Stratford Town FC Match Reports 2016/17

 22 APRIL 2017  –  DORCHESTER TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

THE MAGPIES SURVIVE AS TOWN END THE SEASON IN THE DCS SUNSHINE 

Stratford  Town        –   1   –    Summerfield 89                                                                                                   Dorchester Town    –    1   –   Jerrard  80  

On a sunny afternoon at the DCS Dorchester gained the point they needed to preserve their Premier Division status for another season with all the meaningful action taking place in the closing minutes of an otherwise uninspiring game.

The Magpies had slipped into the danger zone after picking up only three points from their last six outings, but in a match which offered little in the way of excitement they doggedly fought their way to that all important point while for Town the draw means that they finish in 14th spot  –  an improvement of five places from last time round.

Wayne Thomas was back after missing the Cinderford game with an ankle problem, and came in for Barry Fitzharris in the only change to Town’s starting line-up.

Before the kick off there was a double celebration for Town’s playmaker Will Grocott who was presented with the  Supporters Player of the Year Award by Roy Craddock and the Stratford Herald  Award by Martin King.

Urged on by their travelling support behind Niall Cooper’s goal the Magpies were close to taking the lead in only the eighth minute when David Jerrard  surged into the penalty area before being halted by a perfectly timed tackle from Town skipper James Fry with the loose ball breaking to Neil Martin who blazed wildly over.

Town responded with a Grocott shot defle3cted to Mike Taylor who neatly made space for a fiercely struck low drive which was pushed behind by the Dorchester keeper Shane Murphy getting g down well at the foot of his right hand post.

But from then on there were few clearcut chances at either end although the Magpies had the best halfway through the half when Martin launched a free kick into the Town penalty area only for Jordan Williams to direct his header straight at the well positioned Cooper.

Ben Stephens then had a decent effort from 25 yards out held at the second attempt by Murphy but neither goal was seriously threatened until Town suddenly sprung to life a couple of minutes before the break.

Firstly Thomas was not far away with a header from a trademark Grocott free kick and then Taylor had a thunderous right footer blocked by a defender as half time was reached with the game unsurprisingly still goal-less.

With the news filtering through that both Cambridge City and Kings Langley were winning there was even more pressure on the Magpies after  the interval, but the game became very flat as Town struggled to get their passing game going and Dorchester concentrated on not making any disastrous mistakes.

Grocott hit a free kick from a promising position straight into the Dorchester wall and did the same with the rebound, while at the other end Gary Bowles saw his volley ricochet away off Taylor before Carl Adams made a double substitution with 25 minutes left.

Simeon Tulloch came on for Justin Marsden and Fitzharris made his 10th appearance from the subs bench in place of Stephens.

By now the game was drifting towards a no score draw which was ideal for the Magpies, but it suddenly got even better for them in the 80th minute when Town gifted them the lead.

Tulloch played George Forsyth into trouble with the Kidderminster loanee then  underhitting his backpass allowing the alert Jerrard to reach it before Cooper and after stumbling into the penalty area he recovered quickly enough to slot the ball it into the empty net before charging deliriously into to the embraces of the celebrating Magpies faithful.

It looked all over but with a minute of normal time to go the afternoon took another twist when Grocott’s cross from the right was bundled in by Dan Summerfield from close range.

Another Town goal would send Dorchester down and with the tension rising almost by the second the game was already into added time when Tulloch clashed with Tom Blair on the touchline and was sent off by referee Sarah Garratt after consulting with the linesman.

Even then Dorchester were still not completely safe and they held their collective breath when Taylor went down in the area, but the Town penalty appeals were waved away before the final whistle at last confirmed their survival and signalled the close of another memorable Carl Adams inspired Town campaign.

“It was a poor game today but that shouldn’t take the gloss of what has been a tremendous season for us,”  reasoned the Town boss afterwards. “Dorchester came to get a point and they succeeded in doing just that so fair play to them.

We were just flat after so many games recently.  It would have been nice to sign off with a win but we couldn’t quite manage it.

But over the season as a whole I’ve been really pleased with how we’ve performed.  For a club of our stature to finish 14th in as tough a League as this is a superb effort from everyone involved.

We’ve improved from last season, and I’m really proud of how we are progressing

Next season will be an even bigger test with the likes of Hereford coming in, but I’ve every confidence we’ll be ready for the challenge.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, James Fry (c), Dan Summerfield, George Forsyth, Guy Clark,  Wayne Thomas, Ben Stephens (Barry Fitzharris 65), Will Grocott, Mike Taylor, Jamie Spencer (Edwin Ahenkorah 78), Justin Marsden (Simeon Tulloch 65)..

DORCHESTER : Shane Murphy, Jason Brookes (Ollie Davis 71), Neil Martin, Ollie Griggs, Nathan Walker (c), Gary Bowles, Tom Blair, Jake Mawford, Phil Ormrod, David Jerrard, Jordan Williams..

Referee    –    Sarah Garratt

Assistant Referees    –   Adam Clernaghan & Richard Walker

Attendance      –   279

Town Man of the Match   –   Dan Summerfield

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town     Dorchester
          11 Goal Attempts                9
            6 On Target                3
            1 Blocked Shots                0
            0 Hit Woodwork                0
            3 Corners Won               4
             9 Crosses into Box               8
            8 Fouls Conceded               8
            2 Off Side               9
            1 Yellow Cards               2
           1 Red Cards               0

Town Yellow Cards     –    Fitzharris            Red Card  –  Tulloch

Dorchester Yellow Cards    –   Blair  &  Ormrod

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

17 APRIL 2017  –  CINDERFORD TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN ARE FELLED BY THE FORESTERS

Cinderford Town    –   2   –   Bamford  83  Norman  85                                                                 Stratford Town       –   1   –   Forsyth 24   

Town slipped to a disappointing defeat in the Forest of Dean to basement boys Cinderford Town, but the bare result was totally overshadowed by a serious knee injury to Cinderford’s left back James Bloom in the second half which led to the game being suspended for 25 minutes while an ambulance was called.

Champions of Division 1 South and West last season Cinderford only accepted promotion after lengthy deliberation, and have endured a wretched campaign at Premier Division level.  Bottom of the table virtually throughout their relegation fate was sealed some time ago and they came into this game on the back of seven successive defeats.

By contrast Town were enjoying their best run of the season with four wins and a draw from their last five outings and would have been odds-on favourites to extend that sequence against the struggling Foresters, but it didn’t work out like that.

Although Town were leading through George Forsyth’s third goal in three games when play was halted they were not looking particularly comfortable, and after the resumption it was Cinderford who seized the initiative scoring twice in three minutes late on to clinch a rare win in their final home game of the season.

It was a depleted Town line-up here with Wayne Thomas ruled out with an ankle problem and Simeon Tulloch also unavailable, and they were replaced by Barry Fitzharris and Mike Taylor, but on the plus side both Niall Cooper and Will Grocott were making their 50th Town appearance of the season.

Kicking off down the tricky Causeway slope Town were first to threaten with Grocott’s well struck eighth minute effort from 25 yards out being acrobatically tipped over by Cinderford keeper Cameron Clarke who then got down well a couple of minutes later to push away a low drive from the busy Grocott at the foot of his right hand post.

The Foresters responded with  Sammie Hicks’ cross from the left reaching Craig Norman at the far post only for the striker’s control to let him down at the crucial time followed by Ben Hands hitting a rasping right footer from the edge of the penalty area straight at the well positioned Cooper.

But Town had a lucky escape on 20 minutes when Cooper spilled Isaac Kelly’s free kick with Norman being first to the loose ball and then blazing it wide of the open goal.

Four minutes later Town took the lead when Dan Summerfield’s deep cross from the left went all the way over to the right touchline where Taylor’s persistence won a corner, and when Grocott floated over another of his immaculate flag kicks it was met by a bullet header from Forsyth which rocketed past the helpless Clarke.

It was virtually an action replay of his strikes in the previous two games against Hayes and Yeading United and Kettering Town.

Having the better of the possession Town continued to press forward with Grocott and Fitzharriso bossing midfield and Taylor and Jamie Spencer working hard up front, but with the Foresters defending grimly they couldn’t create any really clearcut openings, and half time was reached with Carl Adams’ side still only one up.

With the slope now in their favour Cinderford were far more positive after the break with Paul Michael not far away with a decent attempt in the 51st minute followed by Cooper holding a fierce effort from Bloom on the hour mark after Town had failed to clear a Hicks free kick.

Soon after Jack Alderdice headed over from a Hicks cross followed by Lewis Bamford shooting wide when well placed while in between Clarke had done well to come out and collect a Grocott cross under pressure from Spencer.

But everything changed in the 69th minute when Bloom sustained his injury in a collision with Ben Stephens with the stricken defender requiring treatment from both physios and not being able to be moved until the ambulance arrived..

Stephens was clearly upset by the incident, but when play resumed ironically it was he who had a great chance to put Town two up when Grocott’s pass left him one-on-one with Clarke only to shoot too close to the keeper who stuck out his left hand to deflect the ball away.

But Cinderford were now sensing that they could get something out of the game, and on 83 minutes  it was Clarke’s long punt the length of the pitch which set up their equaliser.  There seemed to be a misunderstanding between Forsyth and Cooper over who should deal with it, and as they fatally allowed the ball to bounce in the penalty area Bamford nipped between them in to head it over the stranded keeper into the net.

Two minutes later Town were caught out again when another Hicks’ pinpoint cross from the left picked out Norman who climbed above the Town defenders to head beyond Cooper and end Town’s five game unbeaten run.

“We conceded two poor goals”  was Carl Adams honest assessment afterwards.  “Our squad was down to the bare bones and with two games in three days we simply ran out of legs and got found out

At the time of the lad’s unfortunate injury I thought that we might be OK, but after the resumption they kept going and we didn’t.

We now need to pick ourselves up and put on a good show in front of our home supporters against Dorchester in the season’s finale on Saturday.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, James Fry (c), Dan Summerfield, Barry Fitzharris,  Guy Clark, George Forsyth, Ben Stephens, Will Grocott, Michael Taylor, Jamie Spencer,,  Justin Marsden.

CINDERFORD :  Cameron Clarke, Isaac Kelly, James Bloom (Mitchell Howells 70), Josh Nelmes (c), Shane Parry, Paul Michael (Billy Guest 62), Lewis Bamford, Jack Alderdice, Craig Norman, Jamie Hicks, Ben Hands.

Referee    –    G Rollason

Assistant Referees    –   R Brooks & P Tyler

Attendance      –   135

Town Man of the Match   –   Will Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town     Cinderford
          14 Goal Attempts              12
            5 On Target                6
            0 Blocked Shots               0
            0 Hit Woodwork               0
           7 Corners Won              5
        10 Crosses into Box              7
        16 Fouls Conceded              9
           1 Off Side              2
           2 Yellow Cards               2
           0 Red Cards               0

Town Yellow Cards             –    Marsden & Summerfield

Cinderford Yellow Cards    –    Hands & Norman

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

 

15 APRIL 2017  –  KETTERING TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TERRIFIC TOWN DOUBLE UP AS THE POPPIES FADE AWAY 

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Stratford  Town     –    4   –   Forsyth  3  Thomas 58  Spencer  80  Grocott 90+2 (pen)                       Kettering Town     –     1   –   Baker  30 

Town  are ending the campaign in some style as they completed the seasonal double over Carl Adams’ old club Kettering Town to make  four wins and a draw from their last five matches.

It was all square at half time with George Forsyth’s early goal to put Town ahead having been cancelled out by Ben Baker, but after Wayne Thomas had restored Town’s lead just before the hour mark the Poppies gradually slipped out of contention.

Jamie Spencer’s strike with ten minutes to go effectively put the result beyond doubt and Will Grocott’s penalty in added time topped off  tremendous afternoon for the Knights Lane faithful who gave their team a standing ovation as they walked off at the end.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from their win over Hayes and Yeading last Friday.  Injury ruled out both James Hancocks and Edwin Ahenkorah and they were replaced by Dan Summerfield and Ben Stephens.

And on a sunny afternoon Town made the perfect start taking the lead in only the third minute.  Ex-Poppy Will Grocott floated over a free kick from the right and  Forsyth was unmarked at the far post to head firmly past keeper Paul White for his second goal in two games.

Soon after a James Fry cross from the right almost led to a second Town goal as the Kettering defence struggled to get it away until their skipper Gary Mulligan was able to boot it unceremoniously downfield.

Another Grocott free kick from virtually the same position as the first was this time too close to White who then comfortably held a looping header from Spencer.

With Thomas paying close attention to the imposing Rene Howe little had so far been seen of Kettering’s attack, and as the half reached its midway point Grocott’s unerring delivery of free kicks into the penalty area set up another chance for Spencer whose glancing header didn’t miss by much as White frantically scrambled across his line to cover.

Gradually though the Poppies began to settle down, and after Baker had had a couple of promising runs halted by the offside flag he got his timing right on the half hour mark latching on to a through ball down the inside right channel to slot it past Niall Cooper.

Back came Town with Justin Marsden’s cross from the left being just inches too high for Simeon Tulloch before a great chance to regain the lead came and went in the 36th minute.

Tulloch used his speed to burst through the middle only for White to be smartly off his line to block the shot.  The loose ball spun away and was seized on by Spencer who then fired wide of the open goal.

And the Poppies almost made Town pay for that miss three minutes before the break when Mulligan’s long ball into the penalty area found their leading scorer Aaron O’Connor who turned to shoot past Cooper only for Summerfield to make a miraculous goal-line clearance with the ball then falling kindly to Cooper who had recovered quickly enough to grab it before O’Connor could react.

The Poppies were quite lively after the restart with both Howe and Jorrin John going close while Forsyth had to limp off to be replaced by Barry Fitzharris, but on 58 minutes yet another Grocott free kick from the right was too much for their defence as Town went back in front.

Once more it was launched to the far post where Thomas climbed higher than everyone else to power a header past the helpless White for his first Town goal on his fourth appearance.

A flurry of substitutions soon followed with the Poppies desperate to get back into the game and Town withdrawing Stephens in favour of Mike Taylor.

White did well to come out and claim a teasing cross from Tulloch while at the other end Cooper achieved the unusual distinction for a keeper of being yellow carded for the second game in a row.

Against Hayes and Yeading he had charged out towards the touchline to clatter into a Hayes player and he did exactly the same here, but it had little effect on the pattern of play.

Town were now bossing the midfield with Grocott’s creativity being complemented bythanks to the workrate of Fitzharris who seemed to be everywhere, and they should have gone further ahead on 76 minutes when Mulligan’s mistake let in Taylor who only had White to beat but screwed his shot agonisingly wide.

But four minutes later Town wrapped up the points as they went 3-1 up when Spencer exchanged passes with Taylor to cut in from the left and slide the ball past the advancing White.

And two minutes into added time Grocott completed his imperious display against his former club by coolly despatching a spot kick past White after Taylor had been brought down  by Liam Bateman.

“A great day for the Club” reflected a jubilant Carl Adams afterwards as the day’s other results showed that Town had climbed to 14th spot in the table.  “I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved here in the past seasons, and I’m really proud of the team and their performance this afternoon.

We made a conscious decision to stick with the young lads at the start of the season with the hope of developing them into a team that could prosper at this level over the next few years.  That is still our plan, but it has been necessary to bring in Wayne Thomas  to add that vital bit of experience.

He is still a very capable player and you can already see the beneficial effect he is having on the likes of Guy Clark, James Fry and Dan Summerfield.

Defences win you Leagues.   Wayne’s presence has strengthened us in that area  and that has allowed players like Will Grocott to do what they are best at going forward without having to worry about helping out at the back.

Kettering are a great club and I enjoyed my time there immensely.  At half time I felt that the match was evenly poised, but in the second half we got to grips with their number 9 (Rene Howe) and when Barry Fitzharris came on he made a tremendous difference in midfield doing the things which are unglamorous but which are so necessary to winning football matches.

So overall an excellent effort from everyone, and we look forward to carrying on our good run over the final two games.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, James Fry (c), Dan Summerfield, George Forsyth (Barry Fitzharris 54), Guy Clark,  Wayne Thomas, Simeon Tulloch, Will Grocott, Jamie Spencer, Ben Stephens (Mike Taylor 66), Justin Marsden..

KETTERING : Paul White, Jack O’Connor (Liam Bateman 66), James Brighton, Lewis Hornby, James Harran, Gary Mulligan (c), Ben baker, Aaron O’Connor, Rene Howe, Nathan Hicks (Ethan Lee 77), Jorrin John (Dom Langdon 66).

Referee    –    Anthony Giles

Assistant Referees    –   Richard Cutts & Lauren Holt

Attendance      –   309

Town Man of the Match   –   Wayne Thomas

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town     Kettering
         11 Goal Attempts            12
          6 On Target             6
          0 Blocked Shots             0
         0 Hit Woodwork             0
          2 Corners Won              2
       10 Crosses into Box              6
       13 Fouls Conceded           15
         3 Off Side             3
         2 Yellow Cards            4
         0 Red Cards            0

 Town Yellow Cards           –    Cooper & Forsyth

Kettering Yellow Cards    –     Bateman, Harran, Howe & Lee

Match Report by BRYAN HALE

 

 7 APRIL  –  HAYES AND YEADING UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

AHENKORAH AND FORSYTH ON TARGET AS TOWN ADD TO HAYES AND YEADING’S WOES 

Hayes & Yeading United   –   1   –   Weiss 14                                                                                           Stratford Town                     –   2   –   Ahenkorah  24   Forsyth  71 

Town made it three wins from their last four matches at Holloways Park on Friday evening as they roared back from going behind inside the opening quarter of an hour to increase Hayes and Yeading’s worries of a second successive relegation after dropping down from National League South twelve months ago.

More significantly for Town the result took their seasonal points total to 52 meaning that they have bettered last season’s figure of 50 with three games still to play adding  further evidence of their continued progress under Carl Adams’ astute management

Ten minutes after Mitchell Weiss had capitalised on Niall Cooper’s mistake to give Hayes and Yeading the lead a goal of the season contender from leading scorer Edwin Ahenkorah levelled it all up for Carl  Adams’ battling side, and a classic header from George Forsyth with nineteen minutes to go made sure that their once in a generation Friday fixture would end in the best way possible.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from the St Neots game with Simeon Tulloch replacing Barry Fitzharris in midfield and Jamie Spencer coming in for the unfit Mike Taylor up front.

Hayes and Yeading’s side included their two recent loan signings in the experienced striker Sahr Kabba from Wealdstone  –  the hat-trick hero in their 5-0 demolition of  Cinderford three days earlier – and the teenage midfielder Leo Donnellan from Dagenham and Redbridge who has also represented the Republic of Ireland at Under 18 level.

Town started brightly with James Hancocks not far away with a decent effort from  20 yards out followed by Ahenkorah’s cross from the left sliding tantalisingly just out of the reach of the stretching Tulloch.

It was however soon clear that the Town defence would have to keep a close eye on the wily Kabba who would be Hayes and Yeading’s main threat all evening, and it was his whipped-in low cross from the right in the 14th minute which led to them going ahead.

Cooper couldn’t hold it and Weiss hammered the loose ball into the net.

Town looked for a quick response with Ahenkorah having a snap shot turned behind by keeper Danny Boness, and on 24 minutes they equalised with a spectacular strike from Ahenkorah who created a goal out of nothing.

Gaining possession fully 30 yards out he turned to hit a sumptuous left footer which rocketed past the helpless Boness into the top corner for his 15th goal of the season.

Soon after another power packed Ahenkorah effort was only held by Boness at the second attempt and the keeper then kept his side from going behind on 33 minutes as he took off to his left to push a fiercely struck shot from Justin Marsden round the post.

With Will Grocott and Co now bossing the midfield Town were very much on top with Tulloch next to threaten with a run down the inside left channel before slipping  the ball inside to Jamie Spencer whose shot fizzed narrowly wide.

But the half then ended on an unsavoury note when a foul by Wayne Thomas led to a confrontation between both sets of players.  When order was eventually restored Thomas escaped with a yellow card in spite of the home supporters baying for a card of a different colour.

Ahenkorah’s persistent knee problem didn’t allow him to continue after half time meaning that Town had to reorganise.  Dan Summerfield came on to take over at left back with Hancocks moving into midfield and Marsden slotting in alongside Spencer.

And as Town new formation inevitably took time to settle down Hayes and Yeading had a great chance to regain the lead in the 54th minute.

Weiss raced clear down the left before cutting in to be one-on-one with the advancing Cooper, but the keeper more than made  up for his earlier error by superbly beating away Weiss’s shot.

A couple of minutes later Cooper comfortably held a shot from substitute Ryan Hope and soon after he was again smartly off his line to smother at Kabba’s feet needing treatment from physio Joe Perkins for a hand injury in the process.

It wasn’t long before Cooper and Kabba clashed again as the keeper charged out to the touchline to challenge the Hayes and Yeading striker to a long ball down the left and receiving a yellow card for bringing him down.

Carl Adams made a second substitution on 65 minutes sending on Ben Stephens in place of Hancocks, and it was Stephens’ willingness to shoot which led to what turned out to be Town’s winner.

His dipping right footer from some way out was acrobatically tipped over by Boness, but the keeper’s heroics were all in vain as the subsequent corner taken by  Grocott was met by a bullet header from Forsyth at the far post into the roof of the net.

With Hayes and Yeading noticeably dispirited at the turnaround Boness prevented Town from making the winning margin even more emphatic with defiant saves from Spencer and then Grocott before there was a final moment of controversy deep into added time.

Hayes and Yeading mounted one last desperate attack and as the ball ricocheted about in the Town penalty area it appeared to be handled by Town’s third substitute Fitzharris, but much to their disbelief the frantic appeals for a penalty from the Hayes and Yeading players and supporters were waved away by referee Andreas Anastasiou

Town as the saying goes may well have got away with one but a few seconds later it was all over and they  were able to head back up the M40 with all three points safely secured.

“Another tremendous away performance” beamed a delighted Carl Adams afterwards.  “It was particularly pleasing to win after going behind, and following on from the win at Kings Langley and the draw at St Neots it shows that we are becoming much more streetwise at this level.

The arrival of Wayne Thomas has been a terrific boost to us in this respect.  He was absolutely immense here and I also thought that Jamie Spencer worked tremendously hard up front.

And with three games left we are now looking upwards to try to finish as high as we can.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, James Fry (c), James Hancocks (Ben Stephens 65), Guy Clark,  Wayne Thomas,  George Forsyth, Simeon Tulloch, Will Grocott, Jamie Spencer, (Barry Fitzharris 87), Edwin Ahenkorah (Dan Summerfield 46),  Justin Marsden.

H & Y :  Danny Boness, Cole Brown (Richie Whittingham 65), Josh Chamberlain, Jack Smith, Tom Broadbent (c), Callum Adeblyi, Leo Donnellan, Frankie Jones (Ryan Hope 47), Mitchell Weiss, David Hutton (Anthony Edgar 73), Sahr Kabba.

Referee    –    Andreas Anastasiou

Assistant Referees    –   Simon Higgins & Martyn Cannons

Attendance      –   152

Town Man of the Match   –   Jamie Spencer

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town            H & Y
         13 Goal Attempts                8
           8 On Target                6
           0 Blocked Shots                0
           0 Hit Woodwork                0
          11 Corners Won                0
            7 Crosses into Box                7
            6 Fouls Conceded                6
            6 Off Side               3
            3 Yellow Cards               0
            0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards     –    Cooper, Marsden & Thomas

H & Y Yellow Cards    –    Donnellean

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

 

1 APRIL 2017  –  ST NEOTS TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

SPENCER COMES OFF THE BENCH TO RESCUE A POINT 

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St Neots Town      –   1   –   Wilson 17                                                                                                                 Stratford Town    –   1   –   Spencer 80 

Substitute  Jamie Spencer rescued a point for Town with a late equaliser at a sunlit  Premier Plus Stadium on Saturday after St Neots had spurned a number of chances to build on their early lead.

The returning Lewis Wilson  –  back at St Neots after three years away  –   had fired the Saints ahead in the 17th minute and but for some wasteful finishing and a couple of top class saves by Town keeper Niall Cooper they might have been two or three up at half time, but the second half was more even and Spencer’s opportunism with ten minutes to go ensured that Carl Adams’ side headed back along the A14 with their 16th draw of the season after a match in which they amazingly conceded only three free kicks .

Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from last weekend’s win over Banbury.  Guy Clark came into the backline instead of Liam Francis,  Barry Fitzharris replaced the unavailable Dan Summerfield in midfield and Justin Marsden took over up front from the injured Ben Stephens.

And the afternoon nearly got off to a sensational start with the Saints going close with only the second kick of the game in what was obviously a well rehearsed move.   Taking the kick off Lewis Wilson rolled the ball to Shane Hill whose audacious effort from inside the centre circle was bang on target and had to be tipped over at full stretch by the alert Town  keeper Niall Cooper who fortunately had not strayed off his line.

Having survived that impossibly early scare Town began to soon settle down with leading scorer Edwin Ahenkorah having a well struck left footer comfortably held by the Saints keeper Alex Archer in the 10th minute.

But the  Saints were looking the more lively of the two sides with their hugely promising front runner Jevani Brown soon showing why he has been attracting the attention of a number of Premier and Football League Clubs.

On 12 minutes he left James Fry trailing as he sprinted after a long clearance down the left from Archer to reach the byline only for his pull back to be fractionally behind Wilson, and it was the same combination which gave the Saints the lead five minutes later.

A neat passing move ended with Brown threading the ball through to Wilson on the right of the penalty area and he coolly slotted it past the advancing Cooper.

With their confidence boosted by going ahead  Saints began to boss the possession and should have doubled their lead on the half hour mark when Brown’s deep cross from the left reached the unmarked Declan Rogers who headed wastefully over from only six yards.

Soon after dangerman Brown latched onto the ball on the left to cleverly work enough space for a fiercely struck shot which was brilliantly turned over by Cooper, and in the closing minutes of the half the Saints again came close to extending their advantage.

Firstly James Hancocks cleared of the line after a cross from the right had caused mayhem in the Town six yard box, and when Town struggled to deal with the resulting corner Tom Wood seized on the loose ball to hit a thunderous low drive through the congested penalty area which brought another smart save from the busy Cooper.

Town were first to threaten after the restart with a decent attempt from George Forsyth which didn’t trouble Archer, but the  play then switched to the other end with the Saints missing another chance to go further ahead with Rogers again the culprit as he shot wide after racing onto a pass from Harry Norman.

And with the Saints still keeping up the pressure Brown’s left wing corner on 65 minutes almost led to a second goal with Taylor Parr having his header come back off Clark and then curling his effort from the rebound narrowly wide.

But being only one behind Town were still very much in the game. Simeon Tulloch came on for Fitzharris followed by Spencer for Ahenkorah as Carl Adams looked to try something different, and soon after his arrival Spencer had a thunderous right footer ricochet away off Wood followed by Marsden having a rasping effort from 25 yards out fizz inches wide.

By now the game was heading into its final quarter of an hour and the Saints were visibly starting to run out of ideas.  Town could sense that there could yet be something in it for them, and in the 80th minute Spencer came up with exactly that.

Chasing a routine long ball down the middle he capitalised on some hesitancy from Wood to reach it just outside the penalty area and then expertly lift it over the stranded Archer into the empty net.

The game could now have gone either way but even then the Saints had one last chance to win it deep into added time when Brown’s precision pass set up an opening for Tom Knowles only for Cooper to move smartly off his line and make a point-saving block.

“I felt it was a poor game with very little tempo to it”  said Carl Adams afterwards.  “I don’t know if we were a bit complacent knowing that we are safe for another season, but we didn’t have the same spark as last week.

Nevertheless we have taken seven points from our last three games two of which were away, and I have to be satisfied with that.

And on another positive note I would also say that I think we are learning to be considerably more resilient, as had this game been played a few weeks ago we might well have not been able to come back and probably ended up losing it 1-0.

So we will now move on to our Friday evening trip to Hayes and Yeading looking to extend our unbeaten run to four and a strong end to  the campaign.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, James Fry (c), James Hancocks, Barry Fitzharris (Simeon Tulloch 61),  Wayne Thomas, Guy Clark, George Forsyth, Will Grocott, Mike Taylor, Edwin Ahenkorah (Jamie Spencer 67), Justin Marsden  (Emmitt Delfouneso 83).

ST NEOTS :  Alex Archer, Harry Norman, Johnny Herd, Lee Clarke, tom wood, Taylor Parr, Declan Rogers (Tom Knowles 76), Shane Hill (Fernando Bell-Toxtle 83), Lewis Wilson (Nassim L’Ghoul 86), Michael Hyem (c), Jevani Brown.

Referee    –    Stephen Bates

Assistant Referees    –   Lee Jessup & David Moreno-Rouas

Attendance      –   253

Town Man of the Match   –   Guy Clark

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town      St Neots
          11 Goal Attempts             14
            6 On Target               8
            0 Blocked Shots               0
            0 Hit Woodwork               6
            3 Corners Won              4
          13 Crosses into Box              6
           3 Fouls Conceded              8
           3 Off Side              1
           1 Yellow Cards             0
           0 Red Cards             0

 Town Yellow Cards         –    Taylor

St Neots Yellow Cards    –    None

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

25 MARCH 2017  –  BANBURY UNITED  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TERRIFIC TOWN DERAIL THE PURITANS’ PLAY OFF HOPES

Stratford  Town      –   2   –   Grocott  6   Taylor  41                                                                             Banbury United     –   0 

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Town turned in one of their best performances of the season as they halted Banbury’s play off  hopes in their tracks with first half goals from Will Grocott and Mike Taylor combined with a resolute defensive performance and a dramatic late penalty save by Man of the Match Niall Cooper as the Puritans saw their recent run of five successive wins come to an abrupt end.

In spite of the win at Kings Langley last weekend Carl Adams made three changes for this one reinstating James Fry and Ben Stephens to the starting line-up in place of Guy Clark and Justin Marsden, and bringing in the vastly experienced defender Wayne Thomas on loan from Kidderminster Harriers.

The introduction of Thomas allowed another Harriers loanee George Forsyth to return to midfield with Barry Fitzharris dropping down to the subs bench.

It was real sunglasses weather as Town made an explosive start to stun the Puritans by taking the lead in only the sixth minute.

The goal was all down to Taylor’s strength as he musctled his way past a couple of defenders down the right to reach the byline and then pull the ball back to Grocott who swept it past keeper Jack Harding from eight yards out.

The Puritans looked to hit back immediately with Town keeper Niall Cooper turning away a fierce effort from Tom Winters as he cut in from the left and then making a more routine save from a Ricky Johnson header as Town were forced to defend in depth and in numbers.

A misplaced pass from James Hancocks set up an opening for Manny Duku but he failed to get enough power into his shot to trouble Cooper while in the 20th minute Town needed two or three attempts to clear a Winters’ corner from the left before the ball eventually fell to Marvin Martin 20 yards out whose shot flew narrowly wide.

Banbury continued to have the better of the possession and on 25 minutes Cooper again kept Town’s lead intact as he superbly pushed behind a close range volley from Luke Carnell.

A long range free kick from Winters then didn’t miss by much, but Taylor was proving to be a real handful for the Puritans with his physical presence and selfless running whenever Town could get forward and in the 35th minute he got on the end of a deep cross from Grocott only for his header to be directed straight at Harding.

But having been up against it for most of the first half Town went two up four minutes before the break. Thomas went up as Town forced a corner and he seized on the loose ball on the left of the penalty area to jink past Eddie Odhiambo and unleash a thunderous effort which was only parried by Harding, and as the ball looped behind him Taylor reacted the quickest to head into the net from barely a yard out.

It was the powerful Town striker’s eleventh goal of the season, and right on half time he would have had his twelfth and Town’s third of the afternoon but for a reflex save from Harding as he connected with anther bullet header from a Marsden cross.

With play off rivals Merthyr already winning against struggling Cambridge City the Puritans had no option but to attack straight from the restart, and it nearly led to them falling further behind when Winters’ cross was punched away by Cooper with the ball being cleared upfield and Taylor surging down the inside left channel only to fire into the side netting as Harding advanced to challenge.

But on 52 minutes there was an anxious moment for the Town faithful as referee Richard Price whistled when Duku went down in the penalty area as he tried to wriggle past Liam Francis, but to the Banbury front runner’s disbelief he was yellow carded for simulation and Town were able to breathe again.

Soon after Duku was involved again as he chased a long ball down the middle only for Cooper to move smartly off his line to smother at his feet, and then on the hour mark he created a chance for himself as he lifted the ball over Francis only to then shoot inches wide of Cooper’s left hand post.

By now the Puritans were probably beginning to realise that it was not going to be their afternoon as Town’s workrate showed no signs of slowing with Grocott and Dan Summerfield absolutely immense in midfield and Thomas certainly adding the vital extra bit of know-how to Town’s backline.

Nevertheless they still kept cranking up the pressure with Winters having a shot deflected behind off Francis, substitute Conor McDonough blazing wide after being played in by Zac McEachran and Johnson then nodding back a left wing cross from Winters for McDonough to glance his header straight at Cooper.

Then on 82 minutes they had their best chance yet to get back into the game.  Another Winters’ cross was only partially headed away by Francis and as Marsden went to complete the clearance a yard or so inside the penalty area the ball took a bad bounce and reared up against his hand.

This time referee Price ruled in the Puritans’ favour, but Cooper pulled off a superb match turning block  as he guessed correctly by diving to his right  to beat Johnson’s spot kick  away and  Banbury’s last hope of rescuing  even a  point had gone.

Town immediately refocussed on seeing the game out for League back-to-back wins for the first time since early October with the added bonus of the three points seeing them climb above local rivals Redditch United in the table and their Premier Division future now surely secured.

“A great result and a tremendous performance” purred an eminently satisfied Carl Adams afterwards.  “We have once again taken points off a top six side and proved what we can do when put our minds to it.

So the frustrating thing is that if we had been able to do like we did this afternoon more consistently what  a season we might have had.   As it is we are surely safe now and can look forward to a third season at Premier Division level.

Everyone did their bit today, but I thought that Wayne Thomas was magnificent. Players like him are a dying breed and I brought him in for the last few games of the season to pass his experience on to the likes of Jimmy Fry and Liam Francis as he has so much that they can learn from him.

Mike Taylor as always put in a terrific shift and Will Grocott covered virtually every blade of grass while Niall Cooper’s penalty save capped an excellent all round display.

I couldn’t be more pleased.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, James Fry (c), James Hancocks (Guy Clark 85), Dan Summerfield, Liam Francis, Wayne Thomas, Ben Stephens (Justin Marsden 43),  George Forsyth, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah (Simeon Tulloch 63).

BANBURY :  Jack Harding, Eddie Odhiambo, Tom Bradbury, Marvin Martin (Jack Self 46), Jack Westbrook, Luke Carnell, Zac McEachran, George Nash, Ricky Johnson (c), Manny Duku (Conor McDonough 62), Tom Winters (Mark Bell 83).

