Stockport County 2-0 FC Halifax Town: Shaymen finish fourth after defeat at champions

FC Halifax Town had to settle for fourth place in the National League after losing 2-0 at champions Stockport.

By Tom Scargill
Sunday, 15th May 2022, 5:07 pm
Stockport v Halifax
Stockport v Halifax

The fact that Town had to settle for fourth at all is testament to a wonderful league campaign, and it's a finish every fan would surely have taken at the start of the season.

Third place, and a pass into the play-off semi-finals, was still a possibility going into the last day though, but Paddy Madden's early opener and Will Collar's second-half goal gave County a deserved and comfortable win to ensure they took the title.

The Shaymen will now host Chesterfield on Tuesday, May 24.

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Town switched to a 3-5-2 formation, bringing back Niall Maher and Jack Senior.

But if it was an attempt to curb the hosts' enthusiasm and dampen the party atmosphere, County's goal machine Madden soon saw to that.

The striker got half a yard of space on the edge of the box, turned and fired a superb low finish across goal past Sam Johnson into the opposite corner for his 25th goal of the season. Edgeley Park erupted.

Shortly afterwards, Solihull took the lead at Boreham Wood, and it already looked like the writing was on the wall.

County, with ex-Halifax loanee Elliot Newby in their side, had started the better side, settling quickly and playing some flowing football; Myles Hippolyte looked a threat down the left, while the hosts were on top in midfield, with Antoni Sarcevic popping up in dangerous areas.

Stockport were excellent off the ball too, hounding Town into giving it back to them, playing with the hunger and quality of champions.

Madden hit the bar midway through the opening half after Sam Johnson parried a corner to him 15 yards out. It wasn't relentless pressure but Stockport were suffocating Town with a performance of composure and control.

An error at the back by County's Jordan Kean gifted Billy Waters a sight of goal - Town's first after half-an-hour - but he fired across goal and wide from the left of the box.

Stockport were doing to Halifax what Town had done to so many others this season. They were half-a-yard quicker all over the pitch and had a stranglehold on the game that looked very difficult to break.

Johnson tipped over Andy Cannon's effort from range a few minutes before the break as Halifax continued to be second best. Coupled with Solihull winning 2-0 at Boreham Wood, third place was quickly disappearing from view.

And it all but disappeared when Collar blasted home the rebound after Cannon's shot from range was parried by Johnson.

That, coupled with Wrexham losing at Dagenham, sent the chants of the County fans ringing around Edgeley Park.

All the thousand Halifax fans could do was sit and watch, drowned out by the din.

Their side were incapable of reversing what was now the inevitable, struggling to muster an attack in response, too easy to play against.

The Shaymen had seen more of the ball in the second-half but hadn't done enough with it.

The difference in the teams was encapsulated when Pierce Bird let a ball go out for a goal kick but Collar raced to keep it in, and from his cross, Madden nearly scored.

Town reverted to 4-2-3-1 by bringing on Matty Stenson, but there was nothing to be salvaged. This was Stockport's and Solihull's day.

It can only be hoped Halifax's is to come.

Stockport: Hinchliffe, Palmer, Keane (Johnson 61), Francis-Angol (Whitfield 84), Newby, Collar, Croasdale, Sarcevic, Cannon (Crankshaw 80), Hippolyte, Madden. Subs not used: Ashby-Hammond, Jennings.

Scorers: Madden (10), Collar (55)

Shots on target: 6

Shots off target: 3

Corners: 5

Halifax: Johnson, Warren, Maher, Debrah, Bird (Stenson 70), Senior, Spence (Thomas 87), Woods (Gilmour 36), Warburton, Slew, Waters. Subs not used: Swaby-Neavin, Benn.

Shots on target: 0

Shots off target: 4

Corners: 2

Attendance: 10,307 (991)

Referee: Matthew Dicicco

Town man of the match: Kian Spence. Best of a poor bunch on the day, at least gave it his all with some bite and aggression which Town were lacking.