Tranmere Winger signs for County

Former Tranmere Rovers winger, Darren Stephenson, has signed for Stockport County on a two year contract and becomes Jim Gannon’s fourth signing of the summer.

The left sided attacker, who began his career at Bradford City and made one appearance for The Bantams in 2012, has been billed as a replacement for Danny Lloyd and a striker that is proven at Conference North level.

The consensus from Tranmere Rovers fans, for what it’s worth, is that it was a mistake to release a player that was never really given a chance in the team. Looking at the Total Tranmere forum, you can see that the majority believe he would have an important impact for them when fully fit.

Jim Gannon, meanwhile, is delighted to finally secure Darren’s services, and revealed that he has been a target for quite some time.

‘Darren is a player I’ve admired since he played against my Northwich Victoria team’, he told Stockportcounty.com on Monday.

“(He) catches the eye with his skill, pace and ability to raid in off the left to score goals. His flourish of goals at the end of 2015/2016 earned him a great move to Tranmere”.

Gannon also revealed that his work was not finished yet, and expressed his desire to continually supplement the current squad of players.

“We are continuing discussions with a number of attackers that we trust will provide at least one more player with different qualities to complement and supplement our signed attackers”.

Fylde confirm Lewis Montrose signing

AFC Fylde and Stockport County’s official channels both confirmed Lewis Montrose departure from Edgeley Park yesterday, and it was revealed that this was not the first time the Lancashire club had tried to sign County’s two-time player of the year.

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In only February of this year, the Coasters approached County with a view to signing Montrose, but were rebuffed when a clause in his contract meant he could only leave for a club in the higher divisions.

With Fylde’s promotion, that has now happened and there was nothing stopping Dave Challinor from re-approaching the holding midfielder and activating the release clause in his contract (rumoured to be £15,000).

AFC’s chairman, David Haythornthwaite revealed that he was delighted the deal was now over the line.

“We are delighted to finally welcome Lewis to the club”, he told their official club website.

“We tried to get him in February last season as we were aware there was a buy-out clause in his contract. However, the clause was restrictive in that it only allowed a move to a club in a higher division than Stockport”.

Jim Gannon, meanwhile, shared the fans disappointment, but was upbeat about County’s chances of replacing the former Manchester City trainee.

“Lewis has been an outstanding member of the team, earning back-to-back Player of the Year awards… We are naturally disappointed to lose Lewis from our squad”, he told County’s official website yesterday.

“We are confident that we have an excellent replacement for his central midfield role in the team in Harry Winter. We were mindful of the potential loss of Lewis at some point due to injury or transfer, so we added Harry from FC United in early March”.

Gannon also revealed how hard the club had tried to remove the infamous clause from Montrose’s contract, and his words including a slight dig at the former management for allowing it to be present in the first place.

“We found it difficult to negotiate out of his contract a ‘release’ or ‘buyout’ clause that was granted by the previous manager”.

The 27-year-old has clear ambitions to play at a high level and despite his long-term signature earlier in the season, it is clear that the vast majority of players would not want to be held back if a full-time club came calling (especially when they have the financial backing that Fylde do).

Here at EH, we wish Lewis Montrose all the best for his time at Mill Farm.

 

 

 

League introduce new play-off format for 2018

The National League chief executive today announced that the rumoured plans to alter the play-off structure in the top three non-league divisions will go ahead in time for next season.

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The radical new format, which was announced today by CEO Michael Tattersall, involves the top seven clubs in each of the National League premier, north and south, finishing in a ‘promotion’ position.

As usual, the winners will receive automatic promotion, whilst second to seventh position will battle it out for the other spot.

Second and third position will move straight into a one-legged semi-final (at home), whilst fourth to seventh will battle it out to join them in a quarter-final-type match.

The league have confirmed that the finals of the north and south play-offs will continue in being played at the highest placed home team.

The controversial new format could therefore see a team as low as seventh get promoted, as the league look to increase the interest levels by increasing the number of teams competing.

Source – Non League Pitchero

 

 

Updated: Confirmed 2017/18 Squad

As Jim Gannon looks to sort his squad out as early as possible following the end of the season, there has been plenty of movement at Edgeley Park and below are the players who are confirmed for the 2017 season:

  1. Ben Hinchliffe (contracted until 2018)
  2. Ian Ormson (contracted until 2018)
  3. Michael Clarke (contracted until 2018)
  4. Sam Minihan (contracted until 2018)
  5. Max Cartwright (contracted until 2018)
  6. Chris Smalley (contracted until 2018)
  7. Scott Duxbury (contracted until 2018)
  8. Connor Hampson (contracted until 2018)
  9. Lewis Montrose (contracted until 2019)
  10. Harry Winter (contracted until 2018)
  11. Adam Etches (contracted until 2019)
  12. Jimmy Ball (contracted until 2019)
  13. Harry Brazel (non-contract terms)
  14. Adam Thomas (contracted until 2018)
  15. George West (non-contract terms)

Gannon has previously stated that he believes the current squad has good strength in depth, but understands the need to get new faces in to complement the current batch of players.

“We’re now looking to recruit at least five very strong Conference North players. The main targets will be the three or four attackers that will provide the presence, penetration and creativity to get goals”, he told stockportcounty.com  last week.

“We’re also considering an experienced leader type centre back and a strong left-footed central midfielder to complement our current team players”.

With the intent shown early on in pre-season by Salford City, and the relegation of York City (who intend to remain full-time) along with the usual suspects of Chorley, Kidderminster, Nuneaton and Darlington. Jim Gannon will have his work cut out in trying to ensure that County can build upon their reasonably successful 2016/17 and finish in at least, the top five.

