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”.

Mark Ross joins Jamie Vardy’s Academy

Former Stockport County captain, Mark Ross, is one of over 40 non-league players taking their place in Jamie Vardy’s ‘V9’ academy this week.

Ross joins many former EFL and National League Premier players that current ply their trade at some level in non-league, as the players take on a 5 day training camp at the Etihad stadium in Manchester.

The camp includes a number of games against various select XI teams and academies, as well as training and conditioning at City’s brand new academy set up.

You can read more about Mark Ross’ time at the academy, as well as his thoughts on his exit from County, in his article on the non-league paper’s website. 

 

 

 

 

Jason Oswell becomes County’s third signing of the summer

Former Newtown AFC striker, Jason Oswell, has signed for County on a one year deal and becomes Jim Gannon’s third signing of the 2017 close season.

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The 24 year old was the Dafabet player of the season and golden boot winner last season, helping The Robins to a 7th place finish with his 22 league goals.

County’s new striker has also had spells at Nantwich, Inverness CT and Witton Albion since leaving Crewe Alexandra as a youngster.

Current Newtown boss, Chris Hughes, could not hide his disappointment at the loss of his player of the season.

“He will be a big miss for us, has been a fantastic for myself and the club, but expressed desire to return to the English system”, he told newtownafc.com after news of his departure was confirmed.

“We wish him all the best in his new venture.”

Jim Gannon, meanwhile, expressed his delight at securing Jason’s signature, who left Wales with a goal ratio that was better than one in two.

“I like my main forward to be an all round, well-equipped point attacker. And the more I considered Jason and assessed his attributes the more I felt he would be a great fit in our new look frontline”, he told Stockportcounty.com on Monday.

“Jason has the height and aerial strength to be a target man for getting up the pitch or attacking crosses. But he has a good turn of pace and very good mobility and athleticism for a big lad”.

The Gaffer also had words for County supporters, who have been wary on the club’s progress since the loss of both our player of the year and top goalscorer.

“I am confident we will have a stronger team than last season… We are far from finished and we have been working hard on adding other targets”.

“We may need to be patient to get the right quality but I am confident that we will have a team and squad stronger than last season”.

The club have now secured the signings of Matty Warburton, Stephen O’Halloran and Jason Oswell, as they continue to prepare for 17/18 season and push for the newly designed play-off places.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

O’Halloran re-signs for County

Stephen O’Halloran has re-signed for County after two years with Salford City. The defender becomes James Gannon’s second summer signing of 2017.

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The popular defender has played a starring role in The Ammies last two campaigns, and was part of the side that reached the FA Cup second round in 2016 whilst simultaneously winning the evo-stik premier league. In his second year at Salford, he helped his side reach the play-off semi-finals before parting ways after the club decided to move full-time.

Gannon was impressed with the defender during his time at County and towards the end of his time with City, and the gaffer believes that the left-footed defender will add something to County’s, already solid, defence.

“I feel he offers great experience, footballing quality, and natural balance to the other two contracted central defenders Michael Clarke and Chris Smalley”, he told stockportcounty.com on Wednesday.

“The addition of Stephen provides the option of both quality and balance that will keep the competition sharp for any the two man central defensive pair”.

The defender is a qualified physiotherapist and will most likely continue that work full-time whilst playing for County semi-professionally.

 

 

 

 

 

Rivals strengthen for next season

As news broke earlier this week of Gannon’s first summer signing of 2017, many of Stockport’s National League North rivals were also strengthening their squads as they look to secure one of two promotion spots next season.

Tamworth made their first signing on Thursday as they brought in former Yeovil, Solihull and Kidderminster forward, Darryl Knights.

20-goal striker George Thomson joined Harrogate from FC United of Manchester whilst Town have also brought in Goalkeeper James Belshaw and midfielder Josh Falkingham from league rivals Tamworth and Darlington as they look to show a real statement of intent this summer.

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Bradford Park Avenue have signed experienced attacker, Nicky Clee, with the winger calling time on his Altrincham career following 263 appearances.

Elsewhere, Seventh-placed Brackley Town have signed Solihull Moors defender, Connor Franklin, whilst Salford City made their second signing of the summer in the form of Liam Hogan, a former Stockport Town player who most recently played in the national league premier division with Gateshead.

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