Watch out, Glovers
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.”
●●County celebrate Sam Walker’s goal against Curzon Ashton at the weekend