REPORT | Stockport County Res 2 Wanderers B 2

Matt Craddock coaching Stockport

The B Team let slip a two-goal lead as they had to settle for a point to start their Central League Cup campaign.

The young Whites looks set to kick off their bid for progress from Group A with a comfortable win when then goals from Ben Andreucci and Noah Halford put them in control at Carrington.

But County pulled one back before the break and then after equalising early in the second half managed to withstand some late pressure from Wanderers to open their own account in a group also including Huddersfield, Rotherham and Salford City Reserves.

“The frustrating thing is we didn’t capitalise on the periods of really good play we had,” said B Team boss Matt Craddock.

“We had some long periods of really good football and we probably should put the game to bed.

Ben Andreucci Stockport

“And when you don’t, they get back in it. I’m frustrated that we gave away the win, but more frustrated that we didn’t capitalise on the amount of good play we had.

“When you go 2-0 up and then it goes 2-1, the lads got a bit nervous and then we they equalised they probably showed their inexperience.

“That led to 15-20 minutes of a bit of a wobble and some nervy moments but with a bit of a change of shape and getting some numbers up the pitch we finished strong and could have nicked it at the end.”

Wanderers were missing four of their more experienced players with goalkeeper Luke Hutchinson and the trio of Luke Matheson, Nelson Khumbeni and Matty Tweedley training with the first team.

With Max Conway out on loan at Rochdale and striker Conor Carty in the Republic of Ireland U21 squad for their game against San Marino tonight (Tuesday), the pathway is bearing fruit.

And in their combined absence the Whites started well as they looked to bounce back from defeat to an experienced Preston side in their first Central League game last time out.

Flying wing-back Wes Frimpong was a constant threat early on and helped create the opening goal with just five minutes gone.

Lamine Toure’s ball from the back released Frimpong to beat his man and deliver a low cross which Andruecci steered into the bottom corner.

Wanderers B Stockport action

Frimpong went close to scoring himself when a rapid break down the other flank from Gez Sithole created a far-post chance which was deflected just wide.

Then moments after Ellis Litherland had made a superb save at one end, the Whites counter-attacked at the other with Andreucci releasing Finn Lockett for an opportunity he couldn’t convert as experienced keeper Jordan Smith came out to save.

Smith was powerless to stop Halford making it 2-0, though, as the defender met an Arran Pettifer free-kick to sweep the ball home from just outside the six-yard box.

But rather than protect their two-goal advantage, Wanderers allowed County to halve the deficit when lively striker Nic Bollado fired home six minutes before half-time.

And with the visitors not helping their cause with some poor distribution, Stockport maintained the momentum to make it 2-2 with almost an hour gone when Luke Partington dived in to power home a header at the far post.

The Whites took their time to re-group and regain a measure of control with an effort from Sithole, after he had been released by Sonny Sharples, their only chance early in the second half.

But with player-coach Andrew Tutte coming on to add a measure of calm and a switch to a 4-4-2 formation giving Craddock’s side some late momentum, they could then have gone on and won it.

The County defence was again stretched down both flanks and the best chance fell to Lockett as the skipper tried to drive his side over the line.

But after combining well with Andreucci, Lockett couldn’t beat former Nottingham Forest keeper Smith who made a point-saving late stop to deny Wanderers a victory that might have been theirs.

B Team: Litherland; Halford, Toure, Inwood; Sharples; Frimpong, Pettifer, Lockett; Bryan (Tutte 75); Sithole, Andreucci. Substitutes: Flint, Hayes-Green, Loureiro, Shakespear.

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