Stockport County v Charlton Athletic
It was a 97th minute equaliser from Myles Hippolyte that has given Stockport County the chance to remain in this year’s FA Cup competition. With the winner of this replay hosting League Two Walsall, both Stockport and Charlton Athletic will know that a strong opportunity for a Fourth Round place is on the horizon.
Defeat at home to League Two leaders Leyton Orient is the only blemish on an unbeaten run for Stockport which stretches back over more than a month. Having spent the first third of the season searching for the most effective setup for his squad, Dave Challinor looks to have struck gold with a 3-5-2 formation. Whilst one of Fraser Horsfall or Joe Lewis sits in the centre of defence, natural full-back Chris Hussey and natural midfielder Akil Wright provide technical, dynamic presence on the left and right side of the back three respectively. Flying right-wing-back Macauley Southam-Hales is a perfect fit for this proactive setup with Myles Hippolyte and Ryan Rydel rotating between the left-wing-back role. Ryan Croasdale provides stability in the centre of midfield, with Will Collar taking up an all-round role and one of Callum Camps and Antoni Sarcevic more attack-minded. The defensive and midfield units collectively are tasked with providing the surface to Stockport’s formidable front pairing. Experienced Irish striker Paddy Madden scored 23 goals in the National League last season and sits on eight this season in the fourth tier. Kyle Wootton, signed in the summer after several excellent seasons with Notts County, sits on five after a brace in their recent 5-0 win at Hartlepool United. The 26-year-old’s all-round game makes him a handful for any opposition defence.
The late equaliser at the Valley denied Charlton Athletic what would have been a much-wanted return to winning ways. Cup games have been the only real joy for an Addicks side that are without a league victory since the 22nd October and languish in a lowly 17th in the League One table. Ben Garner, now dismissed from his role by Thomas Sandgaard, showed variance between a 4-3-3 and a 4-4-2 that proved largely ineffective, most recently picking a 5-3-2 for a unsuccessful 1-0 loss at home to Cheltenham Town. The absence of Ghana International goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott doesn’t help, his injury ruled him out of a World Cup place and also leaves him out of action for Charlton. Sam Lavelle and Ryan Inniss are fine if unspectacular centre-back options, Sean Clare and Steven Sessegnon likewise in full-back roles. Albie Morgan and left-footed creator Scott Fraser are the key men to watch in midfield, with George Dobson looking to provide solidity at the base. Injuries to Jayden Stockley and Miles Leaburn however leaves Charlton with just Chuks Aneke as a recognised striker, a player whose recent seasons have been seen as more of an impact substitute than a regular starter. Crystal Palace loanee Jesurun Rak-Sakyi has been one of the few bright sparks, more consistent with threat than Charlie Kirk, Corey Blackett-Taylor or Diallang Jaiyesimi.
Stockport County could be fancied to get the better of Charlton Athletic in this replay even if things were normal. With the recent departure of Ben Garner and the backlash from supporters over the decision, the Addicks are in no healthy position to head to a confident League Two outfit. The Hatters should be fancied here.
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