TT MATCH PREVIEW
Steve Harris – @SteveHarris84
Match details: Stockport County versus Torquay United
Venue: Edgeley Park, Stockport
Date: Sunday 16th May 2021
Current form (all competitions):
Stockport: D, W, W, W, W, D
Torquay United: W, D, W, W, W, D
Stockport: Alex Reid 16
Torquay: Asa Hall 13
Head to Head:
Last time the two teams met: Torquay United 1 – 0 Stockport County, Saturday 3rd October 2020
Torquay United left it late to secure a hard fought opening day win against the pre-season National League title favourites Stockport County.
A 90th minute strike from midfielder Connor Lemonheigh-Evans ultimately proved to be the difference for the Gulls against the Hatters, who had two goal-bound efforts cleared off the line – including one which came shortly after Lemonheigh-Evans’ goal.
The Gulls made a promising start as Ben Whitfield cut inside from the left before producing a shot from the edge of the penalty area in the sixth minute, which Stockport keeper Ben Hinchcliffe turned behind. In the 33rd minute, United’s stand-in skipper Kyle Cameron produced an important goal-line block to deny Stockport striker Richie Bennett.
Four minutes after the re-start, a corner from John Rooney was punched away by Covolan, but only as far as James Jennings who fired over the bar for the visitors.
The Hatters continued to dominate the proceedings as Connor Jennings had an angled effort from close range turned behind by Covolan on 65 minutes and seven minutes later Lois Maynard and Sam Minihan both had shots blocked.
With 11 minutes to go, Johnson decided to shuffle his pack and made a triple substitution – introducing Asa Hall, Adam Randell and Louis Britton in place of Matt Buse, Jake Andrews and Josh Umerah in an attempt to shake things up.
The changes almost paid dividends in the 85th minute when a long ball from Hall picked out Britton who, in turn, picked out Lemonheigh-Evans who sliced a wild shot harmlessly wide.
Britton then had three chances to snatch victory within a space of a few minutes. Firstly he nodded a Whitfield cross straight into the arms of Hinchcliffe; he then had a long range effort deflected onto the bar, which was swiftly followed by an angled shot which Hinchcliffe tipped onto the bar and over.
The winner eventually came for the Gulls at the death when an Aaron Nemane cross fell to Lemonheigh-Evans who found the back of the net with a deflected shot.
Moments later Nemane proved to the hero at the other end of the pitch, as he produced a goal line clearance to deny County last ditch equaliser and seal all three points for United.
Manager: Simon Rusk
After a playing career in non-league football with Boston United, Northwich Victoria, York City and Crawley Town, Simon Rusk made his mark as a coach with Brighton and Hove Albion – holding a number of roles including that of Under-23 head coach and first team coach. Under his guidance, the Seagulls Under-23’s reached the Premier League 2 Division 1 – the highest level of Under-23 football – in the 2017-18 season. In addition to this, Rusk also guided the Seagulls’ Under-23s to the last 16 of the EFL Trophy twice.
His success with Brighton’s Under-23s brought him to the attention of Stockport County, when he was appointed as the successor to Jim Gannon in January 2021.
One to watch: Paddy Madden
Position: Centre Forward
Date of Birth: Mar 4, 1990 – 31 Years Old
Former Clubs: Bohemians, Shelbourne, Carlisle United, Yeovil Town, Scunthorpe, Fleetwood Town, Stockport
International: Irish (1 Cap, 0 Goals)
National League Stats 20-21: Played 14, Goals 7
Before Gary Johnson’s transformation of Jamie Reid, the United boss also had a similar effect on the career of Stockport County striker Paddy Madden during his second spell as Yeovil Town manager between 2012 and 2015.
Madden initially joined the Glovers on loan from Carlisle United in October 2012 and later signed for the Glovers on a permanent basis for £15,000. He had found the back of the net twice in 32 league appearances for the Cumbrians after joining from League of Ireland side Bohemians. However, under Johnson at Huish Park Madden’s form couldn’t have been more different from his displays at Brunton Park; he found the back of the net 23 times in 39 appearances for the Glovers in all competitions as Yeovil won promotion to the Championship for the first time in their history after beating Brentford in the 2013 League One play-off final. He was later called up to the Republic of Ireland squad by Giovanni Trappatoni for a friendly against Wales in August 2013.
Since leaving Huish Park in January 2014, Madden has since gone on to appear for Scunthorpe United and Fleetwood Town before joining the Hatters in March 2021.
View from the Sofa by Sam Jones:
After Sutton’s resounding victory over Maidenhead, all eyes turn to Stockport. United’s draw with Bromley last weekend and Sutton’s victory over Woking midweek mean that the South Londoners have a 4 point lead with 2 to play. But don’t lose faith just yet. Sutton still have Hartlepool to play and I don’t see them winning both games. If United beat Stockport tomorrow, that’s them out of the title race and it will just be a shout out between us and Sutton. The game at Edgeley Park is a must win for both teams, lets hope our boys can come out on top.
James Jennings – Liam Hogan – Ash Palmer
Elliott Newby – Ryan Croasdale – John Rooney – Macauley Southam-Hales
Paddy Madden – Harry Cardwell – Ryan Rydel
Ben Wynter – Sam Sherring – Joe Lewis – Dean Moxey
Adam Randell – Asa Hall – Connor Lemonheigh-Evans – Jake Andrews
Billy Waters – Scott Boden