Referee    –    Richard Price

Assistant Referees    –   Mark Groves & Craig Thompson

Attendance      –   417

Town Man of the Match   –   Niall Cooper

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams   

                 

      Town      Banbury
           8 Goal Attempts              13
           5 On Target                7
           0 Blocked Shots                0
           0 Hit Woodwork               0
          3 Corners Won               4
           8 Crosses into Box             13
         12 Fouls Conceded               8
            0 Off Side               3
           3 Yellow Cards               2
            0 Red Cards               0

Town Yellow Cards         –    Forsyth, Francis & Fry

Banbury Yellow Cards    –    Duku & Nash

Match Report by Bryan Hale

18 MaRCH 2017  –  KINGS LANGLEY  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

EDWIN RETURNS TO TOPPLE THE KINGS 

Kings Langley      –    1   –   Hitchcock  66                                                                                                     Stratford Town    –    3   –   Ahenkorah (2)  37 (pen) & 43  Taylor 90 + 5  

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Town virtually guaranteed their Premier Division status for another season and at the same time added to Kings Langley’s relegation worries with a crucial victory in their first ever visit to Gaywood Park.

Leading scorer Edwin Ahenkorah returned to the starting line-up for the first time since limping off at Chesham eleven games ago and fired Town ahead from the penalty spot before adding another to send Town in at half time 2-0 up.

The Kings pulled one back halfway through the second half and piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser before Mike Taylor took advantage of a blunder by Kings keeper Xavi Comas to wrap up the points with Town’s third deep into added time.

As expected Carl Adams rang the changes after the midweek defeat at Dunstable with James Fry and Ben Stephens consigned to the subs bench as in came Ahenkorah and Barry Fitzharris, while the injured Emmitt Delfouneso was replaced by Liam Francis who also took over the captain’s armband.

And in a positional switch George Forsyth was moved into the backline as Town adopted a 4-3-3 formation.

Town started brightly, and had an early chance to take the lead when Comas’ misdirected roll-out to right back Jack Pattison was seized on by Justin Marsden  who reached the byline only for his pull back aimed for Will Grocott to be intercepted by the Kings skipper Jorell Johnson.

At the other end a teasing cross from Ryan Plowright confidently held by Town keeper Niall Cooper as Ollie Cox closed in while Town responded with Marsden floating over a couple of crosses from the left which were capably dealt with by the Kings defence.

But with both sides finding it difficult to cope with the bobbly pitch there were few clearcut chances at either end until Town went ahead in the 37th minute when to the surprise of practically everyone in the ground referee Michael Heavey pointed to the penalty spot after Johnson tangled with Mike Taylor as both went for a bouncing ball indicating that the Town striker had been held back.

It may have been a generous decision, but whether it was or not didn’t bother Ahenkorah who despatched the spot kick past Comas with the minimum of fuss.

And with the Kings still seething at the decision Ahenkorah made it even worse for them by doubling Town’s lead six minutes later.

Latching onto a long pass down the right from Francis he neatly skipped round  Plowright to work the ball onto his left foot before beating Comas at his near post with a fiercely struck effort  into the roof of the net for his 14th goal of the campaign.

The Kings had no option but to push forward after the restart and with the previous decision no doubt in mind were soon appealing for a penalty of their own when Lewis Toomey went tumbling in the box but nothing was given.

But ten minutes into the second half they had their best chance so far when Plowright’s cross from the left reached Steve Ward whose shot back across goal  fizzed inches wide of the far post.

Dean Hitchcock was then not far away with a volley from the edge of the penalty area on the hour mark before Comas gave a warning of what was to come by advancing out of his area to attempt to head clear only for the ball to find its way to Grocott out on the left.

And as Town’s wily midfielder tried an audacious chip towards the empty goal Comas was able to redeem himself by frantically backpedalling to grab the ball on the line.

But the Kings pressure told in the 66th minute when they got themselves right back into the game as Town conceded a free kick 20 yards out on the left and Hitchcock  drilled it through the congested penalty area into bottom corner of  Cooper’s net.

Soon after a decent effort from Grocott was only inches wide before the Kings wasted a great chance to level it all up when Toomey screwed his shot wide from eight yards out after substitute Jerry Amoo had set up the opening.

Amoo himself then blazed well over with ten minutes to go followed by Michael King’s header from another Hitchcock free kick bring scrambled away by Cooper and Johnson seeing his rasping drive whistle narrowly over, but Town were  not going to let this one slip and in the fifth minute of added time a calamitous error by Comas made sure that Town would head back up the M40 with all three points.

Once again coming out of his area this time to field a long ball down the left from James Hancocks  he fatally lost control allowing the alert Taylor to nick it off him and coolly lob it into the empty net.

Somehow referee Heavey found another four minutes to play before blowing the final whistle when Town could celebrate what is surely Premier Division survival while for the Kings the wait goes on.

“A good day for us” beamed a satisfied Carl Adams afterwards.  “We put in a real shift and ultimately we fully deserved our win.

It was great to have Edwin Ahenkorah  back in the starting line-up and looking sharp, while Mikey Taylor as always got through a tremendous amount of work and I thought that George Forsyth did particularly in the back four.

But as we all know we are notoriously inconsistent, and it’s a flip of the coin as to whether we can be as effective against Banbury next weekend, but that will certainly be our intention in what is on paper probably the hardest of our remaining games.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Guy Clark, James Hancocks, Dan Summerfield, George Forsyth, Liam Francis (c), Justin Marsden, Barry Fitzharris (James Fry 65), Mike Taylor (Jamie Spencer 90 + 6), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah  (Ben Stephens 76).

K/LANGLEY: Xavi Comas, Jack Pattison, Ryan Plowright, Jorell Johnson (c), Sam Tring (Josh Coldicutt-Stevens 59), Dean Hitchcock, Steve Ward (Mayo Balogun 74), Ollie Cox, Lewis Toomey, Michael King, Kieran Turner (Jerry Amoo 65)..

Referee    –    Michael Heavey

Assistant Referees    –  Ashley Hickman-Lovence & Luigi Lungarella

Attendance      –   168

Town Man of the Match   –   Mike Taylor

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town      K/Langley
           9 Goal Attempts               16
           5 On Target                4
          0 Blocked Shots                 0
           0 Hit Woodwork                 0
           1 Corners Won                6
        11 Crosses into Box                8
        14 Fouls Conceded             12
          4 Off Side               2
          3 Yellow Cards               1
          0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards            –    Ahenkorah, Clark & Fry

K/Langley Yellow Cards    –    Johnson

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

14 MARCH 2017  –  DUNSTABLE TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

OFF COLOUR TOWN FADE AWAY AFTER A BRIGHT START

Dunstable  Town    –    2   –   Talbot  (2) 35 & 52                                                                                           Stratford Town       –    0 

Out of sorts Town slumped to another disappointing away defeat as they followed their lacklustre performance at King’s Lynn ten days before with more of the same at Creasey Park on Tuesday evening.

Yet it all seemed so different in the first half hour as they looked comfortably in control against a Dunstable side  who came into the game on a dreadful run of form having been in virtual freefall since the original fixture was called off on February 11th due to a frozen pitch taking only two points from their seven subsequent outings. 

But then a calamitous defensive mix-up gifted Dunstable an unexpected lead, and when that lead was doubled early in the second half the eventual result was never in doubt.

With the return of Niall Cooper in goal being the only change from draw against Chesham at the weekend Town made an encouragingly positive start and went close to going ahead  in only the third minute when Will  Grocott’s cross from the right was met by Mike Taylor with a bullet header which was somehow shovelled round the post  by keeper Jack Smith at point blank range.

They then had a scare when James Hancocks’ attempt to clear a cross clipped the top of Cooper’s bar on its way behind before they were soon back on the attack

A whipped-in cross from Dan Summerfield  was cut out by Smith getting down well to his right followed by Ben Stephens having a well struck effort blocked, and as Town pile forward another Summerfield cross set up a chance for Justin Marsden whose low drive beat Smith but was cleared off the line by Harry Bean.

But Olvkanmi Mathan was beginning to cause Town some problems with his electric pace down the right, and as the half reached its midway point he sprinted along the touchline before cutting in only to then shoot wastefully high and wide.

And it was Mathan who contributed to the opening goal in the 35th minute although not in the way he intended as his lofted pass into the penalty area didn’t seem to be one of his best, but there was a fatal lack of communication between Cooper and James Fry over who should deal with it.

In the end neither did and Danny Talbot seized on the loose ball to lob it into the empty net.

Town looked to hit back immediately with Marsden shooting against the advancing  Smith’s legs followed by Hancocks not being far away with a thunderous effort from distance and  George Forsyth going similarly close with a well struck right footer from the edge of the penalty area.

And in the final minute of the half another Forsyth effort ballooned off a defender and threatened to loop into the net until it was grabbed under the bar by Smith as he frantically backpedalled.

Dunstable came out for the second half clearly determined to make the most of being in front, and seven minutes in they went two up with a slick move again involving Mathan.

This time he worked his way to the byline before firing in a low cross which was slotted home by Talbot from inside the six yard box.

Carl Adams sent on Edwin Ahenkorah and this season’s youth team hotshot Dylan Parker to try to retrieve the situation, but Dunstable now had their tails up and Town gradually faded out of contention.

Instead Dunstable should have added a third with twenty minutes to go when Josh Ovinson surged clear down the inside left channel to square the ball across to Mathan who only had Cooper to beat from ten yards out but inexplicably fired well wide .

In the closing minutes a teasing Hancocks’ cross was well claimed by Smith and in added time Ahernkorah hit a left footer a long way over as he worked his way in from the right but the destiny of the points had long since been decided and it was another depressing journey home for the travelling Town faithful.

So Town’s quest for that elusive win which will virtually guarantee another campaign at Premier Division level now carries on to Kings Langley on Saturday, but worryingly they have now only scored in two of their last five matches since their last gasp win at Biggleswade a month ago and  until they start finding  the back of the net again the last few weeks of the season may turn out to be more nervous than seemed likely not that long ago.

“That performance tonight was nowhere near good enough,” fumed a despondent Carl Adams afterwards, “and I can only apologise to the supporters who made the trip  –  they deserved a lot better from us.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, James Hancocks, James Fry (c) (Edwin Ahenkorah 60), Guy Clark, Emmitt Delfouneso (Liam Francis 63), George Forsyth, Will Grocott, Mike Taylor, Justin Marsden  (Dylan Parker 60) , Ben Stephens..

DUNSTABLE: Jack Smith, Harry Bean, Gedeon Okito, Danny Talbot (Jack Green 71), Jordan Odofin, Adam Pepera (c), Olukanmi Mathan, David Longe-King, Josh Ovinsan, Vences Bola (Kelvin Bossman 83), Adam Moussi.

Referee    –    Gareth Viccars

Assistant Referees    –   Ryan Dix & Nicholas Fuller

Attendance      –   74

Town Man of the Match   –   Will Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town      Dunstable
           15 Goal Attempts                8
             5 On Target                2
            1 Blocked Shots               0
           0 Hit Woodwork               1
            4 Corners Won              3
            9 Crosses into Box               6
          10 Fouls Conceded              7
             1 Off Side               1
            0 Yellow Cards               2
             0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards           –    None

Dunstable Yellow Cards    –   Bola & Pepera

Match Report by Bryan Hale

11 MARCH 2017  –  CHESHAM UNITED  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

THE GENERALS STRIKE LATE ON AS TOWN DRAW AGAIN

Stratford Town       –   1   –   Taylor  48                                                                                                                 Chesham United     –   1    –   Blake  79  

Town edged another point closer to securing their Premier Division status with their 15th League draw of the campaign in a closely fought encounter against play-off hopefuls Chesham United..

Mike Taylor headed Carl Adams’ side ahead three minutes into the second half, but as so often this season they found that lead hard to hold on to and Ryan Blake equalised for the Generals eleven minutes from time.

There was a new face in goal as Niall Cooper was on Best Man duty down in London thereby missing only his second League match of the season and was replaced by 19 year old Jake Weaver who has linked up with Town for a couple of weeks from Birmingham City’s Development Squad.

Elsewhere in two other changes from the King’s Lynn game Guy Clark  –  having returned from Rugby Town after a one game loan spell  –  replaced central defender Jean Kalenda who had limped off last weekend and Mike Taylor took over from Liam Francis up front.

The game got off  to a quickfire start as both sides could have scored in the opening five minutes.  Firstly Chesham’s Sam Youngs was not far away with a speculative long range volley, and when play switched to the other end Mike Taylor glanced a header  narrowly wide from a pinpoint Dan Summerfield cross.

Weaver then confidently held a ninth minute header from Phil Roberts who soon after was not far away with a fiercely struck effort from the left of the penalty area.

At the other end the Generals keeper Richard Hayward did well to punch clear a teasing cross from James Hancocks, but as the game settled down after that initial flourish there were few clearcut chances. 

Town went close on the half hour mark when Will Grocott’s free kick was only cleared as far as Summerfield whose return cross into the six yard box flew just beyond both Taylor and Justin Marsden, and a couple of minutes later a neat backheel from Hancocks released Grocott down the left to hit his shot straight at Hayward before Town finished the half with three decent attempts in the last five minutes.

Summerfield had a rasping drive fly narrowly wide followed by Hayward making a smart save from Ben Stephens low to his left and a Taylor header from Grocott’s left wing corner fizzing inches over.

And after the restart Town carried on from where they had left off by taking the lead in the 48th minute..  Stephens floated over a deep cross from the right and Taylor climbed the highest at the far post to power a header beyond Hayward for his ninth goal of the season.

Hayward then comfortably held a well struck left footer from the increasingly influential Stephens who used his speed to almost double Town’s lead on 57 minutes.

Chasing a long ball down the inside left channel he skipped round Hayward who had rashly charged well out of his area to challenge but instead of shooting as Toby Little and Mat Mitchell-King came across to cover he unselfishly squared the ball across to Taylor who screwed his shot well wide of the empty goal.

And as Town continued to press for a much needed second goal Hayward kept his side in the game on the hour mark as he plunged to his left to palm away another crisp  effort from Stephens who was now really buzzing..

But the Generals were still in the game with a cross from the overlapping Little down the left reaching Drew Roberts who fired well over.

Grocott was similarly wayward after Clark’s surging run from halfway had set up the chance, but as the game headed into its closing quarter of an hour the Generals upped their threat level.

A strong run down the right from Phil Roberts created their best chance so far as he cut in to hit a thunderous effort which was brilliantly beaten away by Weaver,  and they equalised on 79 minutes when Ryan Blake ran on to a through ball to steer it past the advancing Weaver from the edge of the penalty area.

Almost immediately after Benji Crilley tried his luck with a viciously struck right footer from all of 30 yards out which was only held by Weaver at the second attempt before Town had their last realistic chance with six minutes to go.

Hayward again got down well to parry yet another on target Stephens attempt with Taylor seizing on the loose ball to slip it inside to Grocott whose first time shot was deflected behind.

Both sides kept going to the end but neither could force a decider as they repeated their result in the reverse fixture at Chesham two months earlier.

“I’m satisfied with the performance and another point which moves us further away from the drop zone” reflected Carl Adams afterwards.  “but at the same time I’m frustrated as well because yet again we’ve let a lead slip in the last quarter of an hour and we just don’t seem to be able to get over the winning line,

At least we were a lot better this afternoon than at King’s Lynn last weekend, but we should have seen the game out and it’s becoming boring to repeat myself so often.

However we need to remember that Chesham are an established Premier Division side with a far bigger budget than ourselves and we came close to beating them.

So was it a point gained or two lost ?  Chesham will undoubtedly think that they deserved a draw so probably it was a bit of both but we’ll take it and move on to Dunstable on Tuesday.”

TOWN : Jake Weaver, Dan Summerfield, James Hancocks, James Fry (c), Guy Clark, Emmitt Delfouneso, George Forsyth,Will Grocott, Mike Taylor, Justin Marsden (Barry Fitzharris 78), Ben Stephens.

CHESHAM :  Richard Hayward, Brett Longden (Stephan Hamilton-Forbes 46), Toby Little, Mat Mitchell-King, Benji Crilley, Adam Martin, Dave Pearce, Sam Youngs, Phil Roberts, Drew Roberts, Ryan Blake.

Referee    –    Scott  Robertsonr

Assistant Referees    –   Andrew Ellis & Thomas Kelly

Attendance      –   196

Town Man of the Match   –   Mike Taylor

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town     Chesham
          16 Goal Attempts            12
            8 On Target              4
            0 Blocked Shots              0
            0 Hit Woodwork              0
            6 Corners Won              5
            9 Crosses into Box           10
            8 Fouls Conceded             7
            2 Off Side              2
            0 Yellow Cards             1
            0 Red Cards             0

 Town Yellow Cards          –    Delfouneso & Hancocks

Chesham Yellow Cards    –    Blake

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

4 MARCH 2017  –  KING’S LYNN TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

A GOAL IN EACH HALF IS ENOUGH FOR THE LINNETS

King’s Lynn  Town    –   2   –   McWilliams 3  Tom Ward  64                                                                           Stratford Town          –   0  

In what Carl Adams succinctly described as “a nothing match” King’s Lynn eased to an ultimately comfortable victory at the Walks Stadium on Saturday with Town seldom looking likely to get back into the gamer after going behind in only the third minute.

With Simeon Tulloch nursing a muscle strain, strikers Mike Taylor and Jamie Spencer both unavailable and Charlie Faulkner and Guy Clark loaned out to Rugby Town Carl Adams had to make a number of changes from last weekend’s win over Biggleswade.

Liam Francis, Justin Marsden and Dan Summerfield all came into the starting line-up as  the Town boss once again opted for a 3-5-2 formation, while there was the welcome return of Edwin Ahenkorah on the subs bench following an absence of seven games after being carried offf with a knee problem at Chesham in mid-January.

It was the first home match in charge for the Linnets’ new manager Ian Culverhouse  –  who was once assistant to Paul Lambert at Aston Villa  –  and his side made a dream start as they went ahead with barely three minutes on the clock.

Kurtis Revan skipped round James Hancocks on the right to reach the byline and whip in a low cross which was only cleared as far as  Jacek Zielonka who promptly retuned it into the penalty area where it was neatly controlled by Shaun McWilliams before swivelling to fire past the helpless Niall Cooper.

Soon after Zielonka was involved again with his glancing header from Sam Warburton’s free kick being comfortably held by Cooper.

The Linnets new signing Kegan Everington who has arrived on loan from F A Cup heroes Lincoln City was soon catching the eye with his quality on the ball, and with Town struggling to cope with the Linnets pace and movement most of the action was worryingly taking place in their half of the field.

On 19 minutes only a perfectly timed tackle by Jean Kalenda prevented Revan from doubling the Linnets’ lead and a couple of minutes later the home supporters thought that their side had gone two up when Revan’s speculative effort from the right touchline dropped onto the roof of the net instead of inside it.

And as the Linnets continued to boss the possession Everington slipped the ball through to the busy Zielonka who switched inside to work the ball onto his left foot and hit a rasping effort from 20 yards out which flew into the side netting although  Cooper looked to have it covered as he moved smartly to his left.

Town then had to reorganise on the half hour mark when Kalenda limped off to be replaced by Barry Fitzharris who went into midfield with Francis taking over from Kalenda in the back three.

As the half headed into its closing ten minutes Town at last began to make more of an impact with Marsden firing over from the edge of the penalty area and then Will Grocott going considerably closer with a decent effort three minutes before the break.

But the Linnets almost had the last word of the first half with Warburton working his way in from the left to thread the ball through to Toby Hilliard who stabbed it wide from close range as Emmitt Delfouneso slid in to challenge.

Disappointingly for the travelling Town faithful it was more of the same after the restart with the Linnets continued to look the more threatening of the two sides with McWilliams’ run from halfway was only halted by a combination of Town skipper James Fry and Delfouneso on the edge of the penalty area.

Revan then had a fiercely struck shot deflected away before the Linnets finally got their second goal on 64 minutes.

Warburton floated over a corner from the right which was cleared behind for another  corner on the opposite flank, and when Warburton again delivered his flag kick into the penalty area it was met by a bullet header from unmarked central defender Tom Ward to effectively put the result beyond doubt.

Revan almost squirmed his way through soon after before being crowded out before in a rare Town attack Hancocks’ cross from the left was acrobatically cut out by Linnets keeper Alex Street as Ben Stephens waited to pounce.

George Forsyth made way for Ahenkorah with a quarter of an hour to go, but the returning Town front man hardly had a look in as the Linnets continued to have far more of the ball.

And they went close to extending their lead on 78 minutes when Zielonka broke away down the inside right channel to chip the ball over the advancing Cooper only for it to  drift tantalisingly wide.

At least town tried to finish with a bit of a flourish as they forced their only corner of the afternoon in the 86th minute  which was taken by Hancocks and reached Fitzharris whose volley fizzed narrowly over.

But that was Town’s last sight of goal as the Linnets comfortably saw the game out to give Culverhouse a three point present from an afternoon which that apart was probably memorable for very little else.

“Individual errors have cost us in a nothing match in which otherwise they never really hurt us. ” reflected a rueful Carl Adams afterwards.  “We gifted them an early goal through a poor clearance  but after that we hardly ever looked like scoring ourselves and although they had plenty of the ball they didn’t create that many clearcut chances

Nevertheless at 1-0 down with half an hour left we are still in the game but then we make another basic mistake allowing their player a free header from a corner and the game is over for us from then on.

So it’s very frustrating that we’ve lost today simply because we’ve not been doing our jobs, and the lads have to realise that this cannot continue.

I know it was difficult having to shuffle the pack today with Jamie Spencer and Mike Taylor not being able to play, but we should have done better and we will need to in the remaining games of the season.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, James Hancocks, James Fry (c), Jean Kalenda (Barry Fitzharris 29), Emmitt Delfouneso, George Forsyth (Edwin Ahenkorah 76), Will Grocott, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden, Ben Stephens.

K/LYNN :  Alex Street, Jacek Zielonka, Chris Ward, Ryan Fryatt, Tom Ward, Kegan Everington, Michael Clunan (c), Shaun McWilliams (Eoin McQuaid 81), Toby Hilliartd, Kurtis Revan (Dylan Edge 69), Sam Warburton (Jordan Yong 75).

Referee    –    W Porter

Assistant Referees    –  J Jones-Eyre & D O’Sullivan

Attendance      –   645

Town Man of the Match   –   Justin Marsden

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town       K/Lynn
            5 Goal Attempts              9
            3 On Target              4
            0 Blocked Shots              0
            0 Hit Woodwork              0
           1 Corners Won             5
            8 Crosses into Box           11
           5 Fouls Conceded           12
           8 Off Side            2
          0 Yellow Cards            2
          0 Red Cards            0

 Town Yellow Cards       –    None

K/Lynn Yellow Cards    –    Hilliard & C Ward

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

25 FEBRUARY 2017  –  BIGGLESWADE TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

SPENCER STRIKES EARLY AS TOWN DOUBLE UP OVER THE WADERS 

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Stratford  Town          –   1   –   Spencer 12                                                                                                       Biggleswade Town    –   0 

Jamie Spencer’s 12th minute goal  – which was his first in a Town shirt since switching from Alvechurch  –  propelled  Carl Adams’ side to a quickfire seasonal double over the Waders as they followed up their win in the reverse fixture at Biggleswade ten days earlier with another  narrow success at a breezy DCS.

A stiff wind from the Golf Course End meant that this was never going to be a game for the purist, but Town adapted better to the conditions and were well worth the three points which move them closer to their target of Premier Division survival.

There was one change to the starting line-up from last weekend with Jean Kalenda coming in for Liam Francis.  Both Guy Clark and Barry Fitzharris were on the subs bench after completing their suspensions, while the returning Dan Summerfield was not risked due to a slight groin strain.

Town had the wind in their favour from the kick off, but neither side had really threatened until Town took the lead with what turned out to be the only goal of the game with just 12 minutes on the clock.

Man of the Match Simeon Tulloch floated over a cross from the right which landed in the Biggleswade six yard box where there was a bit of pushing and shoving before the ball fell kindly to Spencer who slotted it past the Waders keeper Ian Brown.

Biggleswade found it hard going into the wind with their only attempt in the opening 25 minutes being a deflected effort from Connor Vincent which dribbled through to Niall Cooper, and soon after Tulloch sent over another promising cross which was headed away by the Waders skipper Craig Daniel.

Spencer was enjoying his best Town game yet, but his luck was well and truly out on the half hour mark when he went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Jeff Woodward only to be booked for simulation by referee Richard Gardner.

Both sides were working hard but without creating anything resembling a clearcut chance until the closing minutes of the half when George Forsyth hit a decent low drive from 25 yards out which was comfortably held by Brown followed at the other end by Connor Hall lifting a left wing centre from Rhys Hoenes a good foot over Cooper’s crossbar.

The Waders had the wind behind them after the restart and immediately forced a corner which Hoenes could only launch onto the roof of the net, but they went a lot closer when Michael Richens’ lofted pass into the penalty area was only just out of the reach of the overlapping Lucas Perry.

But it was Town who almost doubled their lead on 52 minutes when Tulloch’s perfectly weighted pass sent Mike Taylor surging clear down the inside right channel only for his lob over the advancing Brown to drift tantalisingly wide.

A couple more better directed corners from Hoenes caused Town a few problems before they were dealt with and Daniel blazed a 30 yard free kick harmlessly over before Town again went close to going two up on 64 minutes.

Tulloch was brought down by Perry by the right touchline and Will Grocott’s free kick was mis-punched by Brown giving Taylor the chance of a shot which was deflected behind.

And when Grocott’s corner was not properly cleared Spencer was quickest to react with a close range right footer which was scrambled off the line.

Hall then put another header well over from Woodward’s deep cross before Spencer was involved in another penalty incident with 20 minutes to go. This time he was sent tumbling by Perry but in spite of frantic Town appeals referee Gardner waved play on leaving an incredulous Spencer sat on the ground shaking his head.

Shortly after Robbie Parker wasn’t far away for the Waders with a useful attempt from the edge of the penalty area, but by now the Waders were running out of ideas as Carl Adams made full use of his strong subs bench to bring on the fresh legs of Fitzharris, Marsden and Francis.

Deep into added time Parker had the Waders’ last chance but he hit his shot straight at Cooper and Town had efficiently and effectively seen the game out.

“It was a good professional performance in tricky conditions” reflected Assistant Manager Paul Eden afterwards.  “It was nice to grind out a result as that is something we’ve struggled to do this season.

A clean sheet is another bonus, and defensively I thought that we were very solid today.  Biggleswade never really looked like scoring, while in the second half when we were playing into the wind we always looked a threat on the break.

These three points are vital, but we still need at least two more wins before we can feel absolutely safe.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Simeon Tulloch,, James Hancocks, James Fry (c), Jean Kalenda, Emmitt Delfouneso, George Forsyth,  Will Grocott, Mike Taylor (Justin Marsden 83), Jamie Spencer (Liam Francis 89), Ben Stephens  (Barry Fitzharris 73).  Unused Subs  –  Charlie Faulkner & Guy Clark

BIGGLESWADE : Ian Brown, Jeff Woodward (Conrad Lucan 83), Lucas Perry, Robbie Parker, Russell Short, Gavin Hoyte, Craig Daniel (c), Connor Hall, Connor Vincent (Tony Burnett 76),  Michael Richens,  Rhys Hoenes.  Unused  Subs  –  Evan Key & Callum Lewis

Referee    –    Richard Gardner

Assistant Referees    –  Tom Bowkett & Kieran Dolphin

Attendance      –  144

Town Man of the Match   –   Simeon Tulloch

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town    Biggleswade
          7 Goal Attempts                 7
         4 On Target                 1
          0 Blocked Shots                 0
          0 Hit Woodwork                 0
          1 Corners Won                 5
          8 Crosses into Box                 6
        13 Fouls Conceded              10
           2 Off Side                3
           3 Yellow Cards                0
           0 Red Cards                0

 Town Yellow Cards                –    Hancocks, Spencer & Tulloch

Biggleswade Yellow Cards    –    None

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

18 FEBRUARY 2017  –  CHIPPENHAM TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

SANDELL IS SPOT ON LATE ON FOR THE HIGHFLYING BLUEBIRDS

Stratford  Town           –    0                                                                                                                         Chippenham Town    –    1    –    Sandell 84 (pen)  

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Table toppers Chippenham completed the seasonal double over Town when the League’s leading scorer Andy Sandell blasted in an 84th minute penalty for his 26th goal of the season to clinch a vital win for the Bluebirds in a closely fought game which for long periods seemed certain to end with the points being shared.

It was certainly tough to take for Carl Adams’ battlers who had put in a performance brimming with character and commitment against the League leaders, but there was no doubt about the penalty decision and Sandell gave Town keeper Niall Cooper no chance from the spot.

Carl Adams made three changes to Town’s starting line-up from the midweek win at Biggleswade.  Emmitt Delfouneso made his return after spells at Highgate United and Rugby Town in place of Jean Kalenda while Ben Stephens came in for the unavailable Dan Summerfield and Jamie Spencer took over from Justin Marsden as Town opted for a 3-5-2 formation.

Chippenham had racked up seven consecutive wins until held to a draw by Kings Langley in midweek, but they almost went behind in the opening minute here when Mike Taylor’s header from a Will Grocott free kick was clawed away at full stretch to his right by keeper Darren Chitty.

But as the game settled down there were few clearcut chances at either end with the Bluebirds twin strike force of Sandell and David Pratt  –   who already have 42 League goals between them this term  –  being kept relatively quiet by the Town defence.

Grocott had a decent effort charged down after a loose clearance fell to him some 25 yards out, while at the other end Alex Ferguson fired wildly over from the edge of the penalty area before Sandell showed his quality on the half hour mark when he cleverly made room for a shot from 15 yards out on the right which curled inches wide of the far post.

Taylor was proving a real handful for the Bluebirds backline with his power and persistence, and on 33 minutes he nicked the ball off Dan Bowman to jink along the byline and whip in a cross which was cleared to George Forsyth whose first time drive from distance flashed narrowly wide.

But a minute before the break it was Sandell who once more went close when Pratt was floored by James Fry 25 yards out and his sweetly struck left footed free kick looked destined for the top corner until it was spectacularly tipped over by  Cooper.

Another Sandell free kick early in the second half was deflected behind off the Town wall as the Bluebirds were quickly into their stride, but Carl Adams’ side certainly weren’t overawed with the two Kidderminster Harriers loanees Forsyth and James Hancocks both catching the eye with their spirited performances.

And on 58 minutes Town were again close to going in front when the busy Taylor muscled his way into the left of the penalty area to let fly with a fierce right footer which was beaten away by Chitty.

Soon after a Forsyth header from Grocott’s corner didn’t miss by much, and as the second half reached its midway point Simeon Tulloch launched a deep cross from the right touchline which was met by Taylor with a looping header which drifted tantalisingly the wrong side of the post with Chitty well beaten

But sensing that at least two Championship points were slipping away the Bluebirds tried to pile on the pressure in the closing quarter of an hour.

Matt Smith had a thunderous effort drive blocked by Liam Francis and the overlapping Nuno Felis saw his teasing cross bundled behind for a corner, while substitute Joe McClennan’s first touch was a well struck drive which flashed inches wide.

But Town were showing plenty resilience and a no-score draw was looking more and more of a certainty until with six minutes to go Pratt surged into the penalty area down the inside right channel where he was brought down by Francis.

Sandell lashed the spot kick past Cooper with the minimum of fuss to give the Bluebirds another vital win, and with Merthyr losing and Hitchin only drawing they have extended their lead at the top of the table to a healthy looking eight points.

“That was bitterly disappointing” reflected a downbeat Carl Adams afterwards. “We matched the team that’s top of the League for most of the game, and we didn’t deserve to end up with nothing.

Maybe the only difference between the two sides today was in decision making, but we’ve proved that we can compete against the best in this League. In fact we seem to perform better against the big teams and this afternoon was another example of exactly that.

But I’m well aware that  our end of season position will be determined by how we do against the teams that are around us in the table and so our away games at Kings Langley, Hayes and Yeading, St Neots and Cinderford will be crucial.

But after today we still have a nine point cushion to the bottom four and we need to maintain that right to the end.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Simeon Tulloch, James Hancocks, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Emmitt Delfouneso, George Forsyth, Will Grocott, Mike Taylor, Jamie Spencer (Justin Marsden 75), Ben Stephens.

CHIPPENHAM : Darren Chitty, Dan Bowman, Nuno Felix, Gary horgan (c), Will Richards, Rhys Baggridge, Alex Ferguson (Michael Pook 89), Matt Smith (Joe McClennan 78), David Pratt, Andy Sandell, Matt Jones (James Guthrie 67).

Referee    –    Greg Rollason

Assistant Referees    –  Adrian Hall & Dean Steatham

Attendance      –  236

Town Man of the Match   –   James Hancocks

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town    Chippenham
            9 Goal Attempts              12
           2 On Target                5
            0 Blocked Shots                0
            0 Hit Woodwork               0
            1 Corners Won              10
            9 Crosses into Box                6
          13 Fouls Conceded              12
            0 Off Side                1
            3 Yellow Cards               2
            0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards                –    Fry, Grocott & Spencer

Chippenham Yellow Cards     –    Horgan & Pratt

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

14 FEBRUARY 2017  –  BIGGLESWADE TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TWO LATE CORNERS EQUAL THREE POINTS AS TOWN SINK THE WADERS

Biggleswade Town    –   1    –    Kalenda (og) 71                                                                                               Stratford  Town           –   2    –    Taylor 82  Francis 85  

With only eight minutes left to go at Langford Road on Tuesday evening and Biggleswade leading through Jean Kalenda’s freak own goal it was looking as if Town were set for more frustration in their bid to pull further away from the wrong end of the Premier Division table.

But they forced a corner on the left which was launched into the congested penalty area by Will Grocott and the ball eventually dropped to Mike Taylor who stabbed it over the line to level it all up.

And three minutes later it got even better for Carl Adams’ battlers with another corner from the opposite flank, and Grocott’s cleverly flighted delivery being met with a glancing header by Liam Francis into the far corner of the net to complete a stunning turnaround which had barely seemed possible only moments before.

With Guy Clark and Barry Fitzharris suspended the two Kidderminster Harriers loanees George Forsyth and James Hancocks were called into the starting line-up, while in other changes from the Cirencester game Jean Kalenda and Mike Taylor came in for Jamie Spencer and Ben Stephens as Carl Adams opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Francis one of the midfield three.

The game was slow to get going but it was Biggleswade who created the first chance on ten minutes when  Nicholas Bignall headed narrowly over from a Rhys Hoenes corner.

And as the Waders began to have the better of the meaningful possession it was the imposing Bignall who was involved again as the first half reached its midway point with a bullet header from a Craig Daniel cross which was kept out by a brilliant reflex save from Town keeper Niall Cooper at point blank range.

Town were having to work hard to stay in the game, but in a rare foray upfield on the half hour mark Taylor was crowded out as he tried to make room for a shot with Grocott seizing on the loose ball to hit a low drive which was comfortably held by the Waders keeper Ian Brown.

