Stockport County claimed a comfortable victory against Bradford (Park Avenue) at Edgeley Park in The Skrill North.
An early goal from Liam Dickinson and another effort from Rhys Turner saw the home side take a two-goal advantage. However, before the break Paul Beesley netted for the visitors. But, Alan Lord’s side sealed victory with two unanswered goals, as Iain Howard’s deflected shot found the bottom corner and a penalty from Phil Jevons meant the Avenue have failed to win in their previous five fixtures.
The hosts took an early lead. Initially, Turner looked for support and right-back Kyle Jacobs received his pass and then laid the ball into the feet of Dickinson. The striker managed to hold off the challenge from the Avenue’s centre back Adam Clayton and struck a low right-footed effort into the bottom corner from 16 yards.
After conceding the first goal, the visitors could not convert an opportunity to equalise. Following a number of one-touch passes, Paul Walker threaded a through ball to striker Alex Davidson, but his toe-poked shot trickled wide of the post from 18 yards.
Seconds later, County extended their advantage. With the away side struggling to cope with the opponents attack, Nicky Platt played a clever ball into the path of winger Turner, who ran around the back of Scott Maxfield, and lifted the ball over the Avenue goalkeeper John Lamb from 14 yards.
Again, the Avenue had another chance to get on the scoresheet but Ian Ormson’s save denied the visitors. A strong pass from captain Nathan Hotte was controlled and released by Chilaka to Beesley, and despite a defensive mistake from Adam Cowen, the striker’s left-footed effort was saved by the County goalkeeper.
On the counter attack, Alan Lord’s men looked dangerous and came close to making it 3-0. A fine ball from Dickinson found Turner, who accelerated away from Maxfield to strike the ball towards goal. However, his right-footed shot was tipped wide by Lamb, but Howard managed to get to the loose ball and his fierce shot was clawed away from the goal by the Avenue goalkeeper.
Before the half time whistle, the men in green and white reduced County’s lead. A long ball was left by Chilaka to Richard Marshall who struck a powerful low shot, and despite Ormson’s save, the rebound was fired home by Beesley for his first goal in Avenue colours.
After the break, the Avenue made a substitution as Chris Howarth replaced Chilaka. Also, the visitors nearly scored an early equaliser. As Scott Duxbury lost possession, Davidson ran with the ball and picked out the run of Beesley, but his sliding shot was pushed wide by Ormson.
Once more, the away side were punished for their failure to convert their earlier opportunities. Again, County pushed forward with a number of players in support to find themselves against a sparse Avenue defence. Howard cut inside Howarth to play a quick one-two with his striker, and his right-footed shot ricocheted off a defender and into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Shortly after the third goal for the home side, they were awarded a penalty. A handball from Maxfield inside the penalty area saw the linesman raise his flag and hold it across his chest, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Jevons stepped up and sent Lamb the wrong way to make it 4-1.
The visitors tried to respond, but were unable to score their second goal of the game with a well-worked move. Walker collected possession and spread the ball wide to Davidson, who flicked the ball into the path of Hotte, but his low attempt was saved by Ormson from 12 yards.
With a three goal cushion, County were looking comfortable and came close to adding further goals to the scoreboard, but efforts from Jacobs, Jevons and Dickinson were unable to find the back of the net.
Furthermore, the home side continued to attack. Firstly, the Avenue were unable to stop the run of Howard from the left wing, and his shot forced Lamb into another save from 14 yards. Minutes later, a long ball was picked up by substitute Adriano Moke, and the winger unleashed a looping effort from 25 yards, but the Avenue goalkeeper prevented the home side a late fifth goal.
Stockport County: Ormson, Jacobs, Duxbury, Platt, Fagbola, Cowen, Turner (Craney 84), Lofthouse (Churchman 84), Dickinson (Moke 74), Jevons (capt), Howard.
Subs not used: Charnock, Jones.
Scorers: Dickinson (3), Turner (18), Howard (52), Jevons (pen 58).
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Price, Maxfield (St Juste 65), Deacey (Boshell 70), Clayton, Marshall, Chilaka (Howarth 45), Hotte, Beesley, Davidson, Walker.
Subs not used: Corner, Clamp.
Scorers: Beesley (45).
Attendance: 2,108 (74 away supporters).