Swindon Town begin their FA Cup campaign this weekend as they head to Greater Manchester to face Stockport County for the second time this season.
The pair met in League Two back in August, with Antoni Sarcevic scoring late to cancel out Frazer Blake-Tracy’s opener and earn the home side a share of the spoils.
Here’s the lowdown on this weekend’s opponents as we prepare to battle it out at Edgeley Park in the first round tie, with the action getting underway at 3pm.
Stockport County were founded way back in 1883, but didn’t join the Football League until 1900. They then had to seek re-election in 1904.
This was rejected by the league, forcing them to spend one season outside the competition before making a return for the 1905/06 season.
This marked a lengthy spell in the pyramid, where they played in the Football League continuously for 106 years until 2011, albeit mostly in the lower echelons.
The club won it’s first league championship in 1922, which was the newly created Third Division North back then, and two further league titles followed in 1937 and 1967.
However, the 1990s were their most successful period, when the club competed in the First Division for five campaigns and reached the League Cup semi-finals in 1996/97.
County also made four appearances at Wembley during this time, two coming in the Football League Trophy and two in the Football League play-offs – but lost on each occasion.
The early 2000s brought with it some financial difficulties and The Hatters slipped down the divisions and were relegated out of the Football League at the end of the 2010/11 season.
This was then followed by a further demotion to the sixth tier in 2012/13.
The club worked hard to stabilise itself once again, both on and off the pitch during the following years, and won promotion back to the fifth tier in 2018/19 which they topped the following season, earning a move back up into the National League.
Last term, they secured promotion back to the EFL after an eleven-year absence.
Stockport have been playing their home matches at Edgeley Park since 1902.
The ground was originally hosting rugby matches for Stockport RFC from 1891 until they folded and the football club moved in.
Edgeley Park is an all-seater stadium which can hold around 10,900 fans.
The club shared their home with rugby union outfit Sale Sharks between 2003 and 2012.
In 2015, Stockport Council purchased the stadium for around £2million, leasing it back to The Hatters in order to prevent it from being demolished and redeveloped.
As mentioned above, Town and County have already met once this season at Edgeley Park, with Swindon having to settle for just a point as Stockport struck an equaliser six minutes from time, despite being reduced to ten men with the dismissal of Paddy Madden on 80-minutes.
Before the clash, you have to go way back to February 2010 for the last time the two sides squared up - back then, both clubs were in League One.
Town won that fixture with a 4-1 score line at The County Ground, thanks to a Billy Paynter brace and goals from Danny Ward and Simon Ferry, after beating County 1-0 in the reverse fixtures the previous month that season.
There was nothing separating the two sides the campaign before that, as they drew 1-1 twice during the 2008/2009 season.
County recorded a victory the meeting before that, back in March 2007 at Edgeley Park, claiming a 3-0 win.
Their season thus far…
After a tough start to their campaign following promotion, Stockport now find themselves on a run of just one defeat in their last eight games in all competitions – form that has seen them move up to fourteenth in the league standings.
Dave Challinor’s side had also won three straight League Two games in a row before their goalless draw with Tranmere in midweek, so his charges will certainly head into tomorrow’s showdown in high spirits.
Defensively they’re proving strong too and haven’t conceded a goal in 450 minutes of football, so Town will need all their attacking prowess to break the deadlock at the weekend.
Town’s recent FA Cup exploits…
Last season’s FA Cup run will live long in the memory for Town fans, with wins away at Crewe Alexandra and Walsall resulting in their fairy-tale tie with Manchester City at SN1.
Unfortunately on the day it wasn’t to be, as a City side without Pep Guardiola through COVID recorded a 4-1 victory at The County Ground, although Harry McKirdy’s strike gave supporters an added moment of magic on the day.
Previous to this Swindon haven’t faired too well in the most famous domestic cup competition in the world, going out to Darlington in 2020/21 on home soil, losing 2-1 with Brett Pitman scoring that day.
This followed another first round exit the season before, as a draw at home to Cheltenham back in November 2019 resulted in a defeat at home in the replay.
The 2018/19 campaign saw Swindon earn themselves a second round date at home to Woking after Scott Twine and Steven Alzate scored in a 2-1 win over York.
However, they were beaten 1-0 by The Cardinals at The County Ground to end their dreams of extending their run in the competition.
County in the FA Cup…
Stockport reached the second round of the competition last season, where their impressive run of knocking out non-league Stamford and Bolton Wanderers after a replay was eventually ended at Rotherham United.
The campaign previous to this they went one step further, with Craig Dawson netting a late goal seven minutes from time for Premier League giants West Ham United at Edgeley Park in the third round to knock them out.
York City, Chesterfield, Rochdale and Yeovil Town were victims of their run during 2020/2021.
The 2019/20 season in the competition saw the club playing in the sixth tier of English football as they began to recover from their financial difficulties of the early 2000s.
Their Fourth Qualifying Round clash away at York City ended in a 2-0 defeat.
The season before this, 2018/19, saw them promoted to the fifth tier domestically and put together a good run of results in the preliminary and early phases of the competition.
They beat South Shields, Corby Town, Altrincham and Yeovil Town before succumbing to Barnet in the second round.
Players to watch…
Strike Paddy Madden is the club’s talisman and top scorer this term with six league goals.
The 32-year-old Irishman boasts an impressive strike rate for The Hatters, with a grand total of 35 goals in 68 appearances.
He’s also recorded the most assists in the league for Dave Challinor’s side this term.
They aren’t short of firepower at Edgeley Park, with both Kyle Wootton and Antoni Sarcevic (who netted the equaliser against Swindon earlier this season) with three goals to their name thus far.
Midfielders Ollie Crankshaw and Will Collar provide the creative spark further down the pitch.
They’re even capable of setting up goals and scoring them from the back, with right-back Macauley Southam-Hales contributing two assists this term and centre-back Fraser Horsfall scoring twice to date.