Watch out, Glovers

Stockport Express - - Sport - SAM BYRNE

HAV­ING won back to back Na­tional League North games to move within touch­ing dis­tance of the play-offs, Stock­port County’s fo­cus switches to the FA Cup this week­end.

Satur­day’s long trip to Som­er­set sees County travel to League Two side Yeovil Town in the First Round proper of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Coin­ci­den­tally, the last time The Hat­ters made it past the First Round was un­der the stew­ard­ship of Jim Gan­non back in 2009 – af­ter hold­ing the Glovers to a 1-1 stale­mate at Huish Park be­fore a re­sound­ing 5-0 win at Edge­ley Park in the re­play.

And, af­ter some ini­tial trep­i­da­tion at the draw given the two di­vi­sion gap be­tween the two clubs, Gan­non now be­lieves County are look­ing to­wards the tie with “real hope” of a re­sult.

“There’ll be as much pres­sure on the Yeovil game as there has been on the Chor­ley and Cur­zon games. We’re not there to make up the num­bers or en­joy our day out; we’re there to get a re­sult,” said Gan­non.

“The lads have shone over the last week, and we haven’t men­tioned Yeovil be­fore the Cur­zon game as all fo­cus has been on the league and two big back-to-back wins, but now all our en­ergy turns to­wards the FA Cup and Satur­day’s trip.

“We’re go­ing to fully recharge and re­fo­cus this week, and we’ll be aim­ing to put on a solid and pos­i­tive dis­play for our­selves and for the fans that are go­ing to make that long trip. I’ve been re­ally proud of the lads all week, and I’ve no doubt that they’re fully ca­pa­ble of con­tin­u­ing that head­ing into Satur­day.”

Gan­non blasted “hor­ri­ble” Cur­zon Ash­ton, as The Hat­ters eased to a 2-0 win over their neigh­bours in the Na­tional League North on Satur­day.

Goals ei­ther side of half-time from mid­field­ers Sam Walker and El­liot Os­borne sealed The Hat­ter’s sec­ond win on the bounce, and con­tin­ued a fine run of nine un­beaten in all com­pe­ti­tions against the ten men of their hosts at the Tame­side Sta­dium.

And, af­ter for­mer Cur­zon man Walker had slot­ted home from the penalty spot thanks to a clumsy chal­lenge by de­fender Joe Guest, Jon Flana­gan’s home side were re­duced to ten when de­fender Cameron McJan­nett re­ceived a sec­ond yel­low card af­ter clat­ter­ing into Adam Thomas.

“I think it was a red. When you lead with your arm, it is dan­ger­ous play and if you en­dan­ger an op­po­nent’s safety, even more so,” said Gan­non.

“I said to the ref­eree as we came off, you can see why we’ve got the best dis­ci­pline record and why they’ve got the worst. I think Cur­zon can re­flect on com­mit­ting foul af­ter foul as a ma­jor rea­son as to why they lost the game.”

The con­tro­versy was far from over af­ter the dis­missals, how­ever, as coach­ing staff from both sides were sent to the stands in the ugly af­ter­math of the red card.

The bad blood be­tween Gan­non and Flana­gan is well known within both camps, and nei­ther man­ager ex­changed hand­shakes at the fi­nal whis­tle – and the Hat­ters chief claimed that the hosts illd­is­ci­plined per­for­mance came from the top.

“Some teams are un­able to stop us and in­stead just foul us, and I think you could see that hap­pened on Satur­day.

“I think teams of­ten re­flect their man­agers in how they play, and you could see that Cur­zon be­came more hor­ri­ble as the game went on.

“A cou­ple of their bench had al­ready been warned be­fore peo­ple were sent off – they weren’t happy, but rather than con­cen­trat­ing on play­ing foot­ball, they seemed to fo­cus on foul­ing and the hor­ri­ble side of the game. As I’ve said, it re­flects their man­ager’s per­son­al­ity.”

The Hat­ters surged back into the top ten and to­wards the play-off po­si­tions in the Na­tional League North af­ter this sec­ond win in the space of a week, fol­low­ing last Tues­day’s thump­ing 3-0 win over league lead­ers Chor­ley.

And a “proud” Gan­non couldn’t hide his de­light at his side’s up­turn in for­tunes fol­low­ing a num­ber of dis­ap­point­ing home draws within County’s un­beaten record.

The 50-year-old heaped praise on his goal-scor­ing mid­field duo of Walker and Os­borne, ex­plain­ing that the Hat­ters coach­ing staff are ex­pect­ing “more to come” from South­port loa­nee Os­borne af­ter scor­ing his first goal since his re­turn to Edge­ley Park last month.

“We didn’t look as en­er­getic as Tues­day, and there was al­ways a touch of a hang­over from the big Chor­ley win,” he said. “I don’t mean that as a neg­a­tive, you just can’t keep up that level of in­ten­sity and adren­a­line from the Tues­day to the Satur­day.

“It was a hor­ri­ble game for El­liot; it was dif­fi­cult for him to get space in a packed Cur­zon de­fence. It was tough for him, but it’s a re­ally pleas­ing sec­ond goal.

“It was bril­liant from the lads to cut them open re­ally tidily and sharply, and if any­thing it’s what we want to see more of­ten.

“Af­ter the Nuneaton game, there was ob­vi­ously a lot of neg­a­tiv­ity but I knew that we just needed that courage and faith. It’s nine un­beaten now and we ac­tu­ally have more points than we did at this point last sea­son – and we’re still in the FA Cup.”

Www.mpho­to­graphic.co.uk

●●County cel­e­brate Sam Walker’s goal against Cur­zon Ash­ton at the week­end

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