CREWE ALEXANDRA 0, STOCKPORT COUNTY 2
Stockport County made it a ‘perfect 10’ by extending their winning run into double figures for all competitions, with a two-goal victory at near-neighbours and fellow promotion chasers Crewe.
With chances at a premium for most of the evening, Kyle Wootton, on as a first-half substitute for the injured Louie Barry, put County in front midway through the second period, before leading marksman Tanto Olaofe doubled the advantage late on, to maintain County’s two-point lead at the top of the table and enjoy a first Football League triumph at Gresty Road for 15 years.
Roared on by 2,000-plus travelling supporters on the sold-out away side, the Hatters took to the field in CW2 under the lights, as well as clear autumnal skies, and with the same starting line-up as they had put out for their last five League Two fixtures. The substitutes also remained identical to those named at Edgeley Park against Grimsby three days earlier.
The hosts, in third place at the start of play, and second only to County in terms of form over their last six League Two matches, included on their bench winger and ex-Hatter Aaron Rowe – on loan from Huddersfield, as he had been at EP for much of the second half of the previous season.
With six minutes played, Crewe launched the evening’s first attack of note culminating in a low cross from the left by top scorer Chris Long. But the danger was cleared by Antoni Sarcevic, who had briefly plied his trade for the Railwaymen as a teenager during 2010/11.
A dozen minutes later, Jack Powell’s delivery from the right found Rio Adebisi who glanced a header beyond the far post but County’s night took a more worrying turn, when that of Barry came to a premature end on the left flank of the pitch around the first half’s mid-point, after he pulled up in agony whilst on a trademark dash and had to be stretchered off.
Just past the half-hour mark, Sarcevic drilled wide of the left upright by way of a first County attempt on the night. And, four minutes ahead of the break, Olaofe registered the Hatters’ and, indeed, the contest’s inaugural effort on target which home goalkeeper Harvey Davies dived to smother.
Five minutes following the resumption, Olaofe bore down on goal after latching on to a flick by Will Collar only for Davies to stand tall and deflect beyond the left post. And Odin Bailey tried his luck shortly afterwards with a volley from just inside the area that fizzed past the opposite upright.
The Hatters were looking the more likely side to break the deadlock and so they did half a dozen minutes after the hour when a quickly-taken short corner on the left by Sarcevic to Bailey led to the latter’s cross for Wootton to head home from close range.
The hosts, hitherto unbeaten at Gresty Road, looked to get back on level terms by introducing Elliott Nevitt to pep up their attack, and the substitute almost immediately got himself on the end of an Adebisi cross from the left, before heading high and wide of goal. At the other end, Olaofe again went close by volleying over a delivery from the right by Macauley Southam-Hales.
But, with two minutes remaining, Olaofe made the game safe burying the ball past Davies for his 10th league goal after Wootton had won possession and squared to his left.
Goals: Wootton (66), Olaofe (88) for Stockport County.
Stockport County (4-1-2-1-2): Hinchliffe; Southam-Hales, Wright, Horsfall, Pye; Croasdale; Sarcevic (Hippolyte 87), Bailey (Knoyle 73); Collar; Olaofe, Barry (Wootton 24). Subs (unused): Smith, Madden, Pond, Richardson.
Attendance: 6,634 (2,141 visitors).
Report: Gareth Evans.