STOCKPORT County embark upon one of the season’s longer journeys this Saturday – almost down, in fact, to the fringes of National League South country – when they visit Brackley Town (KO 15:00).
County’s trip to St James Park (the Northamptonshire one) will be Jim Gannon’s fourth consecutive league fixture on the road following his return to the club nearly five weeks ago.
And, having presided over two goal-less stalemates and a narrow defeat, the new boss will be keen to break his personal duck against the ‘Saints’ (again, the Northamptonshire ones) – as well as securing a first National League North win for County in 2016.
Brackley Town currently sit in 19th position, five places below the Hatters – and just one above the relegation-trapdoor on goal difference. By winning on two occasions since the turn of the year, the hosts have managed something that County have not – although their other six matches during this time have all ended in defeat.
The venue is not an unhappy hunting-ground for the Hatters, either. Indeed, they have yet to concede there – following a 0-0 draw two seasons ago and a single-goal victory last February, when Jack Ryan’s header proved enough to win the three points.
The most recent meeting between the two sides saw them share the spoils at Edgeley Park, with one goal apiece, in September – a result for which, in all honesty, County probably would have settled for after just twelve minutes of the game, when Karl Ledsham received an early red card.
In facing the Saints, County will be likely to come up against a number of players with Football League experience: captain Ryan Austin once plied his trade for Burton Albion; Matty Lowe and Liam Marsden are on loan from, respectively, Cambridge and Mansfield; while Curtis McDonald (Cardiff), Pablo Mills (Derby and Rotherham), as well as Greg Kaziboni and David Moyo (both Northampton), have also played at the higher level.
One of the Hatters’ own loanees, goalkeeper Dean Henderson, recently extended his stay from Old Trafford for a further month, but has now been recalled there following an injury to David de Gea.
And Brackley may well hand full debuts to two recent signings in winger Courtney Cameron and striker Lee Ndlovu, following their respective transfers from Southport and Ilkeston. Both made appearances as substitutes last Saturday, when the Saints lost at home to Nuneaton.
Brackley Town: Hornby (GK), Farrell (GK), Austin (C), Morley, McDonald, L Marsden, Clarke, Slade, Kaziboni, Story, Mills, Lowe, Walker, Moyo, Diggin, Batchelor, Odihambo, Graham, S Smith, Winters, Noon, Ndlovu, Cameron.
Stockport County: Smith (GK), Ormson (GK), Morton, Tonge, Roberts, Connolly, O’Hanlon (C), Smalley, Joyce, Montrose, Rule, Russell, Garvin, C Smith, Holsgrove, Menagh, Ledsham, Odejayi, Evans, J Marsden, Brodie, Anruo, West.
By Gareth Evans
This game will form part of our Football LIVE coverage on Saturday afternoon. Don’t forget to join us from 2pm…