STOCKPORT County will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in the National League North to six games when Gloucester City visit Edgeley Park on Saturday (KO 15:00 GMT).
The Hatters have not lost since a 2-1 defeat at second-placed Harrogate Town on February 2 but their three-game winning run in the league was ended by the 1-1 draw at Tamworth last weekend.
The two sides drew a blank in January as James Gannon’s first game of his third spell as County manager ended goalless at Whaddon Road, where Gloucester have ground-shared with Cheltenham since 2010.
But the Tigers – who sit 12th in the table, one place behind County – can move level on points with their opponents by claiming three points this weekend.
Stockport dropped two places without being in league action in midweek but secured their place in the Cheshire Senior Cup Final on Tuesday night with a comfortable 3-0 win over Gannon’s former club Northwich Victoria, who missed two penalties.
Just like the last time Gloucester made the near 270-mile round trip to SK3 in October 2014, County have won their last four home games in all competitions – and last season’s corresponding fixture provided no shortage of entertainment as County won 5-3 to record five Edgeley Park wins in a row for the first time since 2008.
This time around, Gannon chases a seventh victory in the 12th match of his current stint as the 47-year-old former County defender hopes to continue the club’s revival since he replaced Neil Young in the hotseat.
The Hatters, though, are the lowest scorers in the top half of the table with 30 goals but have the joint-second best defence having conceded 36.
Meanwhile, Gloucester have scored the same number of league goals as County, which is the fewest among the bottom-half sides, and won 11 of their 33 NLN matches like Gannon’s side.
City, who have been in the sixth tier of English football since 2009, have only won one of their last six games and drawn the last three – including a 2-2 draw at home to second-bottom Hednesford Town last weekend.
They have, however, fared better on the road in recent weeks with four wins from their previous six away trips and will be desperate for a positive result before the visit of leaders Solihull Moors next Saturday.
Similarly to Gannon, Tim Harris returned as Gloucester boss in 2014 after an initial spell in charge between 2006 and 2008 – and steered the south-west club away from danger before last season’s 14th-placed finish.
Defender Robbie Cundy returns for the visitors after completing a two-match suspension, striker Luke Hopper has recovered following a month out with an ankle injury, and midfielder Calvin Dinsley could be involved after playing an hour in the Gloucestershire Senior Cup in midweek after a foot problem.
Joe Parker will be out for between four to six weeks with ankle ligament damage and Tom Webb is also missing, but forward Colby Bishop could make his debut after signing on a month’s loan from Notts County this week.
County midfielder Karl Ledsham, who joined last summer after winning the title with Barrow, is set to play his final game for the club before calling time on his playing career to embark on a coaching career in America.
County boss Gannon, who has fielded the same starting XI in the last two games, could have Paul Connolly available after the defender sustained a groin injury in the warm-up against Hednesford last month, and Lewis Montrose is back in contention having served his two-game ban.
But former Gloucester man Obi Anoruo is touch and go after being replaced on the bench by George West at Tamworth last weekend and missing the midweek cup win with a hip injury.
Fellow forward John Marsden will be aiming to prolong his rich vein of form after scoring three goals in as many league games and opening the scoring against Northwich.
Stockport County: Ormson (GK), D Smith (GK), Morton, Connolly, O’Hanlon (c), Roberts, Smalley, Menagh, Joyce, Rule, Field, Evans, Russell, C Smith, Ellison, Ledsham, Montrose, Garvin, Holsgrove, West, Marsden, Brodie, Odejayi.
Gloucester City: Singh (GK), Nkunga, Cundy, Avery, Green, Jones, Hamilton, Knowles, M Williams (c), Hicks, Hall, Hannah, Richards, Dinsley, E Williams, Sterling-James, Hopper, Bishop.
Referee: Scott Oldham (Lancashire)
Assistant referees: Paul Ince and Richard Holmes
By Adam Higgins
This game forms part of our Football LIVE service on Saturday afternoon. Join us from 2pm for live updates from Edgeley Park and the rest of Greater Manchester’s non-league action.