STOCKPORT County host the Class of 92’s Salford City at Edgeley Park this weekend, just seven days after they defeated their fellow Vanarama National League North rivals 2-0 in an FA Cup third round qualifying clash.
A first half penalty from Danny Lloyd and a Michael Clarke strike just before the hour mark condemned Salford to their third defeat in five games, but a convincing midweek victory in the Manchester Premier Cup will have the Ammies ready for revenge.
County have now tasted defeat just twice in their last nine competitive fixtures, which included a dramatic last minute loss to league leaders AFC Fylde.
They currently sit 11th in the table and trail sixth-placed Salford by four points.
Stockport, who finished ninth in the division last season, will feel they are at last beginning to build some momentum with three victories in their last four following an inconsistent start.
Hatters boss Jim Gannon, now in his third stint as manager of the club, was full of praise for his players energy following their last outing, along with the strong support of the home crowd which could again provide a substantial influence.
A fourth qualification round tie against Bishop Aukland on October 15 is now all that separates County from the first round ‘proper’ of the FA Cup, not to mention £12,500 in prize money.
The focus of the players will undoubtedly have returned to bringing themselves within a point of Salford in the league, but repeating their victory will require that they begin to correct a home form that has seen them take just eight points from six games in the league.
Contrastingly, more than anything this weekend the travelling Salford supporters will be eager to witness a much more motivated performance than the one produced by their side at Edgeley Park during the previous visit.
Salford began the season with an impressive six victories in their first eight league matches, but a sudden downturn in form has led to an unexpected slip down the table.
Joint-manager Anthony Johnson was highly critical of the team’s perceived lack of effort as they were dumped out of the same cup that offered them so much publicity and cause for celebration during the 2015-16 campaign.
But following the match, Johnson said he ultimately hoped the defeat would offer a “watershed” moment to inspire a change of attitude within the changing room.
With the two teams directly above them, Chorley and Kidderminster, facing the top two sides in the table on Saturday afternoon, City could find themselves firmly back in the promotion mix with a positive result.
Perhaps one other thing to look out for at the game on Saturday is what the Edgeley Park ball boys are getting up to.
A video has been circulating on social media this week after a Stockport ball boy was filmed ‘dabbing’ during last weekend’s encounter, before then executing a perfect overhead bottle flip.
Both Stockport and Salford will be aiming for as polished a performance when they once again go head to head in another intriguing encounter.
Stockport County: Ben Hinchcliffe, Mark Ross, Sam Minihan, Courtney Meppen-Walters, Michael Clarke, Chris Smalley, Gary Stopforth, Lewis Montrose, Josh Amis, Jimmy Ball, Danny Lloyd, Max Cartwright, Ian Ormson, Craig Carney, John Marsden, Scott Spencer, Kayodi Odujayi, Jordan Dunning.
Salford City: Jay Lynch, Michael Nottingham, Steve O’Halloran, Scott Burton, Harry Worley, Billy Priestley, Brad Barnes, Sam Walker, Mike Phenix, James Poole, Jordan Hulme, Richie Wellens, Matt Warburton, Craig King, John Johnston, Richie Allen, Josh Hine, Craig Dootson.
By Harry Poole