Paddy Madden’s 25th goal of the season helped Stockport seal the National League title and promotion back to the Football League with a 2-0 win over Halifax.
Dave Challinor’s men knew a point would be enough on the final day and a crowd of 10,307 filled Edgeley Park to try to inspire a second key home victory of the week. Madden produced the solitary goal in Wednesday’s crucial triumph over Torquay, which opened up a three-point gap over nearest challengers Wrexham and the forward’s early strike was followed by a Will Collar effort in the second half as the Hatters booked a return to League Two.
Any nerves inside the ground before kick-off were quickly dispelled when the deadlock was broken in the 10th-minute. Madden turned on the edge of the area and drilled into the bottom corner to spark wild celebrations with his 23rd strike in the National League this term.
It was almost two midway through the half but Madden hit the crossbar after Antoni Sarcevic’s corner and it remained 1-0 at the break.
The hosts looked for a second goal at the beginning of the second half and it arrived in the 54th minute. Andy Cannon was denied by Sam Johnson but the Halifax stopper could only parry the strike as far as the onrushing Collar who drilled home on the half-volley to put the hosts on the verge of promotion.
With news filtering through of second-placed Wrexham also trailing at Dagenham, Stockport were home and dry and the party could start early.
Despite two brief stoppages in the latter stages, the full-time whistle was greeted with a pitch invasion as the Hatters’ fans celebrated returning to the Football League after 11 years.