County’s signal of promotion intent
STOCKPORT County signalled their promotion intent by climbing into the play-off places after victory over Tranmere Rovers at the weekend.
Dave Challinor’s team took time to adjust to the step up to League Two, but in the last few months have been among the division’s sides to watch.
And the three points gained at Edgeley Park after Saturday’s 3-2 win saw last season’s National League champions take their place among the play-off positions.
Kane Hemmings’ penalty was cancelled out by Kyle Knoyle’s opener for the Hatters and goals from Kyle Wootton and Will Collar made it 3-1.
Tranmere’s Kieron Morris pulled one back in the 84th minute but Challinor’s side hung on.
“It’s a big win for us and with other results going in our favour a bit, this has turned into a really happy Saturday,” said Challinor.
“Before the game we wanted to give ourselves the opportunity to get into the top seven. We’re there now and it’s a great place to be.
“It keeps us in touch and hopefully we’re giving ourselves a shot as the run-in continues.”
On the game itself, Challinor added: “We gave ourselves a sticky last bit after conceding late on but this has been another really important three points for us.
“We got a great first goal but after that we went on to concede two preventable goals and Tranmere too might feel the same with the other two they conceded.”
The Hatters chief said the sell-out Edgeley Park crowd had played their part.
He added: “These sellouts are starting to become the norm here and that’s brilliant,” he said.
“The fans, and all of the local area, are re-engaged with this club now and it is an exciting place to be and to work.
“Hopefully there are more special times ahead of us this season.”
Meanwhile, new loan arrivals Aaron Rowe and Joe Grayson were among the unused substitutes on Saturday.
County confirmed the the signing of Huddersfield Town wide-man Rowe on loan until the end of the season.
A skilful player with pace to burn, the 22-yearold began his career in Leyton Orient’s academy, before leaving to join Huddersfield at the age of 17 following a successful trial with the Club.
Capable of playing on either flank, he made his debut for Huddersfield in the Premier League under manager Jan Siewart, coming off the bench against AFC Bournemouth before starting their game away at West Ham United a week later.
The following season saw Rowe gain further first-team experience on loan at Boston United and Bromley, before breaking into the first-team at Huddersfield in the 2020/21 season.
He made 22 appearances for the Terriers in all competitions that season, with 20 of them coming in the Championship; playing in a variety of different positions as Carlos Coberan’s side retained their place in the second tier. He scored his first goal for the Club in an FA Cup tie against Plymouth Argyle, before grabbing his first league goal for Huddersfield in a 2-0 win away at Nottingham Forest.
He now heads to Edgeley Park on loan for the remainder of the campaign, and will wear the number 35 shirt during his time with the Club.
Challinor said: “We’re really looking forward to working with Aaron.
“He’ll add a different profile to the squad from what we currently have, as well as the ability to impact games from both flanks and centrally.
“We think he’ll be a great fit for us and be a real asset until the end of the season.”
Director of Football, Simon Wilson said: “Aaron is an exciting player that can play off both sides and is hungry to impact games.
“We think he can offer the team different solutions during the rest of the season, and adds competition to the group immediately.”
The paperwork for the signing of 23-year-old Grayson was submitted ahead of the transfer deadline day window closing. A versatile leftfooted player capable of playing in midfield and defence, Grayson joins having spent the first half of the season on loan at Scottish Championship side Dundee, where he made 17 appearances in all competitions, scoring once.
Son of football manager and former County player Simon Grayson, Joe began his career coming through the academy at Blackburn Rovers, making his senior debut for Rovers in a 4-1 win against Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup.
He enjoyed loan spells at Grimsby Town and
Oxford United, before joining Barrow on a permanent basis in 2021 – signing a two-year deal with the Club. He played 33 times in his first season at Holker Street, scoring twice.
The move comes following the news that Calum MacDonald has left County to complete a permanent transfer to Bristol Rovers.
Former Tranmere defender Calum made 13 appearances for the Club since joining in October.
Director of Football Wilson said: “We were asked by Callum in good faith, and with his longer term career interests at heart, to explore the potential of other opportunities since his playing time with us was limited. We have come to a mutual agreement which allows both Callum and the club to move on.
“Joe Grayson now joins us on loan from Barrow to add further competition to the squad and leftsided balance.
“Well known to the staff here, he is an outstanding distributor of the ball, with a first class football upbringing at Blackburn Rovers.”