STOCKPORT COUNTY 1, BOREHAM WOOD 2
Stockport County saw their lead at the top of the National League cut to a single point following a first defeat at Edgeley Park in more than six months.
It was a third loss in the last four league games to leave the Hatters suddenly looking nervously over their shoulders with second-placed Wrexham in hot pursuit.
A goal in each half for Boreham Wood prevented County from chalking up a 10th straight home win in all competitions, having taken to the field for a kick-off put back to teatime to accommodate live television coverage, and despite a late goal from Elliot Newby that reduced the arrears.
The Hatters showed three changes from the line-up that lost at Yeovil a week earlier with Myles Hippolyte, Connor Jennings and Newby replacing Andy Cannon and Scott Quigley, both of whom were named among the County substitutes, as well as the suspended Will Collar.
One player forming a third of a very small group of Hatters to have previously turned out for the ‘Wood’, Ryan Johnson featured in the County 11. (The others members of the select trio, incidentally, are fellow current Hatter Zaine Francis-Angol and Adriano Moké, now at Darlington).
And Luca and Taye Ashby-Hammond probably created some kind of footballing history as they took their places on opposing benches, as both brothers were the replacement goalkeepers.
County created the game’s first chance within the opening minute when Sam Minihan’s cross from the right found Paddy Madden whose shot was on target but held by visiting ‘keeper and captain Nathan Ashmore.
Three corners inside the first quarter of an hour followed for the Hatters before their next opportunity again featured Madden who headed over Hippolyte’s cross. And at the other end, a break by the visitors was snuffed out as Ash Palmer dispossessed Dennon Lewis.
Another of Madden’s headers cleared the crossbar after he had connected with a cross by Ryan Rydel from the left by-line. But the next attack, again pitting Lewis against Palmer, saw the Wood go ahead, as the striker raced clear to slot past Ben Hinchliffe for his first goal of the season.
County looked to strike back immediately through Hippolyte, whose low shot was kept out by the legs of Ashmore. And the ‘keeper came to his side’s rescue again 10 minutes later, tipping Madden’s third header of the day around the near post, after Newby had crossed from the right.
Ryan Croasdale fired high and wide of the right of goal and unleashed another, better-directed attempt in added time that Ashmore dived to smother. Following that, there was still time for Rydel to go close with a free kick – the final touch of the half – which flashed inches past the right post.
Having fashioned County’s last chance of the first half, Rydel also had the first three of the second: half-volleying over, after latching on to Minihan’s cross from the right; drilling an angled shot from the left across the goalmouth and beyond the far post and shooting from distance straight at Ashmore.
The Hatters introduced Cannon and Ollie Crankshaw, by way of a double-substitution before the hour, but shortly after it, the visitors doubled their advantage. Following Jacob Mendy’s corner from the right, Jamal Fyfield saw an initial shot blocked before looping a second attempt into the near corner of the net.
Newby went close with 15 minutes remaining, as his well-struck shot was parried past the left upright by Ashmore. But for all their subsequent possession in the latter stages, the Hatters lacked a cutting edge in the final third until deep into added time, when Newby fired home after Crankshaw’s shot had been only partially cleared.
Following that, unbelievably, they almost secured a point, courtesy of a Hippolyte shot – but to the immense frustration of more than 8,700 of those in attendance, it struck the inside of the right post before rolling along the line to safety.
Stockport County (3-5-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan, Palmer (Cannon 53), Johnson; Minihan, Croasdale (Quigley 66), Newby, Hippolyte, Rydel; Jennings (Crankshaw 53), Madden. Subs (unused): Ashby-Hammond, Keane.
Goals: Newby (90+4) for Stockport. Lewis (24), Fyfield (62) for Boreham Wood.
Attendance: 8,778 (44 visitors).
Report: Gareth Evans