STOCKPORT COUNTY FC

Oldham Athletic 0-2 Stockport County

County Team knows no ‘Boundarys’ as pre-season ends with victory at Oldham.

First-half goals from Ash Palmer and Sam Walker were enough for County to round off an unbeaten pre-season with a comprehensive win at League 2 Oldham Athletic.

It was a relentless performance from the Hatters, who didn’t give their hosts a sniff – The Latics first effort on target arriving in the 88th minute of the game.

County went in to the game making just two changes from the side that won at Altrincham, Dan Cowan and Elliot Osborne replacing Jordan Keane and Paul Turnbull respectively.

Despite County’s superiority in the game, it was in fact Oldham who came close inside the opening minute, the superbly named Desire Segbe Azankpo seeing his effort loop up in to the air off Ash Palmer, and drop just over the bar.

But just moments later it was County who struck an early blow, as former loanee Jamie Stott – who’s name was loudly sung by the County fans all afternoon – conceded a corner.

The ball was whipped in by Sam Walker, right on to the head of the unmarked Palmer, who made no mistake with the header – his third of pre-season, all of them provided by Sam Walker corners.

Boosted by that goal, County began to take control of proceedings, another Walker corner this time finding Dan Cowan, whose powerful header was held by Oldham ‘keeper Gary Woods.

County’s high pressing continued to catch Oldham out in their defensive third, and it was from this that County very nearly grabbed a second.

Dimaio won back possession in midfield before finding Thomas, who in turn fed the ball through for the well-timed run of Frank Mulhern, but his low effort was saved by the legs of Woods at the near post.

Moments before half-time though, and County did make it two. Sam Minihan and Mulhern combined well to win back possession on the right touchline, with the former finding Dimaio inside the area.

Dimaio’s snapshot was parried out only as far as Walker, who took a touch before calmly firing in to the bottom corner, via an assist from the post, to give County a well-deserved two goal advantage.

HALF-TIME: Oldham 0, County 2 (Palmer, 4; Walker, 44).

In to the second half, and chasing a first County win at Boundary Park since 2005, it was a much more low-key affair, with County content to zip the ball around the wet surface, as Oldham toiled for a route back in to the game.

Despite this, it was County who continued to create the better chances, Elliot Osborne turning beautifully on the corner of the penalty area, before curling an effort just over the bar on his left-foot.

As the clock ticked in to the 70th minute, Ben Hinchliffe was called in to action for the first time in the game, having to be alert to tip a dangerous looking cross over the crossbar.

As we entered the 88th minute of the game, a loud sarcastic cheer erupted around the ground, as Oldham finally mustered an attempt on goal, although the long-range effort from Johan Branger-Engone was simple enough for Hinchliffe to deal with.

That was as good as it got for the hosts, as County saw out the remainder of the game without any undue fuss, to record a fifth win in six pre-season games, and undoubtedly the most impressive of the lot.

FULL-TIME: Oldham 0, County 2 (Palmer, 4; Walker, 44).

Team: Hinchliffe, Minihan, Cowan, Palmer, Jackson, Walker, Osborne, Thomas (Curran, 76), Dimaio (Turnbull, 66), Kirby (Stephenson, 76), Mulhern (Arthur, 85).

Attendance: 1227 (404 away fans).

Reporter: Liam Richardson.

Photographer: Mike Petch.

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