Stockport County 3, Curzon Ashton 1: Lloyd doubles up for the Hatters

Jimmy Ball scores Stockport County's third (M Photographic)
Jimmy Ball opened the scoring at Cheadle Heath Nomads (M Photographic)

Stockport County turned on the style at Edgeley Park, where a first-half brace for Danny Lloyd and a goal shortly after the break by Jimmy Ball added up to a comfortable victory over Curzon Ashton.

The Hatters took to the field for the third successive weekend in a 3-4-1-2 formation, but showing two changes from the starting line-up against Chorley the previous Saturday.

Ian Ormson donned the goalkeeping gloves in place of Ben Hinchliffe, while newly signed midfielder from FC United, Harry Winter, was handed an immediate debut, coming in for John Marsden.

County got off to a perfect start after just five minutes. A long clearance against his former club by Connor Hampson was flicked on by Sefton Gonzales – albeit in the direct of Oliver Thornley.

But the visiting defender’s header back to goalkeeper Hakan Burton fell short – leaving Lloyd to dart in, intercept on the bounce and flick home.

The Nash proceeded to go close on two occasions. Michael Clarke performed defensive wonders after 13 minutes to block Ryan Hall’s effort, after Hall had seized upon a misplaced Mark Ross touch and rounded Ormson.

And, eight minutes ahead of half-time, Danny Shaw cut in from the left, before firing against the Cheadle End crossbar.

It proved a critical intervention by the woodwork. Just five minutes later, Lloyd doubled his and County’s tallies – firing past Burton for a 23rd goal of the season, after a Ross throw had been flicked on by Gonzales and, subsequently, Ball.

Three-goal lead

The early stages of the second half favoured County in much the same way as those of the first had done – as, just over 10 minutes after the resumption, the Hatters had a three-goal lead.

Winter, enjoying an impressive first outing, found Lloyd on the left with an exquisitely lofted cross-field pass from his own half, and the leading scorer then turned provider – dancing past Thornley and dragging back to feed Ball, whose shot from 12 yards out went in off the bar for Ball’s eighth County goal in all competitions.

Substitute Kaine Felix came close to adding a fourth for County with nine minutes left, after being played through by Ball and weaving in from the right past Burton – only to see his shot cleared by Jamie Stott.

The visitors had barely tested Ormson all afternoon – but he did have to retrieve the ball from the back of his net after 89 minutes, after Matty Warburton had fired in a penalty, awarded following a trip by Hampson on substitute Tyrell McKenzie.

The win – and County’s third ‘double’ during the current campaign (the other two of which have similarly come against near-neighbours, in Altrincham and Stalybridge) – sees the Hatters once more in sixth place, but only out of the play-off positions on goal difference.

Stockport County: Ormson, Ross (capt), Hampson, Montrose, Clarke, Smalley, Minihan, Winter, Gonzales (Felix, 63), Ball, Lloyd (Duxbury, 66). Unused Subs: Smith, Marsden, Odejayi.
Booked: Clarke
Man of the Match: Winter
Attendance: 3,495 (54 away)