Soon after Simeon Tulloch fired well over from 15 yards out before the Waders ended the half back on the attack with Michael Richens bursting through from halfway only to drag his shot harmlessly wide.

Town were noticeably more lively after the break with the powerful Taylor almost bustling his way in from the left and Dan Summerfield shooting over after Grocott had set up the opening.

Soon after a Grocott free kick from the left nearly caught Brown out with the keeper seemingly distracted by Taylor’s attempt to reach it and only grasping the ball as it was almost past him.

The Waders responded with Daniel cutting in from the right only to be thwarted by Cooper who was smartly off his line to make a brave block at his feet, but it was now a much more even game  and in the 67th minute Town went the closest yet to opening the scoring.

Justin Marsden exchanged passes with Grocott to let fly with a fierce right footer  from 20 yards out which was heading for the top corner until it was spectacularly tipped over by Brown.

But it all looked to be going wrong for Town  five minutes later when Cooper and Kalenda collided as they went to deal with a cross from Hoenes and the ball ricocheted off the distraught Town defender  into the empty net to give Biggleswade a distinctly fortuitous lead.

Realising a change was needed if his side were to get back into the game Carl Adams made a double substitution sending on Jamie Spencer and Ben Stephens for Kalenda and Marsden which gave Town more options up front.

And on 82 minutes they won the first of the game changing corners with Taylor forcing in the equaliser followed three minutes later by Francis gliding in the winner to spark wild celebrations on and off the field.

There was still time for the Waders to salvage something and they almost did but Daniel’s shot on the turn in added time came back off the bar as Town held on for a vital win.

And it was just as well that Town had those three priceless points to come back with as the return journey was a nightmare of epic proportions beginning with roadworks closing part of the A1 and the diversion being totally unsuitable for the team coach as well as the usual convoy of overnight HGV’s.

So it was heading towards 2.00 am before the DCS came into view but because of those two Grocott flag kicks it really was all worth it.

“That’s a massive result for us” beamed an ecstatic Carl Adams afterwards.  “Yet again we have gone to one of the hardest places and come away with a superb win.

It would have been devastating if we had lost to an own goal, but we showed tremendous spirit to keep going right to the end and we got our deserved reward.

It also showed that we now have depth in our squad as all three of our substitutes are quality performers and it’s a real asset when you have those sort of players on the bench who are able to come on when needed.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, James Hancocks, James Fry (c), Jean Kalenda (Jamie Spencer 78), Liam Francis, Simeon Tulloch (Charlie Faulkner 89), Goerge Forsyth, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Justin Marsden (Ben Stephens 78).

BIGGLESWADE : Ian Brown, Jeff Woodward (Conrad Lucan 74), Lucas Perry, Robbie Parker, Russell Short, Gavin Hoyte, Craig Daniel, Evan Key, Nicholas Bignall (Connor Vincent 62),  Michael Richens,  Rhys Hoenes (George Couzens 86).

Referee    –    Scott Williams

Assistant Referees    –  Terry Barnes & Chris Bodell

Attendance      –   80

Town Man of the Match   –   Will Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

       Town    Biggleswade
           10 Goal Attempts                 9
             6 On Target                  3
             0 Blocked Shots                  0
             0 Hit Woodwork                  1
             4 Corners Won                  2
          10 Crosses into Box                 8
             8 Fouls Conceded                 5
            2 Off Side                  2
            5 Yellow Cards                  0
           0 Red Cards                  0

 Town Yellow Cards                –    Francis, Forsyth, Grocott, Kalenda &  Tulloch

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

 

4 FEBRUARY 2017  –  CIRENCESTER TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN FALL TO THE CENTURIONS’ LATE STRIKE

Stratford  Town         –     0                                                                                                                                       Cirencester Town      –    1    –     Griffin 78 

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Town slumped to their seventh home League defeat of the season as a scrambled goal by Alan Griffin 12 minutes from time decided a game which seldom hit any great heights at the DCS on Saturday.

Cirencester had arrived having taken just two points from their previous 11 outings, but they ended that dismal sequence and extended Town’s winless run to eight in all competitions as Carl Adams’ side turned in a distinctly below par performance.

Justin Marsden, Jamie Spencer and Mike Taylor were all available after being cup-tied for the Leamington BSC game in midweek, but while Marsden and Spencer came into the starting-line-up in place of Charlie Faulkner and Jean Kalenda with Liam Francis reverting to the backline after playing  as a striker at Leamington Taylor had to be content with a place on the subs bench which for the first time also included Youth team keeper Scott Martin..

Cirencester’s team included Welsh International keeper Glyn Garner who made his Wales debut in 2006 in the same match as a certain Gareth Bale.

The popular defender Guy Clark was making his 100th appearance for Town, and he knew he was in the game inside the opening 60 seconds when he was on the wrong end of a heavy challenge from Kieren Diaz-Benitez.  Typically he shrugged it off as if nothing had happened.

But on an inevitably heavy pitch both teams took some time to settle down.  The offside flag halted Simeon Tulloch as he was about to run onto a through pass from Will Grocott and a Grocott free kick from out on the right was just beyond Ben Stephens at the far post, while at the other end a low cross from Kerry Morgan was fumbled round the post by Niall Cooper.

But the first serious chance didn’t arrive until the 17th minute when Town struggled to deal with a cross from the right and the ball fell kindly to Griffin who blazed over from inside the six yard box.

Soon after Dan Demkiv finished off a strong run down the right with a driven-in cross which Town  eventually cleared for a corner and he followed this with another teasing cross which was headed away by the perfectly positioned Town skipper James Fry.

But on the half hour mark it was Town who went close to taking the lead when Garner had to plunge to his left to push  Grocott’s low drive round the post.

Grocott then fired a 25 yard free kick wildly over before Garner again kept the scores level on 39 minutes with a smart one handed save from a Stephens header after Dan Summerfield had picked out the Town midfielder with a pinpoint cross from the right touchline.

Tulloch had an early chance in the second half when he seized on a weak Cirencester clearance from a Grocott free kick but his fiercely struck effort was deflected behind, and a couple of minutes later another Grocott free kick reached Marsden who mistimed his header and the ball drifted harmlessly away.

But the Centurions hit back with the lively Demkiv not far way with a low volley from the edge of the penalty area, and on 65 minutes the Town faithful had a worrying moment when Aidan Bennet overlapped down the left.

His cross went straight to Fry but he sliced his attempted clearance and the ball spun behind him and fortunately directly into Cooper’s gloves.

Almost immediately after it was Garner who miskicked with the ball going straight to Grocott some 35 yards out but his audacious first time attempt to return it into the empty net was tantalisingly off target.

Morgan then twisted to make room for a shot before firing over and another overlap by Bennett ended with his centre flashing across the face of the Town goal with no Centurion close enough to apply the finishing touch.

By now a no-score draw was looking a certainty but suddenly the Centurions found an extra gear.

With 15 minutes to go Morgan’s lofted pass into the penalty area was met by the Cirencester skipper Matt Liddiard with a right foot volley which was brilliantly turned away by Cooper at point blank range.

And three minutes later it was Liddiard who was involved in the move which led to the decider when he found space on the right.  His fiercely struck shot was parried by Cooper and as the ball looped upwards and backwards it was bundled in by Griffin from virtually on the line.

Town tried hard to get back into the game but one Grocott free kick went wide and Garner came off his line to safely collect another as the minutes ticked away.

There were a couple more half chances but the Centurions were not going to let this long awaited victory slip and as Town ran out of time and ideas they hung on to head back down the Fosse Way with three very welcome points.

Town meanwhile trudged off knowing that this result was just what they didn’t want with two tricky away games at Dunstable and Biggleswade to come before League leaders Chippenham are the next visitors to the DCS in a fortnight’s time.

“I can’t hide from the fact that it was a poor performance today” admitted a downbeat Carl Adams afterwards.  “After this result we are probably looking over our shoulder, but we mustn’t panic.

I would still rather be in our position than Cirencester’s, but we probably need ten more  points to be safe at the end of the season, and we will have to grind them out in our remaining games.

Our problem is our lack of consistency.   If we’d played today like we did at Weymouth or Chesham we would probably have won, but as I’ve said before we are a young team that is still developing, and  we need to learn how to find the same level of form every game.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Guy Clark, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Barry Fitzharris, Simeon Tulloch, Will Grocott, Jamie Spencer (Mike Taylor 70), Ben Stephens (Charlie Faulkner 79), Justin Marsden.

CIRENCESTER : Glyn Garner, Kieren Diaz-Benitez, Aidan Bennett, James Mortimer-Jones, Gethin Jones, Matt Coupe, Matt Liddiard (c), Adam Connolly, Alan Griffin (Ben Brown 90), Dan Demkiv, Kerry Morgan.

Referee    –    Scott  Robertson

Assistant Referees    –  Anthony Glazzard & Jonathan Price

Attendance      –  193

Town Man of the Match   –   James Fry

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town     Cirencester
            9 Goal Attempts                9
            4 On Target               5
            0 Blocked Shots               0
            0 Hit Woodwork               0
            8 Corners Won               4
         12 Crosses into Box            10
         10 Fouls Conceded            16
           4 Off Side              0
           5 Yellow Cards              1
           0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards               –    Clark, Faulkner, Fitzharris, Fry & Stephens

Cirencester Yellow Cards     –    Jones

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

31 JANUARY 2017  –  LEAMINGTON  –  AWAY  –  BIRMINGHAM SENIOR CUP

HEADS  –  YOU LOSE  –  AS TOWN GO OUT OF THE BSC

Leamington             –    2   –     Hood 81   Baker-Richardson  82                                                           Stratford  Town      –    1   –    Tulloch  25 

Two headed goals in two minutes from right wing corners late in the game propelled Leamington into the semi finals of the  Birmingham Senior Cup at the Phillips 66 Community stadium on Tuesday evening after Simeon Ttulloch’s first half strike had for a long time  seemed as if it would be enough to send Carl Adams’ side through instead.

This old established competition no longer carries has the prestige it once had back in the day when Town famously beat the then Lockheed Leamington to lift the trophy in 1963, and even with reduced admission prices the attendance here was less than 200, but it was still a hard fought cup tie which both sides desperately wanted to win.

As it was they both came into this game on the back of disappointing efforts at the weekend.   Town had been well below par at Frome, but that was as nothing compared to Leamington’s  nightmare against Slough which had seen two Brakes players sent off as Slough thumped in six without reply.

With Justin Marsden, Jamie Spencer and Mike Taylor all cup-tied Carl Adams had limited striking options and he elected to play Liam Francis up front alongside Charlie Faulkner and Simeon Tulloch as he went for a 4-3-3 formation..

The early attempts were mostly from long range with Will Grocott not far away for Town and  Darren Pond similarly close for the Brakes a while a Rob Thompson-Brown free kick from the right touchline was confidently punched away by Niall Cooper.

And it was Town  who were the first to seriously threaten in the 12th minute when they worked the ball in from the right for Francis to have a shot blocked by Jamie Hood with  Grocott’s effort from the rebound being deflected behind.

With Grocott and Barry Fitzharris beavering away in midfield Town continued to press, and as the first half reached its midway point it needed some typically nifty footwork from Leamington’s skipper and keeper Tony Breeden to prevent his side from falling behind when he came a long way out of his area to intercept a Dan Summerfield diagonal through ball intended to provide Tulloch with a clear run at goal.

But Tulloch  –   who had been frustratingly close to a goal in both of Town’s previous two games  –    didn’t have long to wait for another opportunity as on 25 minutes he latched on to a Francis pass on the right of the penalty area to shoot across Breeden who got his right hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.

As the Brakes sought an immediate equaliser Jack Edwards headed wide followed on the half hour mark by Courtney Baker-Richardson having his fiercely struck shot pushed behind by Cooper and then going close with an audacious overhead kick from the subsequent corner.

Ten minutes later the busy Summerfield got forward for Town down the right to let fly with a thunderous 30 yard attempt which flew narrowly over while shortly after the dangerous Baker-Richardson saw his low drive fizz past Cooper’s right hand post as the interval was reached with Town’s  lead still intact.

Baker-Richardson again went close for the Brakes two minutes into the second half firing into the side netting after a strong run down the inside right channel followed by Edwards glancing another header the wrong side of the post,  but five minutes later only the woodwork stopped Town from going two up.

A corner from the right led to Guy Clark having a shot charged down and when the ball was returned into the penalty area Grocott’s header came back off the bar with Breeden nowhere near it.

Soon after Tulloch’s persistence on the left saw him slip the ball inside to Grocott who tried to make space for a shot before eventually being crowded out.

Ahmed Obeng was introduced to add some pace for the Brakes and after only being on the pitch for a couple of minutes he got away down the right but Jean Kalenda’s attempted block  took most of the power out of his shot and Cooper was able to grasp the ball as Edwards closed in.

At the other end Summerfield was again not far away from distance this time with a vicious left footer which Breeden watched anxiously as it curled inches wide, but in spite of the Herculean workrate of Fitzharris the Brakes were now cranking up the pressure and with twenty minutes to go Pond who tested Cooper with a rasping effort which was spectacularly pushed behind by Town’s ex-Leamington keeper.

Time was now very much on Town’s side as the minutes ticked away and Tulloch’s earlier strike was still looking decisive, but as the game entered its last ten minutes everything changed.

James Mace charged forward and his ferocious low drive was deflected behind by Cooper at point blank range, but when ex-Town wide man Rob Thompson-Brown launched the resulting corner into the penalty area nobody picked up the run of Leamington centre back  Hood whose bullet header levelled it all up.

A minute later the Brakes forced another corner which Thompson-Brown again delivered  into the penalty area and in a virtual action replay this time it was Baker-Richardson who was barely challenged as he  powered his  header into the net.

While the Brakes celebrated Town were visibly deflated.  There as no way back for them after that although a corner in the closing seconds of added time offered a glimmer of hope, but when  a Leamington boot cleared it upfield referee Scott Postin blew the final whistle and their  last hope of cup success this season was over.

“We just switched off” lamented Carl Adams afterwards.  “Two defensive errors have cost us dear and that’s not good enough.

It’s also yet another game in which we’ve taken the lead but not been able to hold on to it, and we’ve got to improve that aspect of our play.

We’ve now just got the League left this season, and Saturday’s fixture against Cirencester is a really massive one for us.   They are one of the teams currently in the relegation spots, and it’s essential that we take the three points to keep ourselves well clear of the bottom four.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Guy Clark, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Jean Kalenda, Simeon Tulloch, Barry Fitzharris, Charlie Faulkner (Charlie Evans 84), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Callum Ingram 86).

LEAMINGTON : Tony Breeden (c), Ben George, Richard Taundry, Darren Pond (Joe Magunda 71), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson, Callum Gittings, Ryan Rowe (Ahmed Obeng 59), Jack Edwards,  Rob Thompson-Brown.

Referee    –    Scott Postin

Assistant Referees    –  Thomas Kidd & Harley McKittrick

Attendance      –  181

Town Man of the Match   –   Barry Fitzharris

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

       Town    Leamington
           10 Goal Attempts               16
              4 On Target                 9
              0 Blocked Shots                 0
              1 Hit Woodwork                 0
             4 Corners Won                 6
             7 Crosses into Box                 8
             8 Fouls Conceded              10
             7 Off Side                3
            0 Yellow Cards                3
            0 Red Cards                0

Town Yellow Cards                –    None

Leamington Yellow Cards     –    Baker-Richardson,  Gittings & Magunda

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

28 JANUARY 2017  –  FROME TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN FAIL TO SPARKLE AT THE SPECIAL EFFECTS STADIUM 

Frome Town             –    3      –    Kalenda (og)  Davies (2)  33 (pen) & 84                                   Stratford  Town      –     1     –    Taylor 68  

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Town were distinctly below par as they slipped to their second defeat in five days while Frome boosted their play-off hopes with a deserved victory at the Special Effects Stadium on Saturday.

Frome had famously hit eight against Redditch in their previous home game, and a Jean Kalenda own goal put them in front after only three minutes this time.  Jon Davies made it 2-0 from the penalty spot shortly after the half hour mark, and although Mike Taylor pulled a goal back for Town halfway through the second half Davies wrapped up the points for the Robins with his second and Frome’s third six minutes from the end.

There were two changes to Town’s starting line-up from the St Ives game in midweek.  With Tuesday’s Birmingham Senior Cup tie at Leamington in mind Liam Francis was rested while Charlie Faulkner was still recovering the knock he picked up in midweek and so in came Ben Stephens and Mike Taylor with Kalenda moving inside to take over from Francis alongside James Fry in the middle of the backline.

On a sunny Somerset afternoon and on a heavy pitch Town had the doubtful privilege of playing uphill as the game kicked off, but they could have taken the lead inside 90 seconds when Will Grocott’s cleverly flighted free kick from the right reached Taylor at the far post only for the powerful striker to volley wastefully over from six yards out.

And instead it was the Robins who promptly went down the other end to go in front themselves as they forced a corner on the right.   Davies launched the ball into the penalty area and as both Kalenda and the Frome skipper Sam Teale challenged for it the ball ricocheted away past Niall Cooper into the net.

Teale initially claimed the goal but subsequently it was amended to an own goal from the unfortunate Town defender.

Maybe Frome could sense another eight as they piled forward and with Town struggling to make an impact on the testing surface Frome’s leading scorer Jake Jackson and the impressive Davies both went close from distance before Town had a let-off in the 21st minute when a Davies free kick from the left was only kept out by Cooper’s outstretched left leg.

Soon after a long throw-in from Teale was flicked on by Mickey Bryant only for Jackson to head narrowly over at the far post.

Town were hanging on, but on 33 minutes they were caught out by another corner. This time it was from the left and when Davies drove it in low it bounced awkwardly in front of Grocott with referee Craig Scriven deciding that the Town midfielder had handled and immediately pointing to the spot.

Inevitably it was Davies who stepped up to drill the spot kick past the diving Cooper’s right hand into the bottom corner.

Town had barely had a sight of goal since Taylor’s early miss but on 38 minutes they had a great chance to get on the scoresheet when Dan Summerfield’s through ball sent Simeon Tulloch away down the inside left channel only for his shot to beat both the advancing Frome keeper Kyle Phillips and the far post as well.

Then two minutes before half time only a smart save from Cooper from a fiercely struck Bryant effort prevented Town from going in at the break already three down

Frome piled on the pressure after the interval with Jackson immediately firing inches wide from the edge of the penalty area and then heading over from inside the six yard box after Davies had picked him out with a pinpoint cross from the right.

Then ten minutes into the second half Town conceded a free kick a few yards outside the penalty area on the right which Davies curled round the Town wall and Cooper had to go full length to push it round the post.

A third Frome goal was surely only delayed and it looked to have arrived in the 64th minute when Jackson went clean through with only Cooper to beat.  The Town keeper came out to meet him but Jackson appeared to have successfully dribbled round him only to then shoot too early as Cooper recovered to stick out his left hand and deflect the ball  behind via the outside of the post

And the importance of that save was emphasised two minutes later when Ben Stephens turned past his marker on the left to whip in a cross which was met by a bullet header from Taylor to put Town right back into the game.

Soon after Stephens had a decent effort blocked as Frome were having to defend for the first time in the match, but they soon regained their composure with the irrepressible Davies twice firing wide from promising positions.

Taylor had a shot rebound away off Teale as the game headed into its final  quarter of an hour with Carl Adams introducing new signing Jamie Spencer for his Town debut.

But with six minutes to go Frome put the result beyond doubt when substitute James Fitzgibbon surged forward from halfway through two or three  less than convincing tackles to slip the ball to Jackson who helped it on to Davies on the right  and he steered it unerringly  past Cooper from 15 yards out.

And in added time only a brave block by Man of the Match Cooper at Jackson’s feet  prevented the Robins making it four as they ultimately finished comfortable  winners.

Carl Adams pulled no punches in his post match assessment.  “There are no positives to take from today and we have to do better..  We were very poor particularly in the first half, and in games like this we have to stand up and be counted.

We should have been one up inside two minutes but instead they go down the other end and we are one down.

And at the end they get their third goal when we pushing up looking for the equaliser, but even then we missed a couple of opportunities to get a tackle in.

So overall a very disappointing afternoon.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Simeon Tulloch, Dan Summeerfield, James Fry (c), Jean Kalenda, Guy Clark, Barry Fitzharris (Jamie Spencer 76), Will Grocott, Mike Taylor,  Justin Marsden,  Ben Stephens.

FROME : Kyle Phillips, Kriss Miller, Sam Teale (c) (Chris Gregan 85), Connor Roberts, Marcus Mapstone, Clayton Green, Jon Davies, George Miller, Jake Jackson, Mickey Bryant (James Fitzgibbon 76), Ollie Knight (Darren Jefferies 87).

Referee    –    Craig Scriven

Assistant Referees    –  ShaunTobin & James Jarad

Attendance      –   231

Town Man of the Match   –   Niall Cooper

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town      Frome
           8 Goal Attempts           20
           1 On Target             9
           0 Blocked Shots             1
           0 Hit Woodwork             1
           1 Corners Won             9
           8 Crosses into Box            9
        13 Fouls Conceded          16
           4 Off Side            0
           1 Yellow Cards            0
          0 Red Cards            0

Town Yellow Cards       –   Fitzharris

Frome Yellow Cards     –    None

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

24 JANUARY 2017  –  ST IVES TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

ANGUISH FOR TOWN AS THE SAINTS STRIKE TWICE LATE ON TO NICK THE POINTS

 Stratford  Town      –    2     –      Marsden 1  Grocott 84                                                                                St Ives Town            –    3     –      Bradshaw (2)  7 & 89  Seymour-Shove 90 + 4 

When Will Grocott put Town 2-1 up in the 84th minute at the DCS on Tuesday evening their eighth League win of the season looked a certainty, but St Ives had other ideas.

Jack Bradshaw equalised for the second time in the game with just a minute of normal time remaining, and in the fourth minute of added time Ben Seymour-Shove hit the decider with virtually the last kick of the match to send the Saints back home along the A14 with all three points.

Earlier Justin Marsden had given Carl Adams’ side the perfect start  with a first minute lead which was cancelled out by Bradshaw six minutes late, and from then on the game seemed to be heading for a repeat of the 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture on the season’s opening day until the dramatic finale of those three late strikes.

Town’s team showed one change from last week’s draw at Chesham.   Grocott was able to return to the starting line-up for the first time since January 2nd and replaced Edwin Ahenkorah whose knee injury sustained at Chesham will keep him sidelined for a few more games yet, but Ben Stephens and Mike Taylor were only fit enough for the subs bench while there was still no Kieren Westwood who may not be back for a couple more weeks.

But on a cold night Town immediately gave their supporters something to cheer by going in front inside the opening 40 seconds when Charlie Faulkner crossed from the left and Marsden volleyed it beyond the helpless St Ives keeper Tim Trebes.

Five minutes later the lively Faulkner again made room on the left to shoot across Trebes with the Saints skipper Lee Chaffey back to clear it away, but when play switched to the other end it led to the St Ives equaliser as Josh Dawkin’s pass picked out Bradshaw and he rifled the ball past Niall Cooper from the edge of the penalty area.

After that frenetic start both sides began to settle down with Danny Kelly well wide with a speculative effort from distance followed by Grocott’s cross from the left being just too high for Simeon Tulloch at the far post.

Grocott was showing what Town had missed during his absence, and as the first half reached its midway point his cleverly flighted corner from the right was almost turned into his own net by Trebes who then recovered to block Faulkner’s follow-up from the rebound.

Soon after Trebes spilled a Faulkner cross with Grocott being crowded out as he went for the loose ball followed by Marsden swivelling to hit a rasping drive inches wide, but on 38 minutes Town were indebted to the immaculate positioning of Liam Francis –  who was making his 100th Town appearance –  for keeping them on level terms.

Cooper came out to kick clear but miscued horribly and Dubi Ogbonna seized on the loose ball 25 yards out and turned to hit it towards the open goal.  His aim was spot on but so was Francis’ anticipation and the big defender celebrated joining the 100 club by being in exactly the right place to head it off the line.

Then four minutes before the break it was Town who could  –  and should   –   have regained the lead when Tulloch latched on to a Grocott through ball down the middle.

The offside flag stayed down as Tulloch raced towards the advancing Trebes, but the longserving wide man is not noted for his precision finishing, and with Jordan Jarrold by now snapping at his heels he shot too close to Trebes who was able to make the crucial block and the chance was gone.

The second half was slow to get going with most of the action taking place in midfield where Barry Fitzharris and Dan Summerfield as always were putting a real shift in support of Grocott’s creativity, but on the hour mark it was another goal-line clearance which kept them level.

This time it was skipper James Fry who got back after the Saints had made a quick break out of defence with Dawkin threading the ball through to Kelly who steered it past Cooper but fortunately not Fry as well.

Taylor was introduced in place of Faulkner but clearcut chances were few and far between, and neither keeper was seriously tested until the 71st minute when Jean Kalenda conceded a free kick for hands  on the left edge of the penalty area.

Harry O’Malley floated the ball over to the far post where it was met by the head of Kelly and brilliantly tipped over by Cooper from point blank range.

At the other end Marsden was not far away with a decent effort from the right which beat both Trebes and the far post before Stephens came on for Fitzharris as Carl Adams looked to force the winner.

And with six minutes of normal time to go it seemed as if the tactic had worked when Summerfield launched a free kick from the halfway line into the Saints penalty area.  It was only cleared as afar as Grocott on the left and he drilled the ball through the mass of bodies in front of him into the bottom corner of the net.

Surely that would clinch the points for Town but St Ives didn’t think so and on 89 minutes Bradshaw let fly with a real screamer from all of 25 yards out which flew past Cooper to make it all square again

It was now hectic end to end stuff and only the woodwork stopped Town from regaining the lead when Stephens’ header from Grocott’s cross cannoned against Trebes’ right hand post, before the Saints stunned the DCS faithful with their last gasp winner.

Tulloch was back to help out in defence but didn’t get the ball away cleanly and Seymour-Shove pounced to curl it beyond Cooper sparking wild celebrations among the Saints contingent and total disbelief elsewhere.

Seconds later referee Matt Law blew the final whistle and the deflated Town players trudged off wondering how the points which they had in their grasp had been so cruelly snatched away.

“When you are a goal up with five  minutes to play you should make sure that you see the game out”  was Carl Adams’ honest assessment afterwards.  “Our problem is that we can’t seem to play ugly.  In those situations you should get everyone behind the ball and clear it into Row Z if you have to, but we are still developing as a team and we don’t seem to have  the know-how to tough it out.

We did a lot better in this respect  in our last two games at Weymouth and Chesham but not so here.

I’ve said many times that we are a new and young team this season that is still learning, and we’ve learnt the hard way tonight.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Jean Kalenda. Guy Clark, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Barry Fitzharris (Ben Stephens77), Simeon Tulloch, Dan Summerfield, Justin Marsden, Will Grocott, Charlie Faulkner (Mike Taylor 60).

ST IVES : Tim Trebes, Harry O’Malley, Jordan Jarrold, Lee Chaffey (c), Liam McDevitt, Jack Higgs, Ben Seymour-Shove, Jack Bradshaw, Dubi Ogbonna (Jarred Cunniff 70), Danny Kelly (Scott Sinclair 81), Josh Dawkin.

Referee    –    Matthew Law

Assistant Referees    –  Simon Fradley & Paul Whateley

Attendance      –   136

Town Man of the Match   –   James Fry

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town       St Ives
          12 Goal Attempts            11
            4 On Target               8
            1 Blocked Shots               0
            1 Hit Woodwork               0
            1 Corners Won               8
           12 Crosses into Box              8
           13 Fouls Conceded               9
             2 Off Side               2
             2 Yellow Cards               0
            0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards       –   Kalenda & Tulloch

St Ives Yellow Cards     –    None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

17 JANUARY 2017  –  CHESHAM UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

ANOTHER CRUCIAL POINT FROM ANOTHER TREMENDOUS AWAY PERFORMANCE 

Chesham United      –    1      –    Youngs 45 + 3                                                                                         Stratford  Town        –    1     –      Clark 52  

Carl Adams’ battling Town side returned from frosty Chesham on Tuesday evening with another of those hard earned away points against the top sides which has so characterised their season.

Sam Youngs had fired the highflying Generals into the lead with virtually the last kick of the first half, but Guy Clark’s deflected equaliser seven minutes into the second half gave Town exactly the boost they needed in a game of few really clearcut chances, and the only downside was the worrying sight of Edwin Ahenkorah hobbling off with a knee injury shortly after the hour mark.

As it was Town had to begin without striker Mike Taylor who hadn’t recovered from the hamstring problem picked up at Weymouth, and Charlie Faulkner took his place in the only change to the starting line-up from the weekend game.

Chesham’s team included centre half Darren Purse who in his time had been a stalwart defender for Birmingham City among a number of others Football League clubs.

Stratford had been under a blanket of grey cloud and drizzle all day, but it was a different world in Buckinghamshire as it was crisp and clear and the thermometer was already heading into minus territory at kick off time.

Chesham are chasing at least a play-off spot having games in hand on all the teams currently above them, and came into this match having won seven and drawn two of their last nine League outings.

And they were soon on the attack with Brad Watkins latching onto a long ball from Benji Crilley and squaring it inside to Drew Roberts whose rebounded away off Liam Francis.

Then in only the fourth minute Town conceded a free kick a couple of yards outside the penalty area with Roberts hitting it low past the outside off the Town wall to cannon against the foot of Niall Cooper’s left hand post and rebound across the face of the goal before being cleared.

But Town then went close with their first foray upfield three minutes later when Justin Marsden’s cross from the right hit a defender and fell kindly to Faulkner whose fierce right foot drive was beaten away at full stretch by the Chesham keeper Ashlee Jones.

Back came Chesham and on 15 minutes Youngs’ cross from the left was helped on by Roberts and Wadkins was desperately close to applying the finishing touch as he arrived at the far post.

With the game now settling down Chesham continued to have the better of the possession but  with the work rate of Marsden, Barry Fitzharris and Dan Summerfield once again being immense in midfield and Francis and Co at the back frustrating Chesham with some crucial tackles and interceptions Town were able to soak up the pressure.

And as they increasingly began to look sharp on the break it was their turn to rattle the woodwork on the half hour mark with Ahenkorah’s volley from a Marsden pass coming back off  the post with Jones well beaten.

Shortly after Ahenkorah combined with Simeon Tulloch to create some momentary confusion in the Chesham defence ending with Ahenkorah’s shot being charged down, but in the melee Purse went down and had to be helped off with Alex Ward taking over.

Another Ahenkorah effort didn’t miss by much as the game headed towards the interval, but  just as it looked as if half time would be reached with the game still goal-less Chesham struck in the time added on for Purse’s injury with a goal out of nothing.

Youngs received the ball out on the left some five yards outside the penalty area and after looking up he let fly with a sumptuous right footer which soared beyond Cooper into the far corner of the net.

Looking to build on their lead the Generals surged forward as soon as the second half began but were knocked out of their stride when Town equalised in the 52nd minute.

Clark got forward down the left to hit a shot which was probably going wide until it deflected off Ward and looped over the stranded Jones into the net.

The popular defender described it afterwards as “fortuitous” and it was certainly that, but they all count and Town were now right back in the game.

But they then suffered a setback in the 65th minute when Ahenkorah had to go off with Will Grocott taking over.

And Town’s influential midfielder immediately showed that he is close to regaining his full sharpness with a pinpoint pass to Marsden out on the right and then galloping forward to receive Marsden’s return only to fire his shot well wide under pressure from Little.

Soon after a Grocott free kick was only cleared as far as Faulkner whose shot was deflected behind, and realising that something extra was needed the Generals sent on their much travelled veteran striker Barry Hayles with a quarter of an hour to go.

Although Liam Francis and James Fry made sure that Hayles made little impact the Generals nevertheless finished with a bit of a flourish as they chased after that elusive decider which would never come.

A Blake shot was blocked by Clark and the dangerous Youngs hit a useful effort straight at Cooper followed by the Town keeper getting down well to his right to grasp another attempt from Youngs which had glanced off Francis on its way through.

But Town kept going right to the end to eke out another richly deserved point, and their spirited performances at Weymouth and here in the past four days emphasise that they now really do belong at Southern League Premier Division level.

“Another terrific effort from everyone” said Carl Adams afterwards.  “I’m so proud of them all.  In three tough away games at Hitchin, Weymouth and Chesham we showed tremendous reserves of character  and we’ve not looked out of place in any of those matches.

Chesham were the form side going into tonight’s game but  we were well worth our draw and the point we’ve come away with will be vital at the end of the season.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Jean Kalenda. Guy Clark, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Dan Summerfield, Simeon Tulloch,, Barry Fitzharris, Edwin Ahenkorah (Will Grocott 64), Justin Marsden, Charlie Faulkner

CHESHAM : Ashlee Jones, Benji Crilley, Toby Little, Mat Mitchel-King, Darren Purse (c) (Taylor McKenzie 37), Adam Martin (Barry Hayles 75), Matt Taylor, Sam Youngs, Brad Watkins, Drew Roberts, Ryan Blake.

Referee    –    D Langport

Assistant Referees    –  H Moore & B Haden

Attendance      –   222

Town Man of the Match   –   Justin Marsden

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town     Chesham
           8 Goal Attempts              8
          3 On Target              4
          1 Blocked Shots               1
          1 Hit Woodwork               1
          5 Corners Won              8
          6 Crosses into Box              6
       11 Fouls Conceded              9
          1 Off Side              1
          3 Yellow Cards              3
          0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards           –     Clark,  Faulkner  &  Marsden

Chesham Yellow Cards     –     Crilley, Jones & Mitchel-King

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

14 JANUARY 2017  –  WEYMOUTH  –  AwAY  _  LEAGUE

A DAY BESIDE THE SEASIDE AND ANOTHER POINT FOR TOWN 

Weymouth               –    1      –     Wannell 17                                                                                                   Stratford  Town      –    1     –      Ahenkorah 6 (pen)   

Town have drawn more games than anyone else in the Evo Stik League Southern Premier Division this season, and they shared the points for the 13th time with a performance brimming with character and commitment at the Bob Lucas Stadium on Saturday.

Edwin Ahenkorah fired them ahead from the penalty spot with only six minutes on the clock, but Jake Wannell hit the Weymouth equaliser in the 17th minute and from then it was the Terras who had the better chances as Town battled away to hang on to another priceless point to go alongside those picked up from similarly challenging away games at Leamington, Merthyr, Slough and Redditch among others.

Kieren Westwood and Ben Stephens were both ruled out through injury but Simeon Tulloch was back after completing his suspension and Jean Kalenda  came in to complete the starting line-up.

On a sunlit afternoon Town  made a bright start and took the lead in the sixth minute when Ahenkorah was upended on the corner of the penalty area by the Terras skipper Stephane Zubar.   It appeared to be a close call as to whether it happened inside or outside, but referee Iain Parsons immediately pointed to the spot and Ahenkorah got up to drill the ball into the bottom corner as keeper Tom McHale dived the wrong way.