 

Lloyd signs for Peterborough

Danny Lloyd has signed for Peterborough United on a three year deal with the League 1 club claiming to have fought off a number of clubs for the former Fylde man’s signature.

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Photo courtesy of ThePosh.com 

‘The Posh’ have a history of bringing players up through non-league and manager Grant McCann fought hard to bring the 25-year-old to London Road.

‘I am delighted to sign Danny, he adds to the attacking threat. He has scored a lot of goals and created goals too’, he told Peterborough’s official website earlier this week.

‘He likes to get forward at every opportunity and I am looking forward to working with him’.

Lloyd, who promised goals last summer when he joined County, said the decision was an easy one for him.

‘As soon as I heard about the interest from Peterborough, I wanted to sign’, he revealed to his new club yesterday.

‘If I am honest, I wish pre-season was starting tomorrow because I am eager to get going. This is an opportunity for me and I am going to work extremely hard from day one’.

The striker was out of contract at Edgeley Park and unfortunately for County, because Lloyd was not under 24 years of age, the club get no compensation for his services and he moves to Cambridgeshire without afflicting his new side with a fee.

We’d like to wish Danny Lloyd all the best for next season, it’s clear that it was his dream to move into professional football and the stability of a three year contract at a league 1 club is something that the majority of professionals outside the top two tiers would jump at.

Good luck Danny!

 

County 1-1 Gloucester City

A Danny Lloyd penalty wasn’t enough for County to claim victory as Gloucester earnt a point at Edgeley Park to ensure County missed out on the 16/17 play-off spots by one point.

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Goals: Lloyd – 56, Kotwica – 72.

Team: Hinchliffe, Ross (C.), Cartwright, Montrose, Clarke, Smalley (Meppen-Walters, 75), Duxbury, Brazel (Marsden, 77), Odejayi (Amis, 61), Ball, Lloyd.

Unused Subs: Minihan, Ormson.

Man of the Match: Lloyd.

Attendance: 5,783 (82 away).

Match Preview: County vs Gloucester – Groundhog Day for the Hatters

Stockport County face Gloucester City this Saturday in the final league game of the season, and after 41 games of the season already taken place, The Hatters need one final push for what is certainly a make or break match for Jim Gannon and his players. A win from County and a loss for either Chorley or Salford would guarantee a place for us in the play-offs for the first time since 2008!

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Our opponents Gloucester City have also had their fair share of success this season, and are currently 10th, the highest position the club has seen for some years, meaning that this will be no easy game. Just last week, The Tigers took a point from fellow play-off chasers, Chorley, in an entertaining 2-2 draw.

The reverse fixture in early December ended 1-0 to the Hatters but with the Tigers currently playing well and getting results, it doesn’t leave much room for error if County are to keep their season going beyond Saturday.

Earlier this week, I spoke to County winger Danny Lloyd, as he urged fans to get down to Edgeley Park on Saturday, “If any fan can think of a good reason not to come down on Saturday, then please message me”, he challenged.

“This is an opportunity for every single person who loves Stockport County Football Club to get behind the lads – Win lose or draw, and top off what has been the best season this club’s had for a long time.”

I also caught up with County Captain Mark Ross, who underlined the players’ commitment to the cause and stressed the importance of this weekend to everyone at the club.

“I just want everyone coming down on Saturday to know that the lads understand how much of a big deal it is to you and the club”, he told me earlier this week.

“We want you and the club to keep this season going in the best possible fashion by winning and winning well. That can only be helped by the amazing support we have had from the stands since the first game.”

Despite the odds stacked heavily against SCFC this weekend, the supporters still believe, so much so that earlier this week, Betway closed the market on promotion after Stockport fans flooded their website!

We also spoke with lifelong County fan, Callum Wilde, who believes that the big occasion will be an advantage for Stockport.

“I think the team will be fine, they have played in front of big and noisy crowds this season, so that won’t be a problem in my opinion. But we all know, Gloucester would love to come to Edgeley Park and spoil the day so we do need to be aware of it”.

Callum also commented on the success we’ve had this season already. “The players have been great. The performances away from home have been superb”.

“The connection between the players and fans this season has been fantastic too. Hopefully it continues on Saturday and helps us to the three points that gets us into the play-offs”.

The Hatters chances of finishing in the top 5 were boosted by the Football Association on Wednesday afternoon, who, after deliberation, rejected Darlington FC’s appeal to take part in the play-offs despite not having the required number of seats at Blackwell Meadows. This essentially means Stockport can finish 6th and still have a chance of promotion.

It was also apparent that as well as wanting to secure success for the fans, Lloyd and Ross were desperate to finish in the top six on a personal level, after both players moved to the club only last summer.

“It would justify my decision to come to County”, Danny told Chris earlier in the week, “I wanted to be involved in another season chasing the play-offs.”

For Ross, who joined from fellow promotion contenders Chorley last year, the feeling was exactly the same.

“Personally, getting into play-offs would mean a great deal to me. It would put us in a position to finish the job that I came here for. It was a really tough decision to move clubs (from Chorley) after all those years.”

It could be argued that regardless of the result on Saturday, it’s been an entertaining season, play-offs or not. Gannon and the players have connected with the club in a way that hasn’t been seen for a while.

Whether it was seeing a return to the FA Cup first round for the first time in years or watching Danny Lloyd bag nearly thirty goals for the season, there have certainly been some highlights, and when was the last time County fans could say that?

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Come on County!


Tickets: 

County are anticipating a crowd of in excess of 5,000 for tomorrow’s game, and are urging supporters to purchase tickets in advance. Details of how you can attend can be found here. 

Author: Chris Crook