STOCKPORT COUNTY FC

Report & pics: County 3-2 Barrow

Hatters Upset Barrow To Get Wheely Up And Running!

The Hatters’ first game of the campaign under the Edgeley Park floodlights saw them edge out Barrow by the odd goal in five for an inaugural 2019/20 victory and a first home triumph over the ‘Bluebirds’ in nearly seven years.

County overcame the shock of conceding early on to go ahead just after the break through Frank Mulhern and Jordan Keane. And although the visitors equalised midway through the second half, Adam Thomas’s second goal in as many games made sure of the three points.

The Hatters took to the field in the mid-evening sunshine showing two changes from the line-up that had started at Yeovil three days earlier. Connor Dimaio and Thomas were recalled in place of Nyal Bell and the injured Sam Walker.

The opening five minutes were eventful to say the least. By their conclusion, County had seen one  chance cleared off the line, another well saved, and a goal disallowed – but, moreover, had also fallen behind to Scott Quigley’s third-minute opener.

The Hatters’ first opportunity, with just a minute on the clock, arose as visiting goalkeeper Joel Dixon spilled Elliot Osborne’s free-kick from the right. The ball fell to Keane, whose goal-bound header was hacked away from the line by Barrow captain, and former County Youth player, Josh Granite.

Dixon then did well to parry a shot from Ben Jackson, after the on-loan left-wing-back had been teed up by Dimaio. But just as the Hatters were wondering how they had not taken an early lead, Barrow promptly did so, as a long throw into the home box found Quigley who squeezed the ball home between Ben Hinchliffe and the left post.

Two minutes later, County had the ball in the net, courtesy of Thomas – but the effort was ruled out after Granite and Ash Palmer had come together in the course of the build-up.

The second five minutes were less noteworthy, save for an early substitution forced upon Barrow as a result of an injury to left-back Patrick Brough. But soon afterwards, the Hatters created a number of opportunities, and only Dixon’s good work between the sticks prevented them from getting back on level terms. The Bluebirds’ Number One kept out two shots by Thomas, before parrying Paul Turnbull’s effort from distance and tipping beyond the right post an Osborne strike.

The visitors, meanwhile, took more than half an hour between their first, decisive attempt on goal and their second of the game – in the form of a low shot from one-time County target Dior Angus that was comfortably smothered by Hinchliffe seven minutes ahead of the break.

HALF-TIME: County 0, Barrow 1 (Quigley, 3).

Just as it had taken three minutes in the first half for a goal to arrive, so it did in the second – with an equaliser for County the result. Sam Minihan picked out Thomas on the right, before the latter’s low cross was flicked home by Mulhern.

Two minutes later, Mulhern went close to doubling his and County’s tally – only for the shot to be tipped around the left post by Dixon. But from Osborne’s resulting corner on the left, the Hatters went ahead – and in spectacular style, after Turnbull recycled the delivery to Keane, who, from 35 yards out, advanced towards goal and then fired low into the bottom-left corner of the net.

The Bluebirds drew level around the half’s mid-point, after Osborne conceded a free-kick and John Rooney’s 25-yard dead-ball delivery fizzed past Hinchliffe into the bottom left. But honours only remained even for another three minutes, before Thomas turned in a cross from the left by substitute Jake Kirby.

Barrow strove for a leveller in the closing stages, as Sam Hird fired narrowly over, and Hinchliffe blocked efforts by Angus and Oliver Dyson – as well as tipping over another from Quigley. And former Hatter Jason Taylor almost had the last word at the expense of his old club, but the midfielder’s 20-yarder in added time struck the right post.

FULL-TIME: County 3 (Mulhern, 48; Keane, 51; Thomas, 70), Barrow 2 (Quigley, 3; Rooney, 67).

Team (4-2-3-1): Hinchliffe; Minihan, Keane, Palmer, Cowan; Turnbull (Capt.), Osborne; Thomas, Dimaio (Kirby, 63), Jackson (Arthur, 88); Mulhern (Bell, 72).

Unused Subs: Ormson, Curran.

Booked: Osborne, Jackson.

Man of the Match: Mulhern.

Attendance: 4,183 (218 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.

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