After a good start, October and November were the bad months in the season for Stockport County.
October kicked off with a visit to Morecambe, but on a Tuesday night. It was a bad fixture for County – many fans fancied the visit on a Saturday afternoon! County played well in the first half and should have had a hatful – but Morecambe, with ex County keeper and now England keeper Joe Lewis, kept County at bay. Carl Baker scored in first half injury time, and then again 20 minutes into the second half to give Morecambe a 2-0 win.
That away defeat was followed by County`s first home defeat, at home to Barnet. Adam Birchall gave Barnet the lead in front of the Cheadle End after 14 minutes, but County won a penalty when Leslie Thompson was brought down, Anthony Elding converted to make it 1-1. From here though it was all Barnet, and in the space of 15 second half minutes Barnet took the game away from County. Adam Birchall and Josh Wright extended the lead to 3-1, before Ashley Carew hit a fourth with minutes to go. Liam Dickinson got a consolation with minutes to go but that was all County could muster.
County got some welcome relief from a tough league campaign as they faced a trip to Macclesfield in the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy. A 1-0 win was the result; the second time in two years County had won at Macclesfield in the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy. Paul Tierney got the goal for County that day.
But back in the league County were awful. A visit to Darlington a Sunday afternoon – great. Darlington absolutely hammered County; I don`t even remember us having a chance that day. 4-0 to Darlington the score was, Tommy Wright scored two, Julian Joachim and Greg Blundell scored the other two.
County then controversially suspended Anthony Elding pending an inquiry for supposedly talking about leaving. The suspension was lifted on Friday and Elding was back in the squad for Chester City. It was all a strange situation and it raised the doubts some people had about Jim Gannon at the time.
Then it was back to Edgeley Park for County`s fourth straight defeat in the league, this time Chester City were the ones to hand out the beating. It`s hard to believe but at the time Chester City were 2nd in the league, County were 17th. Richie Partridge played the game of his life, he scored two wonder goals. County had taken the lead, through a Jason Taylor bizarre goal on the stroke of half time, but the second half was all about Partridge. Two wonder goals, almost exactly the same, gave Chester the lead and ensured they took the three points back to the Deva Stadium.
Somehow County managed to then go to the league leaders, MK Dons, and get a win. Four straight defeats, people were talking about how many goals MK Dons would win by?! Yet County went, and they beat MK Dons. Paul Tierney went into midfield alongside Greg Tansey. County kept MK Dons contained, and then in the last 15 minutes scored two goals to take a 2-0 win and take the three points back to Edgeley Park in a historic County away performance. Anthony Elding and Anthony Pilkington got the goals.
But when Peterborough visited Edgeley Park the following weekend, the first game in November, it was same old same old from County at home. Craig Mackail-Smith gave Peterborough the lead, Matty McNeil levelled the scores, but then Aaron McLean scored the best goal at Edgeley Park this season, a 40-yard strike, to give Peterborough the three points. County`s third straight home defeat, Staines Town were the next visitors at Edgeley Park.
Yet again though, County went away from home and turned all their woes around with another away win. This time it was at local rivals Rochdale, although we always win at Spotland. James Spencer and Adam Le Fondre both played for Rochdale. Dickinson gave County the lead when Adam Griffin crossed for him. County doubled their lead after half time, again Dickinson, this time Paul Tierney whipped in a free kick and Dickinson headed home. Adam Le Fondre got a goal back, but that was it and it was County`s second away win on the bounce.
Next came the visit of Staines Town – the most embarrassing set of games County faced this season. Matty McNeil headed home from a corner just after half time to give County the lead, fans barely celebrated. I don`t even think I stood up then. Staines had come to do a job and with Chris Adamson making his County debut in goals, a goal would come for them. Newton hit a long shot, Adamson fumbled and Charles Smith came charging in to tap the ball home into an empty net for Staines. County were booed off the pitch, it finished 1-1 and there would be a replay. Staines were then applauded off the pitch for their efforts.
Remarkably, the most shocking result wasn`t the Staines draw. Because three days later County visited Carlisle United, League One LEADERS, for a Johnstone`s Paint Trophy quarter final. What was the score after the embarrassment of Staines? 8-0 to Carlisle? No way. 3-0 to County! Adam Proudlock, Matt McNeil and Anthony Elding all got on the score sheet in what was really possibly the performance of the season.
But of course County had to continue losing in the league, it`s what we do isn`t it? Hereford United were the visitors, and on this day we saw the best individual performance at Edgeley Park we would see all season. Lionel Ainsworth scored a fantastic hat trick to give Hereford a 3-2 win. The first was a chip, from the edge of the area. It was just superb, went beautifully over Logan and made it 1-0. He headed home for 2-0, before Elding hit back for County, but Ainsworth grabbed his hat trick to make it 3-1. Finally an own goal made the score respectable at 3-2, but the difference between the sides on the day was huge.
