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16:57 26th September 2009


For the second successive home game Town kept a clean sheet but couldn't break down a resolute opposition defence, despite long periods of pressure.

Gary Ablett's County side were very well organised on the afternoon, with the men in orange pressing their Town counterparts high up the pitch at every opportunity and denying the Terriers space. Despite this, Clark's men created a fair few chances and visiting goalkeeper Fon Williams made some good saves.

Visitors Stockport created a very good chance in the opening minute of the game when striker Bignall showed great pace to latch onto a hopeful ball over the top, but after controlling the ball inside the area he fired the ball wide of Smithies' near post.

Town fought back immediately but after Jordan Rhodes shrugged off an opponent's challenge, he volleyed high over the crossbar of goalkeeper Fon Williams from 25 yards out.

The returning Antony Kay then misplaced a pass straight into the path of Bignall in the centre circle in the 7th minute but after advancing with the ball, he fired a weak shot wide of Smithies' left-hand post.

The tricky Carl Baker - Stockport's top scorer with nine goals in all competitions - then picked up the ball in the hole just behind the striker a minute later before turning Drinkwater inside-out and shooting, but at full stretch on the edge of the box he sent a tame effort well wide.

Drinkwater forced the Stockport custodian into action in the 13th minute with a well-struck 30-yard free-kick after he had been tripped by Baker, but his shot lacked the necessary power or direction to seriously threaten the scorers.

County midfielder Tansey volleyed way over the crossbar soon afterwards when well positioned on the edge of the box

A scrappy period of play ensued, but then midfielder Kay then went the closest to opening the scoring so far in the 24th minute. Pressure from Rhodes won the Terriers a corner on the left side that Drinkwater took and after the ball was cleared to the edge of the box, Kay returned it on the volley. Keeper Fon Williams could only watch as the ball cannoned off the crossbar before dropping behind.

Pilkington then intercepted a misplaced pass inside his own half before poking the ball past full-back Rose and racing into the Stockport half; after advancing past a second defender into the box he crossed low, but the goalkeeper did well to parry the ball to safety.

Lee Clark's side were starting to enforce their will on the game and Kay picked out Pilkington's chest with a beautiful cross-field pass in the 29th minute. Anthony's first touch took him past Rose into the area, but as he looked to shoot left-footed skipper Raynes did brilliantly to block the chance.

A minute later Drinkwater fired a fierce shot straight at Fon Williams from the edge of the box after receiving a pass from Rhodes.

Another minute, another Town chance - Roberts drove infield from the left before passing to Kay, who sent a piledriver of a shot less than a foot over the diving Fon Williams' crossbar.

BOOKING - Leeds United loanee Paul Huntington was rightly booked by referee Langford in the 42nd minute for a cynical foul on Gary Roberts as he advanced down the left side.

Kay and the outstanding Drinkwater were combining well in midfield to put Town on top and in the final minute of the half the Terriers created the best chance of the game to date. Roberts muscled full-back Mullins off the ball on halfway after Rhodes headed a County corner to safety and played Pilkington away down the right; he raced clear and tried to find Robinson to his left with a pass, only for the final defender to intercept.


Stockport were pressing Town hard all over the pitch as the second-half began and had the first effort on goal in the 49th minute when Rose's in-swinging corner forced Smithies into action at his near post.

Robinson looked dangerous for the Terriers in the early stages and almost sprang clear of the Stockport defence in the 50th minute after Roberts played a clever through ball, but he overran the ball!

Player of the Year Roberts then did brilliantly to beat winger Vincent down the left side before whipping in an excellent cross to the near post, but Rhodes guided his glancing header over the crossbar with defender Huntington in close attendance.

Baker placed a tame header straight at Smithies from a floated Rose cross in the 58th minute.

BOOKING - Anthony Pilkington was booked for the third time this season in the 64th minute after kicking the ball away at a Stockport free-kick.

Rhodes then tested 'keeper Fon Williams with a shot from a narrow angle inside the area after collecting a pass on the edge of the box from Roberts' the 'keeper turned the ball away with two strong hands before Roberts headed the rebound narrowly over the crossbar.

SUB - Lee Clark made a double substitution in the 71st minute, with Lionel Ainsworth and Lee Novak replacing Gary Roberts and Jordan Rhodes. Novak joined Robinson up front, whereas Ainsworth occupied the right wing with Pilkington switching to the left.

Robinson immediately combined with Kay on the edge of the area, with the former laying a square pass to the onrushing midfielder; however, his shot was blocked well by a defender. Robinson acrobatically followed up, but sent his soft overhead kick wide of the left-hand post.

Kay was heavily involved at this stage and had another dangerous-looking long range volley deflected just wide by a defender in the 75th minute. A minute later Pilkington sent a shot towards goal from the edge of the area, but the 'keeper did well to smother the ball to his left side.

SUB - Danny Pilkington then replaced James Vincent in Stockport's first change on 77 minutes.

His elder brother Anthony then curled a beautiful effort just over the crossbar from the edge of the box after collecting a lay-off from substitute Novak.

A delightful corner, delivered by Drinkwater from the left side in the 79th minute, narrowly evaded the head of Peter Clarke in the middle of goal before dropping to Novak at the back post, who couldn't react in time to divert the ball goalwards.

SUB - Peter Thompson then replaced lone striker Nicholas Bignall in the 81st minute for Stockport County.

Stockport midfielder Bridcutt's deflected shot from range looped over Smithies' bar a minute later.

Robinson placed a back-post header behind the dead ball line with just three minutes left after Drinkwater looped the ball into the area.

Stockport had a late chance to snatch all three points when Poole collected a pass from substitute Thompson inside the Town area, but his shot was saved well by Smithies to his right side.


Town's Team (4-4-2):

Alex Smithies; Joe Skarz, Andy Butler, Peter Clarke (c), Lee Peltier; Gary Roberts (Lionel Ainsworth 71), Danny Drinkwater, Antony Kay, Anthony Pilkington; Theo Robinson, Jordan Rhodes (Lee Novak 71)

Unused Substitutes: Matt Glennon, Nathan Clarke, Robbie Simpson, Jim Goodwin, James Berrett,

Town Booking: Anthony Pilkington (64)

Stockport County Booking: Paul Huntington (42)

Gate: 14,921

Visitors: 941

    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.