Match Report: Stockport Sports 3-0 AFC Blackpool
Josh Symons, John Marsden & Matty Ward give the Saxons all 3 points this weekend
The Saxons returned to winning ways and gained revenge over AFC Blackpool, for a disappointing loss to them earlier in the season, with a convincing 3-0 victory at Stockport Sports Village.
Peter Withe was forced to make changes to his starting line-up, Ricky Anane missing out through injury, he will have a scan on his knee this week and hopefully will not be out for too long. Josh Symons came back into the team at right-back in place of Anane, while Gomez Dali made a surprise return to the starting line-up after an ankle injury that has kept him out since the opening weeks of the season.
The visitors having defeated The Saxons earlier in the season utilised the same physical tactics that saw them win the earlier meeting between the sides, but with the addition of Mike Tomlinson and with Melford Knight setting the tone early with some strong challenges, they found the Saxons a far different proposition in this game.
The first half was one way traffic as The Saxons attacked at will, looking dangerous each time they moved forward. Liam Irwin and Kyle Hamid dictating the play alongside Knight in midfield, with Matty Ward and Dali providing pace and thrust on the flanks.
The first chance came 12 minutes in. Irwin crossed from the left and John Marsden headed narrowly wide. Strangely considering his prolific record this season Marsden has yet to score a header, although if he continues to receive similar service it will not be long before that changes.
On 20 minutes the deadlock was broken and surprisingly it was full-back Josh Symons who got the goal. Dali burst forwards from halfway, squared to Marsden whose shot was spilled by Kieran O'Boyle in the visitors goal, Symons was on hand to sweep home as the ball rebounded out from the keeper. Symons was swamped by his team-mates as he celebrated his first goal of the season.
Just two minutes later Irwin nearly doubled the lead, dribbling into the area from the left flank he struck a fierce drive that O'Boyle did well to turn away for a corner. Irwin has become a key figure in The Saxons midfield in recent weeks, the change in tactics giving him the freedom to roam and take possession in dangerous areas, his slick passing game providing openings for his team-mates.
On the half-hour mark The Saxons thought they should have had a penalty. Matty Ward hit a fabulous long ball which found Dali who outpaced his marker and burst into the area, as he prepared to shoot he appeared to be clipped by Martin Baird the visiting skipper. The referee waved play on amid protests from the home bench.
The Saxons nearly doubled their lead on 34 minutes, Irwin pulling back a cross to Marsden who turned goal-wards, O'Boyle again did well to turn the ball round for a corner.
Just a minute later and it was 2-0. Dali again racing clear of his marker and through on goal. This time it was the keeper who clipped him as he bore down, and this time the referee awarded the penalty and booked O'Boyle for the foul. Marsden made no mistake from the spot, netting his 15th goal of the season.
Irwin nearly made it 3-0 just before half-time. Running with the ball from halfway and skipping round several challenges before firing just wide from the edge of the area.
The visitors came out for the second period in much more positive mood, having barely left their own half during the opening 45 minutes. Baird headed just wide from a free-kick and Ciaran Donnelly struck a fierce dipping volley from long range that Russell Saunders did well to turn away.
On 54 minutes Matty Ward killed off any hopes the visitors may have had of coming back into the game, dribbling in from the right, he worked the ball onto his deadly left foot and fired in from 25 yards out. Ward has only been at the club a short time but goals like that show why he has already become a firm favourite with the The Saxons supporters.
AFC Blackpool should have scored a consolation goal but Grant Dell and Ben Waddington wasted opportunities when through on goal. Marco Cobb was booked for a body check on Josh Symons, which had the referee seen from a better angle, a foul that ended the full backs afternoon would have resulted in a red-card. He was withdrawn from the action with the resulting injury shortly afterwards, replaced by his brother Sean.
Ironically considering it was the visitors who appeared guilty of the physical approach it was The Saxons who were reduced to ten men, Gomez Dali dismissed for retaliation. Many inside the ground expected the AFC Blackpool player involved in the incident to be sent off as well, but he escaped with only a booking.
Kyle Hamid and Marsden had further efforts before the end as in spite of the numerical disadvantage it was The Saxons who still looked the likeliest to add to their score. Other than the dismissal of Dali it was a very satisfying afternoons work by The Saxons, and one that will give them much confidence as they head into next weekends FA Vase tie away at Bootle.
1. Russell Saunders, 2. Josh Symons (Sean Symons), 3. Aaron Best, 4. Jamie Street, 5. Mike Tomlinson (c), 6. Melford Knight, 7. Kyle Hamid, 8. Liam Irwin (Tyler Collishaw), 9. John Marsden, 10. Gomez Dali, 11. Matty Ward
1. Kieran O'Boyle, 2. Grant Dell, 3. Paul Carroll, 4. Martin Baird (c), 5. Kevan Ford, 6. Adam Freeland, 7. Lloyd Balazs, 8. Marco Cobb, 9. Ben Waddington, 10. Ciaran Donnelly, 11. Shane Hull