STOCKPORT COUNTY FC

County 1-2 Kidderminster Harriers

County Undone By Ian Ironside’s Kiddy

The Hatters suffered a second successive home defeat, having – as they did when hosting Blyth Spartans a fortnight earlier – initially taken a lead against Kidderminster, and subsequently approached stoppage time with the scores level.

Michael Clarke, Stockport County 1-2 Kidderminster, 28.10.17

And while they are not unused to being haunted by former County players, their nemesis from ‘Kiddy’ on this occasion was two-goal Joe Ironside, the striker-son of Ian who kept goal for the Hatters 23 years ago.

County had taken to the Edgeley Park turf on what was the final day of British Summer Time, but, to all appearances, a decidedly dank, autumnal afternoon, showing just a single change from the starting line-up at Nuneaton. Ben McKenna replaced Sam Walker as part of a 4-1-3-2 formation, while Michael Clarke retained the captain’s armband that he had reassumed one week previously.

Ben McKenna, Stockport County 1-2 Kidderminster, 28.10.17

The Hatters made much of the early running – and forced four corners in the first 12 minutes. From the fourth of those, Jason Oswell went close with a downward header that bounced narrowly over the crossbar. And following a free-kick that the visitors failed to clear, Scott Duxbury’s low, goal-bound shot was unluckily deflected away off his own skipper, Clarke.

Elton Ngwatala fired one shot left of County’s goal, and another over it, but the Hatters had dominated much of the first half and deservedly went ahead as the interval drew near.

Jason Oswell, Stockport County 1-2 Kidderminster, 28.10.17

The goal came in true ‘Route One’ style, as Ian Ormson’s straight kick upfield was flicked on by Oswell, before Matty Warburton reacted quickest to the loose ball and slid it under visiting goalkeeper Brandon Hall for his eighth strike in all competitions.

HALF-TIME: County 1 (Warburton, 45), Kidderminster 0.

The Hatters recommenced proceedings by forcing another corner – their tenth of the afternoon – but were soon to find themselves in the archetypal ‘game of two halves’, as Kiddy, boosted by two substitutions shortly after the break, began to threaten.

Chris Smalley, Stockport County 1-2 Kidderminster, 28.10.17

With 10 minutes of the second half played, a free kick for the visitors to the left of County’s area was cleared – but only as far as Ryan Croasdale, whose goal had separated the two sides in the corresponding fixture, and on the same weekend, a year ago. A ferocious shot by the Harriers’ captain struck the left upright to leave both the woodwork and the County faithful shaking.

And two minutes later, Kiddy drew level. Sam Austin’s cross from the right found Ironside, whose close-range header looped into the net.

Gary Stopforth, Stockport County 1-2 Kidderminster, 28.10.17

The Harriers almost doubled their lead, when a lower cross by Austin was met by substitute Andre Brown with a volley on the turn that grazed the bar. And Manny Sonupe cut in from the right before seeing his shot parried by Ormson, as well as a flag raised for offside.

Chances for County were few and far between, as the Hatters attacked the Cheadle End goal – although Oswell and McKenna were both played through before firing, respectively, wide of the left upright and over from just inside the visitors’ area.

Jim Gannon, Stockport County 1-2 Kidderminster, 28.10.17

They were to prove rued opportunities, as, with 90 minutes on the clock, Croasdale and Declan Weeks linked up to start a move that saw Sonupe cross from the right and Ironside convert inside the far post – ensuring in the process that all three points would go back to Worcestershire.

FULL-TIME: County 1 (Warburton, 45), Kidderminster 2 (Ironside, 57 and 90).

Team: Ormson, Cowan (Thomas, 90 + 1), O’Halloran (Walker, 70), Ball, Clarke (Capt.), Smalley, McKenna, Stopforth, Oswell, Warburton, Duxbury (Dixon, 90 + 2).

Unused Subs: Winter, Hinchliffe.

Booked: Stopforth.

Man of the Match: Stopforth.

Attendance: 3,015 (129 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

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