Stockport County 1 Boston United 4: Pilgrims in dreamland after opening day victory

Scott Garner put United in front.
Scott Garner put United in front.

Boston United sent out an early message to the rest of the Skrill North - with a 4-1 opening-day victory at Stockport County.

Three second-half goals saw the Pilgrims brush aside their opponents, who had dropped down from the Conference Premier last season.

Scott Garner, Marc Newsham, Spencer Weir-Daley and Ricky Miller scored the goals, but it was a contest which created many more heroes.

Kristian Dennis netted County’s consolation, while the away side’s only black mark was the red card received by Charley Sanders.

The Pilgrims were made to sweat on Netan Sansara’s international clearance, following his spell in Denmark last season.

But after receiving the all-clear from the Football Association on Friday , the ex-Walsall defender took his place in the starting line-up.

Conor Marshall shrugged off his dead leg and was named in central midfield as manager Dennis Greene went for an attacking 4-3-3 formation.

Stockport began the day as the second favourites for promotion, behind AFC Telford United.

And in the opening exchanges it appeared that the bookies may have got their call wrong as Scott Garner gave the Pilgrims a ninth-minute lead.

Ben Milnes’ corner was won at the back post by Sansara. And as the defender’s header landed into the mix County panicked and Garner reacted, prodding home his first United goal from close range.

Either side of Garner’s goal, Phil Jevons and Ian Craney had wasted free kicks by failing to test United stopper Ashley Timms.

But the Hatters were level in the 21st minute as Kristian Dennis netted from the penalty spot.

United will argue that Kyle Jacobs’ cross was drilled at Sansara from close range, giving him little time to corect himself. But the defender’s arm was up and linesman Alan Sargison - who initially flagged for the penalty - was perfectly placed to make the call.

Ricky Miller was making his debut at Skrill North level and was keen to mark the occasion with a goal. Two first half efforts saw him earn the right to shoot himself - although one was horribly off target the and other well handled by Ian Ormson.

The Hatters keeper made a vital interception seconds later as he was off his line quick enough to prevent Marshall getting a clean connection when through on goal.

Next up was Marc Newsham. But as last season’s Player of the Year and leading marksman looked to open up his account, a good block from Kieran Charnock denied him the chance to test Ormson.

The second half began in scrappy fashion, with neither side able to turn possession into chances. But then a crazy three-minute spell saw United grab the game by the scruff of the neck, storming into a 3-1 lead.

Ben Milnes was again the provider, setting Newsham free with a defence-splitting pass in the 56th minute. The striker - who netted 30 times last season - is now off the mark after giving Ormson the eyes and sweeping past him at his near post.

But even more was to come in the 58th minute.

This time, a route one ball from Timms again created panic in the Hatters’ back line.

Weir-Daley deserved the credit for using his body to get goalside of two markers, before picking his spot well, slotting beyond Ormson at his far post.

And in the 66th minute the Pilgrims were in dreamland as Miller made it four. Newsham again found space to shoot and, despite Ormson getting behind the strike, he carelessly fumbled.

There to sweep home from close range was Miller. Job done.

The Hatters fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing and took to applauding their keeper sarcastically for claiming routine catches.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Stockport hadn’t given up and Dennis came close to reducing the arrears with a thumping free kick which rebounded off Timms’ post before being cleared.

But there was more drama to come as the Pilgrims were down to 10 men in the 86th minute. Sub Charley Sanders had only been on the pitch two minutes before he was given a straight red by referee Anthony Tankard after his arm sent James Tunnicliffe crashing to the ground.

With their man advantage, County pushed forward. But Rhys Turner’s close-range header was superbly stopped by Timms’ reaction save.

As Tankard blew the full time whistle, the home side were greeted by boos. But one corner of Edgeley Park - the amber and black corner - was in dreamland.

Before kick off, Greene said he would be happy with a point. As he got on the bus, his side had all three.

COUNTY: Ormson, Jacobs, O’Halloran, Fagbola, Tunnicliffe, Charnock (Turner 60), Hand, Craney (Moke 69), Jevons, Dennis, Verma; Subs (not used): King, Howard, Windsor.

UNITED: Timms, Bore, Garner, Piergianni, Sansara, Ross (Galinski 87), Marshall, Milnes, Weir-Daley (Sanders 84), Miller (Fairclough 75), Newsham; Subs (not used): Mills, Sanders, Galinski, Vince.

Ref: Anthony Tankard.

Att: 3,317.