Stockport County 1-1 Guiseley: Walker free-kick earns Hatters a point

Stockport County had to come from behind in midweek to earn their first draw of the National League North season.

Sam Walker’s equalising free-kick on the hour earned a point after the visitors had taken a first-half lead through former Hatter Kaine Felix.

The Hatters took to the field in a 3-4-1-2 formation and showing two changes from their starting line-up at Southport three days earlier.

Centre-halves Ash Palmer and Chris Smalley had both picked up knocks so young defender Jordan Downing was selected for a first full league start, while on-loan left-back Josh Askew made his debut in a County shirt.

County got off to a bright start, initiating a series of good attacking moves that used the full width of the pitch, but without initially presenting an undue threat in the final third. 

Josh Askew, Stockport County
Loanee Josh Askew in action for County (www.mphotographic.co.uk)

This pressure came close to paying off after 18 minutes when Walker slid in from beyond the far post to volley Matty Warburton’s cross on the right but the effort flew narrowly over.

Within another four minutes, and against the run of play, Guiseley went ahead with a pair of ex-County players each making a key contribution.

Kay Odejayi took two defenders with him to the left flank before delivering a cross that Felix turned and converted from close range following a lay-off by Curtis Morrison.

The Hatters tried to wrest back control as half-time approached, but were off target with headed efforts from Sam Minihan and Frank Mulhern.

County re-emerged after the break without any changes in personnel but having switched to a four-man defence.

And the Hatters also took the early second-half attacking initiative with Guiseley owing a double debt of gratitude to defender Cliff Moyo for twice thwarting Darren Stephenson, who, on the second occasion, had delightfully chipped goalkeeper Jon Worsnop.

The Lions, for their part, were not lacking in chances at the other end as Hinchliffe was forced to parry Morrison’s first-time shot on the left and Jordan Keane cleared off the line an Odejayi delivery from the opposite flank.

Sam Walker, Stockport County
County celebrate Sam Walker’s equaliser (www.mphotographic.co.uk)

But cometh the hour, cometh the man. With 60 minutes played, Walker struck his free-kick from just outside the box that curled past Worsnop and into the bottom-left corner to draw County level.

Just as Guiseley had been galvanised by scoring earlier, so, too, now were the Hatters. Warburton saw a free-kick from further out palmed away by Worsnop, before firing another effort just over.

And Askew grazed the outside of the left post with a shot that followed some neat inter-play between Warburton and substitute Connor Dimaio.

Felix almost won the game six minutes from time with a shot from the edge of the box that Hinchliffe tipped over to keep honours even.

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