SALFORD CITY 1, STOCKPORT COUNTY 3
A Paddy Madden hat-trick saw Stockport County make the most of a brief midweek break from League Two action, to win their second of three group-stage matches in the Papa John’s Trophy at Salford.
Having fallen behind just a couple of minutes in, a much-changed County team equalised courtesy of a mid-first-half penalty from the captain, and he then netted twice more after the break to secure victory.
The Hatters took to the field on a balmy evening and showed 10 changes following their most recent league match with only Akil Wright being retained from the League Two line-up that had started at Edgeley Park against Doncaster three days earlier.
Six of the seven substitutes on that occasion – excluding Joel Cotterill, on international duty with the Welsh Under-21 squad – were, however, named among the starters, whilst Academy defender Ellis Farrar was handed his competitive senior debut as a Hatter.
The hosts, who themselves had made eight changes to their side following the weekend, not only created the night’s first chance but also took the lead with it. After only two minutes, they broke from just inside the County half before Junior Luamba, on the right, crossed for Marcus Dackers to convert his inaugural Salford goal past Jordan Smith from close range.
Dackers tested Smith again half a dozen minutes later with a low shot from outside the box that the Hatters’ goalkeeper dived to smother before Smith’s opposite number Joe Wright did well to parry beyond the far post a header by Aston Mee who had connected with Josh Popoola’s delivery from the left.
Just on the 20-minute mark, the Hatters were back on level terms after being awarded a penalty when Popoola was brought down by Tosin Olopade. Madden stepped up calmly to stroke the spot-kick home to (as it were) Wright’s left for his third goal of the campaign in all competitions, divided equally between League Two, the League Cup and now the EFL Trophy.
Wright was forced to save from the County skipper a couple of minutes later, after Madden had been played through on goal by Mee – and shortly ahead of the half-hour, Kyle Wootton’s header narrowly cleared the crossbar, following a Callum Camps corner from the right.
While the Hatters were now enjoying a greater share of possession and chances, the Ammies looked well placed to get their noses back in front when Kelly Nmai nodded on to Djavan Pedro only for the latter to slice a volley wide of the left post.
Another set-piece delivered by Camps, 10 minutes before half-time, saw County go close, as the midfielder’s free-kick on the left found Madden, whose header, from beyond the far upright, was bundled behind by the Salford keeper. And a couple of minutes later, Madden turned provider with a delightful assist that Jayden Richardson headed just over.
As an entertaining half neared its close, Pedro, from the edge of the area, struck a half-volley that flew a fraction too high and wide of the County goal – leaving the tie all-square at the break.
Upon the resumption, County introduced a second debutant of the night to replace the first as former Stoke youngster Taylor McMahon, from the Emerging Talent programme in SK3, was brought on for the injured Farrar on the left side of defence.
Stevie Mallan stung Smith’s hands with a well-struck free-kick from the edge of the ‘D’ shortly after the re-start but, five minutes later, Madden bagged his second to put the Hatters in front, after latching on to Mee’s excellent through-ball and slotting in from the right side of goal.
The Hatters looked to extend their advantage, as Madden fired narrowly over, and Camps sent an overhead kick just beyond the right post – before Madden ran on to Richardson’s lofted ball to go successfully one-on-one with Wright and complete his treble for the night.
The scorers were not, in the event, to be troubled further, although Wright saved point-blank shots in quick succession from substitute Kingston Fligg, and from Madden, who saw a subsequent effort blocked by Ryan Watson. And Alfie Henderson, having connected with a cross from the left by fellow home substitute, Kyrell Malcolm, fired wide of the near post at the other end.
The Hatters, now with four points to their name in the competition, will host Bolton in mid- November for their remaining group game.
Goals: Dackers (2) for Salford City. Madden (20pen, 51, 67) for Stockport County.
Stockport County (3-5-2): Smith; A. Wright, Pond, Farrar (McMahon 46); Richardson, Mee (Fligg 64), C Johnson, Camps, Popoola; Wootton (Partington 64), Madden. Subs (unused): Jones, Kenny.
Attendance: 1,355 (653 visitors).