The Hatters maintained their push for the play-offs, and extended their unbeaten league run to 12 matches, by beating near-neighbours FC United in front of a crowd of 5,630 that set a new National League attendance record.
Goals in each half from Elliot Osborne and Scott Duxbury proved enough to secure a deserved win, in spite of a penalty for the ‘Red Rebels’ 16 minutes from time that halved the arrears.
The Hatters took to the field in a 4-3-3 formation, and showing two changes from their starting line-up at Alfreton a week previously.
Recent signing from Curzon Ashton, Connor Hampson, was handed his debut at left-back, and Kaine Felix a first league start since before Christmas, as they replaced Mark Ross and Duxbury who were both named among County’s substitutes.
County dominated much of the first half – with the visitors being restricted to just two off-target attempts from distance – and went especially close just ahead of the half-hour mark, when an unmarked Josh Amis headed a cross by Felix from the right wide of the far post.
But with a minute of the half remaining, Danny Lloyd’s flick to the left found Osborne, who marked the last game of his loan spell from Fleetwood with his first County goal – courtesy of a low drive from six yards – to put the Hatters ahead.
Both sides had cause to be thankful for their goalkeepers after the break, as Dave Carnell saved a Lloyd shot at point-blank range and parried Jimmy Ball’s effort past the right post, while Ben Hinchliffe used his legs to keep out visiting captain Harry Winter.
The Hatters doubled their lead after 70 minutes when a long throw by Sam Minihan was headed on by Ball and then Lloyd, who, with his 18th assist of the season, teed up substitute Duxbury for a shot from seven yards that left Carnell static as it passed over the line to the visiting ‘keeper’s left.
Amis handled in the County area to give the visitors a lifeline, and Wright, who had himself been brought on as a second-half replacement, took it – converting his penalty past Hinchliffe to bring them back into contention.
But the Hatters held on – with the FC United cause in the dying stages not being helped by a straight red card for defender Chris Chantler, after the left-back led with his arm in launching a challenge on Minihan.
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Minihan, Hampson, Montrose, Clarke (Capt.), Smalley, Felix (Duxbury, 64), Osborne, Amis (Gonzales, 78), Ball, Lloyd (Ross, 87). Unused Subs: Ormson, Marsden.
Booked: Ball, Amis.
Man of the Match: Minihan.
Attendance: 5,630 (957 away).