Stockport County 2, Harrogate Town 2: Oswell double sees Hatters fight back for draw

Jason Oswell Stockport County
Jason Oswell (M Photographic)

Stockport County hit back with two second-half goals to grab a point against full-timers Harrogate Town.

Jason Oswell scored twice after the interval after visiting captain Simon Ainge had scored twice within six first-half minutes for the Sulphurites.

County took to the field with one enforced change from the starting line-up against Curzon Ashton  four days earlier.

Darren Stephenson was ruled out after picking up a knock to his ankle in that match, so Sam Walker was handed his first start within a 3-5-2 formation.

Harrogate arrived at Edgeley Park as league leaders – having won twice without conceding – and with the chance to start a campaign with three straight victories for the first time in ten years.

A first declaration of the visitors’ attacking intent was sounded after four minutes by former FC United midfielder George Thomson, who drilled a low drive narrowly wide of County’s right post.

Matty Warburton had two shots deflected past the right post for corners in as many minutes – while Ainge wriggled into the County box and fired at Ben Hinchliffe, before, four minutes later, teeing up Thomson who blasted over from the edge of the box.

The visitors opened their account as Joe Leesley, on the left, sent over a crossfield delivery that Ainge finished with a sweet, right-footed volley past Hinchliffe.

Jason Oswell Stockport County goal
County celebrates Jason Oswell’s goal (M Photographic)

Having already maintained his record of scoring in every match since the season’s start, Ainge doubled his and Harrogate’s tally a minute before the half-hour when he rose at the back post to head home another cross from the left – on this occasion by Ben Parker.

Jim Gannon opted to make an early change, bringing on Ben McKenna for Walker 10 minutes ahead of the break, but the Hatters made little further headway before half-time as they set about seeking to address their deficit.

The Hatters re-emerged with a greater sense of purpose that saw them go close five minutes after the interval, when Connor Hampson’s in-swinging corner from the right just failed to attract a final touch.

But two minutes later, they had succeeded in halving the arrears. Harry Winter broke forward from midfield, before finding Sam Minihan on the right – whose cross was bundled in by Oswell for his second goal of the season.

With County back in the contest, the pressure on Harrogate at the Railway End intensified. Oswell shot over from outside the box – before going rather closer, following a corner on the right, with a header that was just shy of the near upright.

Nineteen minutes from time, the Hatters got the equaliser their reinvigorated efforts deserved. Oswell fed Minihan, whose shot was parried by Town goalkeeper James Belshaw for Oswell to bury on the rebound.

Harrogate, duly stirred, went in search of a goal to restore the lost lead, but the County defence stood firm – with Chris Smalley breaking up an attack by Dominic Knowles, and Hinchliffe tipping around the right post a close-range attempt from Ryan Fallowfield.

FULL-TIME: County 2 (Oswell 53, 71), Harrogate 2 (Ainge 23, 29)
County: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Hampson (Duxbury, 84), Winter (Capt.), Clarke, Smalley, Minihan, Ball, Oswell, Warburton (West, 90 + 2), Walker (McKenna, 35). Unused Subs: Smith, Brazel.
Booked: Winter
Man of the Match: Minihan
Attendance: 3,107 (91 away)

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