STOCKPORT County will travel across the Pennines for a second league game running this Saturday, when they travel to Bradford Park Avenue (KO 15:00 GMT).
In visiting the Horsfall Stadium, Jim Gannon’s team will be hoping for a little more good fortune than it had at Harrogate Town 11 days earlier – when an archetypal ‘game of two halves’ ended with the Hatters being edged out by the odd goal in three.
The Hatters – currently in 13th place – still seek a first National League North win of 2016, in what will be County’s fifth match in all competitions following Gannon’s return to manage the club nearly four weeks ago.
The new boss has, however, enjoyed success with the first team in the Cheshire Senior Cup. And an emphatic 4-1 Quarter-final victory over a talented young Crewe Alexandra side on Tuesday night will have encouraged him ahead of the resumption of league business.
Not that Saturday’s task against Avenue will be an easy one, mind. As Gannon pointed out in an interview following the Crewe tie: “Bradford are a good, strong, physical side. And with a great record at home, where they have only lost once.
“But with a little bit of punch and power up front, and the set-plays we have, we can potentially win there.”
The hosts sit four places below County, although look to be in something of a false position having played five matches fewer.
But, while their results at the Horsfall Stadium read well, persistent waterlogging of the pitch has meant that they have only to date fulfilled 10 fixtures there (compared with County’s 14 in SK3) – and not seen any league action on home turf since the first weekend in December.
Avenue’s West Riding County Cup-tie against Ossett Albion was also postponed on Wednesday night. And, despite a forecast of drier conditions leading up to the weekend, the Hatters will be maintaining a close watch on the weather.
They have, after all, been here before – with originally-scheduled visits to Avenue falling victim to rain in 2013/14 and ice last season. The rearranged games both produced the same scoreline, as County won 2-0 on the first occasion and the Yorkshire side did so just under a year ago.
If the game does go ahead, as many as three former Hatters – Lamin Colley, Paul Marshall and player-coach, Danny Schofield – may feature against their old club.
Bradford Park Avenue: Stewart (GK & C), Ainge, Qualter, Priestley, Burgin, Mather, Pursehouse, Scott, Price, Dean, Turner, Schofield, P Marshall, Potts, St Juste, King, R Marshall, Chilaka, McDonald, Walshaw, Chippendale, Colley, Terrell, Kebbie, Patterson.
Stockport County: Henderson (GK), Ormson (GK), Morton, Tonge, Roberts, Connolly, O’Hanlon (C), Smalley, Joyce, Montrose, Rule, Russell, Garvin, Smith, Menagh, Ledsham, Odejayi, Evans, Marsden, Brodie, Anoruo.
Referee: Paul Newhouse
Assistants: Craig Dean and Nick Hawksby
By Gareth Evans
There will be a precautionary pitch inspection at the Horsfall Stadium at 10:45am on Saturday morning.
Don’t forget to join us from 14:00 GMT on Saturday, February 13 for our Greater Manchester non-league blog Football LIVE…