Stockport Town fought to a hard earned 2-2 draw at home to local rivals Cheadle Town on Monday evening at Stockport Sports Village, despite having a man sent off and no substitute goalkeeper in the Hallmark Security League clash.
On the night, goals from Justin Pickering and a superb strike from Aaron Dwyer saw the Lions take the lead twice, however Cheadle replied on both occasions with Chris Sherrington’s penalty, and a late equaliser from Adam Gardiner.
The match all hinged on the sending off of Stockport’s Dylan Forth in the 52th minute, who was then replaced by defender Tyler Devlin in goal following a substitution, and this saw the visitors piling pressure on for a majority of the second half.
Dave Wild will undoubtedly be the happier of the two managers and given the circumstances, his Lions team performed exceptionally well after going down to 10-men, even retaking the lead in front of a 114 attendance at SSV.
Stockport hit the ground running when the match kicked off as George Blackwell, formerly of Cheadle Town, got the first shot on target of the night, forcing Daniel Whiting, an ex-Lion, into a good save in the visiting goal.
The home side continued to press high and eventually took an early lead after just 5 minutes as Justin Pickering, starting his first game for the club, was in the right place at the right time, tapping home Daryll Grant’s cross into the box.
Cheadle did well to withstand more early pressure from Stockport as Lee Constantine soon came close to doubling the home sides lead with a rifling shot from 25-yards out, and Whiting did well to parry the goal-bound shot away.
After the half hour mark Pickering became evermore involved in opportunities, with a brilliant Matthew Todd through-ball finding the lone striker bearing down on goal, but he fired his first-time effort wide.
Dwyer, an ever-present danger down the right wing for the Lions, came close on 36 minutes as he connected with Blackwell’s corner into the box, however the winger could only guide his shot over Whiting’s crossbar as the Lions led going in at the break.
The second half saw Cheadle come out fighting and just a few minutes into the restart they should have equalised through Richard Whyatt, but the striker sent his effort wide of the post following Jake Ambrose’s cutback cross.
Just minutes later Dwyer came close again for the home side after being played through by Thomas Bane, and the winger cut inside and then back outside before seeing his shot roll just inches wide of the far post.
On 52 minutes the game would turn on its head for an attacking Stockport side as Forth rushed out to put off Whyatt through on goal, but the Lions keeper took out the striker, ultimately giving away a penalty and seeing the referee’s red card.
This left Wild with a decision to make as he had no substitute goalkeeper on his bench, and so up stepped Devlin, coming on in place of Blackwell. However this would not stop Cheadle getting back into the game as Sherrington sent Devlin the wrong way to equalise from the spot.
Stockport now had over 35 minutes to deal with an extra man, as well as a makeshift goalkeeper between their sticks. It was still all to play for in this Stockport derby.
The game swiftly changed in favour of Anthony Trucca’s visiting side and they continued to pile the pressure on the Lions defence. The home side continued to stand fast and repel every Cheadle attack, even counter attacking which saw Dwyer come close with another shot just wide of the mark.
However the Stockport winger would not have to wait long to bury his frustrations in front of goal, as he picked up the ball on the right of the 18-yard box before seeing his cross-come-shot sail over everyone, including Whiting in goal, and nestle into the top corner. Think Willian for Chelsea versus Liverpool this season.
Just minutes later Cheadle found themselves through on goal again but this time an on-rushing Devlin looked more like a professional goalkeeper as he saved down low, one-on-one from Gardiner, even taking a clattering in the process.
With just five minute remaining Cheadle were celebrating what they thought was an equaliser, however the linesman’s flag was up to deny George Clarey’s effort.
Despite a fantastic save earlier in the match, Devlin could do nothing to stop Gardiner a second time as the substitute striker raced in on goal before poking the ball home past the defender-come-goalkeeper.
The final few minutes of the match saw Cheadle throwing everything they had forward in search of a late winner, but Wild’s Lions held on for a point, and given the circumstances will be pleased to take anything from the game.
The result means Stockport remain 9th in the Division One table, extending their unbeaten home run to seven games, starting back in September. Cheadle, meanwhile, move up a place to 15th after overtaking New Mills on goal difference.
Stockport Town are back in action this weekend when they host at SSV once again, this time against Abbey Hulton Utd, kick-off on Saturday is 3pm.