Stockport County promoted to League Two after 11-year EFL absence

The Hatters were relegated from the Football League back in 2011 but will return next season after beating FC Halifax on the final day of the regular National League season

Stockport’s Will Collar celebrates scoring in the win over FC Halifax which secures the Hatters’ EFL return after 11 years away

Stockport County have booked a return to the EFL after clinching the National League title on Sunday.

The Hatters beat FC Halifax Town 2-0 on the final day of the season. The result sees Stockport finish the season on 94 points – six clear of second-placed Wrexham.

Paddy Madden opened the scoring with his 25th goal of the season before Will Collar doubled the lead just after half-time. The full-time whistle was met with wild scenes at Edgeley Park which will now host League Two football next season.

After relegation from the EFL back in 2011 the club sunk as far as the National League North.

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Local businessman Mark Stott purchased the club in January 2020 with a detailed plan that targeted a Championship return – a division Stockport last played in 20 years ago – within seven years

The whole behind-the-scenes operation at Edgeley Park was revamped as well a gradual upgrade of the playing squad. It has reaped the rewards so far, and the fact that they were able to entice Dave Challinor to take up the manager role despite bossing League Two side Hartlepool says plenty about the appeal of the project.

Paddy Madden celebrates scoring the opening goal which set Stockport on their way

As for who will join Stockport in the fourth tier it will now be determined by the play-offs. They kick-off on Monday, May 23, with the team ending the season in fifth place at home to the side who secured a sixth spot.

Then, 24 hours later, the club that ended the campaign in fourth position face-off against the 7th placed team. Both ties kick-off at 7.45pm.

The semi-finals will be played on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29, at the home grounds of the second and third place finishers. Winners of the semi-final ties then head to West Ham’s London Stadium on Sunday, June 5. All ties are single-leg matches with extra time and penalties used if necessary.

Phil Parkinson’s Wrexham will have to earn promotion via the play-offs

Wrexham will be fancied by many to seal a long-awaited return following the investment after they were taken over by Hollywood A-listers Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

The Dragons were right in the promotion push until the final day, with a 3-0 defeat away at Dagenham and Redbridge giving them no chance of overtaking County.

The high-profile owners have grand plans for Wrexham but if they are to secure the first of what they hope will be many promotions, they will have to do it the hard way.

National League play-off schedule

Eliminator A – Monday, May 23 – Notts County v Grimsby – 7.45pm

Eliminator B – Tuesday, May 24 – FC Halifax v Chesterfield – 7.45pm

Semi-Final – Saturday, May 28 – Wrexham vs winner of Eliminator A – 12.30pm

Semi-Final – Sunday, May 29 – Solihull Moors vs winner of Eliminator B – 12.30pm

Promotion Final – Sunday, June 5 – 3pm at West Ham’s London Stadium

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