Chorley The Result Of The Season So Far, As Warburton Has Magpies On Toast!
Stockport County achieved a stunning – yet thoroughly deserved – victory against the National League North’s long-time leaders, as a 17-minute hat-trick by substitute Matty Warburton blitzed Chorley for a first-ever victory over the ‘Magpies’ at Edgeley Park.
The eve of Halloween it might have been, but there was to be no hint of a horror show from the Hatters, whose solid, and generally dominant, first-half performance was followed by three successful strikes after the break – representing half the total previously conceded by their visitors over the whole of the campaign – to propel County back up into the top 10.
Manager Jim Gannon made two changes to the starting line-up which had taken to the field at EP three days earlier for what proved a disappointing draw against the 10 men of Nuneaton Borough. Warburton and Frank Mulhern both dropped to the bench – to be replaced by Jordan Keane and Nyal Bell within a 4-2-3-1 formation.
County took the game to the table-toppers from the outset – forcing three corners within the first nine minutes, albeit without creating attempts on goal until shortly afterwards, when a shot by former Magpie Darren Stephenson and a looped effort from Adam Thomas were comfortably gathered in the hands of the Magpies’ ‘keeper Matt Urwin.
After 18 minutes, the Hatters produced a more dangerous scoring opportunity, after Scott Duxbury picked out Bell on the halfway-line. The striker outpaced visiting skipper Andy Teague, before drawing out Urwin and slotting narrowly wide of the right post. Teague was a little later to save his side, when blocking a goal-bound shot from Elliot Osborne around the half-hour mark.
The Magpies offered little in attack until that stage, when an excellent diagonal cross-field ball from former Hatter Courtney Meppen-Walter found Louis Almond on the right, and the latter’s follow-up cross from the right was fired over by Elliot Newby. Almond himself went closer a couple of minutes later, after cutting in from the right and just clearing the crossbar.
HALF-TIME: County 0, Chorley 0.
Cometh the second half, cometh the man whose goals on the night were to end up separating the teams. Warburton was brought on for Stephenson immediately before the resumption, and sounded a declaration of intent within two minutes of his introduction, by way of a shot from the edge of the box that curled inches wide of the left upright.
County continued on the offensive – with Ash Palmer seeing an effort deflected behind, and Warburton having one attempt blocked before blasting another into Cheadle End orbit – but the Magpies were the first to find the net when, with 71 minutes played, newly-arrived substitute Josh Wilson headed in Teague’s cross from the right.
Wilson was, to the (one for) sorrow of the Magpies, flagged offside – and, within a minute, the Hatters were ahead, as Warburton scrambled home a cross from the right by Bell.
Six minutes later, Warburton’s tally and the lead doubled – aided by another assist from Bell, whose through-ball on the left was powered past Urwin with an impeccable Matt finish.
Mulhern, having replaced Bell, went close with a shot that was deflected behind off Meppen-Walter, and Palmer headed a Duxbury cross wide of the right post, before Warburton earned his hat-trick a minute from time – exchanging passes with Connor Dimaio, and rifling in from the left.
And, with that, Warburton secured the match-ball – although the strength of the overall team performance was emphasised in added time, when the hitherto-largely-untested Ben Hinchliffe did brilliantly to parry a late effort from Wilson around the right post.
FULL-TIME: County 3 (Warburton, 72, 78 and 89), Chorley 0.
Team: Hinchliffe, Minihan, Duxbury, Keane, Palmer (Capt.), Stott, Thomas, Walker, Bell (Mulhern, 80), Osborne (Dimaio, 75), Stephenson (Warburton, 46).
Unused Subs: Downing, Ormson.
Man of the Match: Palmer.
Attendance: 2,653 (238 away).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.