Stockport washed away by Forest Green Rovers' energy
Forest Green Rovers 4
Stockport County 1
WHEN the New Lawn's green tidal wave reaches maximum velocity it produces an energy to rival Ecotricity's very latest turbine technology.
Proud of their reputation as obdurate northern souls, Stockport were caught catastrophically cold as a Yan Klukowski strike, James Tunnicliffe's own goal and a poacher's effort from James Norwood put the hosts three up inside 25 minutes
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Sean Newton's penalty 15 minutes from time never looked like being more than a consolation, and it was left to substitute Reece Styche to have the final say as Rovers closed to within three points of the Blue Square Bet Premier summit.
They had a decent sight of goal after a mere 16 seconds, Matty Taylor latching onto Norwood's pass and firing wide of the left upright.
If that was a warning to County it was not heeded, as four minutes later Klukowski pounced on a mistake by Jordan Fagbola and finished a direct run by nervelessly converting his ninth goal of the season.
Jim Gannon's men did briefly settle, and Craig Hobson should have done better with a diving header from Newton's delicious cross in the 12th minute.
Yet they found themselves two goals adrift when Klukowski's inswinging corner was diverted into his own net by Tunnicliffe.
Gannon responded by hauling off teenager Fagbola, replaced by Alex Kenyon, but it did little to address the panic that consumed his side every time they were defending.
The third goal came on 25 minutes, Klukowski again the provider with a low cross from the left which drew keeper Ian Ormson and gave Norwood a routine finish.
Star of Rovers' FA Cup thriller against Port Vale a week earlier, Norwood immediately threatened once more with a dipping shot from 20 yards that flew narrowly over.
Both teams should then have found the net during a crazy 30-second spell, as first Norwood saw a shot blocked by the legs of Ormson after good work by Chris Stokes.
Stockport immediately broke forward and Dan Whitehead found himself clean through, only for home custodian Sam Russell to produce a one-on-one save.
Russell was required again to beat out a drive from Hobson, and Hockaday might have been grateful for the interval to remind his troops that the game was not yet won.
Taylor almost made it 4-0 with an outrageous back-heel from Stokes' cross but Ormson was alert enough to keep it out.
Left-back Stokes then connected sweetly with a half-volley after surging from deep, and again Ormson's handling had to be sure.
Matty Mainwaring's swerving effort failed to trouble Russell, but County were given an unlikely late foothold when substitute Tom Collins was tripped on the edge of the area by Klukowski and referee Brett Huxstable – after lengthy consultation with his assistant – pointed to the spot.
Newton duly sent Russell the wrong way to make life a little uneasier for the home faithful, but a handsome win was finally sealed when Stokes' near-post shot was blocked by Ormson and Styche gobbled up the rebound.
Forest Green: S. Russell; E. Asafu-Adjaye, A. Racine, E. Oshodi, C. Stokes; P. Green, A. Bangura, Y. Klukowski; M. Vieira (O. Koroma 67), M. Taylor, J. Norwood (R. Styche 86); Subs not used: J. Hodgkiss, J. Rowe, S. Brogan.
Stockport County: I. Ormson; A. Halls (T. Collins 56), J. Fagbola (A. Kenyon 16), J. Tunnicliffe, S. Newton; D. Whitehead (D. Rowe 79), P. Turnbull, J. Connor, M. Mainwaring; D. Hattersley, C. Hobson; Subs not used: S. Sheridan, L. King.
Referee: B. Huxtable (Devon)
Star man: Chris Stokes – Back to his buccaneering best from left-back and deserved a goal for his endeavours.