Stockport County 3 Stamford AFC 0 ( FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round) Saturday 16 October 2021
(All words by hedgegrower, images by hedgegrower and Andrew Machin )
I had looked forward with some relish to this game from the moment the draw was announced.
It was a chance to exchange National League normality for a dash of FA Cup excitement as County hosted Stamford FC of Northern Premier League, Division 1 Midlands .
The Daniels, had already played 5 FA Cup games to get this far, and for sure they would be firing on all cylinders backed by their travelling supporters.
| Just off the coach ! ( More Stamford images at half time in report)|
Respect was called for then, and a total absence of complacency from County as they took the field against Graham Drury`s side, and from where I was that is what appeared to have happened as County overcame a potential banana skin of a tie claiming a place in Round One Proper of the FA Cup with a business like 3-0 win against opponents who battled for 90 odd minutes and might have nicked one in the 93rd.
The visitors received loud support from 161 travelling fans, and they deserved every cheer and round of applause having defended well throughout and attacked when they could. But…..like just about every other club at any level in the pyramid, they just lacked a striker…someone who could finish off a move!
| Loud and supportive! |
I made Cosmos Malwasa and Connor Bartle their best operators with Tendai Chitiza not far behind them.
County meanwhile had Southam -Hales and Crankshaw in outstanding form particularly in the second half and it was credit to Stamford that County were kept to 3-0!
| Crankshaw confirming early opinions !|
Keano gave a typically bullish performance which I liked , Croasdale took the M.O.M showing a welcome appetite for turning up in the box late to good effect, and Madden continues to look better when not required to defend!
| Keano - defo worth his place!|
Raikhy for Rooney was County`s sole change come 3 o`clock and they were first onto the attack via Whitfield who found Michael Armstrong too quick for him when it mattered. Stamford`s clearance from this came back at them through Raikhy but Harry Vince blocked his effort with aplomb.
|Rare start for Raikhy ( Andrew Machin )|
Crankshaw was next to show for the blues but the combined attentions of Armstrong and Chitiza stopped the rot for the visitors.
|Crankshaw and company....|
A reply was called for and came from Freeman ,but he lifted the Daniels` first shot way over the bar.
Back came County but Crankshaw saw Blundell positioned perfectly to block the move and clear his lines.
|Crankshaw on the ball.|
Whitfield came at Stamford next only for his cross to be headed out by Bartle, bringing Crankshaw into play again but his pass to Southam-Hales saw his final ball fly harmlessly out.
That was 9 minutes in, the 10th saw the away following on their feet as Michael Frew darted clear, and disappointed to see Ross rob the forward at the crucial moment.
Stamford were showing up well, defending as a unit and doing it confidently- Dan Wallis ending some good work by Frew and others with a confidence inducing catch under pressure.
|Wallis did well !|| |
Cue a response from the Daniels and it was Chitiza who provided it reaching the by-line with a determined run. County were under pressure from the corner that resulted, Palmer heading out from under the bar . Frew then threw in his 10 pennyworth with a tasty darting run, only to see the liner`s flag pull him back for offside.
|Palmer just keeps it out !|
County were leaking free kicks noticeably now and seemingly struggling to clear their lines and set up something in the way of a counter. When they did, on 23 minutes, after a period of Stamford attacking, Crankshaw spoilt the moment by fouling Butterworth as he attempted to shrug his attentions off.
|Crankshaw pulled up on break......|
| Another view of that from Andrew Machin|
Madden then won a corner for County linking with Southam-Hales but could not make the kick count.
County persisted though, kept out by determined defending by Blunden who stopped Raikhy`s progress, and Armstrong whose brave block denied Whitfield on the half hour.
| Madden and Croasdale battle for the ball ( Andrew Machin )|
Bartle`s clearance from that last action looked about to register a dividend for Graham Drury`s side when Frew latched onto it. He was nicely positioned and heading into the box, but he also had Palmer for company and this may have unnerved him a touch as he then lost his footing- the definite chance had gone!
That was probably a pivotal moment in the match as within 3 minutes County had the lead.
Armstrong had just stopped Madden reaching Crankshaw with a deft pass. If Crankshaw was disappointed it did not show as the next minute he had slung a neat ball goalward where , arriving late ( but precisely on time) Croasdale met it leathering the ball home with frightening ferocity!
| Croasdale bursts through ( Andrew Machin )|
| .....and it`s 1-0 ( Andrew Machin )|
It was 1-0 to County and I wondered how this would affect Stamford after such a good opening 30 odd minutes.
