Stockport aiming to continue Football League surge with three points against play-off hopefuls Notts County


Stockport County can take one step closer to the Football League when they host play-off hopefuls Notts County at Edgeley Park.

It has been more than a decade since Stockport were relegated from the Football League, but with Dave Challinor’s reign at full steam ahead, an EFL return looks destined come the end of the season.

Even with two matches in hand on second placed Chesterfield, the Hatters sit four points clear at the top of the National League with 13 games remaining.

Stockport were 11 points off the top following a 1-1 draw against Bromley in Challinor’s first league outing. However, after only one defeat, and an unbeaten run of 13 matches in the competition, the North West side look an unbeatable force.

Ben Hinchliffe has been an important figure between the sticks for Stockport. The shot-stopper, who has made over 200 appearances for the club, has only conceded three goals in 11 matches since the turn of the New Year.

In the attacking department, Paddy Madden, Ollie Crankshaw and Will Collar have played a pivotal role in the Hatters being the National League highest scorers.

The trio have scored 29 of Stockport’s 62 league goals, with former Brighton & Hove Albion academy graduate Collar netting five times in 2022.

Aside from the National League, Stockport are one match away from reaching Wembley for the first time since their promotion to League One in 2008.

The Hatters’ 3-0 win at Southern League Premier Division Central side Needham Market at the weekend, saw them advance to the semi-final of the FA Trophy.

Stockport will travel to promotion hopefuls Wrexham in three weeks, where they will be hoping to go one step further than their heartbreak at this stage when they lost on aggregate to AFC Fylde three seasons ago.

Notts County travel to Edgeley Park without a win in their last four matches. Ian Burchnall’s side were knocked out of the FA Trophy by Wrexham last time out, following a last minute goal from James Jones at Meadow Lane.

The Magpies have drawn their last two league matches against Yeovil Town and play-off challengers Solihull Moors, but three points against Stockport would take them back into the top seven with games in hand on the teams around.

If Stockport are to extend their unbeaten run, they will have to withstand the attacking threat of Ruben Rodrigues and top scorer Kyle Wootton.

Rodrigues, who was named Notts County Player of the Year last season, scored a brace in his side’s 3-3 draw against Moors and he will be hoping to cause havoc once more.

In his pre-match press conference, Burchnall confirmed Wootton is available after recovering from an illness which kept the striker out of the defeat at Wrexham.

However, the County manager also revealed ‘very few’ trained this morning due to feeling unwell. Defender Jayden Richardson will return tomorrow night, but Eli Sam and skipper Kyle Cameron continue to miss out.

In the earlier meeting between the two, the Magpies came out victorious after goals from Wootton and Frank Vincent. Ben Whitfield’s last gasp penalty acted only as a consolation, as Stockport failed to defeat Notts County for a sixth successive match.

Tomorrow night’s clash is between two sides who suffered play-off semi-final misery last campaign. After a third placed finish, Stockport were beaten by Challinor’s Hartlepool United whilst the Magpies lost 4-2 in extra-time away at Torquay United.

With the visitors unbeaten against Stockport since 2008 – when the Hatters won 2-1 in League Two – Notts County will be hoping to get their play-off push back on track following a sticky patch.

On the other hand, Stockport will be aiming to end their winless streak against their Nottinghamshire opponents, in order to extend their unbeaten run and continue their march back to the Football League.

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