Stockport County 0, Fleetwood Town 0
After a manic 24 hours off the pitch following the news of Joey Barton’s link-up with Fleetwood Town, Micky Mellon’s team returned to action on the pitch at the Edgeley Park scene of their 4-2 Blue Square Bet Premier League victory last season.
Town’s starting XI showed wholesale changes from the one which faced Blackburn at Accrington on Saturday and featured new signing Conor MacLaughlin at right-back.
Latest signing David Ball started on the bench as did fellow Town striker Danny Rowe, though he was in the other dug-out after returning on loan to County.
Town made County chase the ball in the early stages, with McLaughlin showing some assured touches.
Andy Halls struck the first shot in anger in the eighth minute for Stockport, but it was straight at Town keeper Chris Maxwell.
County began to gain more possession and earned the home side a number of free-kicks, with Town’s ex-Preston duo Barry Nicholson and McLaughlin both earning bookings. Sean Newton’s free- kick passed narrowly wide following Nicholson’s transgression.
Alan Goodall gave County keeper Ian Ormson his first test with a dipping shot from outside the area, while Andy Mangan tried an audacious shot from 40 yards.
Town gave the ball away too easily at times during the first half and there were some anxious moments for Town’s defence.
Hobson and Danny Hattersley both got goalside of the defence but were wasteful in their finishing. Hobson also failed to find the target with a header from a corner after 40 minutes.
Town made three changes at the break, with Nathan Pond, Ryan Crowther and Ball joining the action.
Pond was soon needed defensively but the Conference champions were much improved in the second half, dominating play and showing some quality footwork.
The game burst into life in the 68th minute with three chances in a two-minute period.
Sam Sheridan forced an excellent save from Maxwell and, from the resulting corner, Alex Kenyon headed on to the Fleetwood crossbar.
Town broke immediately but Ball failed to capitalise on a one-on-one situation with the keeper.
Junior Brown, on for Danny Rose, and Ball had further opportunities soon after.
Alex Titchiner replaced Mangan with 15 minutes left and just failed to get a foot to a cross from Brown on the left. Brown nearly secured the win with a late header at the far post.
Micky Mellon was happy with the work-out, saying: “There was some very, very good football from an XI who have not played together before.
“Ball showed what he’s all about and there was a fantastic display from Conor McLaughlin. There was some great technique and movement, and I’m delighted with where we are at in our preparations.”
Town: Maxwell, McLaughlin, Charnock, McNulty, Goodall, Nicholson, Kinsella (triallist), Rose, Milligan, Allen, Mangan; subs: Crowther (for Milligan), Pond, (McNulty), Ball (Allen), Brown (Rose), Titchiner (Mangan)
n RIO Ferdinand has defended using Twitter as the Manchester United defender is reportedly under investigation by the FA.
The FA are reported to have contacted Ferdinand over his re-tweeting of a comment about Chelsea and England defender Ashley Cole.
Ferdinand has come out in support of using the social network website and has claimed he uses abuse from rivals fans as motivation.
*EVERTON have pulled out of the inaugural Java Cup in Indonesia after failing to receive assurances over the tournament.
*MANCHESTER City midfielder Gareth Barry is targeting a swift return to action after undergoing abdominal surgery.
*LEEDS have won their High Court action over who should pay for policing of matches at their Elland Road stadium.