The answer seemed to be ` not at all` as they came back at the blues through Frew and Chitiza- it stayed 1-0 but it spoke volumes for their spirit!
|County under pressure.|
The last few minutes of the half saw County having to continue defending a series of throws that succeeded in pushing them back on their heels, but Malwasa lifted his shot high into the Cheadle End, the half ending with a concerted appeal for a penalty from County after Croasdale`s shot had been deflected for a corner. County fancied a foul by Frew had occurred, but to no avail as Referee Mike Barlow waved away the penalty appeals giving instead a free kick to the visitors.
|Err looks a pen though ( Andrew Machin )|
Now some shots, from Andrew Machin mainly of the 161 Stamford fans:-
Stamford opened the second half looking for an equaliser but urged on by Chitiza and Malwasa`s efforts, Vince just missed out.
| Vince close for Stamford !|
Keane`s run then set County going again, but from the resultant corner Ed Crook just did enough to keep Palmer out at the back post.
|Cook does enough.....|
| Excellent from Keano ( Andrew Machin )|
Keano was there again shortly after, his pass setting Southam- Hales free, but his shot fizzed and crackled its way wide of the target.
Back came Stamford through Chitiza, but their attacking lacked an essential cutting edge and despite a series of threatening long throws that had County in difficulties, County just had to await their moment to eventually be able to clear their lines.
| Stamford press.|
It was hard work though, and County sought to lighten their load with fresh legs as Quigley and Rooney came on for Whitfield and Raikhy just before the hour.
But Stamford continued to attack as Bartle pinged over throw after throw into the County box. Stamford really fancied this, but when Blunden narrowly failed to get to Armstrong`s final ball the moment had passed.
| Pressure from Stamford ( Andrew Machin )|
A reply came back from County that saw Wallis flap at and miss a corner at one point- County missed it too so it stayed 1-0.
|County press !|
County were beginning to put their act together now, and Wallis did incredibly well to tip Croasdale`s shot over the top following good work by Quigley and Madden.
|Terrific save by Wallis !|
| and Andrew Machin`s view of that !|
The pressure continued from the blues with Crankshaw winning a corner. Palmer wanted this…..couldn`t get it….and Stamford broke up the park missing out narrowly- they needed that to go in!
|Palmer wanted it !|
|Crankshaw on fire ( Andrew Machin )|
County forgot the narrow escape and attacked with Rooney sending Kitching clear, but Wallis did terrific work to stop Quigley getting on the end of the final ball.
| Wallis foild Quiggers !|
That was 68 minutes in, the 69th saw the Daniels back on the front foot and screaming for a penalty as Johnson crashed to earth in the box, but again the Referee disappointed them!
They kept pressing though, and then they didn`t…..…and County looked intent on doubling their advantage. Wallis again did well to deny Crankshaw but then less so in the fracas that followed the save, as the young keeper managed to upend Quigley.
| The foul.....|
| Madden puts away the pen !|
|That foul ( Andrew Machin )|
Mr Barlow pointed to the spot, and Madden dispatched the penalty with practised ease…County had a 2-0 lead now!
The wind was noticeably in County`s sails now Crankshaw unlucky to see the ball ricochet ridiculously to Wallis when sent clear by Southam- Hales.
It went on Southam- Hales going close for County, Stamford showing commendable spirit taking the game to the blues winning a couple of corners in the process. Nothing came of these allowing County, eventually to reply – Wallis`s outstretched leg all there was twixt him and a third blue goal.
|Close from Southam- Hales.|
County were upping the revs now….Madden just wide on 80 minutes…..Rooney blocked just 2 minutes later. Then…just when you were tempted to think 2-0 was the way it was…it wasn`t as Kitching picked Quigley out brilliantly- the resultant header opened Quigley`s County account and made it 3-0 in the process.
| ......and ball put away by Quigley....3-0 !|
| Belting header by Quiggers, belting image by Andrew Machin !|
|and another belter for good measure ( Andrew Machin )|
Reid was now on for Fryers, but it was Madden to the fore, his shot somehow being pushed onto the bar and over by the keeper. Palmer`s header going out off a post from the corner.
We went into the last 5 minutes with Stamford still battling bravely for something from the game apart from massive pride and kudos. Challinor and Chitiza were to the fore and County were forced to concede a free kick. Ross kept Vince`s kick out, but not without a struggle and somehow County`s goal survived intact.
Stamford really were trying in the game`s dying embers. Wallis had just foiled Quigley as County raised the siege….. but Ross had to do likewise as Malwasa surged to the by-line for the visitors.
Ross still had work to do even up and to including the 93 rd minute when a clutch of red shirts just could not force the ball home from Bartle`s latest and last throw.
That was the last action of what had been a decent game.
Well done to both teams…County for the business like win, and Stamford for a quality performance that did the Northern Premier League- Division 1 Midlands massive credit!
Lovely scenes at the end- pleased we showed Stamford the respect that their performance merited.
Cheshire Senior Cup next……see you there then!
Stockport County line up-
Ross, Keane, Palmer, Fryers( Reid 82), Southam- Hales, Kitching, Croasdale, Raikhy( Rooney 58), Madden, Whitfield ( Quigley 58), Crankshaw.
Subs not used: Hinchliffe, Hogan,Collar, Rydel.
Stamford AFC line up:-
Wallis, Armstrong, Bartle, Cook ( Challinor 77), Freeman, Blunden, Chitiza, Vince, Frew ( Duffy 60), Butterworth ( Johnson 60), Malwasa.
Subs not used: Peverell, O`Hare.
Attendance: 3022 ( 161)