STOCKPORT County will this Saturday follow the long and winding road that leads to Crown Meadow, home of Lowestoft Town (KO 15:00 GMT).
The Trawlerboys, who ply their trade adjacent to the easternmost point of the British Isles and in a town whose nearest motorway is – bizarre but true, trivia fans! – one of Holland’s, will feel confident in receiving County, following a recent upturn in their fortunes.
Having finished a relatively comfortable sixteenth when competing at National League North level for the first time last term, Lowestoft endured a touch of ‘difficult second season syndrome’ during the early weeks of the current campaign.
The rot has been stopped of late, though – with an impressive draw against unbeaten Solihull Moors followed up by a single-goal victory at Gloucester City, the latter of which, last Saturday, lifted Lowestoft out of the relegation zone.
The hosts’ recent form contrasts with that of the Hatters, who, following their last victory – at home to Bradford Park Avenue – four weeks ago, have picked up just one point. County will, however, feel encouraged by an improved performance that led to a draw with fellow play-off aspirants, Tamworth, last weekend.
County – currently in eighth place, and three points shy of the play-offs – will be further boosted by this week’s extension to the youth-loan arrangement involving Blackburn Rovers winger, Mo Cham, and by the long-awaited availability of influential midfielder, Glenn Rule, who has now completed his widely-publicised 10-game ban.
But, as has been the case during much of the current season, the Hatters still cannot claim to have a suspension-free squad – with Lewis Montrose and Andy Robinson both being required to sit this one out.
Last season’s corresponding meeting between the two teams featured four goals, shared two apiece. And three of them were penalties, with the final one – to Lowestoft – being cooly converted by Jack Ainsley to break County’s hearts in the last minute… as well as making a long journey home feel even longer.
So, will County this time be full of Eastern promise and fill the Trawlerboys’ net? Or will Lowestoft catch the Hatters hook, line and sinker?
Only one way to find out, if you can’t make it… stay tuned! Live updates of the match will be available from our correspondent through our Greater Manchester non-league blog Football LIVE from 2pm.
Lowestoft Town: Killip, Jessup, Swatman, Barker, Smith, Marsden, Fisk, Nunn, Ainsley, Spillane, Mason, Eagle, Henderson, Rossi Jarvis, Reed, Crow, Bammant, Woods-Garness.
Stockport County: Hurst, Ormson, Morton, Tonge, Roberts, Ellison, O’Hanlon, Connolly, Killock, Joyce, Ledsham, Rule, Garvin, Baggie, Evans, Cham, Odejayi, Colley, Kirby, West.
Referee: Lee Betts
By: Gareth Evans