Stockport Town claimed derby day victory as they overcame rivals Cheadle Town 1-0 at Park Road last Saturday thanks to a Nathan Neequaye strike.
This local derby fully lived up to expectations in the North West Counties Football League, including six yellow cards, a red card, an outfield player in goal and a penalty in the 90th minute.
The Lions also took a 2-1 lead in the head-to-head record this season having already defeated Cheadle in the Men United Cup 2-1 last year. Cheadle edged a 5-3 encounter last October in the league at Stockport Sports Village.
The match sprung into life in the first minute as Neequaye beat the offside trap as he was played through by Adam Kay, but the Lions’ top-scorer lifted his powerful shot over Thomas Elford’s bar.
The pitch at Park Road became increasing difficult for both sides as the ball bobbled around and players lost their footing all over the pitch.
Cheadle’s Chris Sherrington escaped a nasty injury just four minutes in after his studs became caught in the turf midway through a tackle, which saw his knee slam into the ground, thankfully he was able to run it off.
The home side went close 10 minutes in as Liam Tongue dragged his shot wide of Jacob Luty’s post after he was played in by Richard Whyatt.
Sherrington then went close at the near post but Luty did well to palm his shot past the post. From the resulting corner Whyatt missed a glorious chance from six yards out as he scuffed his shot allowing Luty to collect easily.
After a period from pressure from Cheadle, it was Stockport who took the lead through Neequaye, thanks to bit of misfortune in the home defence.
Neequaye found the ball at his feet following another Kay through ball, and after the Cheadle defender failed to clear effectively, he struck the ball past Elford to put his side in front.
Andy Graham had the chance to double the Lions’ lead just before the break but his half volley attempt flew straight over the woodwork.
Just minutes into the second half Ruben Abreu broke through Cheadle’s defence only for the ball to get caught up in the pitch and then under his feet, allowing time for home defence to recover and clear.
Cheadle then missed two glorious efforts as Whyatt went close with a glancing header before James Horan was blessed with an open goal from 40 yards out after Luty’s miskick, however the midfielder skewed his long range effort wide.
The home side were dealt another blow after Elford was unable to continue following a challenge between himself and Neequaye. Tongue was the man selected to fill in between the sticks for the final 30 minutes.
Neequaye almost grabbed his second in the 70th minute but he skied his effort over the bar following Luke Podmore’s cross.
The match went from bad to worse for Cheadle as they were then reduced to 10 men after Luke Hincks was shown a straight red card for a professional foul on halfway.
Tongue was called into action with just two minutes to go and pulled off a magnificent save following Kay’s piledriver, which looked destined for the top corner.
Cheadle’s late pressure then paid off for them as they were awarded a penalty on the brink of injury time as the referee blew for a foul during a goal-mouth scramble.
Luke Pearson was the man who stepped forward to take the spot-kick but Luty was not to be beaten on this day as he tipped the shot round the post as it looked to settle in the bottom corner.
Stockport substitute Malam Varela then tried to put the game to bed in added time but his curled effort was saved well by Tongue again. The Lions saw out the final minutes of the game, much to the delight of the players and the away bench.
The victory sees Stockport close the gap on Division One leaders Barnton to just two points, as well as creating a four point gap between themselves and Holker Old Boys in fourth.
Sykes’ men take a break from league action as they head to Rochdale Town this Saturday in the quarter-final of the Reusch First Divison Cup, kick off 3pm at Mayfield Sports Centre.