SALFORD CITY 0, STOCKPORT COUNTY 2
Stockport County made it back-to-back away victories with a first-ever win at promotion-chasing Salford City.
After their triumph at high-flying Bradford City on their last away day, this was another statement as the Hatters are beginning to inch their way up League Two.
Will Collar netted his first goal of the season on the stroke of half-time before captain Paddy Madden, with 13 minutes remaining, scored in a fourth consecutive league game to make doubly sure of the victory.
County took to the field on a mild and sunny autumn afternoon, showing three changes from the most recent league starting line-up at Edgeley Park against Grimsby a week earlier.
James Brown, Calum MacDonald and Akil Wright, all of whom had featured in the midweek EFL Trophy-tie at home to Shrewsbury, were the players recalled, replacing the suspended Callum Camps, as well as Ryan Johnson and Antoni Sarcevic who were both named among the substitutes.
Straight from kick-off, the hosts launched the afternoon’s first attempt in the general direction of goal, although Callum Hendry’s shot was blasted high and wide at the end housing a sell-out County following.
The Hatters launched their inaugural attack of note just before the 10-minute mark, when Madden fed the ball out to Brown, whose dangerous cross from the right was headed beyond the far post by Theo Vassell.
A break by Salford shortly afterwards saw Luke Bolton drill narrowly wide of the left upright. And, at the other end, crosses from the right by Collar and Brown found MacDonald and Myles Hippolyte who sent respective volleys wide of the near post and into the arms of home goalkeeper Tom King.
With a dozen minutes of the half remaining, Bolton, to the right of goal, dinked the ball past goalkeeper Vit Jaros. Brown cleared the immediate danger, but Jaros had picked up a knock in the process, and, despite a lengthy spell of treatment, was replaced between the sticks by Ben Hinchliffe.
There followed five minutes of added time, during which County took the lead with Kyle Wootton flicking on to Hippolyte whose angled shot from the left was parried into the air by King for Collar to bundle home from close range.
Hinchliffe, who had seen relatively limited action immediately following his introduction, needed to be at his best three minutes after the restart when Elliot Simoes cut through on the right and unleashed a low shot that the substitute keeper dived to parry.
Simoes and Hinchliffe were then involved in a little further drama, when the former’s header was caught in mid-air by the latter who, on landing, carried the ball over the line but, fortunately (and rightly) for County, the goal was disallowed for a foul on Hinchliffe by Hendry.
Ethan Galbraith and Hendry then fired shots that cleared the County crossbar, as the hosts continued to apply some early second-half pressure and, following the hour, Bolton fizzed one past the right post from outside the area, before crossing from the right for substitute Matt Smith, who headed over.
Despite much of the play being in the Hatters’ half, they did fashion a break with fewer than 20 minutes left, as Wootton fed Collar although the goal-scorer blasted wide of the right post. And shortly afterwards, Hippolyte hit a well-struck shot that was deflected behind by Ryan Leak.
County then built upon this promising spell to double the advantage in the 77th minute following good work on the right by Collar and, subsequently, Wootton who squared for Madden to slot past King and into the bottom-right corner of the net.
The remainder of the contest was completed without further incident, as the happy Hatters secured on the road their second triumph and clean sheet in a row.
Goals: Collar (45+3), Madden (77) for Stockport County.
Stockport County (3-5-2): Jaros (Hinchliffe 37); Wright, Horsfall, Hussey; Brown, Collar, Croasdale, Hippolyte, MacDonald (R Johnson 59); Wooton, Madden. Subs (unused): Palmer, Sarcevic, Crankshaw, Newby, Jennings.
Attendance: 3,633 (1,285 visitors).
Report: Gareth Evans.