Weymouth were clearly rattled by the penalty decision, and a couple of minutes later Justin Marsden capitalised on some confusion in their defence to be one-on-one with McHale only for the keeper to make a brave block at his feet with the subsequent corner causing mayhem in the Terras penalty area before the ball was finally hacked clear.

But Weymouth soon regained their composure with Chris Shephard going close with a useful effort from distance and Dean Evans hitting another long range attempt straight at Niall Cooper before they levelled it all up in the 17th minute.

Taking a corner on the right Shephard caught Town out by driving it in low and it was turned in by Wannell from eight yards out.

Shortly after Town had a great chance to regain the lead when the returning Tulloch nicked the ball off the dithering Ashley Wells and threaded  it through to Mike Taylor who skipped round the advancing McHale but from an increasingly tight angle the powerful Town striker could only drag his shot wide of the open goal.

Weymouth responded with Cooper comfortably holding another distance effort this time from Charlie Davis and then palming over a teasing lob from Calvin Brooks as the Terras slowly but surely began to take control.

And the Town keeper had to make his best save of the game so far five minutes before the break when he plunged to his right to push away a fiercely struck left footer from the dangerous Shephard.

Both sides seemed slow to get going after the restart until Town went agonisingly close to going back in front ten minutes into the second half when Ahenkorah intercepted a poor clearance from McHale to surge into the penalty area but the keeper redeemed himself by  beating away Ahenkorah’s shot and Marsden’s attempt from the rebound clipped the top of the bar on its way behind.

From then on Weymouth cranked up the pressure and in spite of the Trojan efforts of Barry Fitzharris, Justin Marsden and Dan Summerfield in midfield more and more of the game began to be played in the Town half.

The tricky Shephard was proving to be Weymouth’s dangerman, and on 66 minutes his pinpoint pass sent Jordan Copp surging into the left of the penalty area only for him to be halted by a perfectly timed no-nonsense tackle from Kalenda who came away cleanly with the ball leaving Copp on the floor claiming a penalty which was never going to be given.

Then with twenty minutes to go Cooper had to go full length to his left to spectacularly turn behind a thunderous effort from Mark Molesley, and from the subsequent corner Town demonstrated the wisdom of having a defender on the post as Zubar’s bullet header was cleared off the line by the immaculately positioned Summerfield.

Weymouth continued to pile forward but Liam Francis and skipper James Fry were once again immense in the centre of the Town backline.  Shephard was not far away with  a another well struck effort from 20 yards out followed by Fleetwood having a shot blocked by Francis at point blank range as Town hung on and the time gradually ticked away.

Will Grocott came on for the closing quarter of an hour and Town were almost there when Tulloch fouled Aaron Rodriguez some 25 yards out in a central position to give the Terras another opportunity with two minutes of normal time left.

Shephard clearly fancied his chances with the free kick but to the groans of the Weymouth supporters he blazed it wastefully high and wide.

But there was still to be a final twist when deep into added time the Terras forced their eleventh corner of the game.

Shephard launched it into the middle of the congested Town penalty area where it seemed that everyone had a go at the ball as it ricochetted about before Cooper arched backwards to claw it away with Weymouth appealing frantically but unsuccessfully that it had crossed the line.

Seconds later the final whistle blew and Town had secured another crucial away point with which to head back up the M5.

“A terrific effort from everyone” beamed Carl Adams afterwards,  “but no wonder I’m so frustrated as if we had played like this on Tuesday we would surely have beaten bishops Cleeve and still be in the League Cup.

As it is we could have won here if Justin’s shot had gone in instead of hitting the bar and although Weymouth finished the game strongly I thought that we defended magnificently and were well worth our point.

The draw today keeps us ticking over nicely and we still have a ten point cushion over the bottom four.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Jean Kalenda (Will Grocott 77), Guy Clark, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Dan Summerfield, Simeon Tulloch,, Barry Fitzharris, Mike Taylor (Charlie Faulkner 70), Justin Marsden, Edwin Ahenkorah

WEYMOUTH : Tom McHale, Calvin Brooks, Ashley Wells, Stephane Zubar (c), Jake Wannell (Chris Allen 52), Dean Evans, Jordan Copp, Charlie Davis (Aaron Rodriguez 84), Stuart Fleetwood, Conor Jevon (Stewart Yetton 58), Chris Shephard.

Referee    –    Iain Parsons

Assistant Referees    –  Sam Littlefair & Andrew Pearce

Attendance      –   480

Town Man of the Match   –   Justin Marsden

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

        Town    Weymouth
           6 Goal Attempts             19
           3 On Target              11
           0 Blocked Shots               1
           1 Hit Woodwork               0
          5 Corners Won            11
          1 Crosses into Box            12
        10 Fouls Conceded            10
          1 Off Side               1
          2 Yellow Cards              0
          0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards              –    Fry & Summerfield

Weymouth Yellow Cards     –    None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

10 JANUARY 2017  –  BISHOPS CLEEVE  –  AWAY  –  SOUTHERN LEAGUE CUP

MORE LEAGUE CUP SHOOT-OUT MISERY FOR TOWN 

Bishops Cleeve        –     1    –      Watts 78                                                                                             Stratford  Town       –     1    –     Ahenkorah  52  (pen)

Bishops Cleeve won 4-3 on penalties   

For the second successive season Town exited the Southern League Challenge Cup after coming out second best in a penalty shoot-out.

Last year it was Hitchin who proved more clinical from the spot and on Tuesday evening at Kayte Lane it was Bishops Cleeve who followed suit to progress into the Quarter Finals.

Earlier this Third Round tie had ended 1-1 after 90 minutes as on a typically sticky mid-winter pitch Town were disappointingly unable to make their Premier Division quality count against their spirited Division 1 South and West opponents.

As expected Kieren Westwood and Ben Stephens were back for this one taking over from Jean Kalenda and Charlie Faulkner, but Will Grocott was still missing and maybe the absence of his creativity in midfield was crucial.

As it was the Mitres were the first to threaten with a decent 9th minute attempt from Jack Watts being turned behind by Town keeper Niall Cooper at the foot of his right hand post.

Town responded with a cross-cum-shot from Edwin Ahenkorah landing on the roof of the net  before the powerful Town front man had the best chance of the evening so far when he latched onto a Liam Francis headed through ball to be one-on-one with  Mat Wieczorek only for the Mitres keeper to move smartly off his line and make a brave block at his feet.

The lively Watts was proving a real handful down the Mitres left and on 20 minutes he cut in to hit a fierce right footer narrowly wide.  At the other end a teasing Dan Summerfield cross was held by Wieczorek right under his bar as Stephens challenged before another slick Bishops Cleeve move involving Aaron Drake and Joe Bates ended with Jacob Davidge firing into the side netting.

Westwood then got forward to hit a useful effort straight at Wieczorek from the edge of the penalty area, but it was the Mitres who came the closest yet to opening the scoring on the half hour mark when Francis cleared off the line from Davidge followed immediately after by Guy Clark  blocking a fiercely struck follow-up from Bates.

Bates was then not far away with another decent try from 20 yards out, but at he break the tie was still goal-less.

Stephens didn’t reappear for the second half being replaced by Faulkner, but Town were noticeably sharper all round after the restart, and their pressure paid off when they went ahead in the 52nd minute.

Ironically in view of what was to come it was from a penalty as well with Watts tracking back to help his defence out only succeeding in upending Justin Marsden as he tried to dribble past him, and Ahenkorah sending Wieczorek the wrong way as he drilled the spot kick into the bottom corner.

That should have provided Town with the momentum to go on and take the tie beyond Bishops Cleeve’s reach, but it didn’t work out like that.

Instead it was the Mitres who upped their tempo as they tried to get back into the game.  Clark made another crucial close range block from Watts and on 65 minutes Cooper made two point blank saves within seconds of each other as a cross from the left caused havoc in the Town six yard box.

The Mitres skipper Kirk Layton then volleyed over after seizing on Cooper’s punched clearance from a corner, but it was not  all one way with Wieczorek saving from both Ahenkorah and Taylor  and Drake clearing Faulkner’s header from a Summerfield free kick.

But Bishops Cleeve weren’t giving up and as the minutes ticked by Town’s lead was looking increasingly tenuous until with 12 minutes to go their pressure finally told.  A long ball down the inside left channel seemed to skid off the tricky surface as Clark attempted to intercept and dangerman Watts ran on to slot the equaliser past the advancing Cooper.

In the time remaining there were  near misses and alarms at both ends, but neither side could force the decider and so it was all down to the lottery of the penalty shootout.

And Town got off to the worst possible start with Ahenkorah unable to repeat his earlier heroics as this time Wieczorek guessed correctly and plunged to his right to push the ball onto the post.

Davidge then blasted his kick past Cooper to give the Mitres the advantage followed by Summerfield scoring for Town before Cooper gave Town a glimmer of hope by saving from Jack Horrell to level it all up once more.

But Wieczorek immediately put the Mitres back in control by keeping out Faulkner’s effort, and with Bates, Taylor, Watts and Fry all being successful to make the score 3-3 it came down to the Mitres’ fifth penalty.

Up strode Aaron Drake and relying totally on power over placement he smashed it past Cooper with the minimum of fuss to spark wild celebrations among his team mates while the dejected Town players trudged off wondering how and why it had all gone so wrong. 

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Guy Clark (Jean Kalenda 83), Justin Marsden (Dylan Parker 76), Barry Fitzharris, Mike Taylor, Ben Stephens (Charlie Faulkner 46), Edwin Ahenkorah. 

B/CLEEVE : Mat Wieczorek, Ben:Prothero (Ieeuan Crowe 66), Aaron Drake, Jack Horrell, Tom Hoskins, Jordan Stoddart, James Baldwin (Olly Butler 81), Kirk Layton (c), Jacob Davidge, Joe Bates, Jack Watts.

Referee    –    B Hall

Assistant Referees    –  P Tyler & R Walker

Attendance      –   72

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town     B/Cleeve
         13 Goal Attempts             20
           6 On Target                9
           0 Blocked Shots               0
           0 Hit Woodwork               0
          6 Corners Won               4
        11 Crosses into Box               8
        10 Fouls Conceded            14
           2 Off Side               0
          2 Yellow Cards              2
          0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards           –    Fitzharris & Fry

B/Cleeve Yellow Cards     –    Hoskins & Watts

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

7 JANUARY 2017  –  HITCHIN TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

THE CANARIES’ EARLY STRIKE BURNS OFF TOWN 

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Hitchin Town          –     1    –    Burns 4                                                                                                           Stratford  Town     –     0 

Robbie Burns’ header with just four minutes on the clock ended Town’s six game unbeaten run and kept Hitchin firmly in the Premier Division title race in an entertaining clash at Top Field on Saturday.

With Will Grocott, Ben Stephens and Kieren Westwood not risked in advance of the League Cup match at Bishops Cleeve on Tuesday there were starting line call-ups for Charlie Faulkner, Barry Fitzharris and Jean Kalenda,

The corresponding fixture last term was the season’s opener and marked Town’s debut at this level, and as a measure of how Town’s team has evolved since then only Liam Francis and Edwin Ahenkorah remained from the 16 man squad which journeyed down the M1 on that historic afternoon.

Hitchin went into this game  yet to lose at home this time round, and got off to the perfect start against Carl Adams’ reshuffled team as they went ahead in only the fourth minute.  Ben Walster’s free kick from out on the right was tipped over by keeper Niall Cooper and from the subsequent corner the Canaries leading scorer Burns was left fatally unmarked to direct his header into the far corner of the net.

Town tried hard to respond with Ahenkorah having a 30 yard free kick saved by Hitchin keeper Michael Johnson at the foot of his right hand post, but on 17 minutes only Guy Clark’s anticipation  prevented Hitchin from going two up getting back to intercept as Matt Lench angled his shot beyond Cooper.

As Hitchin continued to press forward Cooper plunged to his left to hold a decent effort from Callum Donnelly as the half reached its midway point and ten minutes later pulled off another smart save from the dangerous Lench, while in between the busy Mike Taylor had Hitchin nerves jangling as he capitalised on some carelessness from Canaries skipper Dan Webb to lift the ball over Johnson but only into the side netting.

With Faulkner, Fitzharris and Dan Summerfield all putting in real shifts in midfield Town were making the highflying Canaries fight for every ball, and they went agonisingly close to an equaliser five minutes before the break when Clark’s bullet header from Ahenkorah’s corner was cleared off the line by Lucas  Kirkpatrick.

Then in the closing minutes of the half  Lench’s trickery down the left allowed him to drill in a low centre with no Canary close enough to apply the finishing touch followed by a Kane Smith cross being headed back across goal by Donnelly and Lench turning it inches the wrong side of the post from a couple of yards out.

Realising that a one goal lead was not enough Hitchin were soon into their stride after the restart with Burns shooting narrowly over after neatly controlling a cross from the left, but it was not all one way with Justin Marsden having a fierce effort ricochet away off a defender and Ahenkorah firing over from distance.

But it was Hitchin who were applying the pressure as they looked for that crucial second goal which would surely kill the game off.

Lench shot inches over from a well worked corner routine on the hour mark and shortly after Smith surged from halfway to blaze wide and then it was Lench again with a thunderous effort which was fortunately straight at Cooper.

By now Mason Spence was catching the eye with his pace down the right but the Town backline in which James Fry and Liam Francis were again immense throughout made sure that his crosses were expertly dealt with as Town continued to battle away and Hitchin’s frustration continued to mount.

And as the game headed into its final ten minutes with Hitchin still only one up Town could almost have snatched a point when Ahenkorah took advantage of a moment of hesitancy in the Canaries defence to be one-on-one with Johnson but the keeper was quickly off his line to beat his shot away.

Still Hitchin went after that elusive second goal but Kirkpatrick’s cross fizzed just beyond Burns while Lench was again off target from Smith’s centre and at the final whistle that early strike from Burns had proved to be the one that mattered.

“We definitely gave them a fright” commented Carl Adams afterwards.  “Today’s team was picked with one eye Tuesday’s cup tie at Bishops Cleeve, but we put in a terrific performance against one of the sides which will surely be challenging for promotion at the end of the season.

Our last two away games here and at Leamington have been against the top two teams in the table but in neither game have we looked out of place, and that says volumes for the progress we are making.”

TOWN :  Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Guy Clark, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Jean Kalenda (Sam Bethell 65), Charlie Faulkner, Barry Fitzharris, Mike Taylor, Justin Marsden, Edwin Ahenkorah.. 

HITCHIN : Michael Johnson, Kane Smith, Ben Walster, Josh Bickerstaff, Dan Webb (c), Will Wright, Mason Spence, Callum Donnelly (Brett Donnelly 90), Lucas Kirkpatrick, Robbie Burns (Liam Brooks 87), Matt Lench..

Referee    –    D Hanna

Assistant Referees    –  A Hitchcox & R Stanley

Attendance      –   455

Town Man of the Match   –   Edwin Ahenkorah

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town     Hitchin
        11 Goal Attempts           24
          5 On Target              7
          0 Blocked Shots             0
          1 Hit Woodwork             0
          2 Corners Won             7
          9 Crosses into Box          12
        10 Fouls Conceded          12
           1 Off Side             2
           4 Yellow Cards            3
            0 Red Cards            0

 Town Yellow Cards        –    Faulkner, Fitzharris, Francis & Cooper

Hitchin Yellow Cards     –    C Donnelly, Kirkpatrick & Walster

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

2 JANUARY  2017  –  CINDERFORD TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TAYLOR HAT-TRICK FELLS THE FORESTERS

Stratford  Town        –    4    –    Taylor (3)  27,  54  & 88  Ahenkorah 70                                       Cinderford Town     –     2    –    Chambers 59  McOnie 72 

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Mike Taylor could easily have been Town’s matchwinner in the Boxing Day clash with Leamington had it not been a series of reflex saves from the Brakes keeper Tony Breeden, but the powerful striker’s persistence was rewarded in this New Year’s win over basement boys Cinderford Town as he turned in a Man of the Match performance which he topped off by completing his hat-trick with two minutes of normal time to go.

Having ended 2016 against table toppers Leamington Carl Adams could hardly have wished for more inviting opposition to kick off 2017 than the struggling Foresters.   Their problems started as soon as they had clinched last season’s Division 1 South and West Championship when they were forced to accept promotion to the Premier Division after initially declining to do so.

Their original decision had prompted the exodus of their title winning manager and a number of players, and it has been an uphill battle ever since.

So bottom of the table and seemingly destined for just a one term stay at Premier Division level they arrived at the DCS having taken only a solitary point from their 14 away games so far, whereas Town were surely full of confidence after their best 45 minutes of the campaign in that heroic second half Boxing Day fightback.

There was one change to Town’s starting line-up from the Leamington game with Justin Marsden coming in for Simeon Tulloch who was swerving the first of his three game ban following his sending-off in the first half there.

And determined to add to Cinderford’s woes Town  piled forward straight from the kick off with Edwin Ahenkorah’s cross from the left just out of Marsden’s reach at the far post followed by Liam Francis shooting inches wide from Will Grocott’s free kick.

Ben Stephens and Cinderford keeper Cameron Clarke then collided as they both went for a Dan Summerfield cross with the game still not five minutes old,  but having survived that onslaught Cinderford soon threatened at the other end.

Matt Thomas was not far away with a header, Sam Hicks had a decent effort deflected behind and Callum McOnie went close with a curling free kick from distance before Town’s best chance so far fell to Taylor in the 18th minute.

Bustling past Cinderford skipper Josh Nelmes to go clear on goal with only Clarke to beat  he looked certain to open the scoring until the ball took an untimely bobble as he went to shoot and it spun harmlessly wide.

And as the half reached its midway point Marsden had a well struck right footer from the edge of the penalty area comfortably held by Clarke getting down well to his left and soon after it was Marsden again as he headed narrowly wide from another pinpoint Summerfield cross.

Town’s pressure had to tell and it duly did in the 27th minute when Taylor seized on a wayward Cinderford backpass to stride away and coolly slot the ball past the advancing Clarke.

The Foresters tried to respond with Ben Hands having a shot deflected behind and Dan Clare heading over from the subsequent corner, but only the woodwork prevented Town from going two up on 35 minutes when Guy Clark’s dipping attempt from 25 yards out clipped the top of the bar on its way behind.

At the other end Hicks had a thunderous left footer tipped over by Niall Cooper while in the next Town attack Stephens and Grocottt both had shots blocked at close range as Ahenkorah’s cross from the byline caused mayhem in the Cinderford six yard box.

Then two minutes before the break Grocott  –  who had come through a fitness test before kick off  –  limped off to be replaced by Charlie Faulkner.

And Faulkner nearly scored with his first touch as his low drive from Kieren Westwood’s cross ricocheted away off Clarke as Town went in at half time no doubt feeling that they should already be out of sight.

Cooper was again in the action two minutes into the second half turning behind a decent try from Karnell Chambers, but Town at last gave themselves some breathing space as they doubled their lead in the 54th minute.

The teenage Faulkner was responsible for the “assist” as his lofted pass picked out Taylor’s run and with the offside flag staying down he skipped round Clarke and slid the ball into the empty net.

But five minutes later the Foresters were back in the game when Town lost concentration at the back allowing Chambers to run into the penalty area and steer the ball past Cooper.

Town though kept up the pressure and restored their two goal advantage  with twenty minutes to go.

And what a sumptuous strike it was as the Foresters conceded a free kick some 30 yards out.  Ahenkorah lined it up and then bent an exquisite left footer into the top corner which even Lionel Messi could hardly have bettered.

But to their credit Cinderford still refused to lie down, and two minutes later they scored a long range “special” of their own with McOnie’s low drive arrowing beyond Cooper into the bottom corner.

Cooper then made a routine save from Lewis as the Foresters sought an unlikely equaliser, but Taylor was still keeping the Cinderford backline fully occupied and on 78 minutes his third of the afternoon  looked a certainty until Clarke bravely dived at his feet to block.

Taylor though was not to be denied and on 88 minutes he wrapped up both his hat-trick and Town’s three points as he bulldozed his way through the middle to blast the ball past Clarke into the roof of the net.

Some weeks ago Carl Adams had identified the sequence of our home games against St Neots, Hayes and Yeading, Kings Langley and Cinderford as being  pivotal in Town’s season, so having taken eight points out of twelve was the Town boss satisfied  ?

“You can always ask for more”  he said afterwards “ but overall I have to be pleased.  The points against Hayes was probably one gained rather than two lost and against Kings Langley we rescued a point late on.

Today was hard work.   We put them under pressure early without scoring and that then put us under pressure, but in the end it turned out right and once again Mike Taylor put in a terrific shift for us.

We  are now in a better position in the table having an eleven  point gap to the bottom four, but I’m well aware that our next three League fixtures at Hitchin, Weymouth and Chesham are all extremely tough.

We’ve done well against some of the top teams coming away with  points from Merthyr. Redditch, Slough and Leamington  and we will need more of the same over the coming weeks.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield,, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Guy Clark, Justin Marsden (Barry Fitzharris 79) , Will Grocott, (Charlie Faulkner 43)  Mike Taylor, Ben Stephens (Jean Kalenda 88) , Edwin Ahenkorah.

CINDERFORD : Cameron Clarke, Shane Parry, Jack Alderdice, Josh Nelmes (c), Dan clare, Lewis Ellis, Callum McOnie (Jaye Bowen 86), Ben Hinds (Hayden Turner 46), Matthew Thomas, Karnell Chambers, Sam Hicks.

Referee    –    Ollie Williams

Assistant Referees    –  Adrian Hall & Jonathan Price

Attendance      –   220

Town Man of the Match   –   Mike Taylor

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town     Cinderford
         17 Goal Attempts              17
           9 On Target                 6
          0 Blocked Shots                0
          1 Hit Woodwork                0
        11 Corners Won                7
        10 Crosses into Box                5
        11 Fouls Conceded               9
          2 Off Side               2
           1 Yellow Cards                1
          0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards             –    Summerfield

Cinderford Yellow Cards     –    Thomas

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

 26 DECEMBER  –  LEAMINGTON  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

HEROIC SECOND HALF FIGHTBACK SECURES A BRILLIANT POINT

Leamington               –   1    –    Westwood (og) 26                                                                                     Stratford  Town        –   1    –    Westwood  83 

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Town produced a second half performance brimming with character and commitment to come away from their Boxing Day local derby against table toppers Leamington at the Phillips 66 Community  Stadium with a thoroughly deserved point after going in at half time both a goal and a man down.

Kieren Westwood’s own goal had given the Brakes a fortuitous 26th minute lead, and it looked as if the game was all over for Town four minutes before the break when Simeon Tulloch was sent off by referee Mark Howes after clattering into Jack Edwards.

But Town stormed back after the restart to force Leamington to defend in depth and in numbers, and only a string of top drawer saves from the Brakes skipper Tony Breeden kept Leamington’s lead intact until Westwood’s afternoon became a whole lot better in the 83rd minute with a superbly struck long range leveller.

Will Grocott was back for this one having recovered from the bug which ruled him out of the Kings Langley match, and he took over from Barry Fitzharris in the only change to Town’s starting line-up.

Plenty of the players involved here had featured for both sides in their time, but all the focus was inevitably on Richard Gregory who was the latest to switch having completed his move to the Brakes just  a couple of weeks ago.

But other than his part in the Leamington goal not much was seen of the ex-Town marksman as Guy Clark, James Fry and Liam Francis made sure that he saw little of the ball in the first half and none at all in the second.

The opening exchanges were all fairly predictable as the game took some time to warm up, and neither goal had been seriously threatened until the Brakes went ahead on 26 minutes when Breeden launched a free kick from halfway into the Town penalty area where it was flicked on by Dan Preston.

As the ball dropped onto the edge of the six yard box both Westwood and Gregory went for it and it took a deflection of the unfortunate Town defender to spin past Niall Cooper into the net.

Gregory wheeled away in celebration intent on claiming the goal but the last fateful touch was clearly Westwood’s.

Town looked to respond but found it hard going against the well organised Leamington backline until Dan Summerfield went close to levelling it up five minutes before the break with a thunderous strike from distance  which was spectacularly tipped over by  Breeden.

But it all got worse for Town soon after as Tulloch’s rash challenge left Edwards on the floor while Breeden also picked up a yellow card for his antics in the ensuing melee.before order was restored.

Then in the final minute of the half Grocott wriggled to the byline down the left to drill in a low cross with Mike Taylor apparently being tripped as he went to connect, but in spite of his frantic appeals no penalty was given and Town trudged off wondering what else could go wrong.

But it was all so different as soon as the second half began.   Three minutes in Weswood cut in from the left to hit his shot against the advancing Breeden who seemed to injure himself in the process and needed  some lengthy treatment before being able to continue.

And showing tremendous reserves of spirit ten man Town took the game to Leamington with  Fry and Grocott bossing midfield and Taylor and Edwin Ahenkorah suddenly causing the Brakes defence all sorts of problems with their pace and persistence.

Ahenkorah was crowded out as he tried to latch on to a long ball down the middle and the offside flag cut short another promising move before Breeden showed his class once again on the hour mark.

Clark picked out Taylor with a pinpoint cross and his header looked certain to make it all square until Breeden plunged to his left to push the ball way.

Town were now the only side in it and ten minutes later they had a free kick in a central position some 30 yards out only for Ben Stephens hit it straight into the Leamington wall followed soon after by Ahenkorah twisting and turning in the left of the penalty area to  hit a rasping drive which was turned behind by Breeden at his near post.

Into the closing ten minutes and the Brakes were still somehow clinging on to their increasingly tenuous lead, with Breeden’s agility keeping out another Taylor header as the keeper took off to his right to palm it away leaving the Town striker to beat the ground in frustration.

But with seven minutes left Town at last had their reward for their spirited second half efforts and fittingly it was all due to the popular Westwood who let fly with a  sumptuous 25 yarder which even Breeden couldn’t reach as it soared beyond him into the top corner.

Town now sensed that it might be even better for them as in a frenetic finish with the referee playing some six minutes added time both Taylor and Ahenkorah went close, but in the end they had done more than even their most optimistic supporter could have hoped for 45 minutes earlier and as the bumper crowd headed home it was the Town contingent who had the biggest smiles on their faces.

“An absolutely top class performance” purred a beaming Carl Adams afterwards.  “Our second half display was outstanding.  We dominated the game from half time onwards and only three or four quality saves from Breeden saved Leamington from losing.

And all of that after having Simeon sent off as well as being a goal down leaving us really up against it.   I couldn’t be more proud of the lads who gave everything and a point was the least they deserved.

I’ve mentioned before that there’s a tremendous spirit in the squad, and this was clearly shown in difficult circumstances today.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westowwd, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Guy Clark, Simeon Tulloch, Will Grocott (James Marsden 71), Mike Taylor, Ben Stephens (Charlie Faulkner 84)), Edwin Ahenkorah.   Unused Subs  –  Jean Kalenda, Barry Fitzharris, & Dylan Parker

LEAMINGTON : Tony Breeden (c), Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda, Dan Preston, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson (Nathan Olukanmi 90), Jack Edwards, Richard Gregory, Rob Thompson-Brown (Ryan Rowe 84), Ahmed Obeng.   Unused Subs  –  Ben George, Tom James & Ryan Quinn

Referee    –    Mark Howes

Assistant Referees    –  Ed Corbett & Dan Hayes

Attendance      –   805

Town Man of the Match   –   Mike Taylor

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams   

                

    Town    Leamington
        13 Goal Attempts               7
          7 On Target               3
          0 Blocked Shots               0
         0 Hit Woodwork               0
         6 Corners Won               4
         8 Crosses into Box               5
       13 Fouls Conceded            11
         7 Off Side                1
         2 Yellow Cards                3
         1 Red Cards                0

 Town Yellow Cards                –    Francis & Summerfield      Red Card  –  Tulloch

Leamington Yellow Cards     –    Baker-~Richardson, Breeden & Taundry

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 20 DECEMBER 2016  –  KINGS LANGLEY  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

MARSDEN STRIKES LATE TO RESCUE A POINT FOR BELOW PAR TOWN

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Stratford  Town        –    2   –    Stephens  2  Marsden 90 + 3                                                                 Kings Langley           –    2   –    Plowright  12  Amoo  22 

Justin Marsden’s first Town goal in the third minute of added time secured a much needed point for Carl Adams’ side after they had turned in a disappointingly flat performance at the DCS on Tuesday evening.

Yet it had all seemed so different after Ben Stephens had fired Town ahead inside the opening  two minutes only for Kings Langley to hit back to lead  2-1 at the break and apparently be on course for all three points until Marsden’s late equaliser.

Both Town and the Kings had come into this game finding wins hard to come by as both had only managed one in their previous eleven League games so maybe a draw to extend that worrying statistic to one in twelve was a predictable outcome, but following Town’s  stalemate against Hayes and Yeading at the weekend this was  hardly the ideal preparation for their visit to near neighbours and table toppers Leamington on Boxing Day.

With Will Grocott under the weather and thus missing his first League match of the season Barry Fitzharris took over in midfield in the only change from the Hayes and  Yeading game while the subs bench included Charlie Faulkner who had been recalled from Rugby Town.

Carl Adams had labelled this as a “must win” game beforehand, and Town got off to the perfect start  with Stephens early strike.  Seizing on a loose ball some 25 yards out he looked up and let fly with a sumptuous right footer which soared past Kings Langley’s Spanish keeper Xavi Comas into the top corner.

And soon after the lead could have been doubled when Stephens threaded the ball through to Mike Taylor on the left of the penalty area with the Town striker skipping round the advancing Comas only for his shot to be cleared off the line by the covering Kings skipper Jorell Johnson.

But having been second best  so far the Kings recovered to level in the 12th minute.   David Hutton’s free kick was deflected behind for a corner which Hutton went over to take and as he floated it into Town penalty area Ryan Plowright climbed higher than anyone else to glance his header  beyond Niall Cooper into the net.

That gave the Kings just the boost they needed.  A couple of minutes later Mayowa Balogun sprinted down the left to whip over a centre which flew across the face of Town’s goal with no Kings player able to apply the finishing touch, and on 22 minutes they took the lead with the sort of goal which probably convinced Town that it was going to be one of those nights.

Jerry Amoo’s trickery took him to the byline down the right where his attempted cross spun away off the luckless Kieren Westwood to loop over the stranded Cooper and drop into the net at the far post.

Town responded with Liam Francis not being far away with a header but it was Comas who kept the Kings in front on the half hour with a trio of top class saves within a couple of minutes.

Firstly he managed to parry a Stephens volley and then recover instantly to block Taylor’s  effort from the rebound,  and then followed up almost immediately after by moving smartly to his left to beat away another thunderous Stephens drive.

Town kept probing but the Kings defence was well marshalled by Johnson supported by the imposing Emmanuel Folarin and with Town seemingly missing Grocott’s creative spark  in midfield half time was reached with the Kings’ lead still intact.

There was little change to the pattern of play after the restart with Town having plenty of the possession without really carving out a worthwhile chance while the Kings looked ominously comfortable as they soaked up the pressure.

Stephens had probably been Town’s busiest player in the first half, but he picked up a knock and had to limp off in the 58th minute to be replaced by Marsden with Faulkner coming on for Fitzharris a few minutes later.

But as Town reorganised the Kings had a great chance to extend their advantage when Immanuelson Duku flicked on a long ball down the middle to provide Amoo with a a clear sight of goal only for his fiercely struck volley to fly inches wide.

At the other end Taylor had a decent effort saved by Comas but by now it was apparent that set pieces were offering Town the best hope of getting back into the game while the Kings were intent on slowing the game down at every opportunity as they tried to cling on to that elusive win.

Both Westwood and Dan Summerfield launched free kicks into the Kings penalty area which were invariably capably dealt with by Johnson and Folarin while James Fry backed up his ceaseless running by going tantalisingly close with ten minutes to go.

With five minutes left Summerfield fired over when he latched on to  a misdirected clearance, and as the 90 minutes were up Town forced two corners in quick succession resulting in another Summerfield shot being blocked and a Guy Clark header drifting onto the roof of the net.

Then just as Kings had the finishing line in sight they failed to deal with a Town move down the left allowing Marsden to surge into the penalty area and sweep the ball past Comas from 15 yards out.

“That was probably our worst performance of the season so far” was  Carl Adams’  honest assessment afterwards.  “Even though we played badly we still had plenty of chances but again we couldn’t put them away.

We certainly missed Will Grocott’s influence in the middle of the park as he is the player who makes us tick, but we could and should have done better.

The one positive is that we kept going to the end and because St Neots went down to another heavy defeat  tonight’s point means that we are now seven points clear of the bottom four instead of six at the start of the evening.

But this result combined with Saturday’s makes our next home game against Cinderford even more vital as we face a tough schedule in the first half of January with away games at Hitchin, Weymouth and Chesham.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Simeon Tulloch, Dan Summerfield,, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Guy Clark, Kieren Wesdtwood, Barry Fitzharris (Charlie Faulkner 63), Mike Taylor, Ben Stephens (Justin Marsdewn 58), Edwin Ahenkorah.   Unused Subs  –  Jean Kalenda, Charlie Evans, & Dylan Parker

KINGS LANGLEY : Xavi Comas, Ollie Cox, Lewis Rodrigoe, Emmanuel Folarin, Jorell Johnson (c), Dean Hitchcock (Boris Kipeya 72), Jerry Amoo, Ryan Plowright, Immanuelson Duku, David Hutton, Mayowa  Balogun (Oran Swales 74).   Unused Subs  –  Jon Munday, Jack Pattyison & Steve Ward

Referee    –    Tom Reeves

Assistant Referees    –  Joe Clarke & Ian Croston

Attendance      –   136

Town Man of the Match   –   James Fry

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town     K/Langley
         13 Goal Attempts              5
           7 On Target              3
           0 Blocked Shots              0
           0 Hit Woodwork              0
        10 Corners Won              4
        12 Crosses into Box              3
        15 Fouls Conceded           11
           0 Off Side              2
          3 Yellow Cards              1
          0 Red Cards             0

 Town Yellow Cards             –    Clark, Summerfield & Westwood

K/Langley Yellow Cards     –    Hutton

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

17 DECEMBER 2016  –  HAYES & YEADING UNITED  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

ONLY A POINT FOR TOWN  ON A FRUSTRATING AFTERNOON AT THE DCS

Stratford  Town                     –     0                                                                                                                     Hayes & Yeading United    –     0 

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With Town having scored five in their last game and Hayes and Yeading having conceded 14 in losing their last three a no-score draw was long odds against, but that was exactly the outcome at the DCS on Saturday in the first ever meeting between these two sides.

Relegated from National League South at the end of last season Hayes and Yeading are once again in the drop zone this time round, but had recently changed their management team with Paul Hughes and Ritchie Hanlon moving from Town’s next opponents  Kings Langley.

Neither team could be faulted for lack of effort and both keepers made some fine saves particularly Danny Boness for the visitors, but the decisive finish was missing and a point apiece on a grey December afternoon was probably the right result.

