SUPER sub Pawel Abbott brought down the curtain in style on a victorious late fightback as Town grabbed the points with their first three-goal opening-day haul in a decade.

Trailing 2-1 with only three minutes to go, man-of-the-match Andy Booth powered in a diving header to equalise before teeing up Abbott for a coolly taken winner three minutes and 33 seconds into the four minutes of added time, his first goal since April 10.

It was the signal for Town's 3,000 travelling fans to go berserk in the blazing sun - delighted by an opening win for the first time since 2001 and proof of a pre-season promise from manager Peter Jackson.

He pledged no-one would work harder than his promotion winners in League I this season, and Town gave credence to his words with a display of real character in a scorcher at Edgeley Park.

Not since Blackpool were thumped 4-1 at Bloomfield Road in 1994 have Town netted three times in their first outing of a campaign, and how fitting that Booth - the only survivor of that line-up - should be the outstanding performer this time.

His aerial prowess tormented Sammy McIlroy's side throughout - he powered a header against the bar as early as 12 minutes - and not only did he play a part in all three goals, he was a commanding figure at both ends of the pitch: simply superb.

It was a foul on Booth in the final minute of the first half which gave Tony Carss the chance to fire in a stunning 30-yard free-kick, curling the ball with power past the outstretched left hand of keeper Neil Cutler, who was one of five debutants in a re-shaped Stockport side who lost just one of their final 12 matches last season under McIlroy.

The goal, however, inspired the home side to step up a gear and they equalised on 56 minutes when the prolific Luke Beckett, back from a serious knee injury, sprung clear of marker Efe Sodje to glide home an excellent cross from Marc Bridge-Wilkinson.

Six minutes later and enjoying their best spell, Stockport rattled the bar with a Rickie Lambert free-kick, but it didn't take long for them to maintain the pressure and take the lead.

This time new signing Warren Feeney - who had been denied by an excellent Ian Gray save when muscling clear of Sodje in the second minute - found space to score off the underside of the bar from a brilliant Derek Geary cross from the right.

There was nothing Gray could do about either of the Stockport goals and he missed the Town fightback, having been forced off in his first match back by a worrying knock to the left hand he broke in three places nine months ago.

Phil Senior stepped in with seven minutes left and, unlike his unfortunate experience at Accrington, he was a virtual spectator as Stockport defended too deep and battling Town took advantage.

Jackson's substitutions were inspired.

Debutant Chris Brandon was a lively replacement for the flagging Danny Schofield and put in a great cross for Booth's equaliser.

Then Jackson sent on Abbott for Sodje to provide an extra frontman and his attacking intentions were rewarded with an excellently-created winner, although it did come from a throw which should have been Stockport's!


TORMENTED the home defence in the air, he showed what a class centre forward he is in an excellent all-round display. His dominance was the pivot for Town's best attacking play.


Ian Gray Superb early save from Feeney and generally did well on his return before being forced off with a hand injury. Rating: 7/10

Andy Holdsworth Made a few solid clearing headers as Stockport got the ball in the box and, in attack, supplied several testing crosses himself Rating: 7/10

Rob Edwards Very determined show as Stockport aimed a lot for Bridge-Wilkinson on his flank. Did well going forward at times Rating: 7/10

Steve Yates Never shirked from the battle despite Feeney and Beckett being lively and strong. Will be upset to concede two Rating: 6/10

Efe Sodje Caught out early on by Feeney, he responded with some strong challenges before being taken off in a reshuffle. Rating: 6/10

David Mirfin His pace thwarted quite a few Stockport breaks and one sliding effort to cut out a Feeney cross was simply brilliant. Rating: 8/10

Tony Carss Scored a fantastic first goal of the season from 30 yards out. Worked hard and was involved in much good attacking Rating: 8/10

Jon Worthington Covered more ground than anyone and was still there to clobber Jackman in the final minute to earn himself a booking! Rating: 8/10

Danny Schofield Pinpointed as a danger by the home side, he never really influenced the game and replaced by Brandon on 72 mins Rating: 6/10

Andy Booth Magnificent. Fouled for the first goal, scored the second and set up the third. He also won every header Rating: 9/10

Junior Mendes Had the ball in the net early on when ruled offside, he was pushed wide later in the game. Hard-working display Rating: 7/10

Stockport County: Cutler, Geary, Adams, A Williams, Mair, Cartwright, Lambert, Bridge-Wilkinson (Jackman 79), Feeney (Barlow 90), Beckett, Robertson.

Subs not used: Hardiker, Welsh, Goodwin.