The Hatters’ second friendly in 10 days against hosts from Ashton-under-Lyne resulted in a third successive pre-season win, as they beat National League North near-neighbours Curzon Ashton at the Tameside Stadium.
Second-half goals from Ben Whitfield, Will Collar, a trialist and Scott Quigley secured victory for County, as well as a hat-trick of clean sheets for the month.
County took to the field on an unseasonably chilly late July afternoon that saw the hosts include ex-Hatters Alex Curran and Marcus Poscha in their starting line-up, and name Craig Hobson – from even further back in County history – among the substitutes, but recent Edgeley Park favourite Adam Thomas missed out through injury.
Dale Whitham, a one-time scourge of County from his Chorley days, fashioned the game’s first chance after a couple of minutes – but, having muscled his way into the Hatters’ area from the right, he ballooned his shot over.
A County shout for a penalty was waved away shortly afterwards, when Alex Reid looked to have had both legs taken from under him in the home box – before Elliot Newby, with a dozen minutes on the clock, fired the Hatters’ inaugural shot just wide of the left post.
On the quarter-hour mark, Macauley Southam-Hales’ 25-yard free-kick narrowly cleared the crossbar. And a Jack Hinchy shot took a deflection that looped past the left upright, as County continued to enjoy the greater share of final-third action.
The hosts countered through Luke Daly, whose well-struck shot from the edge of the area fizzed past the left post, and Curran, who did well to escape the attentions of County’s defence before his low drive was smothered by Ethan Ross.
Seven minutes ahead of half-time, Whitfield, making his first start in a County shirt following his arrival from Torquay, hooked an effort beyond the left post after latching on to a delicious through-ball from Lois Maynard. And Newby played a neat one-two with Jordan Keane, before seeing his shot saved by ‘Nash’ goalkeeper George McMahon.
HALF-TIME: Curzon Ashton 0, County 0.
The Hatters served notice of their second-half attacking intent through Maynard, whose deflected shot spun past the left upright, just before taking the lead half a dozen minutes following the resumption. Whitfield, to the right of goal, collected Tom Walker’s defence-splitting pass, took a touch and fired past McMahon into the bottom-far corner.
The Hatters, a goal to the good, replaced their outfield line-up in its entirety on the hour – with Paddy Madden firing the changed team’s first chance narrowly over the bar.
The lead was doubled midway through the half when Ryan Rydel’s cross from the left was volleyed home from six yards by Collar. And Rydel’s second assist of the afternoon led to the Hatters’ third goal, courtesy of a corner from the right that was headed home by their trialist.
Quigley, three minutes from time, opened his account and completed the afternoon’s scoring, when his powerful header from Sam Minihan’s cross on the right beat McMahon – whose opposite number Ross denied the Nash a consolation by tipping over a trialist’s shot in the final minute.
FULL-TIME: Curzon Ashton 0, County 4 (Whitfield, 53; Collar, 68; Trialist, 82; Quigley, 87).
Team for first hour (3-4-1-2): Ross; Maynard, Palmer (Capt.), Stott; Southam-Hales, Hinchy, Keane, Walker; Newby; Whitfield, Reid.
Team for final half-hour (3-4-1-2): Ross; Hogan (Capt.), Trialist, Pye; Minihan, Collar, Croasdale, Rydel; Rooney; Quigley, Madden.
Unused Sub: Alli.
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.