THIS was a difficult baptism of fire for the new Town management duo of Kevin Richardson and Paul Fildes with player suspensions and injuries ruling out a number of players.
The opening 26 minutes saw both Billy Carrington and his opposite number Mark Pullman not being required to make a save with both defences snuffing out any danger well before it reached the penalty areas.
However the match kicked into life with first Martin Broderick, Danny Boyle and then Boyle again shooting over Pullman’s crossbar, the chance for his second shot came from a Mark Threlfall header which put him clear on goal, unfortunately as he shot at goal from just inside the penalty area the ball popped up off a divot the shot came off his shin sailing over the bar.
Threlfall then took the ball down well inside the Stockport penalty area before drilling a shot at goal that Pullman save at the near post with his feet.Town were then forced to make an injury related substitution with Morton coming off replaced with Blades (35 minutes)
Threlfall was beginning to cause problems for the Stockport defence, he got in behind the defence again and crossed almost along the goal line but there was no one to take advantage.
The first real threat to the Town goal came after 43 minutes when Sam Menelou then Reuben De Rossicas headed over from good positions. The half ended with a Threlfall cross finding Boyle who shot over from the edge of the penalty area.
Town came out in the second half looking more threatening, Blades played a great ball out of defence to Boyle who in turn found Andrew Lee just inside the penalty area, only a lunging desperate tackle blocking a shot on goal. Town did take the lead after 56 minutes, a Town corner on the Stockport right was only half cleared, Boyle picked up the loose ball twisted and shot towards goal, the ball was only half cleared again but this time Threlfall was there to head home from almost on the line to put Town one up.
As Stockport pushed forward it left gaps in their defence, and Town increased their lead on 68 minutes, a cross deep into the Stockport penalty area found Boyle unmarked eight yards out at the far post, he volleyed a great shot that beat Pullman’s left hand hitting the post before cannoning off his back over the line, a desperate lunge to clear only saw it kicked further into the net.
Stockport still pushed forward with their skipper Ricky Anane and Aaron Baines both going close to scoring, but the pairing of Richardson and Nettleton keeping them at bay. But it was Town who finished the stronger, Boyle again shooting over after a corner. Lewis Jordan completed the scoring with two minutes left, Blades was brought down just outside the penalty area, he took the free kick himself sending in a great cross to the far post, Threlfall rising above everybody to head over Pullman, the ball hitting the crossbar bouncing down almost on the line. Jordan reacting first to force the ball in.
Given the squad available it was a really good all round performance.