Wealdstone 2-5 Stockport County – The Morning After

wealdstone

Don’t say this too loudly. In fact, whisper it for now. But Stockport County could be starting to mount a serious promotion challenge this season. Top scorers in the National League, County are now just one point behind leaders Hartlepool following Tuesday night’s 5-2 victory in London. The Viaduct looks back at last night’s seven goal thriller by speaking to County fan Matt Stambach, and Wealdstone fan Mike Renny.

Photo courtesy of Mike Petch.

Yesterday’s match in one word:
Matt – Comeback!
Mike – Sobering.

Pre-match thoughts:
Matt – A long away day on a Tuesday can always be tough, but with the strength in depth the squad has, I was expecting a few changes to try and keep things fresh. I was expecting a win, but you often never know on nights like last night.
Mike – As someone who also supports West Ham and remembers that Dowie own goal in 1996 (a game your manager played in!) I knew that County had real pedigree and that it was going to a very hard game against one of the favourites to win the league. A point would have been huge for us but an improved performance from the Dagenham game was also important.

Post-match thoughts:
Matt – Very pleased with the manner of the comeback. Also, even once we’d taken the lead, we pushed on to put the game to bed. The two goals we conceded were really poor and that needs looking at because each goal we have conceded this season has been through our own poor play, not because the opposition has deservedly scored by cutting us open.
Mike – Just how big the challenge of being in the National League is going to be. We simply do not have the resources of teams like County and this gulf in resources was evident for all to see. The final scoreline was ultimately very hard on us and maybe not a true reflection on the game but County clearly deserved all three points.

Verdict on County:
Matt – Started off well again and could have been 2-0 up by the time Wealdstone took the lead. The control of possession was good, but we didn’t create a lot in the first half. Second half was much better. The introduction of Kitching and Thomas made a big difference. I’m not convinced we need Keane and Maynard at the same time in the team. I’d much prefer to see Rooney a little deeper as his long distance passing would help stretch the pitch. I thought Minihan was excellent again, as was Bennett who was involved in three of the goals.
Mike – County were excellent and it was easy to see why they are one of the favourites to win the league. The move for the equaliser was exceptional and in Rooney you have that 20+ goal striker that you need if you want to be challenging for league titles.

Verdict on Wealdstone:
Matt – I thought they did okay. They didn’t cause us too many problems and yet scored twice which is concerning.
Mike – For an hour I thought we did okay and matched County for effort, if not quality, and there are some positives to be taken from leading one of the favourites for the title 2-1 with less than 20 minutes to go. The game changed following a couple of defensive minded subs. We had no outlet and sat far too deep and simply invited pressure from County which was ruthlessly exploited courtesy of some particularly poor defending.

Best player on show:
Matt – Has to be John Rooney for County. You can’t score a hat-trick and not get man of the match. For Wealdstone, I thought their number 23 on the right wing looked decent. Didn’t manage to catch his name.
Mike – It always seems strange to pick your goalkeeper as man of the match when you’ve shipped five goals but I thought Isted was excellent, making some outstanding saves including an absolute worldy. Rooney was a class apart for you and demonstrated the same clinical finishing synonymous with his big brother Wayne. I was also impressed with Maynard pulling the strings from midfield.

Atmosphere:
Matt – I watch the streamed games on the telly in my bedroom while the wife (to be!) watches whatever she wants downstairs. It works out quite well as the TV is wall mounted so I can stand up while I’m watching!
Mike – Watched it at home. Isn’t that where everyone is watching from these days? Let’s be honest we’re lucky that clubs are streaming matches for supporters to watch games. I understand there were issues with the stream last night but in many ways that’s IPTV for you and I am sure that we will make the necessary changes to improve this over the coming weeks. 

Hopes for the rest of the season:
Matt – I’m pleased with the start, but apart from Halifax we’ve played fairly weak opposition (although Torquay are doing better than expected). The hope has got to be promotion, but there are some big clubs who have also started well so I guess we’ll see how we fair against the likes of Notts County, Hartlepool etc.
Mike – Supporters from other National League clubs will doubtless be writing us off predicting a swift return to the National South but a reality check is needed. We have only played three games, all of which were very tough fixtures against former Football League clubs. There will of course be more hard games to come but hopefully we will soon find our feet and start to pick up some points. I am sure that right now any Stones fan you talk to would happily take 20th place in the final league table.

And here’s a few other bits and bobs…..

League table: Had it not been for the last minute goal conceded at Torquay on the opening day, County would be top of the league right now. But second isn’t too bad at all at this stage, just one point behind leaders Hartlepool. Wealdstone drop to the bottom of the table.

Next up: You can only imagine how many County fans would be travelling to Chesterfield for a 5.20pm kick-off this Saturday, with Jim Gannon’s men sitting pretty in second. But BT Sport will have to do. Wealdstone are at home again, with Wrexham making the long trip to the capital.

Trivia: It’s the first time County have won three consecutive games in the opening month of the season since 2015-16. They only won one of the next seven though, so hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself on that one.

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