Then came the embarrassment of the Staines defeat. First of all County travelled to Staines on a Monday to play on Sky TV, the game was called off because of a waterlogged pitch, something Sky`s Ray Wilkins wasn`t happy about. So because Sky rule Football, we had to play on a Thursday instead. County went behind after ten minutes when Adrian Toppin headed home from a corner, 1-0 to Staines. County equalised on 78 minutes through a Matty McNeil tap in, but Staines should have had a penalty in the 90th minute when Jason Taylor fouled Risbridger. The game went to extra time, nothing happened, and then to penalties. When Tansey scored the first penalty and Adamson saved Staines` effort, it looked like advantage County. But then Pilkington missed, Cook scored, Poole missed, Toppin scored and Staines found themselves in front. Proudlock scored, Asmombang scored, Rowe scored and then Staines had the chance to win it. Dave Sergent stepped up and hammered past Chris Adamson, Staines went through, 4-3 on penalties.
County visited Bradford just two days after, and it looked like another defeat was on the cards despite a good comeback from County. Ndumbu-Nsungu gave Bradford the lead after 71 minutes, undeserved it was but it was still the lead. County looked to be running out of time, until the 91st minute, when David Poole hooked the ball beautifully into the bottom corner to send the County fans mental in the away end.
Yet again – another home defeat followed, in the first game in December.
Lincoln City visited Edgeley Park and became the fifth consecutive side to take all three points away from County. It was a boring 0-0 at half time, but there were four 2nd half goals and three of them went the way of Lincoln. Ben Wright scored two volleys, before Adam Proudlock was shown a straight red for a good tackle – the referee later removed the red card. Dickinson pulled a goal back to give County hope, but John-Lewis finished the game off and made the final score 3-1 to Lincoln.
So after all this terrible home form, surely another defeat was heading our way at home to play-off chasing Wycombe? The weather was terrible, the pitch was underwater, and only 4777 turned up to see what should have been another County defeat.
Adam Proudlock started and put in what was his best performance in a County shirt. The goals started on the 34 minute mark, Michael Rose swung in a low cross and Proudlock slid in to volley the ball past Frank Fielding.
Two minutes later another flew in for County, Jason Taylor knocking the ball down the right flank for Dicko, who turned and instinctively hit a fierce low drive into the bottom corner of the net.
Half time, 2-0 to County and a home win looked on the cards for the first time in a long time.
The pitch didn`t look any better as the players emerged for the 2nd half, and the goals didn`t stop either.
Conrad Logan hoofed up field and Dicko flicked on for Proudlock to smack home his second with his left foot, a great goal. 3-0 County, how many more could we get?!
Well, there were still goals to come. Liam Dickinson released David Poole on the left and he pulled it back for Lewis Christon to superbly volley into his own net in a way that made you think he actually wanted to score.
But the best goal of the game was still to come. A Wycombe corner was cleared to Dicko, who cleared it to the halfway line for Proudlock. Proudy was on his own, and with his first touch curled a 45-yard low shot past the scrambling Fielding for the 5th of the game and a Proudlock hat trick!
Proudlock was taken off minutes later, perhaps deliberately just to hear the ovation he got from the fans. Bu the goals still didn`t stop.
Dickinson turned his man and flicked in a cross from the right, and Russell Martin was on hand to smash in another own goal. 6-0 full time to County. Amazing.
After that brilliant win at EP, County were looking to make it two wins on the bounce at neighbours Macclesfield. County were looking to do the double over Macc at the Moss Rose as they had already defeated them at Macclesfield 1-0 in the JPT.
And they did again. In a first half dominated by Macc, County were lucky to get in at half time at 0-0. But as they say, it`s a game of two halves and County were dominant in the 2nd half, with Adam Proudlock grabbing another goal in the 90th minute to wrap up the game for County, after Liam Dickinson had headed County in front from a corner.
At EP though, even after the terrific win against Wycombe, County could not build on it and continued to stutter.
A miserable wintery game at County, coupled County`s lowest League attendance of the season, ended in a dull 1-1 draw, Martin Butler grabbing his first goal for the club in controversial style.
But with 8 minutes left, Michael Rose curled in a beautiful 25 yard free kick, swerving away from the goalie and into the top corner.
Boxing Day and New Years Day were mixed for County though, picking up 1 win and losing on Boxing Day to Shrewsbury.
Michael Raynes was sent off in the 25th minute at The New Meadow for a nothing challenge really (Raynes` red card was later rescinded) after Andy Cooke (the bugger who scored two hat-tricks against us last season) opened the scoring with a powerful header in front of 7707, Shrews highest attendance of the season.
Anthony Pilkington struck a magnificent equaliser when he rounded two players before curling a vicious strike into the corner of the net.
But Shrewsbury took the lead when Ben Davies headed home and Dave Hibbert sealed it with a penalty in the 86th minute.
But it was another win for County at the Racecourse Ground as Wrexham too on the Hatters.
Anthony Elding grabbed the only goal of the game for County, but late on Ryan Valentine won a penalty from a Michael Raynes handball, but Conrad Logan superbly saved to give County the three points.
So into 2008 next time, and The Hatters promotion push really kicks off, that all concludes in a memorable win for County?
Season Review – Oct, Nov, Dec.
After a good start, October and November were the bad months in the season for Stockport County.