Rovers face another of Sky Bet League Two’s form teams this Saturday as they visit Stockport County at Edgeley Park.
Dave Challinor’s side initially looked to be getting off to a slow start to the new campaign with just one point from their opening three matches but have recently won five consecutive games and scored 19 goals in their last seven.
The Hatters have won their last two home games to nil and netted give and two against Wrexham and Forest Green Rovers respectively.
LAST TIME OUT
Stockport County 2 Forest Green Rovers 0
Sky Bet League Two, Tuesday, September 3, 2023
Line-up: Hinchliffe, Pye, Horsfall, Wright, Southam-Hales, Sarcevic (Johnson 73), Croasdale, Collar (Richardson 88), Bailey, Barry (Madden 73), Olaofe (Cotterill 88).
Dave Challinor has six non-league promotions to his name with Colwyn Bay, AFC Fylde, Hartlepool United and Stockport and is now looking to secure his first in the EFL.
He took charge of the Hatters – whom he also played for during his career - in November 2021, securing the National League title in his first season in charge before finishing in the play-off places in League Two last term.
During his playing career, Challinor was most associated with Tranmere Rovers, with whom he reached the final of the EFL Cup in 2000 before joining Stockport for £900,000.
THE KEY MEN
Goalkeeper: Ben Hinchliffe
The 35-year-old started his professional career with Preston North End but never made an appearance for the Lilywhites and after failing to nail down a place at both Derby County and Oxford United, he found a home with AFC Fylde in 2012.
Hinchliffe spent four years on the north west coast and joined Stockport in 2016. He has since played 285 times for the Hatters and won promotions from both the National League North and the National League with the club.
Defender: Fraser Horsfall
A Huddersfield Town academy graduate, 26-year-old Horsfall never made an appearance for the Terriers and spent time on the non-league circuit with Kidderminster Harriers before a move to the EFL with Macclesfield Town.
In 2020, the centre-half joined Northampton Town and spent two seasons with the Cobblers before he joined Stockport County at the start of last season.
In the middle: Antoni Sarcevic
The 31-year-old has a wealth of experience in the EFL and has a number of promotions on his CV. His first two came on the non-league circuit with Chester before winning the League Two play-offs with Fleetwood Town in 2014.
Further League Two promotions came with Plymouth Argyle and Bolton Wanderers before he joined Stockport in 2021 and won the National League title at Edgeley Park. He is into his third season with the club.
Up top: Louie Barry
A former Barcelona youth player, Barry became the first Englishman to join the La Masia academy before completing his youth journey with Aston Villa.
At Villa, Barry made his debut against Liverpool and scored. The 20-year-old has since spent time out on loan with MK Dons and Salford City before his temporary switch to Stockport this summer.
Rovers first met Stockport County in the 1901/02 Division Two campaign and ran out 2-0 winners at the Intake Ground in the October of that season before completing the league double over the Pennines in the February.
In total, the two sides have crossed paths 82 times and Rovers have just edged the rivalry with 35 wins in comparison to Stockport’s 32.
There have been 15 draws between the sides in all competitions and one meeting in the 1946 Division Three North Cup lasted over a combined 400 minutes when Ralph Maddison’s hat-trick finally separated the teams in an eventual 4-0 Rovers win.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
Current Rovers midfielder Tommy Rowe started his career with Stockport County and scored 13 times in 72 appearances for the Hatters.
In his two years as a professional with the club he won the 2008 League Two play-off final against Rochdale at Wembley Stadium before leaving for Peterborough United.
Rowe played 175 times for the Posh and after spells with Wolves and Scunthorpe United joined Rovers for the first time in 2016.
Nearly 200 appearances in South Yorkshire followed, interrupted by a spell with Bristol City, and the midfielder is into his seventh season with the club in total.
Contributor: Jefferson Hall-Nolan