Wanderers will continue their defence of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy with a home tie in the last-32 after a Jon Dadi Bodvarsson double secured top spot in Group E, writes Pete Oliver.
Bodvarsson’s two goals in eight minutes just before half-time made it a magnificent seven straight wins for Ian Evatt’s men and maximum points in the group stage.
The coolly-taken brace also took Bodvarsson’s tally in the competition this season to three as the Whites flexed their muscles to overcome a much-changed Stockport side which is also into the knock-out stages alongside their promotion push at the top of League Two.
In-form County had registered a 13th successive win at the weekend but with a switch in personnel would have lost much more heavily but for a heroic performance from goalkeeper Jordan Smith.
The home man of the match pulled off a succession of excellent second-half saves as the rampant Whites made chances at will.
But despite not adding to their tally, Wanderers had still done more than enough to extend their own winning streak from a dominant and professional performance befitting their higher league standing which keeps the momentum going and the possibility of a second successive Wembley trip on the cards.
Wanderers themselves made half-a-dozen changes to the starting line-up that had made it six of the best against Blackpool at the weekend with their international contingent absent and injuries denying boss Ian Evatt of a couple of further options.
Evatt had to watch from the stands due to a one-match touchline ban and he saw a further enforced change after little more than quarter of an hour when Randell Williams had to make way for Josh Dacres-Cogley.
Not surprisingly, the Whites dominated possession from the start and although it took a little while to make it pay they had the first real chances to take the lead mid-way through the opening half.
Gethin Jones made the first of them with a lovely ball into the box which picked out Dan Nlundulu, whose effort was blocked by defender Jayden Richardson.
And within a minute strike partner Bodvarsson also had a sight of goal from George Thomason’s fine pass but again a County defender got back to block as Neill Byrne this time came to his side’s rescue.
It felt just a matter of time before the first goal would come, though, and eight minutes before the break Wanderers did go in front.
Paris Maghoma picked the ball up inside his own half to launch a typical burst forward which ended with a perfectly-timed pass to release Bodvarsson.
This time the Icelander was on his favoured right side and made no mistake with a clinical finish, low and accurate across Smith into the far corner of the net.
Between torrential showers, Thomason then saw a snap-shot well saved by Smith, who also blocked from Dacres-Cogley. But when Bodvarsson made it 2-0 just before the interval, the floodgates threatened to open.
Again, Thomason was the provider with another sublime through-ball, matched by the finish of Bodvarsson who confirmed his growing confidence with a deft chip over the advancing Smith to put Wanderers in complete control.
Stockport made three substitutions at the break in a bid to stem the flow and might have given themselves some hope of getting back into the contest if Jayden Richardson’s excellent run hadn’t been ended by Joel Coleman’s well-timed dash of his line to grab the ball on his third Wanderers’ start.
Bodvarsson’s excellent night’s work was done with his replacement by Cameron Jerome and the Whites should have had the chance to increase their lead from the penalty spot shortly afterwards.
Another forward burst from Dacres-Cogley was rewarded with an excellent diagonal pass from Jones which the wing-back took in his stride before being pulled over by Kyle Knoyle.
Wanderers – backed by a superb following of over 1,500 – were enjoying their night’s work and it took a superb finger-tip save and the inside of a post to deny Aaron Morley a third with a trademark long-range effort at the end of a move the midfielder started and almost finished.
Smith was a busy man and he made another smart block to prevent Jerome from claiming his first goal for the Whites from another Thomason assist before continuing his one-man blocked with two more saves from Morley.
Maghoma then skied an effort in front of goal after the industrious Nlundulu had teed him up and Stockport showed it was catching when Nick Powell missed a rare chance for the hosts inside the last 10 minutes.
That was Nlundlu’s last major contribution before making way for Victor Adeboyejo and following a first start for Luke Matheson there was also time for a senior debut from the bench for first-year professional Sonny Sharples-Ahmed late on as Wanderers put the seal on another satisfying night.
Wanderers: Coleman; Jones, Almeida Santos, Iredale; Morley; Matheson, Maghoma (Sharples-Ahmed 86), Thomason, Williams (Dacres-Cogley 17); Nlundulu (Adeboyejo 86), Bodvarsson (Jerome 56). Substitutes: Baxter, Halford, Lewis.
Stockport County: Smith; Knoyle, Byrne, Pond; Richardson, Camps, Mee (Bailey HT), Johnson (Wright HT), Touray (Pye HT); Powell, Madden. Substitutes: Hinchcliffe, Horsfall, Croasdale, Wootton.
Referee: Scott Oldham
Attendance: 3,427 (1,539)