STOCKPORT County will play host for the first Saturday in six weeks when Gainsborough Trinity visit Edgeley Park this weekend (KO 15:00 GMT).

The match will also be the County faithful’s first opportunity to welcome Jim Gannon back at to Edgeley Park for a league fixture following his return to manage the club in the second half of January.

And how appropriate it is, too, that Gannon’s ‘Third Coming’ in SK3 should see County receive the ‘Holy Blues’ of Gainsborough – hot on the heels of County’s victory over Brackley Town’s ‘Saints’!

That 1-0 win in Northamptonshire seven days ago brought a welcome end to a long wait by the Hatters for their first three-point haul of 2016 – although the club’s form has stabilised of late, with just one defeat in five matches.

Trinity, meanwhile, went from one extreme to another last Saturday, when a sequence of three wins out of four was rather emphatically spoiled – with leaders Solihull Moors hitting the Holy Blues for six in their own Northolme back yard.

County’s guests this weekend will clearly be keen to atone for that reverse. And, thanks to their erstwhile good run, they still sit three places above County who are currently 13th.

Results between the two sides have been relatively even in modern times – with County winning on three occasions, and Trinity twice. Don’t bank on a draw, though: they have not managed one together since 1911/12, as Football League opponents in the then-equivalent of the Championship!

The Hatters have an opportunity to achieve their first ‘double’ of the campaign, after securing a single-goal victory at Northolme in October thanks to a Micah Evans header.

But Trinity will be no shrinking violets away from home – having deservedly won 3-1 when the clubs last met there towards the end of last season. And the Gainsborough squad has been boosted this week by the addition of Elliot Hodge (son of former England international, Steve), a winger who arrives on loan from Lincoln City.

The visitors also have a former Hatter within their ranks in striker Nick Bignall, who made 13 appearances, scoring three times for County in all competitions during the 2009/10 season that led to relegation from League One.

Following a bright start to the current campaign, however, his appearances for Trinity have been somewhat restricted by injury.

They could resort to a couple of other secret weapons, should they choose, mind. Their fluorescent lime green away-kit threatens to burn the eyes at ten paces. And – if he makes the trip – the landlocked club’s Fergal the Shark is quite possibly the scariest-looking mascot in non-league football!

Provisional Squads:

Stockport County: Ormson (GK), D Smith (GK), Morton, Tonge, Roberts, Connolly, O’Hanlon (C), Smalley, Joyce, Montrose, Rule, C Russell, Garvin, C Smith, Holsgrove, Menagh, Ledsham, Odejayi, Evans, Marsden, Brodie, Anoruo, West.

Gainsborough Trinity: Budtz (GK), Hedge (GK), Roma (C), Lacey, Quinn, Picton, Wilson, Wildin, Davis, Rigby, D’Laryea, S Russell, Binns, Brogan, Yates, Bemrose, Karkach, Stamp, Bignall, Newsham, Jarman, Reid, Hodge.

By Gareth Evans

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