Town fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Stockport County this afternoon with strikes from Antoni Sarcevic and a Warren Burrell own goal establishing a first-half lead before Will Collar’s header extended the advantage early in the second-half.
George Thomson pulled a goal back for Town from the penalty spot but Sion Weaver’s side couldn’t muster a comeback in a game that extended beyond the 100 minute mark following an injury stoppage to referee Thomas Parsons.
Aiming for their fourth win in five league outings, Simon Weaver kept the same starting line-up that won 2-1 at Newport a week ago. The visitors were also unchanged from the side that earned all three points thanks to a 1-0 home win against Doncaster.
It was a patient start from Town, happy to cede possession to the visitors who were content to play the ball around their own backline.
The game snapped into life though when a long ball was misjudged by the County defence. Josh March ran on to the ball and with nothing available in terms of support he cracked a shot away that surprised Ben Hinchcliffe and thundered back off the bar to safety.
County responded soon after when Macauley Southam-Hales cross the ball into Louie Barry but his header was tame and dealt with comfortably by Mark Oxley.
Out of nowhere though County had the lead. A short corner caught out the Town defence and Sarcevic struck past Oxley despite the narrow angle.
It could – and should – have been two a minute later. Barry breached the Town defence but as Oxley advanced his chipped effort went over the bar.
The visitors were confident on he back of the goal, with Town on the backfoot and needing a period of time to adjust and get a foothold back in the game.
George Thomson’s turn and shot on the half-hour was Town’s closest effort at goal but his shot was too close to threaten Hinchcliffe.
Stockport skipper Ryan Croasdale went into the book shortly after his challenge on James Daly.
Sarcevic almost caught out Oxley again from a short corner five minutes before the break but the Town keeper was alert to the danger and diverted the ball over the bar.
Less than five minutes after the re-start County doubled their lead. Barry weaved through the Town defence along the byline before striking low and hard into danger area with Burrell only able to turn the ball past Oxley.
Barry then caused the Town defence more trouble shortly after with only a desperate goalline clearance from Josh Falkingham keeping Town from falling further behind.
Town went ever so close to reducing the deficit on the hour when a neat exchange on the edge of the area saw Matty Daly accelerate in between two defenders to poke a shot at goal. Hinchcliffe was quick to get down low to his left and turn the ball away for a corner.
The visitors were not content with the two goal lead though and Barry in particular was a constant menace to the Town defence. Only a late Burrell interception thwarted further danger as they look to press their advantage home.
With twenty-five minutes Simon Weaver threw on the in-form Sam Folarin for James Daly in a straight swap.
Collar rose a couple of minutes later to out-muscle Burrell and head past Oxley to make it 3-0.
But Town were handed a lifeline less than a minute later when March was felled in the box and Thomson coolly slotted home to provide some hope of a late comeback.
The visitors made a double-change Paddy Madden and Kyle Wootton replaced the irrepressible Barry and Isaac Olaofe whilst Town were forced into a change when March limped off as a result of an earlier challenge, being replaced by Jack Muldoon.
The pace of Folarin caused problems for the visitors down the left-hand side following his introduction and he won a corner with ten minutes remaining that saw Town go close but time was beginning to run out and County in no mood to relinquish their advantage.
Odin Bailey crashed a volley against the post with five minutes left which could have made the scoreline and afternoon even worse for Town. For County, a seventh win in succession saw them move to the top of League Two following Notts County's earlier defeat.