Stockport County 1-0 Telford United: Stephenson goal improves Hatters’ play-off hopes

Stockport County edged out Telford at Edgeley Park to further improve their play-off prospects with three fixtures remaining. 

Substitute Darren Stephenson’s strike 16 minutes from time eventually proved enough to secure three points.

County took to the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but showing four changes from the side that had started at Kidderminster Harriers four days earlier.

The first attempt on goal came after only three minutes from former Hatter John Marsden, whose shot was fired straight at Ian Ormson.

While the Hatters generally enjoyed more possession, they showed little sign of a cutting edge until just before the half-hour mark, when Turnbull and Dan Cowan combined in a good move to pick out Matty Warburton, whose right-footed, deflected shot was held by visiting goalkeeper Ben Wilson.

Paul Turnbull in the thick of the action for County
Paul Turnbull in the thick of the action for County (www.mphotographic.co.uk)

Following that, Jimmy Ball fired one effort wide and another high, before Jamie Stott connected with a corner to head beyond the left upright, and, on the stroke of half-time, Jason Oswell nodded over a Cowan cross from the right.

Proceedings hardly improved after the break as relegation-threatened Telford appeared content to settle for a point, although, with 69 minutes played, the visitors almost benefited from an Ormson clearance that struck Marsden before Smalley cleared the danger.

Stephenson, six minutes after his introduction, was perfectly placed on the edge of Telford’s six-yard box to receive a cross by Warburton from the right.

Two touches by the substitute, together with a slip by Wilson, later, and the ball was in the back of the Railway End net to break the deadlock and give County the lead.

Stephenson looked to return the favour to Warburton three minutes later, after crossing from the left byline only for County’s number 10 to blast over from 12 yards out.

And further, subsequent good work on the same flank by the substitute found Ball, whose shot was caught by Wilson.

Darren Stephenson strikes for County
Darren Stephenson strikes for County (www.mphotographic.co.uk)

The Bucks made attacking substitutions of their own, with a view to getting back on terms.

And the changes looked in danger of working against County, as Telford forced two late corners, before O’Halloran threw himself in the way of a shot from swashbuckling visiting captain Shane Sutton, Ormson superbly blocked an effort when Connor Johnson was through on goal, and Jonathan Royce fired narrowly wide of the left post.

But the Hatters held on – cementing further their hold on fifth place, as they prepare next to venture up into Lancashire to play-off rivals Chorley, who now sit one position below.

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