By Matt Clayton
On a sweltering night at Hurst Cross, National League outfit Stockport County ran out 2-0 winners in Wednesday’s pre-season friendly.
The game burst into life in the second minute; former Robin Milinic Ali, making his debut for the Hatters, broke through the Robins defence but fired his shot over Greg Hartley’s goal.
A midfield chess match then broke out, with both sides holding strong in the centre of the pitch but two early enforced changes for Michael Clegg’s men could have unlocked the suborn county defence.
Michael Brewster and Theo Hudson went off with niggles, replaced by Chris Rowney and Ben Hardcastle and it was the latter that made an impact.
Hardcastle played through striker Nathan Ntalu but a good save by Coutny keeper Ben Hinchliffe keeper kept the honours even at half time.
Stockport changed their entire line up at half time who sprung into action quickly.
Scott Quigley forced a superb one on one save from Robins shot stopper Hartley and the second half Hatters’ line up showed their class.
Captain Liam Hogan knocked in a rebounf of the post from John Rooney’s shot broke the deadlock on the 57thminute.
Ashton had a good share of possession after the goal, with substitute Waqas Azam with the best chance close to the 90th minute but fired into the side netting from the edge of the six-yard box.
County struck with what was effectively the last kick of the game. Experienced front man John Rooney fired home from 12 yards from a Sam Minihan cross.
Post-match, manager Michael Clegg said: “We had to change our plan tonight.
“Originally, we wanted to give lads 70/80 minutes but, in this heat, it was just not possible.
“When you make that many changes its always going to have an effect and we conceded just after that, but I thought the lads on the pitch recovered well.”
Line Up: Hartley, Whalley, Spratt, Coates, Raynes, Brewster, Wall, Sheridan, Ntalu, Redshaw, Hudson. Subs: Azam, Ollerenshaw. Hardcastle, MacAdam, Rowney, Baird, Wood, Bentham, Tserpes