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Stockport Preview

By: Richard Hubbert
Date: 13/11/2003

FOLLOWING the Mariners' impressive win over QPR last weekend in the FA Cup, it’s back to the cut and thrust of league action on Saturday afternoon with the visit of Stockport County, who lost to Stevanage in the FA Cup last week.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Previews > Stockport (h)

With three home wins on the bounce and the emphasis Paul Groves has placed on our home games, it is clear that this is yet another "winnable" game that has to be won to put ourselves in a decent position in the table come Christmas. Stockport are in the bottom four at present and are in a transitional stage, with their dismissal of Carlton Palmer and the appointment of Sammy McIlroy as their boss. Their form has been very inconsistent all season - they lost to Stevenage last weekend, but a few weeks before, won at Brighton - so it very much depends on which Stockport team will turn up to what sort of game we’re in for.

The Opposition

Sammy McIlroy (left) is the Hatters new manager after the dismissal of Carlton Palmer back in September. The former Macclesfield manager quit his job as Northern Island coach to get back into the day to day involvement of club football, and has endured a mixed start as County’s new manager with two wins, three losses and a draw in his short spell so far.

The Team
County have seen a huge turnover in playing staff over the past few seasons, mainly under the leadership of Carlton Palmer. Two men that Palmer brought in to shore up the County defence were John Hardiker and Town villain Dave Challinor (left) who ended Martin Pringle’s career with that awful foul in February 2002.

Hardiker became the Conference’s most expensive defender ever in 2001 when he signed from Morecambe. Expected to perform in the midfield this season will be Aaron Lescott whose career has been hindered with injury - including one that he picked up when Town last met Stockport in February 2002. He has been on the bench the past few games but will be looking to capture the form that saw him play in the Premiership with Sheffield Wednesday.

Good news for Mariners fans is that Luke Beckett, who scored 27 goals for County last season, is injured with a cruciate ligament damage and could be out for the rest of the season. This means that responsibility for goals falls to the experience of the likes of Stuart Barlow and Aaron Wilbraham, who is the club's top scorer with 6 goals. Also in the squad will be ex-Town target under Lennie Lawrence, Kevin Ellison and former loanee ‘keeper Nick Colgan.

Recent Form


WQPR (cup)(h)1-0 (4-5 pens)
WNotts County(h)2-0
Currently 17th in Division 2
LStevenage (Cup)(a)1-2
WWrexham (LDV)(h)5-4 (AET)
Currently 21st in Division 2

Top Scorers



Team News



  • Town are likely to give a start to youngster Greg Young at left back, a position vacant through the absence of Darren Barnard who will be on international duty with Wales in Russia.

  • Other alternatives for Paul Groves are Iain Ward or Wes Parker, but not an option there is Jason Crowe who will be staying in central midfield after his impressive display there last week.

  • Simon Ford is back from treatment at Lilleshall, but is unlikely to come into the reckoning.

  • Elsewhere, we can expect the Mariners to be unchanged from the side that beat QPR, unless there are any last minute injuries.
  • Manager Sammy McIlroy has several options to change his side from the one that lost to Stevenage last weekend. Loan players Danny Jackman and Matt Heath were cup-tied for those games, so could come back into the side. However, we expect that Heath will be kept out of the starting XI but Jackman could return at left back in place of Martin Pemberton.

  • Aaron Wilbraham did not start last week, but seems to have shaken off the injury that kept him out of the Wrexham game in the LDV vans, and he could start with former Tranmere and Wigan forward Staurt Barlow.

  • After sitting on the bench last week, there could be a recall for Aaron Lescott in midfield.
  • Probable Starting XI's


    Aidan Davison
    John McDermott
    Greg Young
    Tony Crane
    Mike Edwards
    Stuart Campbell
    Des Hamilton
    Jason Crowe
    Iain Anderson
    Iffy Onoura
    Michael Boulding
    James Spencer
    John Hardiker
    Rob Clare
    James Goodwin
    Danny Jackman
    Aaron Lescott
    Andrew Welsh
    Rickie Lambert
    Andrew Williams
    Aaron Wilbraham
    Stuart Barlow



    Phil Jevons
    Darren Mansaram
    Marcel Cas
    Paul Groves
    Andy Pettinger
    Matt Heath
    Dave Challinor
    Owen Morrison
    Nick Colgan
    Jon Daly


    Lincoln City manager Keith Alexander (left), who was rushed to hospital this week, played for both Stockport and the Mariners. Having plyed his trade in the lower leagues, it was with Town that he started playing professional football and scored 19 goals for the Mariners. After two years at Blundell Park, he signed for Stockport for £8,500.

    Also played for both did Pineapple Head Jason Lee. Lee played only twice for County until he signed for Lincoln in 1991 for £35,000. It was in 1997 that he appeared for Town in a loan deal under Kenny Swain, where his couple of goals towards the end of that relegation season couldn’t save Town from the drop. He now plays his trade for Scottish side Falkirk.

    Last Time Out

    Town last played Stockport in the epic relegation battle of 2001/02 season when they won 3-1 at Blundell Park. This was the game of course, when Martin Pringle tragically broke his leg after a "challenge" by Mr D Challinor - an injury that ended Pringle’s career. The game at the time though, was a must win game, one in a run of home games where Town gathered maximum points. The scorers for Town that day were Paul Groves, Andy Todd and Bradley Allen. Carlton Palmer got a spectacular goal for Stockport, but was then later sent off.

    Town Team: Coyne, McDermott, Smith, Todd, Groves, Butterfield, Burnett, Pouton, Campbell, Allen, Pringle.
    Subs: Ford, Jevons, Coldicott, Boulding and Croudson.

    Attendance: 6,836   Report

    Stockport Head-to-Head (15th on The Opposition Ladder).


    Fishy prediction: 2-0 to the Mariners. Reader's POMs


    Click on the link for directions to Blundell Park (left).

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