Stockport win at Wembley
Hatters gain promotion after 3-2 win over Rochdale
By James Dall. Last Updated: May 26, 2008 9:51pm
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.
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.
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.
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|7||Shots on Target||2|
|4||Shots off Target||4|
npower League 2
|22||Dagenham & Redbridge||46||51|