Stockport County writer gives insight into what Chesterfield will be facing on Bank Holiday Monday
Chesterfield head to newly-promoted Stockport County on Bank Holiday Monday as the Spireites' search for a first win of the season goes on.
John Sheridan's side are winless in six National League matches and are currently in the drop zone.
Their opposition tomorrow are 11th in the league after two wins, two draws and two defeats.
So what can we expect from The Hatters when Chesterfield travel to Edgeley Park to face Jim Gannon's side? We asked Stockport County writer, Sam Byrne, of the Stockport Express, for his analysis and here's what he said...
What's your assessment of Stockport County so far this season?
We started with an opening day home defeat to Maidenhead, which was probably a bit of an eye opener in terms of how you can get punished at this level.
We were pretty much dominant but lost thanks to a really well-taken late goal against a side which knows how to win games at this level, in a game we probably would have won last season even when not at our best.
From there, there’s been two really solid away draws at Notts County and Yeovil before two impressive home wins against Barrow and a strong Eastleigh side before this Bank Holiday Weekend, so I’d say to be sat in the top half at this point has to go down as a success.
How would you sum up the job Jim Gannon has done in his third stint in charge of the club?
Superb. He came back when we were sat in the top half of the National League North without any real danger of threatening the play-off places - we were basically a typical National League North side at the time, full of ex Football League journeymen and young up and coming loanees just looking for a month or two of fitness, and JG has completely transformed that.
It took us a few years under him this time around to get here, but it’s been done the right way - he’s gradually built a side which has, in the main, now been together the whole time and grown as players and as a side. When we then lose the odd one or two to Football League sides, he’s constantly looking to replace those with more exciting youngsters who are working their way up the leagues rather than down. I think there’s plenty of optimism around the club that he’ll carry on taking us upwards given the time.
What can Chesterfield fans expect from Stockport in terms of style of play?
We do look to get it down and play, as has been Jim Gannon’s style in each of his stints here. Gannon usually opts for a formation involving one lone striker in Frank Mulhern who isn’t the biggest but puts himself around and doesn’t stop running and causing problems for defenders, before the wingers and number ten behind him look to get on the second ball and push up the pitch.
Famous last words here, but also pretty solid at the back (albeit with somewhat of a weakness down the flanks after the departure of key left-back Scott Duxbury to Fylde over the summer).
Who are the key men for Stockport?
Mulhern usually looks to set the tone with his hustle and bustle approach, and behind him, Elliot Osborne and Connor Dimaio are the really influential ones who can get on the ball and have that flair and creativity to unlock defences.
Ash Palmer is a commanding centre-half at the back, too.
Connor Dimaio played for Chesterfield between 2016-18. What's the verdict on him and is he likely to play on Monday?
Dimaio signed last summer from Chesterfield, and all at the club will agree he endured a rough first year - from, sadly, a family bereavement really early on in the summer to then struggling to force his way into a winning side and having a lengthy spell out on loan.
He’s come back this summer and is now in a position where he’s really pivotal in that front four for County. He oozes class at times on the ball and is comfortable on either foot.
He’s coming into the weekend on the back of a Man of the Match performance in the win against Eastleigh where he set up the opening goal and earned a rousing ovation when replaced late on, so he’s very likely to feature and will be one to watch on the day.
What are the expectations for Stockport this season?
It’s a tricky one - there’s a split in the fanbase between those who believe we can kick on, continue with that momentum and go for promotion, some who are happy to consolidate for a season or two under Jim Gannon while he looks to iron out any kinks, and a fewer number who say anything but relegation would be a success.
I think the promising start to the season has seen that shift somewhat; and people now view a top half finish as both a realistic and an ‘acceptable’ target - although Gannon is more than happy to keep reminding his squad and the supporters that it is a long old season with a lot of travel at this level, so there will be ups and downs.
What's your score prediction?
Tough one again! We’ve improved at home since that opening day slip up and do generally tend to fare well against sides who come and look to play an open, end-to-end as Chesterfield will likely do, rather than the sides like Maidenhead who sit back, kill the game and strike with one chance.
I’d lean towards 1-1 - it’s been a demanding start to the season for County with the likes of Yeovil, Notts County, Eastleigh, Harrogate and now a Chesterfield side which will surely improve.