Stockport Town returned to winning ways as they defeated Sandbach United 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at Stockport Sports Village.
The Hallmark Security League clash saw the Lions come from behind to end a run of four straight league defeats. A first half brace from Ben Halfacre and a Ruben Abreu strike was enough to cancel out James Kirby’s opener, before former Northern Ireland international, Stephen Jones, grabbed a late goal to set up a tense finale.
The win capped off a great week for Dave Wild’s Stockport as they added three valuable league points on top of their Cheshire Senior Cup win last Monday night, a 4-0 home win over Cammell Laird, which sees them set up a Second Round tie at home to Hyde United in February.
Saturday’s match was built up to be a tense affair, and it did not disappoint. Town were on the back of a great Cup victory, while Sandbach were on the cusp of moving into the playoff positions with an away win.
The game got off to a lively start with Jordan Davies coming close with a header on target for United, but Town’s Dylan Forth was on point to tip the header over the bar. At the other end Luke Hincks came close with a header of his own from Abreu’s cross but it was saved by Ryan Moss.
With 11 minutes gone the visitors took the lead as Jones found space on the left before firing across Forth’s goal for Kirby to slot home from close range. However, as they say, you are at your weakest when you've just scored, and the Lions pounced.
Within a minute of the match restarting Stockport had equalised through their towering striker, Halfacre. Beating the offside trap and latching onto a through ball, the Lion slotted past Moss to bring the scores back level.
After taking the lead things went from bad to worse for Sandbach as with 19 minutes on the clock the Lions took the lead. Halfacre once again reacting quickest as he intercepted a poor back-pass to Moss, before rounding the keeper and stroking home.
Abreu came close to making it three inside 35 minutes, as the winger cut inside from the right before unleashing a venomous shot on goal, beating Moss, but nestling in the side netting.
The game had swung right into Town’s favour and they were beginning to dominate as they maintained possession, reducing Sandbach to few chances in the remainder of the first period.
The second half got off to the perfect start for Wild’s Lions as Abreu made no mistake at the second time of asking in front of goal. Scintillating one-two football with Justin Pickering down the left channel ended with Abreu striking into the bottom corner leaving Moss helpless.
Despite the two-goal cushion, the Lions knew they were not home and dry just yet, and United reminded them of that midway through the second half. From a corner, Kirby rose unmarked inside the Town penalty area, but headed inches wide of Forth’s near post.
The visitors gained momentum from Kirby’s opportunity and started to put the pressure on their hosts as they looked to exploit with the counter attack. Kirby once again came close to his second of the game but a headed clearance off the line from Ezequiel Miranda kept Town in control.
Into the final ten minutes of the match and Sandbach finally snatched a goal back to set up a nervy end to the game. Rising highest from a cross swung in from the right wing, Jones appeared at the back post to head down and past Forth to make it 3-2.
However, despite their late strike, United could not complete the comeback as the Lions were able to see out the remainder of the game, with Sandbach failing to create anymore chances, as the referee brought the match to an end.
Bringing an end to consecutive defeats, Wild will have been most pleased to have seen his team determination and character after going behind early on. Stockport Town look ahead to their next fixture, after league encounter, this time away to Cammell Laird on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.