Stockport have taken a step towards joining Wanderers in qualification for the EFL Trophy knockout rounds.

Dave Challinor’s men ran out 3-1 winners against Salford City on Tuesday night thanks to Paddy Madden’s hat trick.

Challinor made a number of changes from the side that beat Doncaster over the weekend and his side went behind after just three minutes when Marcus Dackers got on the scoresheet.

Madden got the Hatters back on level terms from the penalty spot after Josh Popoola was brought down in the box. The experienced forward doubled his tally after the break, keeping his cool to slot home after latching onto Aston Mee’s pass.

Madden completed his hat trick midway through the second half, providing another cool finish after combining with Jayden Richardson.

Stockport drew against Manchester United Under-21s in their opener, missing out on a bonus point after losing a penalty shootout.

Wanderers have already secured their place in the round of 16 following victories against Salford and United’s youngsters, scoring 11 goals and conceding just once in the process.

Ian Evatt’s men are aiming to defend their trophy after beating Plymouth 4-0 in front of nearly 80,000 supporters at Wembley last term. The Whites also overcame the likes of Portsmouth and Accrington Stanley enroute to the final.

Last month, Evatt told The Bolton News: “We love to win games and this is another opportunity to win consistently.”

He added: “We want another trip to Wembley because that day was magical for everyone and why wouldn’t we want to replicate it?”

Wanderers head to Edgeley Park in their final group game on Tuesday, November 14 (7.30pm), while Salford host United’s youngsters on Tuesday, October 31.

Other group leaders in the northern section include Blackpool, Wrexham, Accrington, Wigan, Barnsley, Derby and Burton.

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