On one of those crisp autumnal afternoons where you don’t quite know how many layers to wear, it was the top Hatters who showed little indecision to set a club-record-eleventh win in a row to remain at the summit of the fourth tier.
With 9,735 present, stein-swilling supporters taking their time from the Oktoberfest tent to their seats may have missed the opener for Stockport County. It was the effervescent Odin Bailey showing his quality after four minutes with a defence-splitting incision through the Tranmere Rovers backline that allowed Isaac Tanto Olaofe to race onto the ball ahead of goalkeeper, Luke McGee, to give the home side the lead.
The ex-Millwall man has had a career punctuated with loan spells but as he approaches his first year at Edgeley Park, he showed the home fans his quality in front of goal with an eleventh of the season in only 16 League Two outings.
County were rarely troubled in the first 45. Nigel Adkins remains in interim charge of Rovers after Ian Dawes’ departure and with the club second-bottom with no wins away from Prenton Park all season, it’s a tough task ahead for whoever takes charge.
Their task was made even tougher with ill-considered challenge of Harvey Saunders barely three minutes after the restart. A high challenge connected solely with Macauley Southam-Hales and a second yellow ensued.
These are halcyon days at County. Ten years ago this side was struggling in the Conference North after the most chaotic of implosions. The stands are barely recognisable from those bad old days, principally because the place is packed. The only seats available for today’s encounter were in the sun-drenched, uncovered Railway End. And since local businessman Mark Stott took over in January 2020 and the appointment of Dave Challinor 19 months later, there’s rarely been a cloud over Edgeley Park.
Their second came soon after the dismissal, player of the match Antoni Sarcevic latched onto a well-worked counter to gallop through and slot beyond McGee to wrap up the points. Chances continued to follow, with a chaotic passage of play with the ball cannoning off the post, bar and then off the line, as County went through the gears.
At the other end, 35-year-old Ben Hinchliffe showed he was as sprightly as ever with two finger-tipped saves to deny a foothold for Rovers but it was his opposite number, McGee, who was by far the busier of the goalies.
Ten League Two wins in a row, eleven in all competitions leave this side in their own record books and now five clear at the top. The all-time record in the fourth tier is 12 victories in succession, from Luton Town in 2002, an accolade that is now in sight.
It was a satisfied applause rather than a raucous reception of the full-time whistle. Winning is becoming habitual for this team. It is little wonder County scarves are being worn around the town, whatever the weather.
What I learned is that cycling is one of the best sports to cover as a journalist…
After League One's final day, I headed down to the BBC Sport team where I then produced an entire review of League One and the National League Play-Offs. It was a very long day! Here's me with Gavin Ramjaun for BBC Sportsday. I did the same the next day, but this time with a bit more help...
Me and Joe have both decided this will be our final show. For different but certainly similar reasons. Seeing the kids is one. We both have an extra mouth to feed at home but it would be nice to see them on a weekend. We also have other potential work lined up and we're much better broadcasters to be able to do that work.
We've figured each other out. Joe knows when to pick up from me and I know when to give him a moment. We've become a proper double-act. It's not the same when he's not there. Things don't flow in the same way. The frictionless bullet train is a bit more Pendolino. I'll miss him and I'll miss this.
When we started, I was a the mature student, studying broadcast journalism at Salford and scraping by, by taking any and all radio work. Joe had not long-since hung up his boots but had a diverse portfolio of work, especially as a motivational speaker. Neither of us were radio presenters.
The credit for that goes to Bell and Bradford. The real Squad Goals double-act. They are as good cop/bad cop as you can get and are exactly what any budding broadcaster needs. They'll be very specific. The tiniest slip will be noticed. The bigger picture is always kept in frame. With about 30 years experience between them, they've put their all into helping us find our voices and for our part, we've hung on their every word and pushed each other on with every show. They've both gone freelance too and started their own production company since we started - Melting It - hit them up!
□ REFRESH SIGNING □— Refresh Sports (@Refreshsport) May 3, 2023
We are delighted to welcome @SannyR1985 to Refresh Sports! □️
Sanny is a talented broadcaster and radio presenter, regularly reporting for Sky Sports News and BBC Sport and can be heard on the airwaves reporting for 5 Live Sport across the country. pic.twitter.com/SSvF6xvEIB
Three and a half years into this #journalism broadcasting malarkey, I thought I’d share some tips. □— Sanny Rudravajhala □□□ (@SannyR1985) April 24, 2023
1/ Don’t be a d*ck.
This one’s obvious right? Well, you’d be surprised. Being decent and courteous with everyone you meet can only be a good thing. And people remember. pic.twitter.com/xnng2RXyAn
Copyright © 2023 Sanny Rudravajhala.