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Stockport County returned to the top of the Northern Combination with a 5-0 victory over one of their nearest rivals, Huddersfield Town.
We spoke to Sarah Stones, one of Stockport's longer serving players, who told of her delight at how the season is going for her side so far:
How good a performance was it in beating Huddersfield on Sunday, was it one of the team's best performances of the season?
It was a great performance as we were strong defensively and very clinical in front of goal, I think overall it was our best performance, we played great football in the first half and battled as a team in the second half, so showed great quality in all areas
All of the goals came in the first half but were you just as pleased with a clean sheet against free scoring opponents?
The clean sheet was very pleasing, we knew that Huddersfield are a strong attacking team, but defensively we were strong and hardly gave them any chances in the first half and was able to deal with the pressure in the second. It was a bit of a surprise to be up 5-0 at half time but we knew they would come out and attack so we were determined to keep the clean sheet so it was a great confidence boost to do so.
Did you feel it was a vital result coming off the back of a defeat the week before?
Yes, the best thing any team can do after a defeat is to get a win and move forward, it was a vital three points against a team that I am sure will be challenging for promotion.
Overall, are you pleased with the way things are going this season?
The season is going very well, I think the three losses we have had have been disappointing in terms of our performances on the day but overall the team is playing well and the club is getting back to the level it should be at.
Leading up to Christmas last season, you were struggling near the foot of the table, now you are challenging for promotion. What has changed since then?
Last season we lost a few experienced players and a few young players progressed from the reserves so we had a pretty inexperienced team. The Northern Combination is a tough league, so we struggled to compete against more experienced and well set up teams. But since ex-player Kerry Jackson and our captain Jane Webb took over as managers in January and the addition of a few experienced players in Chantelle Parry, Jade Malpus and Lucy Lutton, we have gone from strength to strength. There is a different mentality and confidence in the dressing room and it's showing in results.
Is there some relief though that you won't have to play Middlesbrough in the league again this season?
In a way, yes! But we all know we could have played a lot better against Middlesbrough, defensive mistakes and some decisions cost us the games because we lost focus, though credit to Middlesbrough for taking advantage of that. Maybe it would be nice to draw them in the cup and get a victory.
You are due to play Huddersfield again this week, are you anticipating a tough game as they will have a point to prove?
We would be daft not to expect a tough game. We know Huddersfield will be after some revenge after such a heavy defeat and playing on a different surface to our 3G home pitch will change things. It will be a different game to last weekend but we are confident we can put in another good performance and come away with the three points.
Things are tight in the top half of the Northern Combination right now, are you confident you can maintain a title challenge and who would you see as your main rivals?
Yes, we are confident we can maintain a title challenge, we have a great squad and know that when we play our football, there is no reason why we can't push for promotion. We were fairly confident after the end of last season, where we were unbeaten for the second half of the season and knew we could be a title threat this year if we continued our good form. I think we would say Huddersfield are our main rivals at the moment as they have been playing well but Chester-le-Street have started the season so well after their promotion and Chorley are a strong team that could also challenge for the title. This year is probably the most open title for a while, there are a lot of games still to play and I am sure there are a number of teams aiming for top spot.
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