STOCKPORT COUNTY 0, HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 4
Stockport County’s opening home friendly in a trilogy of meetings with Championship opposition saw them suffer their first defeat of the summer against Huddersfield Town.
Two goals in each half for the visitors ended a four-match unbeaten start in pre-season for County, who had a couple from Paddy Madden chalked off after the skipper was flagged offside.
County took to the field at Edgeley Park on a damp afternoon that had followed a morning of heavy rain showing five changes from the starting line-up at Chester four days earlier with Ryan Croasdale, Ben Hinchliffe, Fraser Horsfall, Madden and Ryan Rydel all featuring from the outset on this occasion.
Huddersfield also began proceedings with a strong team, albeit not one including injured former Hatter Ben Jackson who had spent two spells in SK3 on loan from the Terriers during 2019/20.
With the original plan to stage the game in four half-hour quarters having been abandoned at the request of the visitors, proceedings went ahead under the standard 90-minute format.
The inaugural chance of the conventional first half saw Huddersfield take an early lead as Danny Ward’s low, curling, left-footed strike from the edge of the box fizzed into the bottom-left corner.
Three minutes later, the Hatters also had the ball in the net with Madden latching on to Nick Powell’s defence-splitting pass, before chipping home only for their effort to be ruled out for offside.
Powell then went close himself, courtesy of a header that cleared the crossbar, following a cross by Macauley Southam-Hales from the right and, at the other end, Josh Koroma cut in from the left, before unleashing a shot on to the roof of County’s net.
Just after the half-hour, the Hatters had a let-off when Koroma was played through on goal, but fired wide of the right post. Alas for County, though, a repeat of the scenario moments later saw the same forward make no mistake, as he buried the ball inside of the opposite upright to double the visitors’ advantage before the break.
A corner for the Hatters in the second minute following the resumption presented them with an early second-half opportunity to reduce the deficit, but Horsfall volleyed over from close range after connecting with Rydel’s delivery from the right.
A couple of minutes prior to the hour, Madden had a second goal of the afternoon disallowed. The flag was raised against him after he had headed in at a tight angle Ibou Touray’s cross from the left.
Shortly afterwards, the prospect of a single-goal difference had turned into a three-goal margin, as Jack Rudoni was played through by David Kasumu and calmly slotted past Hinchliffe.
Both sides made wholesale changes thereafter with County’s coming in two batches within seven minutes of each other. The visitors, meanwhile, who had replaced 10 of their starters, continued to press as substitutes Kian Harratt and Scott High had respective shots deflected past the right post and caught by Jordan Smith.
Then, with a dozen minutes left, they earned a fourth goal – and in not dissimilar style to their third, as recently-introduced, towering striker Kyle Hudlin raced on to Brahima Diarra’s through-ball before converting.
Goals: Ward (3), Koroma (33), Rudoni (61) and Hudlin (78) for Huddersfield Town.
Stockport County (3-5-2): Hinchliffe (Smith 69); Knoyle (Partington 69), Horsfall (Byrne 62), Touray (Pye 69); Southam-Hales (Wright 62), Camps (Mee 69), Sarcevic (Evans 62), Croasdale (Triallist 62), Rydel (Triallist 69); Powell (Crankshaw 62), Madden (Olaofe 62). Sub (unused): Ross.
Attendance: 2,723 (941 visitors).
Report: Gareth Evans.