Neither Stockport County nor Bolton Wanderers have the newly christened Bristol Street Motors Trophy high on this season’s list of priorities – but that won’t stop them trying to keep up appearances at Edgeley Park tonight.

For Dave Challinor’s Hatters, a club record 13-game winning streak will not be surrendered lightly.

Getting back into League One, a division they last exited in 2010 with a record low 25 points after an entire season spent in administration, is of course their primary aim.

Former Bury defender Challinor has been given an ample budget, too, and in signing players like Aston Villa winger Louie Barry and ex-Wigan and Manchester United striker Nick Powell, they have the attacking arsenal to accomplish their aim, even if it seems most unlikely that the big guns will feature in the final group match with both teams already qualified.

For Wanderers, becoming the first club to successfully defend this trophy seemed an appealing prospect a few months ago when they flexed their muscles with a 3-0 win against Salford City.

Subsequent progress in the FA Cup, where a home tie against Harrogate Town has opened up an appealing avenue to the third round, has perhaps dulled that appetite slightly. After all, the right fixture in the draw could be as financially rewarding as another run to Wembley.

But like Stockport, the Whites have a winning streak to defend. Ian Evatt has voiced his frustration that this game cannot be shifted to allow him to play a stronger team – complete with his five internationals – and with a few players also nursing injuries, he may not be able to risk some who finished Saturday’s win against Blackpool for fear of losing them for an extended spell.

Unusually for Evatt, he has already signalled his intent to bring in B Team players to fill the gaps.

Opportunities for those outside the first team realm have been rare in recent seasons but a handful of the younger players could get their opportunity against Stockport, most notably Luke Matheson, who has caught the eye in each of his outings off the bench so far.

With more than 50 first team games and a high profile move to Premier League Wolves already under his belt at a tender age, the wing-back does not fall into exactly the same category as some of the homespun talents from Lostock.

The erudite 21-year-old opted to drop back into learning mode after his release at Molineux, building back fitness and confidence which had been damaged by a couple of bad injuries and a series of loan spells which brought mixed fortunes.

Life out of the spotlight with Bolton’s B Team in the last few months appears to have agreed with him, and Evatt has gradually given him more exposure to the senior environment in the hope he can use cup competitions to really bring him through.

Opportunity also knocks for players with more miles on their clock, too. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s exciting cameo against Blackpool turned the game in Bolton’s favour and hinted that the Icelander was now returning to his very best form.

Whether he has yet done enough to displace Victor Adeboyejo in Evatt’s starting XI remains to be seen but Bodvarsson could do his cause no harm with another positive performance in the Trophy, which was one of his more fertile scoring grounds last season.

Likewise, Dan Nlundulu won’t want to be cast as an impact sub for too long. The former Southampton striker scored a couple against United’s kids in the previous group game and will be keen for more.

In defence, Jack Iredale’s only start in the last six games came against Solihull Moors in the FA Cup. The Australian featured regularly in the first couple of months of the season, so with Eoin Toal on international duty his inclusion is one of the more straightforward choices Evatt has to make.

Joel Coleman has returned to fitness after a calf problem, so seems a logical choice in goal, and with no Josh Sheehan, Aaron Morley should slot straight into midfield with little drama.

Aside from Ricardo Santos and George Thomason, there won’t be too many players in the Bolton line-up who were present in their last trip to Stockport – a dismal FA Cup exit in November 2021 that was picked up by the BBC’s cameras.

But there may be a few fans who make the trip in the hope they will see that ghost exorcised, not to mention a handful in the technical area and dugout.