REPORT: Hatters overcome Alfreton in festive double-header

Stockport County registered their first double of the season, after overcoming 10-man Alfreton Town on New Year’s Day with a comfortable 3-1 victory.

Two goals from the increasingly prolific Chris Smalley had put the Hatters in control, before Scott Duxbury’s corner was turned in by goalkeeper Chris Elliott.

Alfreton rescued a late consolation from the penalty spot, after Dan Cowan tripped Brendan Daniels in the box, but in reality this was always comfortable for County.

Matty Warburton made a return from his ligament injury, replacing the injured Kallum Mantack in attack, with Adam Thomas also coming in for Harry Winter.

It was a change that paid dividends, with Thomas assisting brilliantly for the first goal, whipping the ball in for Smalley to volley home after seven minutes.

County continued to press, perhaps learning from mistakes in previous games, and their job was made easier after Craig Westcarr was sent off for foul and abusive language on 33 minutes.

But the Hatters had to wait until the 50th minute to extend their advantage, with Thomas and Smalley again involved heavily.

Cieron Keane conceded a free-kick on the right of the penalty area, and when the former Hednesford man swung the ball in, it was Smalley again that reached the ball, this time stabbing past Elliott from close range.

It got better for County with 15 minutes to go, sustained pressure resulted in a corner for the away side, which flew straight via the gloves of Elliott, who couldn’t keep out Duxbury’s inswinging cross.

Alfreton’s late penalty, which was converted by the felled Daniels, will be frustrating for Hatters manager Jim Gannon, but not take too much gloss off an impressive and clinical performance.

FT: Alfreton Town 1-3 County

Squad: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury, Ball, Smalley (Clarke, 58), O’Halloran, Thomas (McKenna, 78), Stopforth (Winter, 40), Oswell, Warburton, Stephenson.

Unused substitutes: Ormson, Dixon

Scorers: Smalley (7, 50), Elliott OG (75).

Att: 949



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