A first-half Paddy Madden strike secured promotion-chasing Stockport County’s third consecutive win, during a tight 1-0 victory over Aldershot Town, matching what is now the Hatters’ best-ever start to a National League campaign (2019/20).
Madden the Man as County Triumph Again
Provider of many important strikes for County since arriving from Fleetwood Town earlier this year, the 31-year-old climbed well to knock his header back across the goal and beyond Aldershot goalkeeper Mitch Walker.
Ben Whitfield provided the cross for Madden to head home, after the playmaker had originally combined with John Rooney down the left-hand side, before beating an Aldershot defender and delivering the ball into the box.
It’s now three consecutive matches Madden has been on the scoresheet for County, demonstrating how imperative his goals are for the side hoping to have turned a corner in the National League.
Madden scored the equaliser in both of Stockport’s last two fixtures against fellow promotion hopefuls Wrexham and relegation-threatened Weymouth, with his strike against Aldershot the first time this season he has netted in the first-half.
What’s more, in the trio of matches Madden has found the net in, he has scored the Hatters’ opener in every match, confirming suggestions he is one of the division’s most valuable players.
Aldershot Fightback Thwarted by Stern Hatters
Mark Molesley had enjoyed his first win as Shots boss in midweek over Dover and he may well have left Edgeley Park disappointed his side didn’t at least pick up a point in this tight encounter.
Needing the points to drag themselves out of the relegation zone, Aldershot came at County in the second-half and once again troubled an under-pressure Hatters backline.
Former Bournemouth man Mikael Ndjoli came off the bench to spark the visitors into life and struck the woodwork with the Shots’ best opportunity of the half.
The 24-year-old worked some space for himself down the right-hand side, before dancing into the County box and firing his shot into the side of the post, much to the relief of a stranded Ethan Ross.
As the half progressed, Molesley became visibly more agitated with each passing minute, but sensing the increased intensity of their opposite number, a 6,000 plus crowd inside Edgeley Park responded with their own roar of support.
A further barrage of attacks were sent towards the County goal in the dying minutes, yet with a combination of last-ditch defending and a hint of good fortune, Aldershot were unable to squeeze an equaliser home, whilst dropping further down the table in the process.
Almost Same Old Story for Wasteful County
County had started the game much the better side, dominating possession in the early stages and moving the ball with the intensity of a team wanting to score plenty of goals.
Despite enjoying a flurry of promising spells inside the Aldershot half, a stacked County attack were unable to find a breakthrough, with the hosts’ spurning a number of key chances.
Rooney ought to have done better with his freekick just left of the Shots’ goal, yet the former New York Red Bulls man fired straight into the wall, much to the frustration of Simon Rusk on the County bench.
It had looked as if County were to regret their missed opportunities, as the visitors began to gain a foothold and came closest through Corie Andrews, whose close-range effort was smothered by Stockport goalkeeper Ross.
Super Ross to the Rescue for County
Ross had been ushered into the side by Rusk following County’s troubling start to the campaign and the former Arsenal youth player once again justified his selection over fan’s favourite Ben Hinchcliffe with an important save to maintain parity midway through the first-half.
Ollie Crankshaw provided a spark for County when it looked like they were to let the game get away from them, with the recent arrival combining well with Macauley Southam-Hales down the right-hand side.
The former Bradford City winger was inches away from picking out a vacant Madden inside the Aldershot box, whose but a vital bit of defending prevented a tap-in for the County forward.
Madden was once again left frustrated moments later, this time by referee Paul Marsden, who waved away the County penalty shouts, despite it looking like his shot had been blocked by an arm inside the box.
Stockport County: Ross; Fryers, Palmer, Keane; Southam-Hales, Rooney, Croasdale, Kitching; Crankshaw, Whitfield, Madden
Aldershot Town: Walker; Kinsella, Lyons-Foster, Phillips, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Vennings, Edser, Aouachria; Willard, Andrews, Whittingham