As expected Town’s starting line-up was unchanged after their demolition of St Neots a week ago, and they made a positive start forcing a second minute corner and looking as if it would not be long before they took the lead.

But instead it was Hayes and Yeading who managed the first serious goal attempt in the 12th minute with Mitchell Weiss latching onto a long ball down the left and cutting in to see his low drive held by Town keeper Niall Cooper at the foot of his right post.

Town responded with Edwin Ahenkorah whipping in a cross from the right which was deflected off the Hayes and Yeading skipper Tom Broadbent towards Ben Stephens whose first time volley was straight at the well positioned Boness.

Even at this early stage it was clear that Weiss was going to be the visitors’ dangerman.  He had been Kings Langley’s top scorer for each of the past three seasons but had begun this campaign at Hemel Hempstead Town before switching to Hayes and Yeading to be reunited with Hughes and Hanlon, and on 20 minutes his strength on the ball led to the visitors first corner.

Town though were shading the possession but were finding it hard going against the Hayes and Yeading backline in which the imposing Darren Locke  –  signed earlier in the week from National League South St Albans City  –   and Broadbent were winning most of the aerial duels.

But on the half hour mark a slick move down the left involving Kieren Westwood, Will Grocott and Ahenkorah led to Westwood drilling in a low cross from the byline which was hastily turned behind by Locke followed by Ahenkorah shooting somewhat tamely at Boness after Mike Taylor’s clever lay-off had provided the opening.

Broadbent shot narrowly over shortly after before Town twice almost went in front in the last ten minutes of the first half.

Firstly a Grocott left wing corner was met bt Liam Francis with a header which appeared to be touched on by Ahenkorah before being grabbed right on the line by Boness, and then it was the 19 year old Boness  –  a former West Ham United scholar who has also recently switched from Kings Langley  –  who again kept the scores level when he dashed smartly off his line to smother the ball at Taylor’s feet as the burly Town striker chased down a long ball through the middle.

The busy Weiss was not far away with a header immediately after the restart and went even closer on 52 minutes when he surged down the inside right channel to shoot past the advancing Cooper but fortunately for Town skipper James Fry had read the situation perfectly and had got back to clear off the line.

Ahenkorah worked his way in from the right to hit a useful left footer which was a comfortable save for Boness, but Hayes and Yeading were growing into the game and Mahlanda Martin was not far away with a curling right footer from the edge of the penalty area followed by Broasdbent’s well struck free kick on the hour mark being confidently held by Cooper.

With the Town faithful now becoming distinctly edgy Taylor went tantalisingly close with a header from a Dan Summerfield cross and Boness was again quickly off his line to beat Ahenkorah to a Stephens pass before both keepers showed their quality with top class saves within a minute of each other.

Westwood’s cross from the left picked out Francis whose bullet header was tipped over at point blank range by Boness and when play switched to the other end substitute Dylan Kearney’s sliderule pass set up a great chance for Weiss whose fierce left foot strike was spectacularly beaten away by Cooper.

Into the last twenty minutes and Grocott was inches wide from 20 yards out  and with 15 minutes to go it was Boness who once more kept his side in the game as he turned behind a vicious low drive from Ahenkorah as the Town striker cut in from the left.

Cole Brown’s pace then provided him with an opening a couple of minutes after coming on but he screwed his shot across the face of the goal before both sides had a final chance to take all three points.

With a minute of normal time to go the ball reached Ahenkorah eight yards out but he fatally delayed his shot and was crowded out by the combination of Locke and Broadbent,  and then as the game headed into added time  Kearney’s  thunderous right footer was grasped by Cooper moving swiftly to his right to ensure that the afternoon ended goal-less

“A really frustrating afternoon” reflected Carl Adams afterwards.  “We had plenty of chances but we couldn’t put them away.

Hayes arrived in a supposedly poor run of form but they didn’t f perform like a bottom four side. They had shipped a lot of goals recently and clearly they were determined to be a lot tighter against us.

So although it seems like two points lost I have to regard it as a point gained as we were five points clear of the bottom four before the game and now we are six.

But it does make a win against Kings Langley on Tuesday even more vital  That game has become a “must win” rather than “must not lose” as three points against them is now a proirity.”.

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield,, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Guy Clark, Simeon Tulloch (Justin Marsden 70), Will Grocott, Mike Taylor, Ben Stephens, Edwin Ahenkorah.   Unused Subs  –  Jean Kalenda, Charlie Evans, Barry Fitzharris & Dylan Parker

HAYES & YEADING : Danny Boness, Brian Evans, Josh Chamberlain, Adam Everitt, Darren Locke, Ttom Broadbent (c), Mahlando Martin (Cole Brown 77), Ryan Hope, Mitchell Weiss, Josh Hutchinson (Dylan Kearney 61), Conner Toomey.   Unused Subs  –  Terry Carter & Chris Benton (GK)

Referee    –    Sarah Garrett

Assistant Referees    –  Josh Hackett & Liam Teraudl

Attendance      –   199

Town Man of the Match   –   Dan Summerfield

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

    Town      H & Y
       12 Goal Attempts          11
          7 On Target             7
         0 Blocked Shots             0
         0 Hit Woodwork             0
         7 Corners Won            7
       14 Crosses into Box            8
         8 Fouls Conceded          11
         3 Off Side            0
         1 Yellow Cards            2
         0 Red Cards           0

 Town Yellow Cards       –    Clark

H & Y Yellow Cards     –    Hutchinson & Locke

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

10 DECEMBER 2016  –  ST NEOTS TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

FIVE STAR TOWN DESTROY THE SAINTS

 Stratford  Town    –   5   –   Francis  5   Taylor  9   Ahenkorah  (3)  13 (pen) 44 & 47                        St Neots Town       –   2   –   Rogers 74  L’Goul 90 + 2 

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Town supporters probably approached this match with a feeling of trepidation.   Their side had slipped down the League table after taking only four points from the previous nine games causing Town boss Carl Adams to describe the encounter against St Neots as a “must win game,” and to add to their forebodings leading scorer Richard Gregory had opted to switch to local rivals Leamington just 48 hours before.

But at a soggy DCS any such worries were soon washed away as Town really turned on the style to destroy the Saints who never recovered after being three down in an explosive  opening 13 minutes.

And it was Edwin Ahenkorah who stole the show with Town’s first hat trick of the season as he took his recent tally to six in the last five games.

The only change to the starting line-up from the previous League game last Saturday was the return of Simeon Tulloch in place of the suspended Barry Fitzharris while in the absence of Gregory there were places on the subs bench for new signing Justin Marsden and this season’s youth team hotshot Dylan Parker.

Before kick off there was a minute’s silence in memory of Enzo Buquet who was a member of Town’s Academy and Colts teams and who had tragically lost his battle with lymphoma  earlier in the week which put into stark perspective everything that happened on the pitch thereafter.

With Carl Adams stressing the need to make an early impact Town piled forward straight from the kick off with Dan Summerfield hitting a decent 20 yard effort before 90 seconds were on the clock which was held by Saints keeper Alex Archer low to his right followed by Ben Stephens seeing his shot ricochet away off Miles Smith.

As the Saints struggled to cope Kieren Westwood overlapped down the left in the fifth minute to deliver a cross which was turned behind by Tom Wood.  Town elected to take the corner short with Stephens rolling the ball to Will Grocott who floated over a cross to the far post where it was met by a bullet header from Liam Francis to give Town just the start they wanted.

Four minutes later the lead was doubled when Westwood seized on a misdirected St Neots header to surge to the byline and whip in a low centre which was turned in by Mike Taylor from close range.

And with the Saints in disarray it got even better for Town on 13 minutes when Grocott launched a free kick into the penalty area where it was handled by Taylor Parr and Ahenkorah sent Archer the wrong way from the spot.

St Neots at last began to settle down and Town keeper Niall Cooper had to pull off a smart save in the 20th minute going full length to his right to beat away a thunderous long range strike from Declan Rogers.

Rogers was then not far away with a well struck free kick on the half hour mark and soon after he picked out the unmarked Saints skipper Michael Hyem with a pinpoint cross from the left but his header lacked the power to trouble Cooper.

This prompted Town to regain their earlier control with Ahenkorah hitting a low drive straight at Archer and Francis being inches too high with another header from a Grocott corner, and a minute before the break they went four up.

Ahenkorah received the ball wide on the right and wriggled his way in through a couple of less than convincing tackles to give himself the space and time to drill a left foot drive beyond Archer into the bottom corner of the net.

That must have settled everyone’s nerves, but if it did not then Town’s fifth and Ahenkorah’s hat trick goal two minutes after the restart surely did as he finished emphatically past the helpless Archer from the edge of the penalty area.

The game was now completely beyond the Saints reach but to their credit they didn’t give up.  Cooper had to plunge to his right to push away a rasping effort from Wood, but at the other end Francis came close to adding Town’s sixth firstly with a header from a Westwood cross and then another from a Grocott  corner.

Marsden was introduced in place of the hat trick hero Ahenkorah on 69 minutes before the Saints got on the scoresheet with a sharp piece of finishing from Rogers with a quarter of an hour to go.

Shortly after Carl Adams sent on Parker for his debut at first team level.   Having already hit the back of the net 23 times for Town Youth this term he almost made a dream start here sprinting onto a through ball and only being closed down as he burst into the penalty area by a combination of the pursuing  Wood and the advancing Archer.

Wood then featured at the other end with five minutes left with his first time right footer after Town struggled to clear a free kick bringing another top class save from Cooper who in spite of the scoreline had certainly had quieter afternoons.

And as the relieved Town faithful celebrated a crucial win and dominant team performance   Nassim L’Goul added a second for the Saints but the destiny of the points had long since been decided.

“That was just what we needed” beamed an extremely happy Carl Adams afterwards. “I believe that we’ve played well in recent weeks without getting what we deserved, but we certainly put on the style this afternoon and showed that we are a very good team.

Our ambition this season is to close the gap on the mid-table teams in this League, and this result shows that we are well on the way to achieving that.

In this game we’ve also had to cope with the departure of Richard Gregory following on from losing Dior Angus and Jamie Sheldon, and not many squads would have done that, but Edwin Ahenkorah and Mike Taylor have done the business and it’s also allowed us to give some valuable game time to Youth team graduates  Charlie Evans and Dylan Parker.

Looking ahead we can expect a tough game at Biggleswade on Tuesday but I’m targeting the following two home games against Hayes and Yeading and Kings Langley for maximum points as long as we can repeat the same level of performance as we achieved today.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield,, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c),  Liam Francis, Guy Clark (Justin Marsden 62), Simeon Tulloch,, Will Grocott,  Mike Taylor (Dylan Parker 79), Ben Stephens, Edwin Ahenkorah (Charlie Evans 69).  Unused Subs  –  Jean Kalenda & Trey Brathwaite

ST NEOTS : Alex Archer, Miles Smith, Jonathan hall, Michael Hyem (c). Tom Wood, Taylor Parr, Charlie Day, Peter Clark (Dan Gleeson 48), James Hall (Nassim L’Goul 26), Sam Muklready, Declan Rogers.   Unused Subs   –  Erhan Nurettin, Chevron McLean & Jackson  Colicott-Stevens

Referee    –    James Oldham

Assistant Referees    –  Stuart Matthews & James Thornhill

Attendance      –   144

Town Man of the Match   –   Edwin Ahenkorah

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town      St Neots
        17 Goal Attempts             14
          9 On Target               7
          0 Blocked Shots               0
          0 Hit Woodwork               0
          8 Corners Won               2
        10 Crosses into Box               9
        15 Fouls Conceded             15
          2 Off Side               1
          1 Yellow Cards               3
          0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards         –    Evans

St Neots Yellow Cards     –    Clark. L’Goul & Parr

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

5 DECEMBER  –  COVENTRY CITY  –  HOME  –  Birmingham senior cup

ANOTHER K O FOR THE SKY BLUES AS TOWN’S BSC RUN CONTINUES

Stratford  Town               –     2     –   Ahenkorah  29  Gregory  51                                                     Coventry City U 23’s      –     0  

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Town repeated last year’s Birmingham Senior Cup success over Coventry City’s under 23 side as they progressed smoothly into the quarter finals on Monday evening. Edwin Ahenkorah fired them into a half time lead and Richard Gregory added their second shortly after the restart prompting the Town faithful to leave him in no doubt that he should ignore the recent advances from near neighbours Leamington and remain at the DCS.

As is usual for this competition Carl Adams opted for a spot of squad rotation with Guy Clark, James Fry and Ben Stephens all sitting this one out while Mike Taylor was cup-tied having appeared for Redditch in the previous round.  Simeon Tulloch was fit enough to start after his substitute role at Banbury while Jean Kalenda was back after missing the last eight games since being stretchered off in the F A Trophy tie against Grantham, and there were further opportunities for Youth team graduates Charlie Evans and Charlie Faulkner, but  –  as at Banbury  –  Gregory was again on the bench.

The Coventry line-up included Kyle Spence and Devon Kelly-Evans who have both featured in their First Team this season.

Both sides made a cautious start with Kyle Finn’s long range effort for the youthful Sky Blues on the quarter hour mark  the first real threat to either goal, followed by Town responding with Tulloch setting up a chance for Ahenkoah who shot against the advancing Sky Blues keeper Corey Addai.

Bilal Sayoud went close to opening the scoring on 20 minutes with a rasping drive as he cut in from the left followed by the tricky Spence showing his quality as he  worked his way in from the right to hit a fierce effort which was turned behind by Niall Cooper.

But it was Town who took the lead on 29 minutes with the best move of the match.  Dan Summerfield overlapped down the right to skip past a couple of Sky blue defenders before whipping over a pinpoint cross which was met by Ahenkorah with a perfectly executed volley into the roof of the net from the edge of the six yard box.

Town’s marauding right back could have doubled the advantage soon after as he surged into the penalty area down the inside right channel only to shoot narrowly over while Tulloch’s low drive was easily held by Addai, but with Kelly-Evans impressing in midfield with his turn of pace and eye for a pass the Sky Blues were certainly still very much in the game.

Liam Francis though was in his usual commanding form in the centre of Town’s backline while the irrepressible Faulkner was simply everywhere, and although Jordon Thompson hit a decent effort straight at Cooper a Sky Blue equaliser never really seemed likely.

Instead Town were once again desperately close to extending their lead when Will Grocott’s 20 yard free kick fizzed inches wide with Addai well beaten as they reached half time deservedly in front.

Ahenkorah made way for Richard Gregory for the second half, and he had only been on the pitch for six minutes when he showed exactly why Leamington are interested in luring him away from the DCS by putting Town two up with his 12th goal of the season.

Receiving  a pass from Faulkner on the edge of the penalty area with his back to goal he expertly turned past his marker and in the same movement drilled the ball unerringly beyond Addai into the bottom of the corner of the net.

The Sky Blues tried hard to respond with Kelly-Evans providing their main threat and substitute  Jordan Ponticelli coming on to add some extra zip up front.

Shortly after his introduction Ponticelli’s trickery took him to the byline to deliver a cross which was headed clear by the immaculately positioned Francis, and with twenty minutes to go Sayoud blazed wastefully over after Kelly-Evans had set up the opportunity.

But with Faulkner continuing to give a Man of the Match performance with his tireless running and covering Town always looked to be in control and as the Sky Blues faded in the closing stages Carl Adams’ side saw the game out in relative comfort.

“A tremendous result for us” beamed Carl Adams afterwards.  “We’ve been playing well for the last few weeks, but that’s not really been shown in the results as we’ve been on the end of some bad luck and we’ve had a challenging sequence of fixtures.

We fully deserved our win tonight, but we are now coming into a run of games which as I’ve said before will determine how our season pans out.

Saturday’s match against St Neots is  real six pointer and it’s absolutely vital that we take maximum points from it.  The lads know that it’s a game that we cannot afford to lose.

We are a young side and a little naïve at times as we are still learning, but we will go into it in confident mood.

With regard to Richard Gregory we all hope that he decides to stay with us, but asise from any financial considerations we have to be aware that Leamington are a top of the table side and if they go on to win promotion they will be able to offer him National League North football next season.”.

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield,, Kieren Westwood, Barry Fitzharris, Liam Francis (c), Charlie Faulkner, Simeon Tulloch, Jean Kalenda (Rob Ormston 55), Edwin Ahenkorah (Richard Gregory 46), Will Grocott, Charlie Evans (Kyle Jaynes 71)    Unused Subs  –  Warren Brooks & Callum Ingram

COVENTRY : Correy Addai, Jacob Whitmore, Chris Carnwell, Tom Bayliss, Reece Ford, Jordon Thompson, Kyle Spence, Kyle Finn, Dan Smith (Jordan Ponticelli 62), Devon Kelly-Evans, Bilal Sayoud..   Unused Subs   –  Ronee Henricks, Konrad Skuza & Jak Hickman

Referee    –    Grant Taylor

Assistant Referees    –  Joe Clarke & Ian Croston

Attendance      –   131

Town Man of the Match   –   Charlie Faulkner

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

    Town       Coventry
        11 Goal Attempts              13
           5 On Target                7
           1 Blocked Shots                1
           0 Hit Woodwork                0
           1 Corners Won                2
           7 Crosses into Box                5
         10 Fouls Conceded                9
           3 Off Side                0
           2 Yellow Cards                1
           0 Red Cards                0

 Town Yellow Cards         –    Fitzharris & Summerfield

Coventry Yellow Cards    –   Carnwell

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

3rd DECEMBER 2016  –  BANBURY UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

NO JOY FOR TOWN AFTER HALF A CENTURY AWAY FROM BANBURY

Banbury United     –    2    –    Clark (og) 78   White 90 + 2                                                                   Stratford  Town     –    1    –    Stephens 57 

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Even though the two clubs are barely 25 miles apart Saturday’s clash at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium was their first meeting with League points at stake for over 50 years when they were both in the West Midlands League and Beatlemania was at its height.

And Town probably wished that it could have been delayed a while longer as they slipped to the unluckiest of defeats with Banbury coming from behind to nick all three points courtesy of an own goal equaliser and a bizarre added time winner.

Carl Adams made one change to the starting line-up from the midweek game at the Valley Stadium with Edwin Ahenkorah taking over from the rested Richard Gregory as Town looked to build on their last two encouraging performances at Merthyr and Redditch.

By contrast Banbury had lost their last three games without scoring a goal, but they made a lively start with Niall Cooper doing well to hold a low right cross from Callum White in the opening minute followed by Banbury forcing a couple of early corners before Town were able to settle down.

But with Town  having survived that early onslaught Will Grocott and Ben Stephens began to see more of the ball in midfield although it was Banbury who went close to taking the lead on the quarter hour mark when Zac McEachran’s close control took him past both James Fry and Guy Clark to shoot inches wide of Cooper’s left hand post.

Shortly after Ahenkorah combined with Kieren Westwood down the left to force Town’s first corner of the afternoon with Grocott’s cleverly flighted flag kick leading to more than a bit of panic in the Banbury six yard box before it was eventually hacked clear.

A Grocott free kick caused similar problems for the Banbury defence some ten minutes later but with two evenly matched sides cancelling each other out in midfield chances were few and far between.

As the interval approached Banbury seemed to up their tempo and tested Town with another series of corners but Liam Francis was once more outstanding with his powerful headers away, and in the last action of the half the play suddenly switched to the other end.

A Town free kick was only cleared as far as Westwood 20 yards out but his first time shot was easily held by Banbury keeper Jack Harding.

It was much the same after the restart although Sam Humphreys wasn’t far away for Banbury with a useful effort three minutes in, but it was Town who at last broke the deadlock on 57 minutes.   A moment of magic from Ahenkorah saw him skip past the Banbury skipper Andy Gunn down the right to whip in a low cross which beat Harding and was turned in by Stephens from three yards out.

Banbury tried to respond but again corners were their main threat with Ricky Johnson glancing a header wide from the best of them.  Town though were looking fairly comfortable and they had a great chance to double their lead  and surely take the points out of Banbury’s reach with twenty minutes to go.

Dan Summerfield’s sliderule pass released Mike Taylor down the right and his pinpoint centre found Simeon Tulloch unmarked at the far post.  Tulloch had just replaced Ahenkorah and he had time to bring the ball down before shooting but this was his first touch and he went for a volley which flew well over.

And that escape seemed to give Banbury added impetus in their search for an equaliser.  Jack Self had a fiercely struck shot deflected behind and the busy McEachran had another one blocked before Lady Luck helped them to level it all up in the 78th minute.

Marvin Martin gained possession wide on the left and he drilled in a low cross which ricocheted off the unfortunate Guy Clark and past the helpless Cooper.

Suddenly it was a different game as Banbury sensed that it could get even better for them and they piled forward.  Cooper did well to save at close range from Johnson and then tipped over a piledriver from McEachran before making his best save of the game with two minutes left when he plunged to hid right to push another McEachran drive round the post.

But it all unravelled in the second minute of added time.  Town conceded a throw-in on the right from which the ball was allowed to reach White who promptly floated the ball over seemingly looking for the head of Johnson but instead it drifted over everyone and dropped behind Cooper into the far corner of the net.

“This result makes our next four home games even more important” admitted a bemused Carl Adams afterwards. “It’s another hard luck story but we just don’t seem to be able to get over the line at the moment.

That shows how tough this League is, and we have to work hard from the first minute to the last and maybe we didn’t do that here.  With twelve minutes to go we were looking to come away with three points and we have ended up with nothing which is not what we deserved.

The upcoming fixtures at the DCS against St Neots, Hayes and Yeading, Kings Langley and Cinderford will have a major bearing on the outcome of our season and we know what we need to do.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield,, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c),  Liam Francis, Guy Clark, Barry Fitzharris, Will Grocott,  Mike Taylor, Ben Stephens (Donnell Benjamin 71), Edwin Ahenkorah (Simeon Tulloch 61).  Unused Subs  –  Richard Gregory, Trey Brathwaite & Warren Brooks

BANBURY : Jack Harding, Jack Westbrook, Andy Gunn (c), George Nash, Luke Carnell, Jack Self (Eddie Odhiambo 90), Callum White, Sam Humphreys (George Jeacock 61), Ricky Johnson, Zac McEachran, Marvin Martin.   Unused Subs   –  Mark Bell, Darius Browne & Jacob blackstock

Referee    –    Greg Rollason

Assistant Referees    –  Dean Steatham & James Lunn

Attendance      –   378

Town Man of the Match   –   Liam Francis

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

     Town      Banbury
           5 Goal Attempts             13
           3 On Target               4
            0 Blocked Shots               0
           0 Hit Woodwork               0
           2 Corners Won             14
         10 Crosses into Box               8
           8 Fouls Conceded             10
           2 Off Side               0
           1 Yellow Cards               0
          0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards         –    Fitzharris

Banbury Yellow Cards    –    None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

29 NOVEMBER 2016  –  REDDITCH UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

EDWIN MAKES A POINT WITH HIS LATE STRIKE 

Redditch United     –    1    –    Keen 10                                                                                                 Stratford  Town      –    1    –    Ahenkorah 89 

Ex-Reds striker Edwin Ahenkorah came off the subs bench to secure Town’s ninth draw of the season with an 89th minute equaliser at an arctic Valley Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Showing the same character and commitment as at Merthyr on Saturday Town had been the better side throughout but were still trailing to Luke Keen’s 10th minute opener for the Reds until Ahenkorah’s late leveller rescued the point which was the least they deserved from their second game on an artificial surface in four days.

A niggling injury had restricted Ahenkorah to the bench with Mike Taylor  –  who along with Redditch’s Jordan Cullinane-Liburd had already played for both clubs  this season  –   taking over up front while in the other change from the Merthyr game the returning Guy Clark came in for the unfit Simeon Tulloch.

The Reds included ex-England international Lee Hendrie on their bench for his first appearance of the season having hitherto been turning out for Montpellier in Midland League Division Three.

The thermometer was already well into minus figures at kick off time as Town made a bright start with Will Grocott and Ben Stephens moving the ball about in pleasing style and Dan Summerfield pushing forward down the right to deliver a couple of useful crosses, but against the run of play it was the Reds who went in front in the 10th minute with their first sight of goal.

Town struggled to get the ball clear and although there didn’t seem much on when it reached Luke Keen on the edge of the penalty area  he swivelled to drill a crisp left foot drive beyond Niall Cooper into the bottom corner.

Shortly after Reece Hales hobbled off with an ankle problem allowing Hendrie to join the action earlier than probably anyone expected.

Undeterred Town continued to play some neat football with Richard Gregory not far away with a shot on the turn from the edge of the penalty area followed soon after by the lively Stephens hitting a low right foot effort from 15 yards out which was pushed behind by the Reds keeper Bradley Catlow plunging to his left.

The travelling Town faithful held their collective breath on the half hour mark when Liam Francis upended Simeon Cobourne right on the 18 yard line ominously allowing Hendrie to size up his chances from the free kick, but to their undisguised relief he could only hit it against the well positioned Town wall with the ball spinning away and being  collected by Cooper.

Cobourne then shot narrowly wide after working his way in from the left but it was Town who were definitely the more threatening of the two sides with Gregory again going  close a few minutes before half time, but although having most of the possession Town went in at the break still one down.

Town continued to boss the game after the restart with Stephens catching the eye with his pace and creativity, and it certainly looks as if Carl Adams has unearthed a real find here as he linked up well with the always impressive Grocott  to control the critical midfield area.

But somehow the Reds were clinging on to their lead with Taylor being desperately unlucky in the 56th minute when his fiercely struck shot hit Catlow and the ball looped tantalisingly over the bar.

Catlow made a more conventional stop to beat away a Gregory piledriver a couple of minutes later and followed up by safely holding a well struck effort from Kieren Westwood and then pulling off another smart save from Stephens as the game headed into its last 20 minutes with the equaliser proving to be frustratingly elusive.

With time now ticking away Carl Adams sent on Ahenkorah followed by Donnell Benjamin and his managerial Midas touch worked as with a minute of normal time left the two substitutes combined to at last level it all up.

Benjamin gained possession in the centre circle and his sliderule pass sent Ahenkorah surging down the inside right channel to outpace the Reds defence and unerringly steer the ball past the advancing  Catlow to spark wild celebrations both on and off the field..

“Following on from Merthyr at the weekend this was another tremendous performance from everyone,” beamed a more than satisfied Carl Adams afterwards.  “We showed great spirit and got our reward for keeping going right to the end with Edwin’s late equaliser.

It was a different angle for us this evening as we had to come from behind after a run of games where we’ve taken the lead, and hopefully we can build on this at Banbury on Saturday.

I thought that both Will Grocott and Ben Stephens were terrific and even though Jamie Sheldon has moved on I’m happy that our squad is improving all the time.

Redditch have put seven days in for Dior Angus which is disappointing as he is the third player they have tried to take from us this season following Mike Taylor  –  who has since returned  –  and Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, but so far Dior has yet to decide what he wants to do and at this moment in time he is still with us.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield (Donnell Benjamin 84), Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c),  Liam Francis, Guy Clark, Barry Fitzharris (Edwin Ahenkorah 78), Will Grocott, Richard Gregory, Mike Taylor, Ben Stephens.  Unused Subs  –  Trey Brathwaite & Charlie Evans

REDDITCH : Bradley Catlow, Jordan Jones (Clayton McDonald 69), Nat Kelly, Max Loveridge, Duane Courtney (c), Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, Liam Spink, Simeon Cobourne, Luke Keen, David McDermott (Paucy Apostocopoulos 58), Reece Hales (Lee Hendrie 18).   Unused Subs   –  Cameron Young & Jordan Brown

Referee    –    Neil Pratt

Assistant Referees    –  Edward Corbett & Jamie Howe

Attendance      –   232

Town Man of the Match   –   Will Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

       Town     Redditch
           17 Goal Attempts              7
             8 On Target              3
             0 Blocked Shots              0
             0 Hit Woodwork              0
            6 Corners Won              2
          12 Crosses into Box              3
          11 Fouls Conceded              8
            5 Off Side              5
           2 Yellow Cards              2
           0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards         –    Fitzharris & Fry

Redditch Yellow Cards    –    Keen & Loveridge

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

FIRST POINT FOR TOWN IN THE RHONDA

26th November 2016
Merthyr Town 1 Stratford Town 1
Ian Traylor 63 Edwin Ahenkorah 33

barry-and-liam-at-merthyr

A competent, compact, sterling performance from Stratford Town, saw them secure their first point at title contenders Merthyr Towns, Loadlok Community Stadium, at their fourth attempt, and Town could have secured a vital win, but when Mike Taylor was brought down by Curtis Mcdonald for a certain penalty, it was denied by Referee Darren Wilding to the disbelief of the Town fans.

There were two changes from the team that were beaten by Slough in the week. Dan Summerfield came in at right back against his former club, and Ben Stephens started his first game. Donnell Benjamin was ill, Guy Clark was at a wedding and Jamie Sheldon is no longer available due to personal commitments, and Dior Angus, is the subject of a 7 day approach from Redditch United. Charlie Faulkner, and Charlie Evans, made up the subs bench with Mike Taylor and Trey Brathwaite.

An early chance for Town in the 3rd minute when Ben Stephens chased down a Richard Gregory chip over the Merthyr rear guard, but keeper Garner was alert to clear the danger. Merthyr started to probe the Town defence and when a cross field ball picked out the lively Kayne McLaggon on the left, in the 9th minute, he cut inside and fired a curling strike towards the top corner, but Town keeper Niall Cooper acrobatically tipped it over, and 2 minutes later McLaggon played in Eliot Richards who looked as if he would score, but a fantastic last ditch tackle from Dan Summerfield cleared the danger.

Stratford had a great chance to go in front in the 17th minute, when, Edwin Ahenkorah latched on to a poor pass from the Merthyr defence but with only keeper Garner to beat his weak shot was an easy saver for the keeper. Stratford were unlucky not to go in front 5 minutes later, when a header by Liam Francis from Will Grocotts corner was scrambled of the line and the loose ball went to Grocott who struck a shot goal wards that keeper Garner tipped over at full stretch.
Cooper saved a close range effort from Mclaggon, but it was Town who went close again in the 26th minute, when Richard Gregory latched onto Coopers long punt and from 30yds out smashed a volley goal wards but with Garner beaten it was inches wide of the post.
However, 5 minutes later it was Town who took the lead, when Simeon Tullochs pass sent Ahenkorah in on goal the striker made no mistake this time as he fired the ball into the bottom corner past the advancing Garner, to put Town 1 up.

Merthyr responded with a deflected shot from McLaggon coming down on the roof of the net, and Cooper making a good save from a Curtis McDonald header from Ian Traylors corner.

In the second half Stratford’s chances were limited as the home side pressed for an equaliser. Gregory just failed to get on the end of a cross from Stephens 10 mins in, and a free kick by Ahenkorah was straight at the keeper.
The home side got back on level terms in the 63rd minute, but were somewhat fortunate. A cross from the left was deflected, which Town failed to clear and the loose ball being stab in by Ian Traylor who looked to be in an offside position, as the deflection had come off a Merthyr player, but again there was no response from the officials, and the goal stood. The last chance for Stratford came 12 minutes from time, when A Grocott free kick flashed across the face of the Merthyr goal and just wide of the far post, with no player getting the vital touch.

Merthyr pressed for a winning goal as they were awarded several fortuitous free kicks, sub Gavin Williams fired one at Cooper, and Scott Barrows kick found McLaggon but he was closed out by Towns defenders. Merthyr nearly grab a winner with 6 mins left when a looping header by Jarrad Wright from a Traylor corner hit the Town bar, but Francis was on hand to clear the danger. A minute later danger man, McLaggon forced Cooper to save with his legs when he shot from a tight angle following a powerful run into the Town box.

With the clack running down Town played out the final few minutes keeping Merthyr at bay, and at the final whistle a cheer from the Towns faithful followers, with Town taking a point back to Shakespeare country.

“The View from the Dugout”
After the game, Carl Adams was delighted, and said. “He was pleased with the commitment that all the players had put in throughout the game. Defensively we looked a lot tighter than we have in recent games, and our work rate from the midfield was outstanding, allowing Merthyr few chances. It shows we can compete with the best in this League, when we play to our potential.

We need to show the same level of commitment and performance against Redditch United, on Tuesday night to get a positive result.”

Stratford Town
Cooper, Summerfield, Westwood, Fry ©, Francis, Fitzharris, Tulloch, Grocott, Gregory (Taylor 67), Ahenkorah, (Evans 87) Stephens, (Faulkner 67).

Subs Not Used Brathwaite

Merthyr Town
Garner, Tancock, Barrow, Wright McDonald, Baggridge,(Williams 58), Prosser, Richards McLaggon, Reffell, Traylor,(Jenkins 87),

Subs not Used, Jones & Davies

Referee D Wilding

Assistant Referees J Whittington & P Tyler

Attendance 215

Town Man of the Match Barry Fitzharris
Match Stats. GA OT BS HW CW CIB FC OS YC RC
Stratford 7 5 0 0 5 6 10 2 0 0
Merthyr 10 6 0 1 6 13 8 8 1 0

 22 NOVEMBER 2016  –  SLOUGH TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

SLOUGH’S SECOND HALF COMEBACK SECURES THE POINTS 

Stratford  Town      –    1   –   Gregory  26                                                                                                 Slough Town           –    2   –    Harris  74  Adebayo  77   

In what turned out to be a classic “game of two halves” Town went in at the break deservedly ahead after Richard Gregory’s 11th goal of the season  had given them a 26th minute lead, but title chasing Slough stormed back in the second half with Warren Harris firing in the equaliser on 74 minutes followed by Elijah Adebayo’s superbly taken winner three minutes later.

And for the second home game running Chris Simpson’s inspired purchase of the sponge roller added to the forking efforts of a number of STISA members was the difference between the match going ahead and not after the deluges of the previous couple of days.

Town’s starting line-up showed one change from the Basingstoke game with Mike Taylor coming in for Trey Brathwaite and operating up front alongside Edwin Ahenkorah with Gregory slotting in just behind the two strikers in what was basically a 4-3-1-2 formation.

And it was Town who threatened first with Gregory shooting wide inside the opening minute as Carl Adams’ side began brightly.   Taylor then almost caught the Slough defence napping on eight minutes when he chased down an underhit backpass causing keeper Mark Scott to come out of his area and acrobatically head away as the Town striker challenged.

Ahenkorah then got into the act soon after with some neat footwork on the right before rolling a pass inside intended for Gregory only for the move to be read by Nathan Webb who nipped in to take the ball off Gregory’s toe.

With Town continuing to press forward they made the breakthrough in the 26th minute when Will Grocott’s deep free kick from out on the right picked out Gregory who was surprisingly unmarked some ten yards out and he directed a perfectly placed header beyond Scott into the top corner of the net.

Shortly after it could have been 2-0 but for a defender blocking a close range shot from Ahenkorah before Slough had their first sight of goal on the half hour mark when Harris fired over as Town struggled to clear a right wing corner.

