REPORTS FROM STOCKPORT PAPERS
Barlow brace puts County through
Author: Mike Bradley
TWO goals from Stuart Barlow were enough to send Stockport County through to the second round of the LDV Vans Trophy as the Hatters returned from Field Mill with a well earned 2-1 win.
Caretaker boss John Hollins kept faith with the side that began the match against Swindon Town and once again it was 18 year old keeper James Spencer who caught the eye with a string of fine saves.
County created a number of goalscoring opportunities in the opening stages with Kevin Ellison, Rob Jones and Barlow all going close and it was the former Everton striker who put County in front on 11 minutes after taking the ball past Kevin Pilkington and curling his shot high into the roof of the net.
The visitors continued to dominate the opening half but had a lucky escape shortly before the break when the Stags hit the woodwork twice, first through Jamie Clark before Wayne Corden saw his 25 yard effort rebound off the crossbar. And as the half drew to a close, Mansfield saw their penalty appeals turned away after Fraser McLachlan appeared to trip Chris Beardsley. However, the home side finally drew level after the break when Lee Williamson's free-kick was headed in by Rhys Day.
With County on the back foot and Mansfield enjoying their best spell of the game, Spencer pulled off the save of the match, turning away Colin Larkin's goal bound header.
But with extra time - and the prospect of a penalty shoot out - looming, Wilbraham nodded the ball through for Barlow who beat Pilkington from eight yards to seal County's second win in five days.
County: Spencer, Clare, Challinor, Jones (McLachlan 29), Pemberton, Gibb, Goodwin, Hardiker, Ellison (Welsh 77), Wilbraham, Barlow. Subs not used: Lambert, Morrison, Williams.
Booked: McLachlan (SC) Baptiste, Beardsley (MT)
Star man: Barlow
Goals: 0-1 Barlow (5), 1-1 Day (59), 1-2 Barlow (85).
Manchester Evening News:
LDV Vans: Mansfield 1 Stockport County 2
county, sport, 15
STUART Barlow struck a late winner to take Stockport into the second round of the LDV Vans Trophy.
Barlow turned in Aaron Wilbraham's 85th knock-down to clinch caretaker manager John Hollins' second victory in four days - after the manager had gone five games without a win.
He said: "Considering we're down to just 16 players, this result shows the determination and grit of the players. We worked hard."
Barlow had scored the opener and it was left to 18-year-old keeper James Spencer to keep Mansfield at bay although Rhys Day managed an equaliser.
Hollins heaped praise on the man-of-the match keeper, saying: “When a young guy comes in and does a good job, it is normal for him then to be dropped at the first available opportunity, but James deserves his chance. Some of his saves tonight were unbelievable.”
County had threatened to run riot in the first 10 minutes when Ally Gibb, Kevin Ellison, Robert Jones and Barlow all squandered good chances. Barlow finally found a way through in the 11th minute, racing clear onto Aaron Wilbraham's raking pass, rounding the outrushing keeper and lobbing into the roof of the net from 20 yards past two defenders on the goalline.
The goal sparked the home side into life and the outstanding Spencer then kept plucky Mansfield at bay, producing three fantastic close range stops to deny Colin Larkin. And when he was beaten the woodwork twice came to County's rescue, before Rhys Day finally headed a deserved equaliser from Lee Williamson's 59th minute free kick.
Spencer rode his luck three minutes later when he appeared to carry Wayne Corden's dipping drive over the goalline, although at the other end on a rare breakaway Barlow should have secured victory earlier with a fine run and shot which former Manchester United keeper Kevin Pilkington pushed around the post.
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