Stockport Town sent out a statement on Monday night as they demolished New Mills 6-1 at Stockport Sports Village in the Hallmark Security League.
The Lions, who came up against a number of familiar faces in the Millers line-up, nine of the starting 11 to be exact, went on a rampage in the second half to dispatch the visitors, managed by former Town boss Calum Sykes.
On the night, goals from Darryl Grant, Aaron Dwyer (2), Jamie Hinchliffe, and Ben Halfacre (2) saw off a spirited New Mills side whose consolation effort was struck by former Lion, Nathan Neequaye, after the damage was already done.
The highly anticipated matchup did not fail to disappoint the 212 crowd who braved the cold, wet and windy conditions at Lambeth Grove. Town took on a former manager, and a majority former playing side, and showed at times it was men versus boys.
All the action got underway with both sides gauging their opposition as they battled for possession in the early stages. Neequaye came up with the first chance of the match but Dylan Forth saved well in the Lions goal.
After 15 minutes the home side began to find their stride and had three chances in as many minutes as Dwyer, twice, and Ruben Abreu came close to grabbing the all-important first goal of the game.
With both sides maintaining possession, but failing to convert their chances, the game looked to be heading into the break all-square, up until the 41st minute.
Grant, playing at right-back, went on a 50 metre run into the box, all while Halfacre played in Dwyer down the right wing, who then placed into the path of Grant, who graciously slotted through Liam Flynn’s legs and into the Millers net. A fine opening goal to the game.
Following the restart, Stockport went up a gear and starting putting the visitors under all sorts of pressure when they were in possession, and it paid off just three minutes into the second half.
Matthew Clarke, with another fine display over 90 minutes, threaded a ball through to an on-rushing Dwyer, who then fired past Flynn to double the home side’s lead.
Stockport’s attacking pace caused the Millers midfield to be rejigged by their manager, Sykes. However the substitution of central midfielder, Aaron Kirk, replaced by striker, Edward Driver, did more harm than good as the Millers midfield was left entirely exposed for what was about to come.
Flynn, at this point, was keeping New Mills in the game, after yet another Dwyer one-on-one was well saved by the man between the sticks. However he, the last line of defence, would soon be broken for good with three goals in the space of four minutes for the Lions.
Ezequiel Miranda’s never give up attitude was rewarded as his cross found Halfacre, whose shot was saved well by Flynn, however the rebound fell to Hinchliffe who neatly fired in to make it three.
Dwyer’s pace caused all sorts of problems for the New Mills defence all night, and on 66 minutes he grabbed his second of the game as he latched onto Abreu’s lobbed through ball and buried his shot past Flynn.
But the Lions weren't finished there, as the 68th minute saw Dwyer once again latch onto a through ball, this time from Hinchliffe. His initial shot was poorly cleared by the Millers defence into the path of Halfacre, and the Town striker duly rifled his shot home to put the result to bed.
With the game out of reach for New Mills, they did salvage some consolation as Neequaye latched onto a stray pass through the Lions defence after home possession was scuppered, and the striker rounded Forth to tap home and deny a clean sheet.
Dave Wild’s Lions refused to take their foot off the gas despite the New Mills effort and were awarded a penalty after Halfacre was tripped inside the area following a fantastic run into the box.
The sturdy striker picked himself up and placed his spot-kick into the bottom corner as Flynn dived to the opposite side, well and truly putting the icing on Stockport Town’s cake.
As the game entered its final 10 minutes the visitors were throwing everything and everyone forward, leaving themselves open for yet more counter-attacks, and Town substitute Ashley Stott almost got in on the act late on but saw his shot well held by Flynn.
Lee Constantine, another Lions replacement, came close as the game ticked over into injury time, with the midfielder dragging his half volley just wide of the post as the home side had to settle for six on the night as the referee blew his final whistle.
Wild’s Lions march on in the league as they enter the playoff places for the first time this season, but have a tough test on Saturday afternoon when they travel to West Didsbury & Charlton in the FA Vase Second Qualifying Round, kick-off 3pm.