Niall Cooper then had to move smartly to his right to hold a Lee Togwell volley from the edge of the penalty area,  but Town ended the first half  looking for a second with another Gregory header  –  again from a Grocott free kick  –  being cleared from virtually off the line and Taylor cutting in from the right to fire inches over with the last action before the interval.

But it was to be all so different after the restart as Slough noticeably upped their tempo and showed why they are a top of the table side.

Five minutes into the second half the gangly Adebayo chased a long ball down the inside right channel to hit a low drive which Cooper seemed late in getting down to but managed to get enough on it to deflect it behind, and a minute or so later Town somehow survived a real old fashioned scramble in their penalty area as the ball ricocheted around before eventually being hacked away.

With more and more of the game being played in the Town half Harris hit a well struck effort into the side netting followed by a lob over Cooper as he cut in from the right which was cleared by the covering Liam Francis.

In an attempt to stem the tide Carl Adams sent on Dan Summerfield for Simeon Tulloch and then introduced new signing Ben Stephens for his Town debut in place of Taylor.

Town though were now being restricted to breakaways and on 70 minutes Gregory tried to surge past Mark Nisbet only to be pulled down by the desperate Slough defender, but in spite of the DCS faithful calling for a red card on the basis that Nisbet was the last man referee Philip Hardisty decided otherwise and the colour of the card was only yellow.

Town were still in front, but Slough’s equaliser seemed to be only a matter of time and it duly arrived in the 74th minute.  Town lost concentration as Slough took a throw-in immediately following a substitution and Harris seized his chance to turn in the penalty area and shoot past Cooper.

Slough were now really buzzing and three minutes later they were ahead when Sean Fraser launched a long ball into the Town penalty area from out on the right touchline. Anticipating its flight it was met by Adebayo who brilliantly brought it down with his first touch and then unerringly slotted it past Cooper with his second.

The only downside was that he was then yellow carded by the referee for his excessive celebrations with the contingent of Slough fans behind the goal.

The result was never really in doubt from then on although Town tried hard to get back into the game.

Grocott’s run down the left was halted by a robust tackle from Guy Hollis but his appeals for a penalty were waved away, and Ahenkorah laid on an opening for Summerfield whose shot was deflected behind but Slough efficiently and effectively saw the game out and headed back down the M40 with three more valuable points to aid their promotion push.

“Nobody said it was going to be easy”  said Carl Adams afterwards.  “This is a tough League and Slough are a very good side.  We played well in the first half but they played well in the second and in the end you have to say that they were better than us.

I can’t fault our players for the effort they put in, but perhaps we were a bit naïve in our defending, and as I’ve said before we need to improve our game management.

This is our second season at this level, and history shows that second seasons are always difficult for  promoted teams so we need to keep our focus on trying to develop and stay in this League.

Although we are not yet at halfway we have played Slough and Basingstoke twice and by this time next week we will have played Merthyr and Redditch twice as well.  They are all  top teams, but soon after we will be facing the likes of Kings Langley and Cinderford.

Those games will be real six pointers and it is the results then that will ultimately define our season.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper,  Simeon Tulloch (Dan Summerfield 59),  Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Guy Clark. Will Grocott, Barry Fitzharris (Jamie Sheldon 78). Richard Gregory. Mike Taylor (Ben Stephens 67), Edwin Ahenkorah.  Unused Sub  –  Donnell Benjamin

SLOUGH : Mark Scott. Sean Fraser(c). Paul Stonehouse, Guy Hollis, Mark Nisbet, Lee Togwell, James Dobson (Lewis Putman 59), Simon Dunn (Gurkan Gokman 73), Rlijah Adebayo, Nathan Webb, Warren Harris..   Unused Subs   –  Josh Jackman, Nathan Smart & Charlie Moone

Referee    –    Philip Hardisty

Assistant Referees    –  Steve Darnall & Simon Lane

Attendance      –   202

Town Man of the Match   –    Will Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

       Town      Slough
            6 Goal Attempts           11
            4 On Target              6
           0 Blocked Shots              0
           0 Hit Woodwork              0
           3 Corners Won              5
           7 Crosses into Box           14
         15 Fouls Conceded           14
           4 Off Side              0
            1 Yellow Cards              3
            0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards       –    Fitzharris

Slough Yellow Cards     –    Adebayo, Nisbet & Webb

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

Basingstoke 2 Stratford Town 1
Rob Atkinson 28 Richard Gregory 12
Nana Owusu 82

There was no charity for Stratford Town for their first visit to Basingstoke and the Ark Cancer Charity Stadium, either from the home side or the officials, whose decisions left a lot to be desired and they were probably a whistle and a flag short of a football match.

Guy Clark and Barry Fitzharris, coming in were the only changes from the side from the side that started against Cambridge, with Sheldon and Benjamin were relegated to the bench. Despite taking an early lead, Town again went down to another single goal defeat.

It was a relatively quiet start to the game as most of the play was in midfield, however it was Stratford who made the first telling attack in the 12th minute, when Trey Brathwaite found Will Grocott on the left and his deft chipped cross found Richard Gregory 15yds out who fired a half volley into the roof of the net past a static Stokes keeper Alex Tokarczyk to put Town in front, and a couple of minutes later Gregory was just wide with a header from a Grocott free kick.

The Dragons opening chance came in the 20th minute, when Sam Deadfield, (who’s set piece free kicks and corners caused Town problems all game), whipped in a free kick from the left and Town keeper Cooper made a point blank save to keep out a Joe Gater header and Aaron Redfords effort from the loose ball hit the bar and was cleared by Liam Francis.

It was not the same 8 minutes later however, when another Deadfield free kick, this time on the right, was headed goal wards by Ben Atkinson, Copper appeared to make the initial save parrying the ball onto the post before gathering at the second attempt. However the Dragons players protested that the ball had crossed the line and after a pregnant pause Assistant Referee Harris gave a goal when he was 8-10yds from the goal line, unbelievable. Cooper was cautioned for his disagreement with the official.

Cooper had to make a fine save to tip over a 25yd free kick from Nana Owusu heading for the top corner at full stretch in the 34th minute, but it was another controversial decision by Referee Fisher, which left a lot of the watchers, perplexed 5 minutes before the break.

The Stokes striker Ramone Rose had already been cautioned, but he lunged into a challenge on Liam Francis with studs showing in front of the Dugouts on the halfway line, normally a straight red all day, but no not even a yellow player spoken to and then allowed to play on, when he should have had an early bath, another decision favouring the home side, which could have changed the game.

Basingstoke dominated most of the second half. David Ray headed just over, from a corner, on 48 minutes. Deadfield was wide with an effort and Cooper made an easy save from another strike.

Owusu and Hallahan both had efforts to put the Stokes in front, but they were wide of the target or saved by Cooper. But the defining moment came in the 82nd minute, when Town were pressing on the edge of the Stokes box. A Grocott shot was blocked and Matt Partridge fired a long pass up to Owusu on the left, and from then on there was only one outcome as he outpaced the Town rear guard and fired the ball into the net past the advancing Cooper, for what proved to be the winning goal.

Town had one last chance to save a point in the 94th minute, when Tulloch’s free kick was glanced just wide by Grocott.

Regarding the two controversial decisions in the first half, the supporters behind the goal, said that in the first incident the ball had crossed the line, but no goal given. The second incident the ball did not cross the line but goal was given.
“The View from the Dugout”
Carl Adams said. The lads put in a great shift and put a lot into the game, but got no reward, as we are not managing the games well enough and we have to start doing that. They had more possession than us, but they really did not hurt us. It’s another sob story, but there are fine margins in football and we are suffering on the wrong side at the moment. We have to believe we can turn it around, but points are hard to come by and we have two tough games coming up, Slough Town on Tuesday at Home, and Merthyr Town Away next Saturday.

Asked about the two decisions that affected the game. Adams was a bit perplexed. The Assistant Referee eventually said that the ball had crossed the line for the first goal, which you have to accept. However Referees decision to allow their N09, Rose to stay on the pitch was poor. The lad nearly snapped Liam’s leg in two. It was a very poor challenge and he should have gone for it.

Stratford Town
Cooper, Clark, Westwood, Fry ©, Francis, Fitzharris (Sheldon74), Tulloch, Grocott, Gregory (Taylor 67), Ahenkorah, Brathwaite (Summerfield 62)

Subs Not Used Benjamin

Basingstoke Town
Tokarczyk, Johnson-Shuster, Atkinson R, Partridge, Gater, Ray, Deadfield, Atknson M, Rose(Whittingham), Redford(Hallahan), Owusu,

Subs not Used, Greene, and Bennett.

Referee A Fisher

Assistant Referees A Harris, & A Dunn.

Attendance 362

Town Man of the Match Simeon Tulloch
Match Stats. GA OT BS HW CW CIB FC OS YC RC
Stratford 9 3 0 0 2 7 13 1 1 0
Basingstoke 18 12 0 2 5 10 11 1 1 0

Match Report by Rod Abrahams

12 NOVEMBER 2016  –  CAMBRIDGE CITY  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TWO UP EARLY ON BUT ONLY A POINT AT THE END 

Stratford  Town         –    3   –   Gregory (2) 6 & 14  Ahenkorah 63                                           Cambridge City         –    3   –   Carden 30  Woods-Garness 47 (pen)  Bailey 60 

For the neutral this was a six goal thriller which could have gone either way in the last twenty or so minutes, but for everyone connected with Town it was total frustration and the feeling that two points had slipped away.

Richard Gregory had headed Town into a two goal lead inside the opening quarter of an hour and Carl Adams’ side seemed to be comfortably in control, but Cambridge pulled one back before half time and by the hour mark they were 3-2  up before Edwin Ahenkorah brought Town level once more.

From then on chances came and went at both ends  but at the final whistle it was a point apiece and what the watching spy from Town’s next opponents  –  Basingstoke Town  –  thought of it is anyone’s guess.

After the heavy overnight rain the new sponge roller purchased through the Lottery made its debut to ensure that the game went ahead aided by the efforts and forks of the STISA Chairman and several other members, and by kick off the pitch looked to be in pretty good shape.

Town and Cambridge had played out a goal-less draw in the reverse fixture six weeks ago, but since then the Lilywhites have endured a wretched run of form which has seen them take only one point from seven League games as well as exiting both the F A Trophy and the Southern League Cup.

So with Town in buoyant mood after their demolition of Leamington in midweek they piled forward right from the start, and they only had to wait six minutes to go in front when Trey Brathwaite crossed from the left and Gregory climbed highest at the far post to power a header past Cambridge keeper Enol Ordonez.

With all the action taking place in the Cambridge half the lead was doubled eight minutes later.  This time it was Kieren Westwood who overlapped down the left to supply the cross and Gregory expertly stooped to direct a delicate header beyond the helpless Ordonez.

Surely the three points for a win were already in the bag. A Jamie Sheldon right wing cross was headed away by Harry Norman,  Simeon Tulloch volleyed into the side netting from a Gregory flick-on and Ahenkorah had a left foot drive pushed round the post by Ordonez as Town continued to apply the pressure.

But the Lilywhites didn’t lie down and pulled one back on the half hour mark as Brad Woods-Garness took advantage of a slip by James Fry to work his way in from the right and square the ball across to substitute Joe Carden. The unmarked  Carden had only just come on and he had all the time and space he needed to sweep the ball past Niall Cooper from 12 yards out.

Town responded with Ahenkorah having two decent efforts held by Ordonez before Cambridge almost grabbed the equaliser a minute before the break.

Town struggled to clear a left wing corner and when Erkan Okay returned the ball into the penalty area it was met by Woods-Garness with a spectacular overhead kick which was only kept out by an instinctive point blank save from Cooper.

And two minutes into the second half they were level.  The lively Carden sped down the left to send over a cross which was handled by Westwood as it took an awkward bounce and  Woods-Garness sent Cooper the wrong way from the spot.

Westwood redeemed himself soon after with a perfectly timed tackle to thwart Woods-Garness as he surged down the inside right channel before Carl Adams brought on Guy Clark in place of Sheldon which allowed Tulloch to move further forward.

But before that change could work the Lilywhites completed their comeback by taking the lead.

The impressive and imposing Woods-Garness burst through the middle before slipping the ball into the path of Kieran Bailey who coolly sidefooted it past Cooper.

That seemed to give Town the jolt they needed as they recovered to be back level three minutes later when Gregory headed Brathwaite’s right wing corner against the post and  Ahenkorah  reacted the quickest to prod the rebound  over the line.

Carl Adams immediately withdrew Donnell Benjamin for the extra firepower of Mike Taylor  –  who had been doubtful with flu-like symptoms in midweek  –  but within a couple of minutes he couldn’t make the most of an inviting opportunity from an Ahenkorah  centre.

It was anyone’s game now and as the play switched back and forth Carden let fly with a ferocious volley which didn’t miss by much followed by Woods-Garness having a rasping effort deflected behind but into the last fifteen minutes it was Town who looked the more threatening of the two sides.

Ahenkorah fired over from a good position and then Westwood whipped the ball in from the left and Taylor somehow put it over from inside the six yard box.

A final chance came Taylor’s way as the game headed into added time but with only Ordonez to beat he dragged his shot wide  and after a breathless afternoon both sides had to settle for their second draw of the season which surely left the Lilywhites far more satisfied than Town.

“I didn’t see that coming” admitted Carl Adams afterwards.  “At 2-0 we were all over them and I expected us to go on and win comfortably.  But one mistake let them in for their first goal and from then on they had their tails up and it developed into a real roller coaster of a game.

But  our lads deserve credit for coming back so quickly to hit back after their third goal and after that I felt that we were the only side that was going to win.

But we couldn’t do it and it only emphasises that at this level there are no easy games and you need to be at your best all the time to achieve anything.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper,  Simeon Tulloch,  Kieren Westwood, James Fry, Liam Francis, Donnell Benjamin (Mike Taylor 63), Jamie Sheldon (Guy Clark 57), Trey Brathwaite, Richard Gregory, Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah.  Unused Subs  –  Warren Brooks, Barry Fitzharris & Charlie Evans

CAMBRIDGE : Enol Ordonez, Paul Cooper, Charlie Day, Harry Norman, Jordan Williams, Jack Uttridge (Joe Carden 27), Ben Robinson, Jon Kaye (c), Brad Woods-Garness, Kieran Bailey (Giovani Lopes 81), Erkan Okay (Dean Mason 79).   Unused Subs   –  Tunde Adewunmi & Charlie Wolfe

Referee    –    Robert Cockle

Assistant Referees    –  Ian Parsons & Will Payne

Attendance      –   201

Town Man of the Match   –    Richard Gregory

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

       Town      Cambridge
          20 Goal Attempts               10
            6 On Target                 5
            0 Blocked Shots                 0
           1 Hit Woodwork                 0
           8 Corners Won                 5
         13 Crosses into Box                 8
            7 Fouls Conceded                 6
            3 Off Side                 7
            1 Yellow Cards                 3
            0 Red Cards                 0

 Town Yellow Cards              –    Tulloch

Cambridge Yellow Cards     –     Carden, Mason & Robinson

Match Report by Bryan Hale

  

8 NOVEMBER 2016  –  LEAMINGTON  –  SOUTHERN LEAGUE CUP  –  HOME

HIGH PERFORMANCE TOWN ARE TOO SLICK FOR THE BRAKES 

Stratford  Town      –    4    –    Taylor 19  Grocott (2)  25 & 27   Gregory 48(pen)           Leamington             –    0 

Town turned on the style at a rainswept DCS on Tuesday evening  to sweep into the Third Round of the Southern League Cup with a memorable win over near neighbours Leamington which was ultimately every bit as emphatic as the scoreline suggests.

Mike Taylor marked his second Town debut of the season by firing them ahead in the 19th minute and Will Grocott effectively took the tie out of Leamington’s reach with two goals in three minutes to put Town three up before the half hour mark.

Richard Gregory added Town’s fourth from the penalty spot shortly after the interval to snuff out any chance of a Leamington comeback and only the woodwork prevented them making it five as they made sure that they remained firmly in control right through to the final whistle.

As is normal for these games both managers opted for less than full strength squads with several players having featured for both sides in the recent past.

Town brought in Charlie Evans for his first appearance since mid-August and included four other Youth team graduates on the subs bench while they were also able to welcome back Kieren Westwood after missing the last three games through injury plus the return of Taylor from Redditch United.

The Brakes made six changes to the team which started against Basingstoke Town on Saturday with all five of their substitutes named for that game being promoted to the starting line-up here.

Both sides had to adapt to the greasy surface as the rain made it pretty unpleasant for players and spectators alike.  Westwood made an early sortie down the left to shoot straight at the Brakes keeper and skipper Tony Breeden while at the other end a Tom James free kick caused momentary havoc in the Town six yard box, but neither goal had been seriously threatened until Town took the lead in the 19th minute.

Taylor had already been making use of his physical presence up front and now he turned sharply on the edge of the penalty area to make room for a right foot shot.  He didn’t appear to hit it particularly well but it squirmed under Breeden and rolled into the net to the unrestrained delight of the DCS faithful.

Courtney Baker-Richardson responded with a decent effort which was deflected behind before  Grocott’s quickfire double left the  Brakes stunned.

Firstly on 25 minutes Taylor combined with Donnell Benjamin to send Grocott surging into the penalty area where he skipped round the advancing Breeden to slide the ball into the empty net.

Then two minutes later Taylor was involved again as he worked his way in from the right.  He was half stopped by Breeden’s challenge but as the ball spun away it was pounced on by Grocott who thumped it  home from 15 yards out.

Even with over an hour to go there was surely no way back for Leamington after that, and their problems got worse in the closing minutes of the half when leading scorer Ryan Rowe limped off.

And any prospects of a Leamington second half revival lasted for barely three minutes after the restart when Edwin Ahenkorah went clear down the left and was upended by Richard Taundry to concede a penalty.  Richard Gregory had replaced Taylor at the break and with probably his first touch of the night he blasted the spot kick past Breeden with the minimum of fuss.

Jack Edwards  –  who had also come on at half time  –  was adding some bite to the Leamington attacks but found it hard going against Town’s new skipper James Fry and Man of the Match Liam Francis who were both in outstanding form all evening.

Instead Town were tantalisingly close to a fifth on 65 minutes when Ahenkorah’s shot from wide on the right  was touched on by Gregory and it was slow motion stuff as the ball trickled past Breeden to nudge the foot of the far post before being cleared away by Taundry.

And shortly after Westwood raced down the left to shoot against Breeden.  The ball rebounded to Benjamin 20 yards out who hit it first time and his shot looped off a defender and looked to be drifting over Breeden who was now back on his feet until he managed to arch backwards and tip it over the bar.

Two of the heroes of the win at Redditch in the previous round in Callum Ingram and Ben Ellicott were now on as Town saw out the last quarter of an hour knowing that the game was safely in their keeping, and they wrapped it all up with the extra satisfaction of a clean sheet to complete an evening which could hardly have gone any better.

“A tremendous result even if it was a bit unexpected “ was Carl Adams’ reaction to a thoroughly professional performance from his side.  “Like Leamington we didn’t field our first choice starting line-up but at the end I think they had more first team players on the pitch than we did.

It was great to win a cup game, it’s great to win 4-0 and it’s great to beat our local rivals but in the context of the season Saturday’s game against Cambridge City is far more important as the League remains our priority.

So by all means let’s enjoy tonight’s result but let’s not get carried away.  It was a one off game and it will count for nothing if we don’t do it all again at the weekend.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Simeon Tulloch, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Donnell Benjamin, Charlie Evans (Ben Ellicott 70), Trey Brathwaite, Mike Taylor (Richard Gregory 46), Will Grocott (Callum Ingram 62), Edwin Ahenkorah.  Unused Subs  –  Kyle Jaynes & Rob Ormston

LEAMINGTON : Tony Breeden (c),  Richard Taundry, Tom James, Ben George, Joe Magunda, James Mace, Nathan Olukanmi, Callum Gittings, Ryan Rowe (Connor Gudger 43), Courtney Baker- Richardson (Ahmed Obeng 57), Ryan Quinn  (Jack Edwards 46)    Unused Subs   –   Rob Thompson-Brown & Darren Pond

Referee    –    Matthew Smith

Assistant Referees    –  Ruebyn Ricardo & Michael Srciven

Attendance      –   232

Town Man of the Match   –    Liam Francis

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

    Town Leamington
       10 Goal Attempts         13
        8 On Target           5
        0 Blocked Shots           0
        1 Hit Woodwork           0
        1 Corners Won           3
      10 Crosses into Box           9
      14 Fouls Conceded         10
        5 Off Side           4
        0 Yellow Cards           0
        0 Red Cards           0

 Match Report by Bryan Hale      

 

 

 

 

1 NOVEMBER 2016  –  GRANTHAM TOWN  –  AWAY  –  F A TROPHY

NO SECOND CHANCE FOR TOWN AS GRANTHAM ARE TOO STRONG IN THE REPLAY 

Grantham Town    –    4    –   Lee Shaw 19  Barcelos (2)  48 & 87  Clifton 80                               Stratford  Town     –    0  

Town late heroics to secure a draw right at the end of Saturday’s First Qualifying Round tie turned out to be all in vain as they were hustled out of the F A Trophy by another slick Grantham performance in the replay on Tuesday evening.

This time Town’s best spell of the match came in the opening quarter of an hour, but once Grantham had taken the lead in the 19th minute Town seldom looked like getting back into contention.

After the Gingerbreads doubled their lead three minutes into the second half it was effectively “game over” and two further goals in the closing stages saw them through to a win that ultimately was as emphatic as the scoreline suggests.

Both teams were unchanged from Saturday although Carl Adams opted for a 4-4-2 formation with Trey Brathwaite moved to left back and Guy Clark into the centre of the backline alongside James Fry while Liam Francis switched into midfield in order to counteract the threat from Grantham’s twin strikers Filipe Barcelos and Lee Shaw who had caused so many problems at the weekend..

Initially the tactic worked as Town made a bright start with Dior Angus not far away with a fierce left footer in the opening 30 seconds followed by Francis having a fifth minute effort turned behind by the Gingerbreads keeper Kieran Preston.

And it needed a top quality save from Preston to prevent Town from going in front in the 13th minute as he arched backwards to tip over a looping header from Clark who had charged forward to connect with an Angus cross.

Soon after Simeon Tulloch sprinted down the left to set up a chance for Will Grocott who shot straight at Preston, buit a couple of minutes later Grantham took the lead with their first real attack.

Almost inevitably it was Lee Shaw who received the ball on the right and cut inside to work it onto his left foot before drilling it past Niall Cooper from 15 yards out..

Town responded with Richard Gregory having a decent attempt safely held by Preston, but with Barcelos and both Shaws now making their presence felt Grantham were looking far more threatening and ten minutes before half time Cooper got down smartly to his left to push away another rasping drive from the lively Lee Shaw..

At the other end Angus had a driven-in cross cut out by the Gingerbreads’ skipper Stefan Galinski as Gregory waited to pounce, but the half ended with Grantham on the attack and Cooper doing well to hold a teasing centre from Luke Shaw.

And from the restart Grantham carried on from where they had left off with Curtis Burrows teeing up an immediate chance for Harry Clifton whose shot was deflected behind off Francis before they went two up just three minutes into the second half when Barcelos burst into the left of the penalty area to shoot low past Cooper.

Soon after the irrepressible Brazilian had another well struck effort held by Cooper and followed that by once more cutting in from the left to hit a right footer inches over.

Realising that a change was necessary Carl Adams sent on Edwin Ahenkorah to replace Gregory which to say the least was a decision that did not go down too well with the Town skipper who headed straight down the tunnel without a backyard glance.  Shortly after  Kyle Jaynes   –  a product of last season’s Town Youth team   –  took over from Angus.

In between those two substitutions Grocott had come close to getting Town back into the game as he caught everyone by surprise by suddenly letting fly with a thunderous effort from distance which was acrobatically pushed away by Preston.

But Grantham weren’t going to let a two goal lead slip away again and continued to pile on the pressure as Town began to wilt.

With ten minutes to go Luke Shaw surged down the inside right channel and when his centre wasn’t properly cleared Clifton seized on the loose ball to thump it past Cooper from the edge of the penalty area.

And Town’s misery was complete in the 87th minute when Lee Shaw’s precision cross from the right was sidefooted in by Barcelos as the Gingerbreads ended the game comfortably in control.

“They were the better side over the two games and deserved to go through,” admitted Carl Adams afterwards.  “Being without Dan Summerfield, Kieran Westwood, Jean Kalenda  and Barry Fitzharris made it very difficult for us and that’s not just a hard luck story but fact.

Their second goal was a killer and after that there was only ever going to be one winner, but some of our players are just not strong enough and I will be looking to freshen up the squad with two or three new faces in the coming weeks.

But it is worth pointing out that including tonight’s result we have played 21 games and have won, drawn and lost seven each which I feel is an accurate reflection of where we are currently at.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Warren Brooks, Trey Brathwaite, James Fry,  Liam Francis, Guy Clark, Dior Angus (Kyle Jaynes 68), Will Grocott, Richard Gregory (c) (Edwin Ahenkorah 62), Jamie Sheldon, Simeon Tulloch.

GRANTHAM : Keiran Preston, Danny Meadows, Ellis Storey, Jamie Tank, Stefan Galinski (c), Michael Hollingsworth (Jack Beckett 83), Harry Clifton, Curtis Burrows (Lutherv Wildin 74), Filipe Barcelos, Lere Shaw, Luke Shaw (Rhys Lewis 83).

Referee    –    W Chalmers

Assistant Referees    –  L Hartley & D Robertson

Attendance      –   143

Town Man of the Match   –    James Fry

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

Town Grantham
       9 Goal Attempts          14
       5 On Target            8
       0 Blocked Shots            0
       0 Hit Woodwork            0
       7 Corners Won            5
      10 Crosses into Box          10
      11 Fouls Conceded          13
         2 Off Side              2
         1 Yellow Cards             1
        0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards            –     Clark

Grantham Yellow Cards     –     Meadows

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

29 OCTOBER 2016  –  GRANTHAM TOWN  –  HOME  –  F A TROPHY

TOWN’S LATE LATE COMEBACK SECURES A REPLAY 

Stratford  Town         –  2   –    Sheldon 82   Gregory 90 + 7                                                                 Grantham Town        –  2    –   Barcelos 7 (pen)  Lee Shaw 35  

Two down after 35 minutes in this F A Trophy tie and still two down with eight minutes left Town staged a dramatic late comeback to earn a Tuesday evening replay after Grantham had seemed to be coasting into the hat for the next round.

Jamie Sheldon gave Carl Adams’ side a glimmer of hope with one of his trademark long range “specials” in the 82nd minute, and in the last of six added minutes  –  which were mainly due to an injury to Jean Kalenda  –  skipper Richard Gregory forced the ball home from close in after the Grantham defence failed to clear an Edwin Ahenkorah free kick.

With Dan Summerfield and Kieran Westwood still sidelined by injury, Donnell Benjamin unavailable as Solihull Moors did not want him to be cup-tiedr and Barry Fitzharris beginning his suspension  Carl Adams had little room for manoeuvre and the starting line-up more or less picked itself.

The Grantham team included debutant keeper Kieran Preston who has switched from Stafford Rangers while their manager is Adam Stevens who enjoyed plenty of success against Town in his previous role as manager of Coalville Town.

The two clubs’ League records suggested that this would be a close game as Town had 21 points and a goal difference of minus 3 from 16 games while Grantham had exactly the same points and goal difference although from two games more.

And so it turned out but only after  Grantham had seemingly been in control for most of the afternoon until that frantic finale. 

The game got off to an explosive start with Grantham’s Danny Meadows receiving a second minute yellow card for a heavy challenge on Dior Angus followed by Lee Shaw shooting into the side netting and Sheldon firing straight at Preston before the Gingerbreads took the lead in the seventh minute.

Michael Hollingsworth made ground down the left and was  brought down by Warren Brooks just inside the penalty area with the Felipe Barcelos  –  who moved from Banbury United earlier in the season  –   coolly sending Niall Cooper the wrong way from the spot.

And it was soon clear that the striking combination of the Brazilian Barcelos and Lee Shaw was going to be a constant threat with their pace and trickery.

Lee Shaw had a header comfortably held by Cooper who then dealt similarly with a shot from Barcelos while in between Angus netted for Town only to find that the offside flag had already been raised.

Grantham continued to be the more dangerous of the two sides with Curtis Burrows wasting a clear chance on the half hour mark when shooting wildly over from virtually on the penalty spot after Harry Clifton had set up the opening, but five minute later the Gingerbreads  went two up

Inevitably it was Lee Shaw who controlled the ball in the Town six yard box before swivelling past Liam Francis and blasting it past Cooper into the roof of the net.

With Town reeling the other Shaw  –  Luke  –  shot inches wide as the Gingerbreads piled on the pressure hunting for what would surely have been the killer third goal, and with the last kick of the first half Lee Shaw fired inches over.

The Town supporters were hoping for better after the break but the early signs weren’t encouraging.   Barcelos was not far away with a fiercely struck shot five minutes into the second half  and although Town responded with Ahenkorah hitting a low drive narrowly wide   the Gingerbreads were comfortably in control with Barcelos and Lee Shaw keeping the Town defence at full stretch.

Guy Clark did manage to hit a decent effort straight at Preston, but it was not until the 70th minute when Town caused Grantham any significant  problems when Angus had a fiercely struck right footer turned behind by Preston diving to his left.

Shortly after he was replaced by Kalenda who slotted into the backline with Francis moving into a striking role but it was Trey Brathwaite who was next to test Preston with a long range effort while at the other end Barcelos shot over after yet more magic from Lee Shaw.

But on 81 minutes the unfortunate Kalenda twisted his knee as he turned and had to be stretchered off and it was those minutes added on while he was being attended to that were to prove crucial in the end.

When play resumed with Luke Fox coming on Sheldon suddenly made it a different game as  he caught everyone by surprise by letting fly from all of 25 yards out with a typical thunderous strike which flew past a static Preston into the top corner.

Now Town had a glimmer of hope and the Gingerbreads began to look more than a little nervy.   But time was on their side and they didn’t suffer any real alarms until the first minute of added time when Preston had to plunge to his right to push out a rasping attempt from Gregory.

With it all now becoming even more frenetic as the minutes ticked away Barcelos had a final chance to clinch it for Grantham only for Cooper to deflect the ball  onto the post, and as the action switched to the other end Grantham conceded a free kick halfway inside their own half and out by the right touchline.

Grantham pulled everyone back and Town pushed everyone forward as Ahenkorah launched the free kick into the congested penalty area.  The Grantham defence couldn’t get it away and in the melee Gregory reacted the quickest to stab the ball over the line to spark wild celebrations both on and off the pitch.

“We’re lucky still to be in the competition” admitted Carl Adams afterwards.  “After battling so hard at Stourbridge on Monday our first half performance today was so frustrating as we were never working hard enough or competing with them at any stage.

Our plan was to try and out-football them but all credit to them as they didn’t allow us to do that, and when that happens we have just got to learn to buckle down and work harder.

In the end we managed to get ourselves a second bite of the cherry. We know how difficult it’s going to be over there on Tuesday night  but at least we’ve given ourselves another chance.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Warren Brooks, Guy Clark, James Fry, Liam Francis,Ttrey Brathwaite. Simeon Tulloch (Edwin Ahenkorah 41),  Will Grocott, Richard Gregory, Jamie Sheldon, Dior Angus (Jean Kalenda 76) (Luke Fox 82).. Unused subs  –  Kieran Westwood & James Cutts (GK)

GRANTHAM : Keiran Preston, Danny Meadows, Ellis Syorey, Jamie Tank, Stefan Galinski (c), Michael Hollingsworth, Harry Clifton, Curtis Burrows, Filipe Barcello, Lere Shaw, Luke Shaw.   Unused Sub   – Jack Beckett, Rhys Lewis, Danny Martin & Jake Turner (GK)

Referee    –    Abbas Khan

Assistant Referees    –  Ellis Hewins & Darren Russell

Attendance      –   204

Town Man of the Match   –    Guy Clark

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

    Town     Grantham
      13 Goal Attempts            17
        8 On Target               8
        0 Blocked Shots               0
        0 Hit Woodwork               1
        3 Corners Won               3
      10 Crosses into Box             17
      11 Fouls Conceded             14
        1 Off Side               1
        2 Yellow Cards              4
        0 Red Cards               0

 Town Yellow Cards            –     Brooks & Gregory

Grantham Yellow Cards     –     Clifton, Meadows, Lee Shaw & Tank

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

24 OCTOBER 2016  –  STOURBRIDGE  –  AWAY  –  BIRMINGHAM SENIOR CUP

SHELDON STRIKES TO BREAK THE GLASSBOYS 

 Stourbridge            –    0                                                                                                                            Stratford  Town    –     1  –  Sheldon  63 

A precision Jamie Sheldon finish shortly after the hour mark propelled Town into the Second Round of the Birmingham Senior Cup at Amblecote on Monday evening.  Stourbridge had  the better of the first half  but failed to take their chances and that proved costly as Town’s much improved second half performance saw them safely through.

Town had enjoyed a good run in this competition last season, and perhaps with that in mind Carl Adams opted for an experienced line-up here.  James Cutts took over in goal as Niall Cooper was still struggling with the rib injury he picked up against King’s Lynn, but otherwise the only concession to youth was the inclusion of Charlie Faulkner and Kyle Janes on the subs bench.

The Stourbridge side included striker Brandon Hague who was a prolific scorer for Town’s youth team a couple of seasons ago

Playing in a unfamiliar grey strip the Glassboys put Town under pressure straight from the kick off.  Cutts was soon in action getting down well to hold a driven-in left cross from Drew Canavan with Hague then not being far away with a crisp shot on the turn followed by Leon Broadhurst having a fierce effort deflected behind off Liam Francis.

It was 20 minutes before Town mustered any sort of threat when Simeon Tulloch took advantage of a mistake by Lewis Probert to make ground down the right and send over a deep cross which was controlled by Sheldon who then fired narrowly over from the edge of the penalty area.

But Stourbridge responded with a Canavan cross finding its way to Junior Smikle whose low drive was comfortably held by Cutts followed by Hague again going close and Broadhurst firing well wide as the interval arrived with the game still goal-less.

With James Fry replacing Jean Kalenda who had taken a knock late in the first half Town were far more lively after the restart and five minutes into the second half Will Grocott almost caught Matt Gould out with a cheeky attempt from 25 yards out which dipped over the stranded Glassboys keeper and clipped the top of the bar on its way behind.

Gould then saved from Sheldon before Stourbridge spurned two more clearcut chances.  Probert laid on an inviting opportunity for Canavan who pulled his shot wastefully wide and shortly after Smikle badly miscued from only eight yards out.

And the significance of those misses was underlined in the 63rd minute when Grocott’s trickery on the left made enough space for him to square the ball across the penalty area and Town’s leading scorer Sheldon drilled it beyond Gould into the bottom corner for his seventh goal of the season.

Stourbridge tried hard to get back into the game but they seemed visibly deflated at going behind and with Town  showing plenty of resilience at the back an equaliser seldom looked likely as passes went astray at the vital time and shots went harmlessly off target.

