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Sky Bet League 2

Wembley (ATT 35,715) 26th May 2008 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: S Attwell

Stockport Stockport County vs Rochdale Rochdale

Stockport 3


Stockport win at Wembley

Hatters gain promotion after 3-2 win over Rochdale

By James Dall.   Last Updated: 26/05/08 9:51pm

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Stockport celebrate their promotion

Stockport celebrate their promotion

Stockport County claimed their first win at Wembley in five attempts to secure promotion to League One after a 3-2 success over Rochdale in the League Two play-off final on Monday.

A Nathan Stanton own goal and strikes from Anthony Pilkington and Liam Dickinson saw Jim Gannon's men come from a goal down to claim a dramatic triumph at the home of English football.

Rochdale went ahead in the 24th minute as Rory McArdle met Kallum Higginbotham's brilliantly, whipped corner with a thumping header from close range.

Stockport restored parity just 10 minutes later when Tommy Rowe's delivery from a short corner was diverted past the helpless Tommy Lee by the hands of centre-half Stanton.

The Hatters took the lead four minutes after the interval with the impressive Pilkington heading in off the bar before Dickinson made it 3-1 with a slick finish from inside the area.

Adam Rundle then reduced the deficit with 13 minutes left on the clock, lashing home expertly to set up a tense finish, but Stockport held on to return to the third tier after a three-year absence.

Slow start

After a chanceless first 20 minutes or more, Chris Dagnall livened things up with a more potent effort which was deflected for a corner, from which Rochdale broke the deadlock.

Higginbotham swung the ball over and Rochdale's imposing central defender McArdle hurled himself above Stockport goalkeeper Conrad Logan to force home his header from two yards.

Pilkington came within inches of restoring parity for County with a curving free-kick that had goalkeeper Lee beaten in the 30th minute, but the ball spun wide.

Within moments though County were level. Rowe played a short corner with Stephen Gleeson and swung over the return pass into the danger area.

Stanton was caught the wrong side of the ball and instead of clearing could only help it over the goalline with his hands after it had brushed off Stockport defender Jim McNulty's head in the 33rd minute.

It got even better for County four minutes after half-time.

Michael Rose curled in a cross from the left and after the bounce evaded Rochdale's defence, Pilkington reacted sharply to head beyond Lee.

Dale skipper Gary Jones fired a low shot narrowly wide after charging unopposed to the edge of the area on the hour-mark.

Thrilling finish

But County forged into a two-goal lead in the 67th minute with the best goal of the game.

Paul Turnbull sent Pilkington free down the right and when the right winger's cross found Dickinson, the rangy forward drove home a vicious low shot that gave Lee no chance.

County could then have been out of sight within minutes. Lee saved brilliantly down to his right to keep out Rose's shot and Rowe fired into the side-netting after cutting into the box.

Rundle hauled Rochdale back into the tie with a blistering volley 10 minutes later to set up a thrilling finish.

County substitute McSweeney headed back across his own goal with his first touch and Rundle slammed home from the edge of the area.

Dale huffed and puffed for the equaliser, but County held firm for their first promotion since Dave Jones took them into the Championship in 1997.

StockportTeam StatisticsRochdale
11st Half Goals1
7Shots on Target2
4Shots off Target4
2Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0

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Sky Bet League 2

Sky Bet League 2
Pos Team P Pts
1 Burton Albion 46 94
2 Shrewsbury Town 46 89
3 Bury 46 85
4 Wycombe Wanderers 46 84
5 Southend United 46 84
6 Stevenage 46 72
7 Plymouth Argyle 46 71
8 Luton Town 46 68
9 Newport County AFC 46 65
10 Exeter City 46 64
11 Morecambe 46 63
12 Northampton Town 46 61
13 Oxford United 46 61
14 Dagenham & Redbridge 46 59
15 AFC Wimbledon 46 58
16 Portsmouth 46 57
17 Accrington Stanley 46 56
18 York City 46 52
19 Cambridge United 46 51
20 Carlisle United 46 50
21 Mansfield Town 46 48
22 Hartlepool United 46 45
23 Cheltenham Town 46 41
24 Tranmere Rovers 46 39