The opening game of the 2018/19 season against newly promoted Cheadle Heath Nomads proved to be too tough a challenge for the young lions as they fell to a 2-0 defeat.
Before the game there were unanswered questions. How will this young team fare in the North West Counties? Unfortunately after this match, the question still remains.
Alan Lord, Head of the Management team, handed out 9 debuts, including loanees Jordan Perrin (Wigan Athletic), Szymon Czubik and Adam Etches (both Stockport County). Only Kiarno Samms (newly named captain) and Matt Hanson remained from last season’s squad.
Cheadle Heath Nomads, an unknown quantity prior to kick off, fielded a team full of experience which included former lion Liam Millen.
In the searing heat the game got off to a frantic start, and the home side went a goal ahead in the 7th minute, Rick Tindall heading home from close range.
The Town players were stunned and it was a while before they were able to get a foothold in the game.
The first half bought few chances for either team, Stockport coming closest in the 33rd minute when Greenfield crossed from the byline but Etches couldn’t make a good enough connection and the ball drifted across the 6 yard box.
At the other end Perrin was relatively quiet in the Lions goal, with the back 3 of Arthur, Samms and O’Connell defending solidly. O’Connell, 18, was making his first team debut after joining the club in 2016 and coming up through the U18s and U21s. The young defender was showing great composure against a physical forward line. One for the future.
Into the second half and the lions would have been hoping to get back into the game as early as possible. But 2 minutes in and Cheadle Heath Nomads has an opportunity to extend their lead, Kayle Power showing some neat footwork in the penalty box before being crudely brought down. Due to the number of players surrounding him it was difficult to work out who the culprit was. Power brushed himself off and stepped up to send Perrin the wrong way from the spot.
Moments later Perrin was called into action denying the Nomads attack with a fine point blank save.
Stockport were shaken, and it wasn’t until the 60th minute and a double change (Elhassan and Mottram replacing Hanson & Peach) that they began to get into the game.
A lofted ball over the top saw Czubik latch on to it, but he was denied by a fantastic block by the Nomads keeper. From the resulting corner Festus Arthur’s attempted drive hit a team mate and went wide when it was destined for the back of the net.
Although the lions were now controlling possession against a visibly tiring Cheadle Heath team, chances were few and far between as the home side professionally managed the situation, slowing the game down whenever possible.
It was Nomads who created the final chance of the game, Butler put through on goal but expertly denied by the impressive Perrin.
Three toots of the referees whistle and that was it. Cheadle Heath Nomads create history by winning their first ever game in the North West Counties.
Despite the results their were positives for Alan Lord team. Coming up against a vastly more experienced team they proved they wouldn’t be a push over. But the supply line to Czubik and Etches was limited and at times the midfield seemed to be outnumbered. Things to work on.
Czubik was named man of the match by the opposition due to his work rate and endeavour.
Stockport Town are next in action on Saturday 11th August against Stone Dominoes, 3pm kick off at Stockport Sports Village.
Team: Perrin (GK), Greenfield, Dean, Arthur, Samms (C), O’Connell, Peach, Lofthouse, Czubik, Etches, Hanson
Subs: Holt, Willan (GK), Elhassan, Mottram, Simpson