So Town efficiently and effectively held on for the win with Cutts making sure as he made a  crucial block from Luke Benbow as the game headed into added time.

TOWN : James Cutts, Warren Brooks, Guy Clark, Barry Fitzharris, Liam Francis, Jean Kalenda (James Fry 46), Simeon Tulloch, Will Grocott (Charlie Faulkner 76), Richard Gregory (c),  Jamie Sheldon, Trey Brathwaite.  Unused Sub  –  Kyle Janes

STOURBRIDGE : Matt Gould, Kristian Green, Lewis Probert, Connor Gator (Brad Birch 67), Darryl Westlake, Stuart Pierpoint (c), Junior Smikle (Tom Tonks 84), Leon Broadhurst (Luke Benbow 71), Brandon Hague, Jake Heath, Drew Canavan.   Unused Subs   –  Matt Dodd & Ash Malhotra (GK)

Referee    –    Andy Handley

Assistant Referees    –  Anthony Glazzard & Craig Thompson

Attendance      –   315

Town Man of the Match   –    Will Grocott

Match Stats by Chris Simpson                       

Town Stourbridge
 
        9 Goal Attempts        16
        4 On Target         2
       1 Blocked Shots         2
       1 Hit Woodwork         2
      1 Corners Won         2
      5 Crosses into Box       19
    14 Fouls Conceded       13
      1 Off Side         0
      0 Yellow Cards         0
      0 Red Cards         0

 Match Report by Bryan Hale 

22 OCTOBER 2016  –  KING’S LYNN TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

ONLY A POINT FOR TOWN ON A FRUSTRATING AFTERNOON 

Stratford  Town         –     1    –    Gregory 58                                                                                                      King’s Lynn Town     –    1   –    Stevenson 67 

Town and King’s Lynn eventually shared the points after a tightly fought encounter which seldom hit any great heights in the way of entertainment but was at least competitive to the end with both  sides drawing for the sixth time this season.

Carl Adams made a number of changes to Town’s starting line-up although he had no choice over two as injury niggles ruled out Dan Summerfield and  Edwin Ahenkorah.  Otherwise  Guy Clark and Jamie Sheldon were only on the subs bench, and in came Jean Kalenda, Dior Angus and Donnell Benjamin with Richard Gregory also returning to take over the captain’s armband from James Fry.

Town began brightly with Kieren Westwood making ground  down the left in only the second minute to send over a cross which was fumbled by Linnets keeper Alex Street who then recovered quickly enough to smother the ball as Gregory closed in.

Soon after another Westwood cross was scrambled behind by a combination of Street and Ryan Fryatt, and in the 10th minute it was Westwood again who set up the opening from which Town should have taken the lead.

Surging down the middle this time he laid the ball off to Angus who went for placement rather than power and ending up shooting too close to Street who was able to make a comfortable save.

With both sides cancelling each other out in midfield there was little goalmouth action at either end but Town had an anxious moment on 23 minutes when keeper Niall Cooper was floored following as heavy challenge from Toby Hilliard and needed a few minutes treatment before being able to continue.

The tempo stepped up a gear on the half hour mark when James Fry tripped Hilliard on the edge of the penalty area and Leon Mettam’s free kick flew past Cooper only to cannon against the bar.

Play instantly switched to the other end as Town spurned another great chance  to go in front when Benjamin threaded the ball through to Gregory whose shot was parried by the advancing Street with Liam Francis stabbing the rebound wide from inside the six yard box.

Lee Stevenson shot over from distance for the Linnets before Town were dealt a blow on 41 minutes when Westwood  –  who had been giving the Linnets all sorts of problems down the left  –  had to go off with a groin strain and was replaced by Clark.

Nevertheless Town ended the first half  on the attack with Angus having a vicious low drive well held by Street at the foot of his left hand post and then Gregory firing over from a tight angle as he worked space for a shot from a tight angle on the left.

Within a minute of the restart Angus had a thunderous effort pushed over the bar by Street  with the Linnets responding with Kurtis Revan shooting wide after cutting in from the right before they came the closest yet to breaking the deadlock when Revan’s  cross from the right was met by a spectacular bicycle kick  from Jacek Zielonka  which fizzed narrowly over.

The game badly needed a goal and Town at last came up trumps in the 58th minute.  Barry Fitzharris floated over a deep cross from the right which eluded Angus but carried on to reach Gregory who had ghosted in at the far post to drill the ball past the helpless Street.

The points  seemed to be Town’s for the taking, but nine minutes later the Linnets were back level.   Another Revan cross from the right was missed by Cooper and the ball fell kindly to Stevenson who bundled it in from a couple of yards out.

So it was all to play for again as the game headed into its final 20 minutes with Hilliard shooting inches wide for the Linnets and Gregory hitting a trademark volley just over followed by a Francis glancing  header not missing by much and Fitzharris bravely blocking a fierce Hilliard effort at point blank range.

Then with two minutes of normal time remaining the Linnets were handed the opportunity to clinch the points when Mettam seized on a wayward Town backpass to go clean through with only Cooper to beat, but the Town keeper was smartly off his line to push the ball away at Mettam’s feet as the Linnets skipper appealed unavailingly for a penalty.

Unfortunately the afternoon then ended on a sour note soon after when Fitzharris was involved in an off-the-ball incident in the centre circle and referee Robbie Dadley who had already brandished eight yellow cards  –  four to each side  –  flourished red this time much to the displeasure of the DCS faithful.

Carl Adams admitted to having “mixed emotions” afterwards.  “It was a game that we should have won by two or three goals but in the end I was happy just to get a draw. We could have been well ahead at half time and when Richard scored I thought we would go on and take the three points.

But Niall should have done better with the cross that led to their equaliser and then he redeemed himself right at the end when their lad was through and looking as if he was going to win the game for them.

So in the end it’s a point which keeps us in 12th spot and it’s all change next week when our two matches are  both cup ties.  We may field a youth based side at Stourbridge on Monday but I’ll make a final decision then.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper,  Simeon Tulloch,  Kieren Westwood (Guy Clark 41), James Fry, Liam Francis, Jean Kalenda, Barry Fitzharris, Will Grocott, Richard Gregory, Dior Angus, Donnell Benjamin (Jamie Sheldon 73) . Unused subs  –  Warren Brooks, Trey Brathwaite & Edwin Ahenkorah

K/LYNN : Alex Street, Ryan Fryatt (Danny Emmington 22), Jordan Yong,  Sam Gaughran, Dan Quigley, Jacek Zielonka, Michael Clunan, Lee Stevenson, Toby /Hilliard, Leon Mettam (c), Kurtis Revan..   Unused Sub   –  Eoin McQuaid, Dylan Edge & Luke Pearson (GK)

Referee    –    Robbie Dadley

Assistant Referees    –  Joe Clarke & Will Ottaway

Attendance      –   226

Town Man of the Match   –    Liam Francis

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

Town K/Lynn
10 Goal Attempts 15
 6 On Target  4
 0 Blocked Shots  0
 0 Hit Woodwork  1
 4 Corners Won  0
11 Crosses into Box 13
11 Fouls Conceded 14
 5 Off Side  3
 4 Yellow Cards  4
 1 Red Cards  0

 Town Yellow Cards        –     Benjamin, Clark, Francis & Fry

K/Lynn Yellow Cards     –     Gaughran, Hilliard, Mettam & Stevenson

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

 

18 OCTOBER 2016  –  MERTHYR TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN FADE AWAY AFTER A BRIGHT START 

Stratford  Town    –      0                                                                                                                                     Merthyr  Town       –     3    –    Prosser 36   Reffell (2) 51 & 87

Carl Adams urged supporters to show “realism” after Town slipped to their second defeat in four days as Merthyr proved as strrong and streetwise as Chippenham at the weekend to eventually run out convincing winners at the DCS on Tuesday evening.

This time last week his side had completed back to back wins over Dunstable and Cirencester but the latest two games have proved to be a reality check.

Nevertheless Town made an encouraging start and the opening 20 minutes were their best spell of the game with only the woodwork preventing them from going ahead, but once Ryan Prosser had headed Merthyr into a 36th minute lead there was only going to be one winner, and two further goals from Keyon Reffell in the second half only underlined their superiority.

Merthyr had arrived not having lost in the League since August Bank Holiday Monday, but of their seven matches since five had been drawn leaving them just a single point above Town in the table although having played one game less.

Once again Carl Adams named an unchanged starting line-up, and Town were soon on the attack.  Will Grocott was not far away with a decent attempt inside two minutes and Simeon Tulloch caught the eve with a couple of threatening runs down the left.

With the Merthyr defence seemingly at full stretch Edwin Ahenkorah then had a fierce low drive well held by  keeper Glyn Garner plunging to his left and soon after Garner had to get down smartly to his right as Tulloch let fly from 20 yards out.

But having survived Town’s initial pressure Merthyr showed what they were capable of in the 17th minute when Niall Cooper made a point blank save from a Prosser header and recovered quickly enough to push away Joshua Yorweth’s effort from the rebound.

Town were then dealt a blow on 21 minutes when Dan Summerfield playing against his former club was disappointingly forced off with a hamstring problem with Warren Brooks coming ion instead.

As the game reached the half hour mark Man of the Match Barry Fitzharris  saw his well struck shot safely held by the well positioned Garner before a flowing Town move ended with Jamie Sheldon laying the ball off to the overlapping Kieren Westwood who went for placement and watched in disbelief as the ball agonisingly spun away off the outside of the post with Garner well beaten.

The significance of that moment was brought home a couple of minutes later when Merthyr took the lead.  Scott Barrow surged down the left touchline to float over a deep cross which drifted over Cooper allowing the towering Prosser to head it into the empty net.

That was probably against the run of play but it was a different game from then on.  Westwood had another chance on the overlap a minute before the break which was snuffed out by a strong challenge from Scott Tancock but after the break Merthyr took control.

And on 51 minutes they effectively took the game out of Town’s reach as they went two up when Kayne McLaggon laid the ball off to Reffell who gave Cooper no chance with a sumptuous effort into the roof of the net  from 15 yards out.

Immediately after Ian Traylor shot straight at Cooper before Carl Adams sought to boost Town’s firepower as he made a double substitution sending on Dior Angus and Richard Gregory in place of Ahemkorah and Guy Clark.

Fitzharris and Grocott were putting in their usual tireless shifts in midfield but Merthyr were now well into their comfort zone, and on the hour mark only a goal-line clearance from Liam Francis prevented McLaggen putting them further ahead.

Another Barrow cross was inches too high even for Prosser five minutes later followed by Reffell firing narrowly wide and Town were barely allowed even a sight of goal as Merthyr expertly closed the game out .

And with three minutes to go they wrapped it all up with Reffell’s sweet left footed strike  from the edge of the penalty area which clipped the inside of the post as it flew past the helpless Cooper..

“We have to be realistic about where we are. “ said Carl Adams afterwards.  “Chippenham and Merthyr are teams which have more resources than we do.  Like Leamington and Weymouth who have also beaten us they operate with substantially bigger budgets and we will always struggle to hold our own. That’s s not being negative but facing facts.  Merthyr travelled up in the Cardiff City first team coach tonight, and I expect them to be challenging for promotion  throughout the season.

I would be more upset if we were losing to the lesser lights in the Division, but we proved last Tuesday that we can more than compete with teams of a similar standing to us as I felt that we were comfortable winners against Cirencester.

So while I don’t like losing 3-0 at home we have to look at the bigger picture and not allow ourselves to be too negative because that will not do anybody any good.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield (Warren Brooks 21), Kieren Westwood, James Fry, Liam Francis, Guy Clark (Richard Gregoty 56),, Barry Fitzharris, Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah (Dior Angus 56), Jamie Sheldon, Simeon Tulloch.  Unused Subs  –  Donnell Benjamin & Jean Kalenda

MERTHYR : Glyn Garner, Scott Tancock, Scott Barrow (Rhys Baggridge 86), Ashley Evans (c) (Gavin Williams 80), Curtis McDonald, Jarrad Wright, Ryan Prosser (Ben Watkins 80), Joshua Yorweth, Kayne McLaggon, Keyon Reffell, Ian Traylor.   Unused Sub   –  Corey Jenkins

Referee    –    Richard Price

Assistant Referees    –  Ashley Clarke & John Okole

Attendance      –   191

Town Man of the Match   –    Barry Fitzharris

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

Town Merthyr
13 Goal Attempts 15
 4 On Target  8
 0 Blocked Shots  0
 1 Hit Woodwork  0
 2 Corners Won  3
 8 Crosses into Box   7
 8 Fouls Conceded 15
 2 Off Side  3
 0 Yellow Cards  0
 0 Red Cards  0

 

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

 

15 OCTOBER 2016  –  CHIPPENHAM TOWN  –  AWAY  – LEAGUE

THE BLUEBIRDS FLY TOO HIGH FOR TOWN 

Chippenham Town    –   2    –    Richards 64  Pratt 85                                                                       Stratford  Town           –   1    –    Gregory 89 

Town’s unbeaten League away record went west at Hardenhuish Park as title favourites  Chippenham proved too strong for Carl Adams’ side with the Bluebirds’ twin strikers Dave Pratt and Andy Sandell proving a constant problem for the Town defence all afternoon.

Town managed to keep them at bay during the first half, but two second goals decided the match with Richard Gregory’s late strike merely impacting on the scoreline but not the result.

With Barry Fitzharris only having accrued four yellow cards instead of the anticipated five and thus not suspended Carl Adams was able to name an unchanged starting line-up which meant that Gregory and Dior Angus could both only make the subs bench.

Chippenham’s team included keeper Darren Chitty who had played against Town for Frome last month and who has since switched from the Somerset Robins to the Wiltshire  Blue birds.

Apart from a first minute shot from Chippenham’s Alex Ferguson which flew well over there was little goalmouth action in the early stages as both sides made a cagey start.

But Chippenham gradually began to have the better of the possession, and the afternoon’s first talking point arrived on the quarter hour mark.  James Guthrie floated over a free kick from the left touchline which was expertly plucked from the air by Town keeper Niall Cooper who was then floored by a vigorous challenge from Sandell.

It was an early yellow card for the striker but it didn’t seem to unduly affect him as he hustled and bustled his way through the rest of the game.

As the Bluebirds began to crank up the pressure Pratt gave notice of his threat as surged down the inside right channel five minutes later to fire narrowly wide, and he was involved again  shortly after when he slid the ball across to the waiting Sandell who was about to pull the trigger until Liam Francis took the ball off his toe.

Sandell was offered another sight of goal in the 27th minute when Town conceded a free kick some 20 yards out in a central position, but he blazed it wastefully over,

Little was being seen of Town in attack apart from an Edwin Ahenkorah attempt on 33 minutes which ballooned off a defender straight into Chitty’s hands,  but in spite of bossing possession Chippenham were finding it hard to create clearcut openings, and half time arrived with the game still goal-less.

The Bluebirds continued to control the game after the break with a Nuno Felix free kick leading to a bit of a scramble in the Town six yard box until Cooper was able to smother it.

Guy Clark was then perfectly positioned to head away a Sandell right wing cross followed by James Fry doing likewise with a Felix centre from the left and when the busy Sandell once more fired wide after surging into the left of the penalty area there were ominous signs of the Chippenham crowd becoming frustrated .

But Town’s resistance gave way in the 64th minute and inevitably Sandell was involved although not in the manner expected.

Instead it was his long throw-in from the right which caused mayhem in Town’s penalty area with Alex Ferguson’s low drive coming back off the post and Will Richards reacting the quickest to thump the rebound past Cooper.

Sensing that the game was now theirs for the taking the Bluebirds piled forward and on 70 minutes another Sandell long throw almost delivered a second goal as Pratt’s fierce effort cannoned against the underside of the bar,

Carl Adams now made a double substitution introducing Angus and Donnell Benjamin in place of Jamie Sheldon and Fitzharris, but the pattern of play didn’t change.

Pratt shot narrowly wide and was then inches away from connecting with a Felix cross before a free kick 25 yards out provided a glimmer of hope for Town but Will Grocott’s right footer  cleared both the Chippenham wall and Chitty’s crossbar.

And with five minutes to go it was Pratt who looked to have put the result beyond doubt with a well taken individual goal.  Receiving the ball just inside the Town half he ran at the backpedalling Town defence and seemed to ignore at least two possible shooting opportunities until he was able to work the ball onto his right foot and blast it past Cooper from 12 yards out.

Although that was effectively “game over”  Gregory   –  who had been sent on moments before Pratt’s strike  –  caused  a few Chippenham flutters with a goal out of nothing as he hit a typical 20 yarder into the top corner in the last minute but the Bluebirds  had done enough to secure the points and saw the four or so added minutes out in relative comfort..

“Losing this afternoon won’t ruin our season” reasoned a philosophical Carl Adams afterwards.  “Chippenham are a strong and physical side who will be up there challenging throughout the season.  They may not be pretty to watch but they are very effective at what they do and their two lads up front were a real handful for us all game..

But we have to be pleased that we were competitive for large parts of the game and we were certainly didn’t roll over.

As always we can learn from today and get ready for another tough one against Merthyr on Tuesday.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, James Fry, Liam Francis, Guy Clark (Richard Gregory 83), Barry Fitzharris (Donnell Benjamin 72), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah,, Jamie Sheldon (Dior Angus 72), Simeon Tulloch.  Unused Subs  –  Warren Brooks & Jean Kalenda

CHIPPENHAM : Darren Chitty, Mark Preece, Nono Felix, Gary Horgan,  Greg Trindle, Will Richards, Alex Ferguson (Michael Campbell  83), Matt Smith, Dave Pratt (Alan Griffin 86), Andy Sandell, James Guthrie.   Unused Subs   –  Chris Allen & Michael Pook

Referee    –    Ryan Hillier-Smith

Assistant Referees    –   Bruce Waymark & Thomas Moisey

Attendance      –   400

Town Man of the Match   –    James Fry

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                    

Town Chippenham
 
 8 Goal Attempts          15
 2 On Target            6
 0 Blocked Shots            0
 0 Hit Woodwork            2
 1 Corners Won            3
 5 Crosses into Box         10
13 Fouls Conceded         11
  1 Off Side           0
  2 Yellow Cards           2
  0 Red Cards           0

 Town Yellow Cards                 –      Francis & Cooper

Chippenham Yellow Cards     –      Sandell & Preece

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

 

11 OCTOBER 2016  –  CIRENCESTER TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

ANOTHER SIMEON SUPER STRIKE SHATTERS THE CENTURIONS 

Cirencester Town   –   1   –   Bennett 39                                                                                             Stratford  Town      –    2   –   Sheldon 9  Tulloch 49 

Town maintained their record as the only team in the Premier Division yet to lose an away League game this season and at the same time powered their way into the top half of the table with a thoroughly professional performance at the Corinium Stadium on Tuesday evening.

And the two goalscorers in Saturday’s win over Dunstable were on the mark again. Leading scorer Jamie Sheldon gave them a ninth minute lead with his sixth goal of the season and after the Centurions had equalised six minutes before the break Simeon Tulloch produced another of his “specials” to win the game for Town four minutes into the second half.

The only change to Town’s starting line-up from Saturday was the inclusion of Guy Clark as a natural replacement for the departed Jordan Cullinane-Liburd.  Richard Gregory was available after completing his three match ban but was an unused substitute here.

Kick off was delayed for 15 minutes due to traffic problems on the M5 and both sides made a cautious start until Town went ahead in the 9th minute with the first serious attack of the evening.

Kieren Westwood exchanged passes with Edwin Ahenkorah down the left before sweeping the ball across the edge of the penalty area to pick out Sheldon whose fiercely struck first time effort took a deflection off a defender which seemed to wrongfoot keeper Harvey Rivers who barely moved as the ball flew past him into the net.

Town were playing some neat football and following a patient build-up the next chance fell to Will Grocott who was crowded out as he tried to work enough space for a shot.

Cirencester had made a rocky start to the campaign but had shown improved form recently under new boss Charlie Griffin, but they were making little impact against a Town backline in which skipper James Fry was once again in imperious form.

Meanwhile Tulloch was clearly on a high after his heroics against Dunstable and was causing  the Centurions all sorts of problems with his pace up front.  A mazy run halfway through the half took him past three or four defenders before he was halted by a perfectly timed tackle by Matt Liddiard, and shortly after he shot narrowly wide after being released down the left by a sliderule Sheldon pass..

But on 39 minutes Cirencester grabbed an unexpected equaliser.  Town didn’t deal properly with Andrew Elcock’s free kick from the right and Aiden Bennett pounced on the loose ball to thump it past Niall Cooper from virtually on the penalty spot.

And a minute before the break Town were almost undone by another set piece.  This time  Elcock floated over a free kick from the left touchline to reach the imposing Liddiard and his header was only kept out by a combination of Cooper and the foot of his left hand post.

But Tulloch though was irrepressible and four minutes into the second half he was celebrating after hitting what proved to be the winner.

Latching onto a  Grocott pass Ahenkorah surged into the penalty area only for Rivers to smother at his feet. The ball spun  away to Westwood and he immediately returned it into the six yard box where it was met by Tulloch with a sumptuous volley into the roof of the net.

It was Saturday against Dunstable all over again

From then on the Centurions kept trying but Town were comfortably in control with Grocott and Barry Fitzharris putting in tireless shifts in midfield, and as both sides indulged in substitutions a second equaliser seldom looked likely.

Ross Langworthy broke through as Town waited for an offside flag which never came but his weak finish didn’t trouble Cooper, and the Town keeper also did well to punch clear from a couple more testing free kicks which were Cirencester’s principal threat.

But as the minutes ticked away it was Town who finished the stronger and had chances to add a third late on.  Rivers saving well from Grocott followed by substitute Dior Angus curling a long range effort inches wide Grocott then having another attempt deflected behind.

So Town could celebrate a third win in eight days and will surely be in confident mood when they head to highflying Chippenham on Saturday where their impressive away record will undoubtedly be in for another severe test.

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, James Fry, Liam Francis, Guy Clark, Barry Fitzharris,Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah,, Jamie Sheldon (Warren Brooks 80), Simeon Tulloch (Dior Angus 75).   Unused Subs  –  Richard Gregory, Donnell Benjamin & Trey Brathwaite

CIRENCESTER : Harvey Rivers Kieran Diaz-Benitez, Sindri Scheving, Alfie Kilgour, Matt Liddiard (c), Ross Langworthy, Andrerw Ellcock (Adam Connolly 84), James Mortimer-Jones, Aidan Bennett, Kallum Youngsam (Charlie Buse 63), Ollie Knight (Ben Brown 81).     Unused Sub  – Charlie Griffin

Referee    –    Robin Cox

Assistant Referees    –    Luke Peacock & Jonathan Livingstone

Attendance      –   116

Town Man of the Match   –    James Fry

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

 Town                                                  Cirencester 

12     –           Goal attempts             –           7

6     –           On Target                      –              4

1      –           Blocked Shots            –              0

0      –           Hit Woodwork             –              1

4      –           Corners Won               –               2

11      –           Crosses Into Box         –            11

14      –           Fouls Conceded         –             12

1       –           Offside                           –                 2

1       –           Yellow Cards                –                3

0       –           Red Cards                    –                 0

Town Yellow Cards               –      Summerfield

Cirencester  Yellow Cards     –      Knight, Scheving & Youngsam

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

8 OCTOBER 2016  –  DUNSTABLE TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

IT’S SIMEON’S TIME TO SHINE AS TOWN STRIKE EARLY TO SEE OFF DUNSTABLE 

Stratford  Town     –    2    –   Tulloch 8  Sheldon 19 (pen)                                                           Dunstable Town     –   0   

Two goals in the first 19 minutes propelled Town to their fourth League win of the season as they proved far too good for a Dunstable side who arrived at the DCS occupying third spot in the table although on a losing run of three counting cup competitions.

And it was an afternoon which belonged to the popular Simeon Tulloch who is by some distance Town’s current longest serving player.  A moment of magic to give Town the lead was followed by a trademark sprint into the penalty area which led to Jamie Sheldon firing in Town’s second from the spot, and  only a smart save from Dunstable keeper Jack Smith prevented him from getting on the scoresheet again in the second half.

On the return to League action Carl Adams named an unchanged starting line-up from the Cambridge game last weekend which meant that Dior Angus who played the full 90 minutes at Redditch on Tuesday was only on the subs bench here.

Dunstable made a bright start with their towering central defender David Longe-King coming up for a first minute corner and having his header comfortably held by Town keeper Niall Cooper.

But Town settled down to take the lead in only the eighth minute. Sheldon floated over a cross from the right and it was met by Tulloch with a spectacular volley from the edge of the six yard box to set off wild celebrations both on and off the pitch..

And having given Town exactly the confidence booster they needed the irrepressible Tulloch was involved again  when Town went two up on 19 minutes.  Chasing a long ball down the  inside right channel he was barged over by Longe-King with referee Philip Staynings immediately blowing for a penalty and Sheldon coolly sending Smith the wrong way from the spot.

Soon after Will Grocott rolled a free kick to Barry Fitzharris who helped it on to Kieren Westwood steaming down the left and his whipped-in cross flew inches beyond Edwin Ahenkorah.

Then as the half reached its midway point it was time for Tulloch to take centre stage once more.  Latching onto a through ball from Ahenkorah he reached it before Smith who had rashly charged well out of his area..  With Smith now chasing back after him to try to close him down he slipped the ball inside to Grocott whose attempted shot from 25 yards out into the empty goal found only the side netting.

But with Town controlling the midfield where Grocott and Fitzharris were totally dominant and reassuringly composed in defence little was being seen of  Dunstable’s attack until Adam Moussi got on the end of a cross from Zack Reynolds but his header was straight at Cooper as Town went in for the break well worth their two goal advantage.

Inevitably Dunstable were more positive after the restart with their best effort so far coming in the 52nd minute when a well struck free kick from Danny Talbot  was safely held under the bar by  Cooper moving smartly to his left.

There was a flurry of substitutions from the hour mark but there was little change to the pattern of play with Dunstable restricted to attempts from long range as Town efficiently and effectively closed them down.

And as Dunstable seemed to realise that it was not going to be their day Town went close to adding a third on 73 minutes when Grocott crossed from the left and Tulloch’s  fiercely struck drive was parried by Smith with  Angus  –  who had come on for Ahenkorah  –   hitting the rebound against a defender.

Dunstable briefly threatened with Cooper doing well to push an Andrew Phillips header behind and then confidently claim the subsequent corner but with Town finishing strongly it was only Smith who kept his side from going further behind.

On 78 minutes another Grocott left wing cross picked out Angus whose header was brilliantly tipped over by the Dunstable keeper and five minutes later he beat away a close range effort from Grocott as Town were relatively untroubled in seeing the game out to a thoroughly deserved  three points. 

“It was a totally pleasing performance from us today.”  beamed a  delighted Carl Adams afterwards.  “ We looked really solid throughout the team, and apart from Weymouth we’ve kept clean sheets in three of our last four games.

That’s helping us to look a strong unit now which is hard to beat, and I thought that we were well worth our win today against a side who came here in third place in the table.

We will now look to build on this result at Cirencester on Tuesday evening.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, James Fry, Liam Francis, Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, Barry Fitzharris (Warren Brooks 81), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah (Dior Angus 66), Jamie Sheldon (Jean Kalenda 60), Simeon Tulloch   .  Unused Subs  –  Donnell Benjamin & Guy Clark

DUNSTABLE : Jack Smith, Zack Reynolds, Gedeon Okita, Danny Talbot, David Longe-King, John Sonuga, Adam Moussi, Danny Green (Fabian Brown 68), Alex Cathline (Andrew Phillips 62), Kevin Bossman, Jack Hutchinson.     Unused Subs  –  Jordon Ordofi & Jamie Head

Referee    –    Philip Staynings

Assistant Referees    –    Ryan Byrne & Des Pugh

Attendance      –   183

Town Man of the Match   –    Simeon Tulloch

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

 Town                                                    Dunstable 

11     –           Goal attempts            –         10

2      –           On Target                   –              4

71      –           Blocked Shots           –           0

0      –           Hit Woodwork            –            0

3      –           Corners Won               –            4

9      –           Crosses Into Box         –          11

16       –           Fouls Conceded         –        12

4       –           Offside                          –              4

5       –           Yellow Cards              –               4

0       –           Red Cards                    –              0

Town Yellow Cards            –   Ahenkorah, Cullinane-Liburd, Fitzharris,  Sheldon                                                                                                Summerfield

Dunstable Yellow Cards     –      Cathline, Green, Reynolds & Talbot

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

4 OCTOBER 2016  –  REDDITCH UNITED  –  AWAY  –  SL CUP

TOWN’S YOUNGSTERS COME FROM BEHIND TO DELIVER A LATE KO TO THE REDS  

Redditch United     –   3   –    Hales 35  McDermott 45 Thompson 46                                                 Stratford  Town      –   4   –    Brooks 26  Angus 62  Westwood 77  Ellicott 89  

On what developed into a sensational evening a youthful Town side stunned Redditch as they roared back from being two goals down immediately after half time to surge into the Second Round of the Southern League Challenge Cup with teenager Ben Ellicott coming off the subs bench to slot home the winner with only  a minute of normal time left.

As expected Carl Adams opted for a much changed line-up drawing extensively on players from last season’s successful Youth team.  Only Kieren Westwood and Edwin Ahenkorah of the side which started against Cambridge City on Saturday did so here, but a welcome inclusion was Dior Angus whose on-field action this season had been limited by injury and suspension to those 34 fateful minutes at Dorchester over three weeks ago.

The Reds adopted a similar selection policy as only four of their weekend starting line-up also featured on their teamsheet.

In contrast to what was to follow both sides began cautiously on the brand new Valley Stadium 3G pitch.  Ex-Red Ahenkorah was clearly eager to impress against his previous  Club looking sharp from the kick-off while Angus was also soon getting into the action although it was the Reds who probably shaded the meaningful possession.

But neither keeper had been seriously tested until the 22nd minute when Reece Hewitt cut in from the left to lay the ball off to David McDermott who turned on the edge of the penalty area to hit a fierce right footer which was spectacularly tipped over by James Cutts.

Four minutes later though it was Town who took the lead.  Ahenkorah and Westwood combined down the left for Ahenkorah to roll the ball across into the path of Warren Brooks who from 25 yards out and without breaking his stride hit a sumptuous effort past the helpless Reds keeper Bradley Catlow into the top corner.

The Reds looked for an immediate response with another run down the left by Hewitt only being halted by a perfectly timed tackle from Guy Clark, but on 35 minutes they drew level after a mistake from Cutts.

Advancing out of his area with the ball at his feet he mishit his clearance straight to Reece Hales who looked up and from all of 40 yards out lobbed the ball over the stranded keeper into the empty net.

And seizing the initiative the Reds then went ahead in the final minute of the half when skipper Max Loveridge floated over a cross from the right.   Town fatally allowed the ball to bounce in the penalty area and it was pounced on by McDermott who swivelled to rifle a low drive beyond Cutts into the bottom corner.

It then looked all over for Town 45 seconds after the restart when Javia Roberts’ shot came back off the bar and  Trovarn Thompson reacted the quickest to head the rebound into the net.

But Town gradually regained their composure, and they got themselves right back in the game on 62 minutes when Rob Ormston’s lofted pass was neatly controlled by Brooks on the right of the penalty area before pulling it back for Angus to thump it  past Catlow from ten yards out.

Now it was Town who had the momentum with Angus shooting narrowly over and Ahenkorah having a goalbound effort deflected behind off Nat Kelly and in the 77th minute they were back level.

Man of the Match Ahenkorah was causing all sorts of problems for the Reds whenever he had possession, and he swept the ball out to Westwood wide on the left who reached the edge of the penalty area and then beat Catlow at his near post with a rasping left foot drive into the bottom corner.

With the rules of this competition decreeing that matches were decided by a penalties if the sides were still drawing after 90 minutes the prospect of a dreaded shoot-out was now looming, but Town were finishing much the stronger and it was a question of whether they could find a winner before the final whistle.

Ahenkorah worked his way to the byline to whip in a cross only for Angus to be crowded out and soon after Angus sprinted down the inside left channel with Catlow bravely coming out to smother the ball at his feet.

Catlow then again did well with just five minutes  remaining as he plunged full length to his left to hold a well struck attempt from Ahenkorah and as the clock reached the 89th minute the shoot-out seemed inevitable.

But Ahenkorah was still buzzing and once more he got to the byline down the right to drill the ball into the six yard box where it was turned in by an exuberant Ellicott to complete a dramatic turnaround and send Town into Round Two.

“A great night, a great result and a great performance from all the youngsters” beamed an ecstatic Carl Adams afterwards.  “I didn’t think we deserved to be 3-1 down but our response to that situation was fantastic and I couldn’t be more pleased.

All the lads from last season’s Youth team were exceptional and that shows the potential that we have coming through.  Edwin Ahenkorah also put in a tremendous effort against his old Club and his experience was crucial, while in addition it was good to see Dior Angus get in a full 90 minutes which is just what he needed.

So all in all a superb evening for everyone involved.”

TOWN : James Cutts, Charlie Faulkner, Kieren Westwood, Guy Clark (c), Rob Ormston, Jean Kalenda (Ben Ellicott 67), Warren Brooks, Yannick Gomes, Edwin Ahenkorah, Dior Angus, Donnell Benjamin (Callum Ingram 46).   Unused Sub  –  Kyle Jaynes

REDDITCH : Bradley Catlow, Cameron young, Nat Kelly, Max Loveridge (c), Frank Hazell,     Jordasn Brown, Javia Roberts, Reece Hales, Trovarn Thompson (Jason Cowley 64), David McDermott (Olly Saunders 59), Reece Hewitt (Justice Campbell 70).     Unused Subs  –  Harry Lloyd & Luke English

Referee    –    Greg Rollason

Assistant Referees    –    James Lunn & Ben Watkiss

Attendance      –   159

Town Man of the Match  –  Edwin Ahenkorah

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

 Town                                                    Redditch 

17     –           Goal attempts            –           9

10     –           On Target                   –             6

0      –           Blocked Shots           –             1

0      –           Hit Woodwork            –             1

1      –           Corners Won               –             2

5      –           Crosses Into Box         –            3

10      –           Fouls Conceded        –            6

5      –           Offside                          –              5

0      –           Yellow Cards              –               0

0      –           Red Cards                    –              0

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

1 OCTOBER 2016  –  CAMBRIDGE CITY  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

NO GOALS AND FEW THRILLS AS TOWN AND THE LILYWHITES CANCEL EACH OTHER OUT 

Cambridge City     –     0                                                                                                                       Stratford Town      –     0 

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With Cambridge yet to win a home League game and Town similarly yet to lose away something was expected to give at the Pro-Edge Stadium on Saturday but both records remained intact  after a game which had goal-less draw written all over it from some way out.

Both sides were also coming into the game on the back of poor results as the Lilywhites were on a losing run of four while Town were looking to put last weekend’s five goal drubbing by Weymouth well and truly behind them, so a point apiece was probably an outcome which suited everyone.

