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REPORT: Wanderers 2 Stockport County 2

Wanderers face FA Cup replay after fightback not enough to earn victory at first attempt

7 November 2021

Wanderers will be in the hat for the FA Cup second-round draw but still have to guarantee their progress after being pegged back by Stockport in a ding-dong affair.

Wanderers avoided an upset against the National League side who were looking to give new boss Dave Challinor a winning start in front of 5,000 travelling fans.

Ian Evatt’s men recovered from gifting County an opening goal to lead with a quick-fire double from Eoin Doyle, who made it two in two games when he finished off a stunning move, and Elias Kachunga’s first goal for the club.

Wanderers dominated for long spells but let Stockport back into the contest with an equaliser just before the break.

And with neither side able to find a winner in the second half – Doyle going closest to deciding the verdict – they must try again at Edgeley Park after finding out their potential opponents in Monday night’s draw.

Doyle celebration Lee.jpg

Stockport – not short of Football League experience as they look to regain their former status – didn’t include former Wanderers’ skipper Antoni Sarcevic in their ranks after picking up a knock following his recent move.

The Whites, meanwhile, made only one change to their starting line-up after kicking off their cup double-header with a mid-week Papa John’s Trophy win at Rochdale.

Keiran Lee – fresh from signing a new contract – was back on duty and showed all his class and composure in a controlled opening from Evatt’s men.

It was a pull-back from Lee that gave Doyle an early sighter with an effort well blocked by County skipper Liam Hogan.

And Doyle was involved again following a lovely ball out from the back from Ricardo Santos which the frontman then delivered into Kachunga for a stab at goal blocked by keeper Ethan Ross.

Kachunga goal.jpg

But for all their apparent superiority, Wanderers were rocked by an opening goal mid-way through the opening half as County grabbed the lead.

George Thomason had also been instrumental in some lengthy periods of possession for the hosts but when he gave the ball away near his own penalty area, Quigley pounced to hold off Santos and slide the ball past former Barrow team-mate Joel Dixon.

The goal demanded a response and it came as Dapo Afolayan provided the spark for a Wanderers’ fightback.

The Whites’ leading scorer took centre stage to grab hold of the contest, producing one stunning run for an effort that was blocked before a sublime through-ball released the outstanding Lloyd Isgrove to cross for Doyle to convert a striker’s chance at the far post to claim his fifth goal of the season.

And three minutes later it was 2-1 as Afolayan’s shot was only parried by Ross and Kachunga followed up with a measured first-time strike that went through the keeper’s legs to open his Bolton account.

That should have given Wanderers a grip back on proceedings but a cracking cup tie had more drama to come before the break.

Kachunga celebration Afolayan.jpg

County went close to an equaliser when Paddy Madden forced Dixon into a sharp save and then two minutes into added time the non-leaguers did level when Madden squeezed the ball through for Ben Whitfield to coolly slot home.

The pace didn’t relent following the re-start as Dixon had to race off his line to make a superb interception to thwart Quigley, who continued to carry a threat on the break along with dangerous wideman Ollie Crankshaw.

And at the other end, it took an excellent save from Ross to keep out Doyle’s header from a lovely Isgrove cross before Doyle steered a shot just wide as the final 20 minutes approached.

Baptiste was then almost an unlikely match winner as he went close to guiding a shot into the bottom corner from another Afolayan cross and Isgrove was the next to go close as Wanderers pressed for a winner at the first attempt.

It wasn’t to come, though, as Wanderers lacked the fluency and tempo they had shown earlier in the piece.

And with Stockport unable to muster another real chance in front of their raucous support, the sides must do it again on Tuesday-week.

Wanderers: Dixon; Isgrove, Santos, Baptiste, John (Gordon HT); Williams; Kachunga (Bakayoko, 76), Thomason (Delfouneso 69), Lee, Afolayan; Doyle. Substitutes: Gilks, Johnston, Aimson, Edwards, Gordon, Henry, Pettifer.

Booked: Isgrove, Kachunga, Santos.

Stockport County: Ross; Minihan (Collar 60), Hogan, Palmer, Kitching (Pye 71); Crankshaw, Croasdale (Keane 80), Rooney, Whitfield (Rydel HT); Quigley (Reid 80), Madden. Substitutes: Hinchcliffe, Barclay, Raikhy, Keane, Reid, Fish.

Booked: Madden

Referee: Tom Nield

Attendance: 11,183 (Stockport 5,110)


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