootton, whose flick was tipped around the near post by visiting goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.

Shortly afterwards – with sixth minutes played, appropriately enough – County took the lead. An out-swinging Bailey free-kick to the left of the Sutton box was met by Croasdale, who nodded home from close range for his first goal of the campaign.

Five minutes later, the advantage was doubled through Wootton, who converted, for his ninth goal of the season in all competitions, Knoyle’s cross from the right after the wing-back had run on to an exquisite through-ball from Madden.

After 20 minutes, it was three for County and two for Croasdale – following a burst into the box from the left by fellow central midfielder Callum Camps, who squared for ‘Crossy’ to unleash a drive through a crowded area and into the net.

The first half’s mid-point came and went, but only for a matter of seconds before the Hatters scored a fourth – with Bailey dragging the ball back from the right by-line for Madden to drill past Bouzanis. This saw County’s captain, and leading scorer of the 21st Century, notch up his half-century of goals as a Hatter.

Madden then, from a tight angle, forced Bouzanis to save in front of the left post, Bailey fired narrowly beyond the same upright, and Wootton – fed by Croasdale – ballooned an effort over, as the Hatters strove to add to their tally ahead of the break.

HALF-TIME: County 4 (Croasdale, 6 and 20; Wootton, 11; Madden, 23), Sutton 0. 

The visitors made a double-substitution to bolster their midfield as play resumed – although County launched the first attack of the new half after five minutes, culminating in a low Bailey shot that took a deflection past the left post.

From the resulting corner, delivered by Ibby Touray, Madden made it five with a looping header inside the near post to put himself on a hat-trick alongside Croasdale. And, on the hour, the skipper looked to get there first with a cheeky punt from outside the box that hit the right side-netting.

County introduced shortly afterwards a quartet of substitutes – including Olaofe, who almost immediately came back to haunt his old club with a low shot on the turn that Bouzanis dived to smother.

The U’s had a gilt-edged opportunity to reduce the arrears when Aiden O’Brien squared from the left for Josh Coley – but, with the goal at his mercy, Coley fired wide of the near upright from close range.

The Hatters, almost immediately following that, netted their sixth, as Cotterill got off the mark with his first-ever County goal – converting into an empty net from distance, after Bouzanis had advanced out of his box and mis-hit his attempted clearance of a long ball.

Cotterill then turned provider, as he crossed from the right for Oalofe – who struck the crossbar with his first-time shot. And, at the other end, Ben Hinchliffe jumped to catch cleanly a long-range attempt by O’Brien.

Five minutes from time, the Hatters were in seventh heaven, as Touray crossed from the left for Olaofe to left-foot home. And in added time, after substitute Jayden Richardson had hit the woodwork, and Ryan Jackson had handled on the rebound, Madden stepped up to put away a penalty that completed his own three-goal haul – as well as one for County which had last been seen shortly after Easter 1956 in the form of an 8-1 triumph over Carlisle at EP.

FULL-TIME: County 8 (Croasdale, 6 and 20; Wootton, 11; Madden, 23, 53 and 90 + 2 (penalty); Cotterill, 69; Olaofe, 85), Sutton 0. 

Team (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Byrne (Richardson, 84), Horsfall, Pye; Knoyle, Camps (Johnson, 62), Croasdale (Wright, 62), Touray; Bailey (Cotterill, 62); Wootton (Olaofe, 62), Madden (Capt.).

Unused Subs: Smith, Powell.

Man of the Match: Madden.

Attendance: 8,703 (94 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


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