Stockport County prove FA Cup magic still alive in special Bolton victory

The FA Cup has lost its magic of late, plenty linked to the higher echelons of English football argue.

Tell that to the 8,500 Stockport fans who crammed into Edgeley Park for their first round replay last night. 

A less than awe-inspiring second round draw away to Rotherham awaited the winner, but this mean’t so much more to the National League side with far loftier ambitions than their current place in the fifth-tier of the domestic game. 

The BBC hit the jackpot with this first round tie for the ages after airing a tasty affair between two of the nine Greater Manchester teams in the country’s top five divisions. 

Two leagues separate Stockport and Bolton Wanderers but the clubs find themselves on different trajectories and County are not without financial backing as they look to relive the glory days.

Stockport were in the Championship as recently as 2002.  

And the surprise move for Bolton captain Antoni Sarcevic last month only added spice to the occasion after a dramatic first round tie ended 2-2. 

For the neutral, an underwhelming procession was on the cards and the 1,500 away supporters who made the short trip south were already mocking their former star.

“Sarcevic, what’s the score?,” they hollered as Elias Kachunga and an Ash Palmer own goal got the Wanderers off to a flyer inside six minutes. 

Sarcevic dropped two divisions to ply his trade in the National League and while Bolton fans will bemoan their former skipper’s lack of ambition, it is a greater sign of Stockport’s aspirations. 

And the midfielder and his fellow Hatters were determined not to succumb to higher quality opposition on the big occasion despite a nightmare start. 

The hosts trailed 2-0 and 3-1 but former player and new boss Dave Challinor has instilled real belief into his side and they were unrelenting.

Goals from Madden and Scott Quigley brought the tie to life and the Palmer’s redemption was complete with a deserved equaliser five minutes from time.

There was only one winner in extra time and never has the cliched case of ‘who wanted it more’ held more truth. 

Quigley made it 4-3 with a delightful lobbed finish just after the restart before substitute Ollie Cranshaw sealed it to spark sheer pandemonium. 

Bolton boss Ian Evatt described the defeat as the ‘worst’ his side have ever played, but that will provide little solace for the dejected Bolton supporters.

Stockport are one game away from a possible tie against the real big-hitters but this Wednesday night under the lights will live long in the memory. 

This first round tie delivered eight goals, an electric atmosphere, a pitch invasion and even a lost corner flag.

The FA Cup is well and truly alive. 

Full moon over Edgeley Park” by zimpenfish is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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