Madden’s brace helps Stockport extend lead at the top of the National League with comfortable win over Notts County


Paddy Madden’s brace helped Stockport County extend their lead at the top of the National League to seven points in a comfortable 3-0 win over Notts County at Edgeley Park.

Two days before St Patrick’s Day, an Irishman scored twice to help Stockport take yet another step towards their long awaited return to the Football League.

A goal in either half, and an assist for Ollie Crankshaw’s powerful finish, saw Madden rightfully named Man of the Match in an enjoyable night’s work against promotion hopefuls Notts County.

Madden opened the scoring half an hour in with a perfectly placed header, before setting up Crankshaw for Stockport’s second shortly after the restart. The Hatters’ top scorer then netted his 15th goal of the campaign with 20 minutes remaining, to seal a crucial three points.

Dave Challinor’s side are now unbeaten in 18 in all competitions, and currently find themselves on a seven game winning run. The former Stockport captain, who has completely revolutionised the club since arriving in November, is well on his way to ending the club’s 11 year non-league stay.

The Hatters are also one match away from walking down Wembley Way for the first time since 2008. Stockport defeated Southern League Premier Division Central side Needham Market 3-0 last weekend, to set up a semi-final clash with promotion chasing Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground.

The atmosphere outside Edgeley Park, and then inside was electric from start to finish. After a decade of financial difficulties and relegations as far as the National League North, the troubling clouds are starting to clear.

The 7,500 home supporters had to wait 30 minutes for the opening goal. Crankshaw’s first time cross into the box was headed into the bottom corner by an unmarked Madden – his first goal in four league matches.

The once capped Republic of Ireland international played a pivotal part in setting up Stockport’s second after 48 minutes. The Hatters charged forward on the counter attack, before Madden turned and released Crankshaw inside the area who unleashed a powerful strike past Jaros at the near post.

Stockport were cruising and they added a third with 20 minutes remaining. Myles Hippolyte’s cut-back narrowly missed Will Collar on the penalty spot, but Madden arrived at the right time on the edge of the box to calmly side foot into the bottom corner.

Defeat in Cheshire leaves Notts County winless in their last five matches – four in the league – which has seen their promotion aspirations derail as a result.

Despite Ian Burchnall’s side sitting a point adrift of the play-off places, Notts County faces tough opponents in promotion-chasing Boreham Wood and Chesterfield in their next three fixtures.

The Magpies, who like Stockport suffered heartbreak in the play-off semi-final last season, will need to significantly improve if they are to trouble an inform Dagenham & Redbridge side who have won their last three league matches without conceding.

On what was a miserable night in the North West, only one Notts County star shone. Had it not been for Liverpool loanee Vitezlav Jaros between the sticks, a more humiliating score line would have been seen.

The Czech produced a fine double save early on to prevent Stockport taking the lead after 10 minutes. Jaros was down quickly to turn Ryan Croasdale’s fierce volley behind, before Crankshaw’s effort was saved by the shot stoppers feet.

Five minutes later and Jaros was called into action one more to deny Collar a second goal in as many league matches. Hippolyte’s back post cross was met with a downward header from the forward, but the Magpies No.13 produced a finger tip save.

Moments before Madden headed Stockport into the lead, Jaros produced the best save of the lot to keep Hippolyte out. The ball fell to the Hatters winger inside the area, but his powerful effort was somehow turned around the post.

In the second half, only a tame shot from Kairo Mitchell called Ben Hinchliffe into action. However, at the opposite end, Jaros continued his impressive performance by using his foot to deny Collar from close range.

Pre-match Burchnall confirmed only a ‘few’ players had trained on Monday, and even with top scorer Kyle Wootton and Jayden Richardson returning from illness, the visitors remained without captain Kyle Cameron and Eli Sam.

After praising an ‘outstanding’ Stockport on a ‘deserved win’, Burchnall highlighted the struggles his squad have faced in order to play at Edgeley Park.

“I will not criticise my players today because I would say more than 50% should not have played through health,” said Burchnall in an interview with Notts County post-match.

“We had players vomiting at half time, it was desperate. I knew it could go like this because I saw the state of training yesterday and how the players were today… they were not in a good state to play.”

The returning Richardson should have given Notts County the lead midway through the half. A sloppy back-pass attempt allowed the wing back to run in one-on-one, and despite taking the ball away from Hinchliffe, Richardson somehow fired over from close range.

Two minutes later and Richardson was in once more after latching onto a perfectly waited through ball. The highly attacking defender took the ball around the Stockport goalkeeper, but after composing himself, could only watch on as his effort deflected agonisingly wide.

Notts County became the latest side to fail at the task of ending Stockport’s unbeaten run. After claiming their first win over the Nottinghamshire side since 2008, the Hatters now sit seven points clear at the top.

With matches against Wealdstone, King’s Lynn Town and Eastleigh to come in the league before their FA Trophy semi-final, Challinor will be hoping his side can continue going full steam ahead to the Football League.

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