TWO sweetly-taken goals by new boy Jordan Rhodes eased Town into the second round of the Carling Cup.
The former Ipswich frontman made it three in two games with strikes in the 45th and 48th minutes at the Galpharm last night.
Fellow summer signing Theo Robinson added a third after a powerful 74th-minute run as Lee Clark’s side turned on the style against their League I rivals, whose sole consolation was David Poole’s 88th-minute effort.
Town boss Clark rang the changes after Saturday’s 2-2 opening-day League I draw at Southend.
There were three Clarkes in the starting side, with Nathan coming in for Andy Butler to play alongside Peter in central defence and Tom replacing suspended midfielder Michael Collins.
Joe Skarz was handed the left-back berth ahead of Robbie Williams while Rhodes and Lee Novak, who came off the bench to inspire the comeback at Southend, took the frontline slots in place of Robbie Simpson and Theo Robinson.
Town fashioned the first chance of the game five minutes in, but Anthony Pilkington’s header from a Gary Roberts cross was off target.
But the home team had a left-off four minutes later, when keeper Alex Smithies spilled Michael Rose’s corner and Antony Kay had to be alert to clear the danger.
Tom Clarke fired well over from a good position on the edge of the box, and Roberts sliced wide when set up by a quickly-taken free-kick before veteran keeper Paul Gerrard, who was on trial at Town this time 12 months ago, stooped low to collect Pilkington’s 22nd-minute drive.
Then Town broke quickly after clearing a Stockport corner, but when Roberts crossed and Lee Peltier laid the ball back, Rhodes shot wide.
Stockport came close on the half hour when Smithies tipped over Greg Tansey’s well-struck 30-yard free-kick, awarded after a foul by Peter Clarke.
Smithies again failed to hold on to the resultant corner, but the ball was cleared.
The home side were still enjoying the lion’s share of the possession, and after Kay had shot over and Pilkington’s 35th-minute goalbound effort was deflected for a corner, they took the lead just five seconds before the 45-minute mark was reached.
Roberts’ good work down the left was carried on by Novak, who laid the ball neatly into the path of Rhodes.
The 19-year-old took the chance in his stride, driving the ball low and sure into Gerrard’s left-hand corner, much to the delight of the Town faithful.
Town thought they had gone further ahead just 30 seconds after the restart, when Rhodes nodded home after Novak reacted quickly to Gerrard’s smart parry from Pilkington, but the ‘scorer’ was ruled offside.
Neither Rhodes nor the home support had to wait long to celebrate, however.
Novak was again on hand to set up his teammate in the 48th minute, and Rhodes finished with aplomb, leaving Gerrard clutching at thin air with a sweetly-struck curling shot to the keeper’s left.
Stockport were looking stretched, and Kay was just over from distance before Pilkington twice had shots blocked while Tom Clarke’s effort was held at the second attempt.
A rare forward foray from the visitors was foiled by an amazing goalline clearance from Peter Clarke, who needed treatment after colliding with the post as he denied Oli Johnson in the 67th minute, but normal service was soon resumed and Town went three up in the 74th minute.
The strong-running Robinson raced down the right onto an upfield ball, held off his challenger, and slotted his first Town goal with an angled shot from just inside the penalty area.Related content
Robbie Simpson tried to get in on the act in the 83rd minute, but his glancing header from a cross by fellow substitute Lionel Ainsworth flew across the face of goal.
And soon after the former Coventry man was denied by a fine save by Gerrard.