Stockport County 0-1 Brackley Town 10/3/18
Wilkin: “A big win”
Stockport County will be pleased to see the back of Brackley after a third encounter in two weeks produced another Saints win. On a difficult pitch only passed playable after intensive efforts by ground staff and an inspection following heavy rain both sets of players deserve immense credit for producing a pulsating and gripping match. These are the afternoons that explain why supporters follow this sport and follow their team because nothing can match the tension and the excitement generated in this fine performance by Kevin Wilkin’s side at a very muddy Edgeley Park.
“Meeting for the third time in two weeks this was always going to be a big psychological test for the players and they produced a big win,” Wilkin said. “They showed excellent attitude and put in a strong performance that deserved the points.”
Stockport enjoyed the far greater possession in the first half with Brackley coming more into the game only late on when fine work by Shep Murombedzi on the right delivered a cross that Jimmy Armson headed against the post in the nearest either side came to a goal. Glenn Walker’s low cross evaded everyone when just a touch was needed was Saints only other real moment of goal threat in a first half that County dominated for long periods, the corner count of ten to zero telling the story. Rhys Turner fired wide after 25 minutes when well placed inside the penalty area in County’s best effort.
A more even second half again saw spells with The Hatters in the ascendency but unable to create too many clear cut chances to threaten Danny Lewis in the Brackley goal as resolute defending repelled County’s attacks. Lewis athletically pawed away a dangerous cross at the last in the 65th minute and only excellent work by substitute Matt Lowe blocked Dan Cowan’s driving run and shot minutes later epitomising Brackley’s organisational strength and determined defending that kept the home side at bay.
As in the first period Brackley found late forward impetus as Lowe’s running created openings. Armson shot at keeper Hinchliffe in the 84th minute after Lowe’s dribbling run, two further chances were spurned as defenders cleared off the line with the goal at Saints’ mercy before Armson was again denied only by the woodwork.
The crucial goal finally came in the 88th minute as Aaron Williams finished neatly from close range and five minutes of added time were not enough for County to find a way back. On the final whistle both sets of players were spent having given everything on a playing surface soft and sticky like treacle but it was celebration for Saints and bitter frustration for Stockport.
“They had good possession but didn’t ask too much of Danny [Lewis],” Wilkin said. “We came strong at the end of both halves and didn’t take our chances which could have cost us but in the end Aaron [Williams] got the goal. There will not be too many teams beating Stockport home and away. There are tired legs understandably and pitches will continue to be heavy everywhere so recovery for Tuesday’s game will be important.”
The busy fixture list takes Saints to Gainsborough Trinity on Tuesday evening ahead of next Saturday’s semi-final first leg in the FA Trophy at St James Park against National League South Wealdstone.
Brackley Town: Lewis, Myles, Gudger, S.Byrne, Murombedzi (Lowe 65), Dean, G.Walker, Armson, Ndlovu (Streete 88), A.Williams (Brown 92), A.Walker. Subs unused: Diggin, Lucas.
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury, Winter (Stephenson 78), Clarke, Stott, Thomas, Ball (Stopforth 65), Oswell, Warburton, Turner (Turnbull 58). Subs unused: O’Halloran, Ormson.
Referee: Ricky Wootton Assistants: Martin Parker and Aaron Bannister