Fresh from another victory on the road in midweek Town travel to league leaders Stockport County this weekend knowing that victory could see them move into the playoff positions.
The 2-1 win at Sutton means Simon Weaver’s side has taken 19 points out of a possible 24 to move up to eighth in the League Two table. Equally as impressive they have posted seven wins from the past nine away from home and no other side averages more than Town’s 1.86 points per game on their travels.
This is Stockport's second consecutive season back in the EFL after over a decade in the National League and National League North level. After a tricky start back in League Two a season ago, County found their feet to make the playoffs, falling at the final hurdle to Carlisle via a penalty shoot-out.
This season they have been the pacesetters though, at one stage recording 12 consecutive league wins between September and November and they come into the game in top spot with a five point gap to second-placed Wrexham.
Unsurprisingly they boast an impressive home record, winning 10 of their 15 games for a return of 33 points.
County were busy in the January window too, bringing in Ethan Bristow, Rico Richards, Rhys Bennett and Lewis Cass on loan as well as making Odin Bailey’s loan move from Salford permanent.
The previous league meeting at Edgeley Park in September 2022 saw the two sides play out a goalless draw.
County did the get better of Town earlier this season when Antoni Sarcevic, a Warren Burrell own goal and a Will Collar strike put the visitors three goals to the good before a George Thomson penalty reduced the arrears fifteen minutes from time.
The man in charge
Dave Challinor is the man in charge at Edgeley Park, having left Hartlepool early last season after taking them into the EFL, securing promotion at the first attempt.
He will be a familiar face to Town fans having previously squared off against the club during his spell in the dugout at AFC Fylde, where he earned three promotions to take them into the National League.
After leaving the club in October 2019, he was appointed manager of Hartlepool a month later and guided them back into the EFL via the playoffs that season.
Challinor was also a former County player, spending two seasons there after starting his career at Tranmere. He later moved on to Bury where he finished his league career after almost 400 appearances.
Ones to watch
Isaac Olaofe leads the way in the scoring charts having found the net 15 times so far this season. Reliable goalscorers Paddy Madden and Kyle Wootton have eight and six respectively, in reduced gametime due to injuries over the season.
Veteran Antoni Sarcevic is one of a host of midfield options for Dave Challinor, along with the likes of Will Collar, Ryan Croasdale and Callum Camps.
Fraser Horsfall has been a solid ever present at the back since arriving from Northampton at the start of last season and Macauley Southam-Hayles will pose a threat with his six assists from a marauding full-back position.
Whilst the club were first formed back in 1883, they have been known as Stockport County since 1890 and joined the Football League ten years later.
In the post-war period the club would spend life in the bottom two divisions, earning a number of promotions but being unable to remain in the third tier for any sustained period.
The turning point in their fortunes came with appointment of Danny Bergara in 1989, with the Uruguayan earning a first promotion in the 1990/91 season as well as leading the Hatters to multiple Wembley trips.
The 1990’s would undoubtedly become the club’s most successful period, featuring in the old first division for five seasons as well as the League Cup semi-finals in 1996/97.
Dave Jones took over in 1995 and took the club into the second tier following promotion in 1996/97, before departing for Southampton and being replaced by Gary Megson – who led the side to a best-ever eighth placed finish in his first season.
The club fell back through the divisions in the early 2000’s though, before dropping out of the Football League altogether in 2010/11, and a further relegation to National League North was experienced in 2012/13.
2018/19 saw the club return to the fifth tier before the title win in 2021/22 capped a return back to the EFL.
Town continue to be without longer term absentees Mark Oxley, Lewis Thomas, Rod McDonald and Sam Folarin but will have deadline day loan signings Tom Bloxham and Derek Abu straight into the squad.