Stockport scored with a last-minute equaliser to draw 3-3 at St Helens Town on Saturday afternoon in the Hallmark Security League.
The Lions, without new all-time leading goalscorer Ben Halfacre, fought back from 3-1 down in the second half, and after going down to 10-men due to injury with 25 minutes left to play.
Goals from Stockport’s Ruben Abreu, Herve Sezerano and Treyvon Simpson saw Jake Davies’ side share the points after a Shaun Brady brace, and a Liam Diggle strike had puts the hosts in a commanding position in the second half.
The match got off the worst possible start for Stockport as a pacey Brady latched onto a poor header in the Lions defence before curling his shot round visiting keeper, Kyle Haslam.
However the Saints’ lead was short-lived as Abreu capitalised on a dangerous freekick after being fouled by Andrew Presho, who was subsequently booked. Abreu stepped up and fired the set-piece over the wall with a pure strike and into the top corner, leaving Saints keeper, Carl Williams, with no chance.
Just over 10 minutes played and Stockport could easily have taken the lead after Abreu saw his curling chip shot just tipped away by Williams, before Jesurun Uchegbulam latched onto the rebound but his goal-bound effort was well saved.
With football being a cruel sport from time to time, and with Stockport almost taking the lead, St Helens raced up the other end of the pitch as another dangerous through ball found Brady bearing down on goal, and just like that he put his side back in front with another calm and cool finish into the corner.
The rest of the first half failed to offer much more goal-mouth action as the goals came quick and early. Brady came close just before the interval but skied his effort over the crossbar, much to the Lions’ relief.
The second half saw Stockport come close to another early goal as Abreu dragged his shot just wide of the far post following good build-up play involving Uchegbulam down the right wing.
Davies’ side were made to pay for another missed opportunity yet again as St Helens worked the ball up the pitch before a dangerous cross from the right fell kindly for Diggle inside the penalty area, with the striker stroking his shot passed Haslam.
The 63rd minute saw Stockport grab a lifeline as Sezerano finished a quick Lions build-up as he raced into the Saints area before placing his header inside the near post from Justin Pickering’s assist.
Following a challenge from Matthew Smith, that saw the Saints midfielder booked, Uchegbulam struggled to continue as he hobbled around the pitch. With the Cheshire Senior Cup final on Wednesday evening, and despite having no more substitutes, Davies withdrew the winger as Stockport were forced to play with 10-men for the final 25 minutes.
St Helens came close to restoring their two-goal cushion as Diggle’s shot went inches wide of Haslam’s post, before the striker was in again, through on goal but failed to punish the Lions defence as he sliced the shot wide.
With the Lions pushing everything forward in search of another equaliser, the game entered added time and Stockport’s prayers were answered. Simpson found himself unmarked inside the six-yard box as the ball fell to his feet before he smashed passed Williams to salvage a point for his side.
The result means that Stockport remain unbeaten in their last three league outings following wins over FC Oswestry Town (7-0) at home and away at Daisy Hill (0-2) on Monday night. A morale boosting result given the circumstances and the result means the Lions go into Wednesday’s cup final brimming with confidence, and that no matter what they face, they can always get a result!
Stockport face Nantwich Town in the Cheshire Senior Cup final next Wednesday evening at The Millbank Linnets Stadium, home of newly-promoted Runcorn Linnets. Kick-off 7:45pm.