Fifth-time lucky for Stockport in play-offs

JIM GANNON’S Stockport made it fifth-time lucky at Wembley but were made to sweat in their Coca-Cola League Two play-off final win over local rivals Rochdale.

County manager Gannon, the former Shelbourne player and Dundalk manager, had been a Wembley loser four times with Stockport, but saw them clinch their first promotion in 11 years yesterday.

The Hatters fell behind to Rochdale defender Rory McArdle’s 23rd-minute corner, but once Nathan Stanton’s own goal hauled Stockport level, Gannon’s side seized control.

Anthony Pilkington headed County into a 49th-minute lead and Liam Dickinson bludgeoned home a third before Dale winger Adam Rundle set up a nerve-jangling finale with a 77th-minute volley.

Gannon lifted County from the depths of League Two in January 2006 and this win will ease the memory of two Wembley play-off final losses and two defeats in the final of the Autoglass Trophy.

Rochdale’s defeat in their first Wembley appearance consigned them to a 35th successive year in the fourth tier of English football.

STOCKPORT: Logan, Rose, Owen, McNulty, James Smith, Dicker, Gleeson (McSweeney 75), Rowe, Turnbull, Pilkington, Dickinson (McNeil 90).

ROCHDALE: Lee, Ramsden, Kennedy, Stanton, McArdle, Rundle, Jones, D’Laryea (William Buckley 73), Dagnall, Le Fondre (Howe 57), Higginbotham (Muirhead 46).

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