Monday, 24 July 2017

22/07/17 Review: Stockport County vs Macclesfield Town

Stockport County 5-2 Macclesfield Town (Pre-season Friendly)
Edgeley Park

Now that pre-season is up and running, it was that time again when I'd meet up with my Silkmen bro Will to head out to a Macclesfield Town away day. In 2016/17 we had gone through to Leek and Nantwich to see Friendly victories and we were hopeful of seeing a good outing against local rivals Stockport County- I'd predicted a 2-1 victory for the away side today. We got the day up and running when Will arrived at 12ish by heading off to the train station and after the 30 minute journey packed with Stag and Hen parties going off to Manchester, we jumped off and hunted down the first of many pre-match pubs.

Another town, another ground
We went to a few very interesting pubs on our walk to Edgeley Park, to say the least. The Armoury was our first stop and we enjoyed the company of fellow Macc fans as well as a few County folk too- which I always love to see. Things took a turn for the worse in The Jolly Crofter, as we entered to some funny looks from locals who seemed somewhat offended by the red Macc top I was sporting. One man in a County top even took the effort to down his pint before grunting as he made a swift exit. We quickly supped up and left for our final pub before the match, this time at The Pineapple. To call this bar a rough-and-ready kind of place is an understatement and we soon realised that we were in a memorable part of the world. One local, who'd smashed two pints of John Smith's whilst we'd been there, kept telling us that the great thing about The Pineapple is that "you get what you get" and we weren't arguing. With a round costing me £2.60, yup, we really couldn't give a hoot about the crumbling walls, rusty freezer in the hallway or bucket under the sink in the toilets- we were there to drink.

Unlike the chap from The Jolly Crofter who couldn't bare our presence
With the clock now reading 2:45pm we thought it would be best to wander over to Edgeley Park in time for the big kick-off. I was feeling optimistic for the afternoon ahead after seeing the new look Macc side defeat a strong Bury outfit on Tuesday, but Stockport would provide a whole new type of challenge in what would prove to be a game of two halves. Edgeley Park is a massive 11,000 all-seater stadium that in my opinion is too good to be sitting in the realms of the sixth tier of English football. Having been County's home for over 100 years, Edgeley Park has been a significant point on the sporting map after hosting the once Division One side as well as being a temporary home for Sale Sharks Rugby Union Club and even the host ground for a Lacrosse World Cup in the 70's. Nowadays it is listed as a Stockport Council asset and gathers rather less in the way of attendance, but nevertheless it is still an amazing ground for this level and I was glad to be finally making the visit. The game itself got off to a good start for Macc as they looked to build early momentum in front of goal. Just 4 minutes into the match and we were cheering as former Dover Athletic forward Tyrone Marsh headed home past Ben Hinchliffe, a nice goal all-round after a great cross from Jared Hodgkiss who had been impressive in Tuesday's win. Stockport 0-1 Macc. This set the tone for a goal-filled afternoon and for the next few minutes the fans were treated to some end-to-end action that almost saw both sides score. Durrell, Marsh and Wilson were all looking threatening for the Silkmen and at the other end Stockport's two forwards, Oswell and Warburton, were looking likely to get amongst the goals- and it was the latter who would equalise on 12 minutes. Macc had gone close themselves as winger Elliott Durrell had a shot on target, but from a quickfire break County soon got the ball into the feet of Matt Warburton and he darted into the box before wrong-footing Shwan Jalal to hit home the equaliser. Stockport 1-1 Macc.

All action so far at Edgeley
With not even 20 minutes on the clock we had already witnessed a couple of decent goals, but the best was yet to come and the third goal was a particularly nice finish. On Tuesday night I had the privileged of seeing Scott Wilson hammer home a beautiful winning goal against League One Bury and when he picked up the ball from Courtney Richards he had just one thought. The midfield maestro took a touch to set himself up before curling a perfectly-placed hit into the corner of the goal. Stockport 1-2 Macc. The rest of the first-half continued to entertain us, with Macc going close through Wilson, Baba and Marsh again, whilst at the other end Oswell was looking dangerous. He was denied by a great Jalal save after thumping a close-range header towards the Iraq international keeper. At half-time it remained 2-1 to the visitors and we had been left happy with some of the attacking displays of the new lads.

Time for a celebratory Hot Dog
With no chance of a half-time beer in the ground, we settled with a hot dog and a brew before heading back in to have a natter with a couple of fans. As with us, the general consensus was that the new-look Silkmen squad looked fresh and full of attacking ideas- this would not last into the second 45!
Let the second-half commence
Five Subs came on for Macc and the much changed line-up would prove to be lacking in terms of belief and sharpness as Stockport turned on the style for a goal-glut of a second-half. Just 4 minutes in and County were cheering an equaliser as Jason Oswell got the touch from a well-worked corner. Stockport 2-2 Macc. As with the opening to the last half, this one was goal-filled too and as Ryan Lloyd almost restored Macc's lead at one end it was Warburton who added to his tally for the day at the other end with another nice finish- the number 10 was in fine-form and this would not be his last effort on target against a now lacklustre defence. Stockport 3-2 Macc. Now coming up to the hour-mark and Stockport were at it again. A corner was this time finished off again by Oswell as he joined Warburton on two goals for the day- more poor defending was not helped by the second-half goalkeeper Alex Gogic on this occasion. Stockport 4-2 Macc. And when the going is tough, quite often the morale goes completely down the pan and in this instance County were gifted the chance to extend their lead further as former Manchester City and Motherwell centre-back new boy Kieran Kennedy got himself in an unfortunate muddle that resulted in him bundling a man in blue to the ground and offering them a spot kick. The lethal Warburton dispatched for his hat-trick and that would be the end of the goals on this on this sunny afternoon. Stockport 5-2 Macc.

Macc's only hope was for a storm to call it off
I know that this particular entry has read as a fairly condemning second-half from a Macc Town point of view, but when all is said and done I actually look back at this outing as a positive one for the Silkmen. We started the game with a strong XI that lead at the break and with only four players remaining in the squad from last season, it was all-in-all a very useful match for John Askey to learn a bit more about our strengths and weaknesses. For County though, who finished just a point outside of the Playoffs last season, this one will have proved to be a confidence boost ahead of their season in the National League North. With over 1,100 here this afternoon, the people of Stockport will have left with a big grin on their faces and we were more than happy to join them out in the town afterwards- I mean, it was just a friendly after all?

Game over, back to the pubs
We ended up back in The Armoury with some die-hard Stockport fans and having exchanged some great stories Will even swapped phone numbers with one lad and I'm more than sure that our paths will cross again. Here's to the next one!

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