Dave Challinor always confident Stockport could secure promotion
Stockport boss Dave Challinor always believed his side would fight for promotion as the Hatters prepare to face Carlisle in the Sky Bet League Two play-off final.
County are looking to gain promotion in back-to-back promotions on Sunday and have secured their place at Wembley Stadium after coming from a deficit and beating Salford 3-1 on penalties after the two sides tied 2-2 on aggregate in both games after extra time lay .
Challinor took over from Edgeley Park in November 2021, just five months after guiding Hartlepool to the Second Division, and the county boss repeated that feat with his current club – this time he was just one game from his first promotion in removed the English Football League.
The 47-year-old admitted they had a poor start to the season but always believed he could lead the club to further promotion.
Speaking at a press conference, he said: “The start of this season was tough but we got through it and built up.
“Now it’s the point where we have to support ourselves and we were all hoping to have a chance to get into League One because that was our goal at the start of the season.
“Some would say it was a big ambition, now we have an opportunity to take it.” Promotion has always been the plan, the hope, the ambition and that’s the most important thing.”
Stockport finished the season unbeaten in 13 games but narrowly missed out on automatic promotion spots, finishing in third place just four points behind Northampton.
Challinor admits there’s a very different atmosphere at the Wembley stage than many who greet its players weekly on the Fourth Division pitch, as around 40,000 fans are expected at the Wembley Way.
He continued: “You can make an impact in front of 10,000 at Edgeley Park, you can make a bigger impact elsewhere in front of 2,000, in front of the Wembley crowd it’s going to be difficult.”
“What we do outside on the pitch every day builds our belief and confidence that the players are good enough and that’s not going to stop me from kicking a bottle or a billboard.
“We’re in a really strong situation because we have two players in (Antoni) Sarcevic and (Chris) Hussey who played in a play-off final, so they can convey completely different feelings in that regard.” Emotions, and we must use this experience positively.”
Forward Paddy Madden has scored 10 league goals so far this season and was also part of the side that earned promotion to League Two last year.
The 33-year-old joined the non-league from League One Fleetwood in the 2020/21 season and Madden insists his move was always based on the football club’s vision, while many thought it was purely for financial reasons.
He said: “There were a lot of concerns at the time about being relegated from the league but I knew what the plans were in place here.
“I’ve had the opportunity to see a few games at Edgeley Park, heard the atmosphere and that played a big part in me coming here because I knew how well the team was being followed.
“We’ve always hoped to get in a good position, we’re upset that we didn’t make the top three, but at the same time it’s better to get through the playoffs.”