The Hatters returned to Edgeley Park for their final pre-season game to face higher level opponents once again in the form of Vanorama National League side Barrow.
Jim Gannon named recent signing Ben McKenna in his starting line up in following the completion of his move to Edgeley Park hours earlier. The winger replacing the injured Adam Thomas in midfield. Other changes from the draw against Bolton on Tuesday night saw Ben Hinchliffe and Michael Clarke return to the line-up in place of Ian Ormson and Chris Smalley who resort back to the bench.
County made a fast start to the game with debutant Ben McKenna’s strong run leading to two corners in quick succession.
The first real chance of the game however fell to the visitors after 3 minutes when Adi Yussuf cut in from the right but his effort with his left foot sailed high over the County goal. County were next to have an effort on goal after 6 minutes, some good work from Darren Stephenson saw the ball break to captain Harry Winter who saw his scuffed shot take a deflection off a Barrow defender and go out for a corner. The corner from the right failed to beat the first man and the scores remained level.
The next chance from either team on 13 minutes led to the opening goal, Adi Yussuf this time popping up on the left drove at the County defence before firing a low drive that beat Ben Hinchliffe before nestling in the bottom corner of the net.
The goal seemed to spark County into life and on 19 minutes Jason Oswell won the ball in the opposing box before playing a low cross into the box that was met by Darren Stephenson whose first-time shot was saved at point blank range by the opposition keeper Stuart Moore.
Oswell continued to be in the thick of things and won a free kick on 29 minutes after being man handled just outside the box. Up stepped Jimmy Ball who saw his fierce drive tipped over the bar by Moore for a County corner.
On 42 minutes Barrow had the final chance of the first half through Asa Hall whose snapshot sailed over the crossbar following a defensive clearance from Minihan.
HT: Stockport County 0-1 Barrow AFC
The teams emerged unchanged at the start of the second half and it was the visitors Barrow who came out of the blocks quickly, looking to add to their one goal lead.
It was the goal scorer Yussuf again probing and his shot came back off the post before falling to Asa Hall whose effort was wide of the County goal.
The next Barrow chance came immediately afterwards on 47 minutes through Hall who this time saw his shot saved well by the legs of Ben Hinchliffe in the Hatters goal.
County’s first chance of the second half came after 52 minutes when the lively Ben McKenna drove forward but the former Southport player’s attempt was straight into the arms of Moore in the Barrow goal.
The first substitution for County came on 55 minutes when McKenna left the field to be replaced by Dan Cowan. The debutant McKenna leaving to some warm applause from the home fans behind the dugout.
The ever dangerous Adi Yussuf was again involved on 60 minutes when his effort from the left hand side of the County penalty area curled just wide of Hinchliffe’s net.
Following a period of the game when the goalmouth action dried up, Jim Gannon made County’s second change of the game after 78 minutes by bringing on George West in pace of Michael Clarke. The change meant a slight reshuffle with Dan Cowan moving across into the centre of defence with Sam Minihan moving back to his familiar right back role.
The Hatters best chance of the game came on 84 minutes when Sam Walker played a delightful ball over the defence to pick out Darren Stephenson who found himself through on goal but his effort from the angle failed to trouble the visiting keeper.
The last few minutes of the second half saw a flurry of chances for both sides. First Bensenta Gomis found his way through the county defence from the edge of the box but the alert Ben Hinchliffe was quick off his line to thwart the attacker.
County were next to try their luck and it was Oswell who had a chance to equalise, the frontman rose to meet a George West corner but couldn’t direct his header under the crossbar and it remained 0:1 to Barrow.
The last chance of the game fell to County, Scott Duxbury made some room on the left and delivered a teasing ball into the box which Jimmy Ball attacked only to see his header fall straight into the keepers arms. No change to the score line then and the referee Tom Kirk blew his whistle and it was the visitors Barrow who would head back to Cumbria with the win.
FT: Stockport County 0-1 Barrow AFC
Attendance 1,021 (Away 35)
A good test for County in the end against higher level opposition and both Jim Gannon and his players will now turn their attention to the first game of the new season away to Spennymoor Town on Saturday 5th August.
Goalscorers – Adi Yussuf (13)
Stockport County – Hinchliffe, Minihan, Clarke (West 78), O’Halloran, Duxbury, McKenna (Cowan 55), Ball, Winter, Walker, Stephenson, Oswell.
Barrow AFC – Moore, Audel, Jones (Trialist 58), Nieskins (Panayiotou 84), Dunne, Diarra, Gomis, Harvey, White, Yussuf, Hall.
Words: Chris Green
Pics: Mike Petch
Filmed & edited by Robert Schofield
Graphics – Robert Schofield