Stockport County 0-0 Bradford Park Avenue: Rare goalless draw for the Hatters

Gary Stopforth, Stockport County v Bradford Park Avenue

September began for the Hatters with a rare goalless draw – only the second at Edgeley Park in well over a year.

But while Avenue adopted similar tactics in the away half to Gainsborough Trinity, they also enjoyed scoring chances of their own.

County took to the field showing two changes from the starting line-up at Tamworth on August Bank Holiday Monday.

Captain Harry Winter and leading goalscorer Jason Oswell both returned from injury – replacing Scott Duxbury and Darren Stephenson within a 4-3-3 formation.

Gary Stopforth, Stockport County v Bradford Park Avenue
Gary Stopforth on the ball for County (www.mphotographic.co.uk)

Midfielder Gary Stopforth, for whom international clearance had now been obtained following his return to the club after a spell in Australia, was named among the substitutes.

Sam Minihan went close after just two minutes when he swivelled to volley a Matty Warburton cross from the left byline – only for visiting goalkeeper Steven Drench to parry the effort.

Drench also saved Jimmy Ball’s low drive from outside the area and former County skipper Mark Ross did well to deflect behind an Oswell shot, before Chris Smalley headed over the resulting corner.

Avenue, however, were to create opportunities. First, Adam Boyes skipped past Michael Clarke on the right before squaring to another ex-Hatter, Oli Johnson, who, with the goal at his mercy, scuffed a shot wide of the far upright.

Ben Hinchliffe, Stockport County v Bradford Park Avenue
Ben Hinchliffe in goal for Stockport (www.mphotographic.co.uk)

Then, Ben Hinchliffe had to be at his best on two occasions – tipping behind Nicky Clee’s 18-yard piledriver, and, two minutes ahead of half-time, catching a close-range header from Boyes.

The second half followed a pattern broadly similar to much of the first, whereby the Hatters were to enjoy a good share of possession – albeit without executing a cutting edge in the final third.

And when the visitors broke, they, too, continued to launch attempts in the general direction of County’s goal.

Captain Nicky Wroe and Johnson drilled shots beyond, respectively, the left and right posts – before Javan Vidal, who had also once briefly plied his trade at EP, went close with a well-struck volley.

Stopforth took his second new bow as a County player with just over 20 minutes left on the clock, and the Hatters subsequently created their best chances of the half with Warburton, 15 yards out, curling an effort narrowly wide of the left post, and Stopforth’s fellow substitute Stephenson blasting over Connor Hampson’s cross from the left.

FULL-TIME: County 0, Bradford Park Avenue 0
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Cowan (Stephenson, 68), Hampson, Ball, Clarke, Smalley, Minihan (T Walker, 85), Winter (Capt.), Oswell, Warburton, S Walker (Stopforth, 68). Unused Subs: Duxbury, Smith.
Booked: S Walker
Man of the Match: Minihan
Attendance: 3,018 (69 away)

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