STOCKPORT COUNTY 1, CHESHUNT 0
Stockport County’s FA Trophy campaign continued with a single-goal victory against Cheshunt of the Isthmian League, premier division, to put them in the quarter-final draw.
The inaugural meeting between the two clubs, separated by a couple of non-league tiers, saw Myles Hippolyte register his first goal as a Hatter on the hour and book a place in the last eight, despite having Ethan Ross sent off late on.
The Hatters took to the field on a wet and windy afternoon showing nine changes from the midweek starting line-up against Chesterfield – with only Hippolyte and Liam Hogan featuring at kick-off for a second time in four days.
Sam Minihan took the captain’s armband on his 200th appearance for County while 16-year old academy midfielder Cody Johnson was handed a first senior start, and Ben Whitfield, named among the substitutes, made his return to the squad following a three-month lay-off because of a stress fracture in the foot.
With under two minutes gone, County went close through Ollie Crankshaw, whose half-volley following good work on the right by Minihan and Alex Reid, was deflected just beyond the near post.
The ‘Ambers’, competing in the Trophy’s fifth round for the first time, had their first opportunity a couple of minutes later, when St Kitts and Nevis international Rowan Liburd was played through on goal only to see his effort blocked by Ross and put behind for a corner.
Hippolyte was the next Hatter to try his luck when, with his back to goal, he unleashed an overhead kick that cleared the crossbar. And, shortly afterwards, Ross was again called into action at the other end parrying another shot from Liburd.
County pressed as the first half approached its midway point with Connor Jennings striking the left upright, and Reid heading over from a Minihan delivery on the right, before Crankshaw cut in from the right to force visiting goalkeeper George Marsh into making his first save of the day.
The services of Marsh were soon required again, as he parried around the right post a low shot from Jennings. And his opposite number Ross, with seven minutes of the half remaining, safely gathered up an effort by Reece Beckles-Richards on the right.
As half-time approached, Hippolyte was denied twice in quick succession, seeing his first well-struck shot headed clear and his second kept out by Marsh with Reid going close to turning in the rebound.
Whitfield was introduced upon the resumption for a welcome return and within three minutes he had set his sights on goal with a snapshot over the Railway End bar, before unleashing another effort that stung the hands of Marsh.
With the hour drawing near, Reid looked for all the world to have broken the deadlock only to see his goal-bound shot cleared off the line by Adam Crowther. But a minute later Hippolyte made the breakthrough rifling past Marsh from 12 yards after the ball had been flicked on by Whitfield.
Whitfield continued his lively cameo by firing another shot at Marsh, before Crankshaw spooned an effort over, and Liburd and Taiwo Ojo both cleared the bar at the Cheadle End.
With 12 minutes left, Jennings had the ball in the net after chipping Marsh, but the goal was ruled out for offside. And five minutes later, the Hatters were down to 10 men when Ross handled the ball in the County ‘D’, thereby becoming the third player to receive a straight red card in as many February games at Edgeley Park.
With only two substitutes used by County at that stage, Ben Hinchliffe was brought on to watch the resulting free kick from Liburd sail over the bar. And he and the nine outfield players proceeded to see out the remaining minutes without further incident.
Stockport County (3-5-2): Ross; Keane, Hogan, Kitching; Minihan, Crankshaw (Hinchliffe 85), C Johnson, Hippolyte, Edwards (Whitfield 46); Jennings, Reid (Alli 61). Subs (unused): Holding, Barugh.
Goal: Hippolyte (60) for Stockport.
Attendance: 3,340 (224 visitors).
Report: Gareth Evans.