Perfect Ten for County, as the Hatters go to Town on Pre-season opponents!
County’s blistering start to pre-season continued on Tuesday night, as the Hatters followed up Saturday’s 8-0 victory over Cheadle Heath Nomads with a perfect 10 against local side Stockport Town.
It was another devastating display of relentless goalscoring from Jim Gannon’s men, who were dominant from start to finish, as, just as we did against the Nomads, we recorded our biggest ever win over our opponents.
On a wet and windy afternoon at Stockport Sports Village, the Hatters arrived with a full-strength squad, as Ben Hinchliffe and Nyal Bell returning from holiday and injury respectively; the former going straight in to the starting XI, the latter taking a place on the bench.
That change in goal was one of just two for the Hatters from Saturday’s victory, with summer signing Alex Curran also coming in to make his first County start in place of Elliot Osborne.
Despite the one-sided scoreline, it was County who endured the first nervy moment of the game, as Hinchliffe – perhaps showing a little pre-season rust – delayed on the ball, his eventual clearance being closed down by a Town forward, the ball ricocheting narrowly wide of the post.
From then on, however, it was very much County in the ascendency, with ‘keeper Stinca twice being called in to action early on, first palming over a long-range effort from Paul Turnbull, before getting down quickly to deny Jake Kirby moments later.
Stinca, (who was having anything but), had to be on his toes again to tip over a drive from the lively Curran, but from the resulting corner, County broke the deadlock, and from a very familiar source.
Sam Walker swung the corner in, and Ash Palmer climbed highest, to open the scoring for the fourth game running – three of them coming from Sam Walker corners.
From then on, the floodgates were open, and County doubled their lead just past the half-hour, Jake Kirby rising to nod in Adam Thomas’ cross to put the Hatters in control.
Moments later and it was three, Frank Mulhern threading a lovely ball through for the onrushing Sam Minihan, who finished confidently into the far corner.
Mulhern, goal scorer on Saturday, was very much goal creator in the first half, and following a sublime piece of skill to escape from his man, it was from his ball that Kirby scored the fourth, cutting inside his man and bending home brilliantly in o the far corner on his left foot.
In the final action of the half, Kirby very nearly grabbed a hat-trick, as his header looked set for the top corner, only to be denied by a good save from Stinca.
Half Time: Stockport Town 0, County 4 (Palmer, 23; Kirby, 31 and 40; Minihan, 34).
As was the case on Saturday, Jim Gannon rang the changes at Half-Time with nine substitutions – Ash Palmer and Adam Thomas the only ones to keep their place on the pitch. Amongst the substitutes was young trialist Charlie Mulgrew, once of Bury’s academy – not the current Blackburn Rovers Captain!
In to the second half, and it took less than a minute for County to hit number five, trialist Michael Elstone on hand to lash the ball home just ahead of Nyal Bell, who was also poised to strike.
Nyal, who scored in this fixture last season, wasn’t to be denied moments later however, as he ran clear behind the defence and slotted home a lovely finish across the keeper to make 6-0, equalling the scoreline from that game a year ago.
At this point, County were rampant, and made it seven shortly after – their third goal in just six second half minutes – as another substitute Connor Dimaio, back from his loan spell at Ashton United, won the ball back inside the area, before curling home on his left foot.
And it was Dimaio who made it eight for the Hatters with 20 minutes still remaining, the Ireland U21 international finding space inside the area before finding the top corner, again leaving Stinca with no chance.
More goals looked inevitable as we entered the last ten minutes, and so it proved when Elliot Osborne, who had twice come close earlier in the half, found the bottom corner superbly from distance, before Nyal Bell timed his run to perfection to round Stinca and slot home into the empty net, to put the seal on a ten out of ten County performance.
FULL-TIME: Stockport Town 0, County 10 (Palmer, 23; Kirby, 31 and 40; Minihan, 34; Elstone, 46; Bell, 48 and 87; Dimaio, 51 and 69; Osborne, 81).
First-half Team: Hinchliffe, Minihan, Cowan, Turnbull (C), Palmer, Keane, Thomas, Walker, Mulhern, Curran, Kirby.
Second-half Team: Ormson, Arthur, Palmer, Downing, Thomas (Cowan, 67), Golden, Dimaio, Osborne, Elstone, Czubik, Bell.
Reporter: Liam Richardson.
Photographer: Mike Petch.