Carl Adams made four changes from the Weymouth game.  Guy Clark   –  missing from the starting line-up for the first time this season  –  and Jean Kalenda were consigned to the subs bench while Richard Gregory was beginning his three match ban following his red card and  Edji Mbunga had finished his loan spell, and they were replaced by Liam Francis, Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, Barry Fitzharris and Jamie Sheldon.

New signing Donnell Benjamin began his spell with Town on the subs bench.

In keeping with what was to follow the match got off to a low key start as both sides took time to adapt to the notoriously tricky playing surface with an early break down the left by Cambridge’s Cemal Ramadan ending with a cross which was comfortably held by Niall Cooper and at the other end Edwin Ahenkorah having a shot blocked by central defender David Femiola.

But Town were unlucky not to take the lead with the first decent move of the afternoon in the 18th minute when Dan Summerfield’s driven-in cross from the right was met by Will Grocott with a right foot volley which cannoned against Cambridge keeper Enol Ordonez’s right hand post.

Soon after the lively Ramadan hit a fiercely struck drive straight at Cooper which turned out to be the Lilywhites’ only on-target effort of the afternoon, but there was little further goalmouth action until the closing minutes of the first half when Ramadan wasted a great chance by volleying a Dean Mason right wing cross against the bar from barely six yards out followed by Jon Kaye firing a 20 yard free kick narrowly wide.

There was little change to the pattern of play after the interval although Cambridge seemed to shade the meaningful possession, but there was hardly a worthwhile chance created at either end.

Ahenkorah combined with Simeon Tulloch on 62 minutes to set up an opening for Kieren Westwood but his shot was easily dealt with by Ordonez, and after Kalenda and Benjamin had been introduced in place of Fitzharris and Sheldon Town were presented with the best opportunity of the afternoon to take the lead in the 70th minute.

A calamitous mistake halfway inside his own half by Femiola allowed Tulloch a clear run on goal but to the dismay of the travelling Town faithful  he could only shoot against the advancing Ordonez and the ball spun away to safety.

Four minutes later Ordonez parried a rasping attempt from Ahenkorah who then hit the rebound against the outside of the upright, but from then on in spite of  a couple of testing Cambridge corners a no score draw was inevitable as the match gradually petered out.

“At least we kept our unbeaten away record in the League going” said Carl Adams afterwards. “After last weekend it was pleasing to keep a clean sheet and we had to work hard to secure a point.

We came here to win the game ,but it was also important after the Weymouth game that we didn’t lose, and to that extent today was a positive result for us.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Jordan Cullinane-Liburd (Trey Brathwaite 79), Barry Fitzharris (Jean Kalenda 64), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah, Jamie Sheldon (Donnell Benjamin 68), Simeon Tulloch..   Unused Subs  –  Warren Brooks & Guy Clark

CAMBRIDGE : Enol Ordonez, Paul Cooper, Charlie Day, Harry Norman, David Femiola, Jack Uttridge, Dean Mason, jon Kaye (c), Tunde Adewunmi (Charlie Woolfe 85), Cemal Ramadan, Joe Carden (Giovany Lopes 58).     Unused Subs  –  Jordan Williams, Erkan Okay & Alex Serrano

Referee    –    Nigel Smith

Assistant Referees    –    Michael Jarvis & Andrew Hitchcox

Attendance      –   138

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

 Town                                                    Cambridge 

7       –           Goal attempts              –            6

3       –           On Target                      –            1

1       –           Blocked Shots             –             0

2       –           Hit Woodwork           –              1

4       –           Corners Won               –            7

9       –           Crosses Into Box         –           8

13        –           Fouls Conceded        –         6

4       –           Offside                          –             4

3       –           Yellow Cards               –              0

0       –           Red Cards                    –              0

Town Yellow Cards             –      Fitzharris,  Francis & Grocott

Cambridge Yellow Cards    –      None

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

24 SEPTEMBER 2016  –  WEYMOUTH  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN ARE SWEPT AWAY BY A FIVE STAR WEYMOUTH PERFORMANCE  

dog

It was a dog’s life for the Town faithful at the DCS yesterday!

Stratford  Town     –     0                                                                                                                        Weymouth              –     5    –    Shephard (2) 17 & 20  Smith Jordan (2) 80 & 86  

“By far the best team we’ve played this season” was Carl Adams’ succinct comment after seeing his side overwhelmed by a clinical Weymouth team whose victory was as emphatic as the scoreline would suggest.

Chris Shephard’s two goals in three first half  minutes gave the Terras a grip on the game which they  never looked like surrendering, and after Dan Smith had added a third just before the hour mark it was effectively “game over”.

Substitute Sam Jordan made a bad afternoon even worse for Town with Weymouth’s fourth and fifth on 80 and 86 minutes, and in between Town’s misery was totally complete when Richard Gregory was sent off  for apparently kicking out at a Weymouth defender.

Carl Adams made three changes to Town’s starting line-up from the Frome game. Kieren Westwood took over from the suspended Jordan Cullinane-Liburd with Edji Mbunga replacing Warren Brooks while new signing Jean Kalenda came straight in for Barry Fitzharris who was carrying a severe hand injury.

Weymouth arrived having won only one of their last six League games, but had come good in the F A Cup against National League South Gosport Borough last weekend  and were looking to build on that performance.

They were the first to threaten on seven minutes when Smith took advantage of some confusion in the Town defence to slip the ball to Stewart Yetton who lifted it over the bar from inside the six yard box.

Ben Thomson then shot narrowly wide as he cut in from the left while Town responded with a teasing left wing cross from Edwin Ahenkorah which was headed away by the imposing centre back Stephane Zubar  as Gregory waited to pounce.

But neither keeper had been seriously troubled until the Terras took the lead in the 17th minute.  Town lost possession deep in the Weymouth half and the Terras quick break out of defence led to Dean Evans sweeping the ball out to Shephard who sprinted clear down the inside left channel to fire the ball beyond Town keeper Niall Cooper into the far corner.

Three minutes later Weymouth went two up when Town conceded a free kick five yards outside their penalty area and Shephard curled an exquisite left footer over the wall  to dip under the bar as Cooper scrambled across his line in an unavailing effort to reach it.

Town were up against it from then on with  Kalenda doing well to cut out a driven-in cross from Ashley Wells followed by Thomson firing wide from the edge of the penalty area.

But they nearly pulled one back five minutes before the break when Ahenkorah’s low cross from the left found Gregory whose close range effort came back off Weymouth keeper Dan Thomas.

The Terras though were now looking ominously comfortable, and they could have gone further ahead a minute before the break when Thomson was again off target when through with only Cooper to beat.

Weymouth were soon into their stride after the restart with Yetton heading wide from an inviting Thomson cross followed by Cooper tipping over a rasping drive from the  hat-trick seeking Shephard.

Realising a change was needed if Town were going to get back into the game Carl Adams opted for a double substitution in the 58th minute sending on Warren Brooks and Jamie Sheldon in place of Westwood and Mbunga, but within 60 seconds the Terras put the result beyond doubt with Dan Smith’s crisp finish from ten yards out making it 3-0.

Town kept going but Weymouth were firmly in control and were content to see the game out as town struggled to create a worthwhile opening.

And with ten minutes to go Weymouth showed their quality with a slick move which ended with Jordan latching onto a Yetton pass to skip round the advancing Cooper and sliding the ball into the empty net.

A couple of minutes later Gregory clashed with Zubar and referee Gareth Hubbard had no hesitation in flourishing a red card at the distraught Town skipper.

All Town wanted now was the final whistle but that didn’t come until after Jordan had fired in his second and Weymouth’s fifth with another clinical finish from virtually on the penalty spot.

“It was a bad day at the office” reflected a sombre Carl Adams afterwards.  “Weymouth were by far the best team we’ve faced this season, and had we been at our best we might still have lost.  As it was we were below par and they were far too good for us.

Sometimes when you lose you just have to hold your hand up and say that the opposition were better and that was definitely true this afternoon.

But it’s not all doom and gloom as even after this result we are still only three points off fifth spot in the league which shows how tight it is in mid-table.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood (Warren Brooks 58), Guy Clark, James Fry, Jean Kalenda (Trey Brathwaite 72), Simeon Tulloch, Will Grocott, Richard Gregory (c), Edwin Ahenkorah, Edji Mbunga (Jamie Sheldon 58).  Unused Subs  –  Barry Fitzharris & Liam Francis

WEYMOUTH : Dan Thomas, Ashley Wells, Jake Wannell, Dean Evans, Stephane Zubar, Calvin Brooks, Dan Smith (Aaron Rodriguez 77), Charlie Davis (Billy Lowes 66), Stewart Yetton (c), Ben Thomson (Sam Jordan 60), Chris Shephard..     Unused Subs  –  Mark Cooper & Jason Matthews (GK)

Referee    –    Gareth Hubbard

Assistant Referees    –    Andy Ellis & Richard Walker

Attendance      –   242

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

 Town                                                    Weymouth 

4       –           Goal attempts              –         18

2       –           On Target                      –            9

0       –           Blocked Shots             –             0

0       –           Hit Woodwork           –               0

1       –           Corners Won               –              4

7       –           Crosses Into Box         –              9

12      –         Fouls Conceded         –              9

1       –           Offside                            –               1

1       –           Yellow Cards                –                 1

1       –           Red Cards                    –                  0

Town Yellow Cards             –      Mbunga            Red Card   –   Gregory

Dorchester Yellow Cards     –      Thomson

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

17 SEPTEMBER 2016  –  FROME TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN OVERPOWER FROME TO CLIMB INTO THE TOP HALF   

Stratford  Town     –    3   –   Gregory 32   Ahenkorah  62  Mbunga 87                                                 Frome Town            –    0 

In the only Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division game of the day Town’s ultimately comfortable victory lifted them into ninth spot as the early season table begins to take meaningful shape.

Richard Gregory  –  who was presented with a trophy by long standing supporter Les Weatherhead before kick-off to mark his 100th Town appearance   –   gave them a half time lead with a classic centre forward’s header and second half strikes from Edwin Ahenkorah and Edji Mbunga completed a satisfying afternoon for Carl Adams’ side as Frome finished with only ten men  after Mitchell Page’s dismissal when picking up a second yellow card with twenty minutes to go.

Both sides had endured a midweek to forget with Town’s game at Merthyr being called off at half time due to floodlight failure and Frome crashing to a 4-0 home defeat against lowly Dorchester, but this match got off to a dramatic start as Frome almost took the lead inside the opening 30 seconds.

Dan Summerfield’s routine backpass to keeper Niall Cooper seemed innocuous enough, but Cooper miscued his clearance and George Miller pounced on the loose ball with his shot looking destined for the top corner until Cooper redeemed himself by leaping to his right to palm it  over the bar.

With Town clearly uncertain after that let off Frome looked to capitalise with Jon Davies surging down the right to shoot against James Fry and Cooper getting down well to save from Miller as he cut in from the left.

At the other end Gregory fired narrowly wide as Town began to settle down but Frome were still the more threatening of the two sides and they put together a flowing move in the 25th minute which led to Davies bursting into the left of the penalty area to hit a rasping drive which Cooper could only block with his legs.

But on 32 minutes Town took the lead.   Simeon Tulloch sent over an inch-perfect cross from the right and Gregory made sure he reached it before Nathan Summers to direct a bullet header past the helpless Frome keeper Darren Chitty.

Soon after Chitty did well to beat away a fierce effort from Ahenkorah as Town grew in confidence but Frome were still dangerous going forward and a minute before the break Cooper was in the action again as he held a fiercely struck effort from Darren Jeffries at the foot of his right hand post.

Town made a bright start to the second half with Ahenkorah going five minutes in with a curling left footer from 20 yards out before he doubled Town’s lead in the 62nd minute.

Tulloch’s cross was headed behind by Marcus Mapstone and when Will Grocott’s subsequent corner caused mayhem in the Frome six yard box Ahenkorah reacted the quickest to stab the loose ball over the line.

Frome looked beaten from then on, and their afternoon got worse with twenty minutes to go when Mitchell Page was dismissed after picking up a second yellow card, following an aerial clash with Fry.

Town inevitably now had the better of the possession with both Kieren Westwood and Grocott shooting narrowly over although Frome almost pulled one back  in the 84th minute when Jeffries’ looping header beat Cooper and came back off the bar.

But that was as close as they were going to come and three minutes later Mbunga wrapped up the points for Town with a close range finish after Grocott’s shot had rebounded off a defender.

“After nine games I’m absolutely delighted to be in the top half of the table”  beamed Carl Adams afterwards.  “We’ve had some tough fixtures against the likes of  Kettering and Leamington, and our point at Slough now looks even better given that they are currently League leaders.

As I’ve said before we are a young squad and because of that we will struggle for consistency at times, but I can see definite signs that we are improving massively in that respect.

Over the last ten or so games of last season and from the start of this season Frome have been very much a team in form but we’ve beaten them 3-0 today and fully deserved to do so.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, Dan Summerfield, Guy Clark, James Fry, Barry Fitzharris (Edji Mbunga 75), Simeon Tulloch, Will Grocott, Richard Gregory (c), Edwnn Ahenkorah, Warren Brooks (Kieren Westwood 53)..   Unused Subs  –  Liam Francis, Yannick Gomes & Jamie Sheldon

FROME : Darren Chitty, Connor Roberts, Kris Miller (Chris Gregan 52), Nasthan Summers (Aidan Kirby 83), Marcus Mapstone, Dan Cleverley (c), Jon Davies, Clayton Green, Mitchell Page, George Miller (Jake Jackson 72), Darren Jefferies.     Unused Subs  –  Sam Teale & Sam Boulton

Referee    –    Matthew Law

Assistant Referees    –    Karl Donaghey & Ruebyn Ricaedo

Attendance      –   210

Town  Man of the Match    – Edwin Ahenkorah

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

 Town                                                    Frome 

13       –           Goal attempts            –          12

5       –           On Target                      –              7

0       –           Blocked Shots             –              0

0       –           Hit Woodwork             –               1

3       –           Corners Won                 –              8

8       –           Crosses Into Box           –           11

14        –       Fouls Conceded            –            18

2       –           Offside                             –                4

2       –           Yellow Cards                 –                3

0       –           Red Cards                      –                1

Town Yellow Cards             –      Cullinane-Liburd & Gregory

Dorchester Yellow Cards     –      Gregan, Green & Summers       Red Card  –  Page

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

10 SEPTEMBER 2016  –  DORCHESTER TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

COOPER STARS AS TEN MAN TOWN HOLD ON FOR A POINT   

Dorchester Town    –   2    –   Jermyn 15  Dillon 47                                                                                 Stratford  Town       –   2    –   Ahenkorah 16  Sheldon 29 

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Town had to show plenty of character to come away from the Greene King Community Stadium with a draw on Saturday after having to play virtually two thirds of the game with only ten men following the 34th minute sending-off of Dior Angus who was making his seasonal debut after an injury lay-off.

At that stage Town were 2-1 up with Edwin Ahenkorah levelling after Dorchester had taken the lead and then Jamie Sheldon firing in one of his trademark “specials” to put Carl Adams’ side ahead, but from then on Dorchester inevitably had the majority of the possession and after they had equalised two minutes into the second half keeper Niall Cooper pulled off a series of top class saves as Town dug deep to secure a hard earned point.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from last weekend’s cup tie at Mansfield.  Angus came in for Richard Gregory up front while Simeon Tulloch was promoted from the subs bench into midfield with James Fry switching into the back three in place of Warren Brooks.

Seeking their second League win of the season Dorchester started brightly with Neil Martin soon trying his luck with a long range effort which was comfortably held by Cooper, and they went ahead on 15 minutes when player-manager Mark Jermyn’s cross-shot from the right floated over Cooper and into the net at the far post.

But that lead lasted barely a minute as Ahenkorah pounced on a mistake by Nathan Walker to surge into the penalty area and coolly slot the ball past the advancing  keeper Shane Murphy

With Dorchester looking to respond Cooper then made a smart save from Tony Lee getting down well to his left and then made a more routine one from another Jermyn attempt from distance  before Town took the lead in the 29th minute.

Kieren Westwood launched a free kick into the Dorchester penalty area and when it was only half cleared Jamie Sheldon seized on the loose ball 20 yards out to volley it unerringly into the bottom corner past a static Murphy.

But the pivotal moment of the afternoon arrived five minutes later when Angus tangled with Jermyn and was shown a straight red card by referee Ryan Hilliar-Smith for allegedly kicking out.

It was now a different game and although Town reached half time without any serious alarms Dorchester made their extra man count two minutes after the restart when Matt Oldring’s cross from the right  rebounded of Lee and was fired home by Chris Dillon from eight yards out.

Almost immediately after Cooper commenced his second half heroics taking off to his right to brilliantly push away a Lee header before Town were unlucky not to regain the lead when Sheldon crossed from the left and  Ahenkorah’s glancing header beat Murphy only to  come back off the bar.

But most of the action was now taking place in Town’s half with Wood shooting into the side netting and Town then surviving a concerted Dorchester penalty appeal when substitute  Liam Sayer went down under a challenge from Dan Summerfield.

Town though were determined to cling on to what they had as they defended in depth and in numbers with skipper Guy Clark leading by example and Cooper doing well to deal with a series of teasing crosses aimed at the head of the imposing Lee.

With time ticking away Dorchester became increasingly frantic until with five ten minutes to go Man of the Match Cooper produced a tremendous double save which in the end proved crucial.

Firstly he spectacularly parried a thunderous effort from Martin and then he somehow recovered instantly to block the follow-up from Sayers.

By now Carl Adams was imploring the referee to blow the final whistle and  when he eventually did  Town had the reward their second half defiance deserved.

“That’s a great point when you consider that we’ve played near enough an hour a man down” said a relieved Carl Adams afterwards. “The sending-off changed the whole game as we were in front at the time and looking in control, and I’m convinced that if we had kept 11 on the pitch we would have gone on to win.

As it is we are still unbeaten away from home in the League and with ten points from eight games we are in a cluster of clubs in mid-table which include such big names as Kings Lynn, Kettering and Weymouth which is something that would have seemed unthinkable not all that long ago.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Simeon Tulloch, Kieren Westwood (Barry Fitzharris 50), James Fry, Guy Clark (c), Jordan Culliane-Liburd, Jamie Sheldon, Dan Summerfield, Dior Angus, Edwnn Ahenkorah (Edji Mbunga 82), Will Grocott.   Unused Subs  –  Richard Gregory, Warren Brooks & Trey Brathweaite

DORCHESTER : Shane Murphy, Matt Oldring, Jake Smeeton (c), Mark Jermyn, Nathan Walker, Chris Dillon, David Gerrard (Nick Swann 74), Neil Martin. Tony Lee (Solomon Ayunga 82), Mario Mateus, Ben Wood (Liam Sayers 66)..     Unused Subs  –  Owen Nicholson & Nick Crittenden

Referee    –    Ryan Hilliar-Smith

Assistant Referees    –    Derek Pratt & Michael Fogt

Attendance      –   294

Town  Man of the Match    – Niall Cooper

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

 Town                                                      Dorchester 

5       –           Goal attempts              –          16

3       –           On Target                   –               8

0       –           Blocked Shots             –             0

1       –           Hit Woodwork           –              0

2       –           Corners Won               –           11

8       –           Crosses Into Box         –            8

11      –           Fouls Conceded        –            16

1       –           Offside                         –               2

0       –           Yellow Cards               –              3

1       –           Red Cards                    –              0

Town Yellow Cards             –      None             Red Card  –  Angus

Dorchester Yellow Cards     –      Oldring, Jermyn & Walker

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 3 SEPTEMBER 2016  –  AFC MANSFIELD  –  AWAY  –  EMIRATES F A CUP

FEARON DELIVERS THE CUP KO FOR MANSFIELD 

AFC Mansfield         –    2   –    Bradshaw 77   Fearon 90                                                                         Stratford  Town      –    1   –    Clark  85 

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Town’s F A Cup woes continued for another season as they exited the competition at the hands of Northern Counties East League side AFC Mansfield.

After dominating the first half but failing to put the ball into the net Town were hustled out of it after the break.   Gary Bradshaw fired Mansfield ahead and although Guy Clark headed in the equaliser a stunning individual goal form Oliver Fearon restored Mansfield’s advantage which they doggedly held on to until the final whistle.

Town’s starting line-up showed one change from the Leamington game with the fit-again Richard Gregory coming in for Barry Fitzharris as the game kicked off in wind and driving rain.

And with the conditions being particularly challenging for goalkeepers Jamie Sheldon tried his luck from distance in only the second minute with a well struck effort which was acrobatically turned away by the Mansfield stopper Jason White.

Town were soon having the majority of the possession with a Kieren Westwood free kick flashing across the face of the goal and Gregory just being beaten to a through ball by White followed by having a shot on the turn deflected behind, but they survived a scare in the 16th minute when Fearon spotted Niall Cooper off his line and his lob from all of 35 yards out was only grabbed by the keeper inches from the line as he anxiously back-pedalled.

But most of the action was at the Mansfield end with White making another smart save from an Edwin Ahenkorah free kick and the Town striker firing inches wide soon after as he cut in from the left.

It was already developing into a frustrating afternoon for the travelling Town faithful, and it became even more so when Town went agonisingly close to taking the lead on the half hour mark.  Gregory ran onto a Will Grocott pass only for his shot to come back off White and Ahenkorah then hit the rebound against the post from where it ricocheted straight back into the arms of the relieved keeper.

In  a rare Mansfield attack Cooper got down well at the foot of his right hand post to push away a Bradshaw free kick before Town resumed their bombardment on the Mansfield goal.

Dan Summerfield headed over from a Gregory free kick and Sheldon had a shot blocked by a defender with his frantic appeals for hands being waved away by referee Martin Ashworth.

Then in the final minute of the half Gregory hit a fierce right footer into the side netting as Town went into the break having had 15 goal attempts and 8 corners but with nothing to  show for them.

And it was to be all so different in the second half.  Mansfield were quickest into their stride and there were already worrying signs for Town before the game was held up for near enough 10 minutes when referee Ashworth pulled up feelingly and couldn’t continue eventually being replaced by one of the Assistants.

As soon as play resumed Cooper saved well form Glyn Cotton and five minutes later Mansfield were in front when Bradshaw found himself with time and space in the penalty area to slot the ball past the advancing Cooper.

Town were struggling to find their earlier control and on 82 minutes Ryan Williams had a great chance to double Mansfield’s lead but he screwed his shot wide from no more than ten yards out.

How important that miss might be was emphasised three minutes later when Town equalised.  Sheldon floated a left wing corner into the six yard box and Clark met it with a bullet header into the top corner.

The game could then have gone either way, and on 90 minutes Town had an opportunity when Mansfield conceded a free kick in a central position five yards outside their penalty area.

Grocott rolled it to Gregory whose first time shot cannoned into the Mansfield wall and the clearance was picked up well inside his own half  by Fearon who galloped away down the left with no Town defender able to get in a challenge before cutting in and expertly steering the ball past Cooper into the far corner..

There was still some 15 minutes left to play because of the injury to the referee during which Town had two clearcut chances to rescue a draw but both Gregory’s 93rd minute header and Summerfield’s in what was now the 107th minute were safely held by White leaving Mansfield to celebrate a famous victory and  Town to reflect on what might have been.

“I can only apologise to the supporters who came today” said a distraught Carl Adams afterwards.  “We’ve had more than enough chances to have won the game  but we didn’t take them and our overall performance was simply not good enough.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, Guy Clark, Jordan Culliane-Liburd, Warren Brooks (Simeon Tulloch 83), James Fry (Liam Francis 90 + 5),Will Grocott, Richard Gregory(c), Edwin Ahenkorah (Edji Mbunga 69), Jamie Sheldon.   Unused Subs  –  Barry Fitzharris & Emmitt Delfouneso

MANSFIELD : Jason White, Brad Wilson. Mark Dudley, Grant Allott, Matty Plummer, Jon D’larylea, Ryan Williams (c), Glyn Cotton (Jordan Annable (90 + 7), Oliver Fearon (Danny Naylor (90 + 5), Gary Bradshaw (Lynton Karkach 90 + 1), Jimmy Ghaichem..     Unused Subs  –  Kirtis chadburn, Josh Nadin & Myles Wright

Referee    –    Martin Ashworth

Assistant Referees    –    John Macrae & George Paterson

Attendance      –   95

Town  Man of the Match    –   Guy Clark

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

Town                                                      Mansfield 

19       –           Goal attempts            –            8

10       –           On Target                     –            4

0       –           Blocked Shots            –             0

1       –           Hit Woodwork            –             0

11       –           Corners Won               –            5

6       –           Crosses Into Box          –            4

9       –           Fouls Conceded           –          14

1       –           Offside                           –                3

2       –           Yellow Cards                –                2

0       –           Red Cards                    –                0

Town Yellow Cards           –      Cullinane-Liburd &  Sheldon

Mansfield Yellow Cards    –      Ghaichem & Karkach

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

29 AUGUST 2016  –  LEAMINGTON  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

leam

Stratford  Town       –     0                                                                                                        Leamington               –    2   –    Rowe  (2)  23 & 45 

Two first half goals from Brakes striker Ryan Rowe decided a dour bank Holiday Monday local derby at the DCS which was hard fought but which seldom gave either set of supporters much to get excited about.

Town were on an unbeaten run of four games the last of which had been their resounding win at Kettering on Saturday, but possibly their exertions in the dreadful conditions then had taken their toll as they were second best for most of the afternoon here.

With Richard Greory confined to the subs bench with a groin strain there was a place in the starting line-up for James Fry with Guy Clark taking over the captain’s armband.  Fry was just one of a number of players in the “played for both sides” category which otherwise included Leamington’s Rob Thompson-Brown, Jack Edwards and Tom James and Town’s Niall Cooper and Jamie Sheldon.

And it was Clark who had the first chance of the game heading over in the second minute from Sheldon’s left wing cross, but Leamington soon began to control the midfield possession with right back Ben George getting forward more than once to float over some threatening balls into the penalty area which  had the Town defence at full stretch.

Will Grocott set up a shooting chance for Kieren Westwood on 12 minutes which he pulled well wide, while at the other end Thompson-Brown was much closer with a rasping effort into the side netting, but a goal from either side had hardly seemed likely until Rowe struck in the 23rd minute.

Again it was a cross from George which did the damage with Rowe able to direct a looping header beyond Cooper into the top corner.

Boosted by taking the lead  Leamington tightened their grip on the game with too much of it  now being played in the Town half.  Edwards shot over from distance and Thompson-Brown had a decent effort deflected behind but Town looked as if they would go in for the break only one down until Rowe added his and Leamington’s second in the final minute of the half.

Connor Gudger’s long ball down the left was flicked on by Thompson-Brown and instantly controlled by Rowe who then twisted and turned to make room for a shot and lashed a fiercely struck right footer into the roof of the net.

As with Kettering’s missed penalty on Saturday that was the key moment in the game as Leamington came out for the second half with a two goal lead to defend while Town knew that they needed to up their tempo considerably to get back into it.

Edji Mbunga took over from Barry Fitzharris on 54 minutes but Town struggled to make any significant headway in spite of seeing more of the ball than before as Leamington funnelled back to stifle Town and snuff out even the remotest opening.

Mbuunga’s tricky run from halfway provided Dan Summerfield  with an opportunity but his cross-shot flashed across the face of the goal and Leamington were always dangerous on the break principally through the pace of Ahmed Obeng.

There were frantic Town appeals for a penalty in the 66th minute when Grocott went down in the box which were immediately waved away by referee Robbie Dadley, but soon after they had their  best chance so far.

Grocott slipped the ball through to Edwin Ahenkorah who hit it well enough but the Brakes skipper Tony Breeden pulled off a brilliant save tipping it over the bar from virtually point blank range.

Town were not to come so close again as Leamington effectively and efficiently closed the game out, but they could have made their win even more convincing five minutes before the end when Obeng’s cross was headed over by substitute Lee Moore from barely six yards out.

So a difficult afternoon for Town after the euphoria of Kettering, but two wins, three draws and two defeats from a challenging set of fixtures in August would have been happily accepted by most Town supporters before the season started, and with the F A Cup coming on stream next weekend Carl Adams’ side now have the best part of a fortnight before League points are at stake again.

“Leamington are the worst side in the world to go one behind to as they try to  nullify the game from then on”  commented Carl Adams afterwards.  “ They are very good at what they do and I’ve no complaints about the result, but I’m disappointed that we couldn’t  do better at trying to break them down.

Maybe we were still feeling the effects of our tremendous effort at Kettering as I felt that some of us were off the pace this afternoon,  but I would have taken three points from two tough Bank Holiday games and I still believe that nine points from a testing seven opening fixtures is a more than decent return.

In previous seasons I have concentrated on the League rather than Cups as getting us into the Southern League and staying there was the priority.  That’s still the case, but maybe we are due a decent Cup run now and we’ll certainly be up for it at Mansfield next weekend.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, Guy Clark (c) (Simeon Tulloch 83), Warren Brooks, Jordan Cullinanr-Liburd, Barry Fitzharris (Edji Mbunga 54), James Fry, Edwin Ahenkorah, Will Grocott, Jamie Sheldon.   Unused Subs  –  Richard Gregory. Emmitt Delfouneso & Liam Francis

LEAMINGTON : Tony Breeden (c), Ben George, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda (Rob Elvions 73), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Rob Thompson-Brown, Darren Pond, Ryan Rowe (Lee Moore 70) Jack Edwards, Ahmed Obeng (Tom James 83).     Unused Subs  –  Ryan Quinn  & Lewis Gwilliams (GK)

Referee    –    Robbie Dadley

Assistant Referees    –    Ian Croston & Tom Kidd

Attendance      –   523

Town  Man of the Match    –  Will Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

Town                                                      Leamington 

6       –           Goal attempts            –            8

1       –           On Target                     –              3

0       –           Blocked Shots           –               0

0       –           Hit Woodwork             –              0

2       –           Corners Won               –              3

9       –           Crosses Into Box         –            13

9       –           Fouls Conceded          –            10

2       –           Offside                           –                4

3       –           Yellow Cards              –                  3

0       –           Red Cards                    –                 0

Town Yellow Cards               –      Clark, Cullinane-Liburd & Grocott

Leamington Yellow Cards    –       Edwards, Magunda & Pond

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

27 AUGUST 2016  –  KETTERING TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN ARE SINGING IN THE RAIN AS THE  POPPIES FADE AWAY                                                                      

Kettering Town       –     0                                                                                                                                             Stratford  Town       –    3     –    Gregory 30  Grocott 69  Sheldon 75 
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Town produced a complete away performance against ambitious Kettering Town to come away with a thoroughly deserved three points from a storm hit Latimer Park on Saturday.                                 
.And it could all have hardly been better scripted with Town boss Carl Adams returning to the club where he enjoyed what he describes as “the best years of his playing career,”  Will Grocott making the first and scoring the second after switching from the Poppies to Town in the summer, another ex-Poppy Niall Cooper confidently keeping a clean sheet and Jamie Sheldon marking his 100th Town appearance with another of his long range specials.                                                                  
Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from last weekend.  Warren Brooks and Jordan Cullinane-Liburd retained their places after impressing in the second half against Hitchin while Barry Fitzharris came in for the unwell Trey Brathwaite.  The two new signings James Fry and Edji Mbunga were both on the subs bench.                                                                                                                   
Making his debut for Kettering was Kaid Mohamed who was with National League Eastleigh last season.                                                                                                                                                                                                  
.The game kicked off in a cloudburst accompanied by flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder which more or less continued throughout the first half, and in the early skirmishes  Liam Canavan had a shot easily held by Cooper while at the other end a decent Fitzharris effort was deflected behind.                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                                                                   But as both sides settled down in the testing conditions it was Kettering who looked the more threatening with Canavan shooting wide from a promising position and Mohamed’s glancing header  sliding  the wrong side of Cooper’s right hand post.                                                                             
In between Town had gone close when Dan Summerfield’s cross from the right was helped on by Richard Gregory to Edwin Ahenkorah whose well struck left footer looked to be destined for the top corner until Kettering keeper  Paul Walker took off to palm it away                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But it was somewhat against the run of play when Town took the lead on the half hour mark with their best move of the match so far. Fitzharris on the right slipped the ball inside to  Grocott and he threaded it through to Richard Gregory who thumped it past Walker from ten yards out.
  
The Poppies looked for an immediate response but with Brooks and Cullinane-Liburd again looking the part in the centre of the Town defence they didn’t really create a worthwhile opening until they were gifted a chance to make it all square in the final minute of the half when Brett Solkhon tumbled in the penalty area  under a challenge by Brooks.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               It seemed to be a generous decision by referee  Abbas Khan, but whether it was or not was soon academic as Wilson Carvalho blazed the spot kick wastefully over.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 That miss could well have been the pivotal moment of the afternoon as the Poppies were never the same after half time.  Town came out for the restart and promptly had far the better of the possession with Sheldon finding Ahenkorah with a precision crossfield pass and the Town striker’s surge towards goal only being halted by a perfectly timed tackle by Solkhon.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Soon after Gregory laid the ball off into the path of the overlapping Kieren Westwood whose first time shot flew narrowly over.  A minute or so later the Town skipper twisted and turned in the penalty area to make room for a shot which didn’t miss by much, and with Town also having at least one reasonable  penalty appeal waved away the Kettering crowd began to get restless.                                                                                                                                                                                                             And they were even more so when Town doubled their lead in the 69th minute.  Once again Westwood got forward down the left to whip in a low cross which was not properly cleared and Grocott seized on the loose ball to curl an exquisite right footer beyond Walker into the top corner.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Just before Mbunga had replaced Gregory and soon after Grocott made way for Fry as Carl Adams introduced both of his latest recruits.                                                                                                                    
In a by now rare Kettering attack the classy Mohamed  had a low drive safely held by Cooper getting down well to his left but with a quarter of an hour to go it was “game over” when Town went three up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Walker had to come out of his area to head away as Mbunga chased after a long ball down the middle with his attempted clearance going straight to Sheldon some 35 yards out,  and the Town midfielder coolly sized up the situation before lifting the ball over the stranded keeper and a couple of covering defenders into the empty net to celebrate his century of Town games in some style.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Another monsoon of biblical proportions arrived for the closing minutes but even that couldn’t dampen the euphoria among the travelling Town faithful as their side comfortably saw the game out for a second successive win.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
“An outstanding result and performance” beamed an ecstatic Carl Adams afterwards.  “I’m really proud of them all.  Everyone did their job and they all deserve tremendous credit.  We’ve got good players in the squad and this result was not a fluke.But now we’ve got to build on it.  The best teams are the ones that are consistent, and the next step for us is to develop consistency in our performances.  And Monday against Leamington is as good a place as any to start.”TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, Guy Clark, Warren Brooks, Jordan Cullinanr-Liburd, Barry Fitzharris, Will Grocott (James Fry 71), Richard Gregory (c) (Edji Mbunga 67) , Edwin Ahenkorah (Simeon Tulloch 59), Jamie Sheldon.   Unused Subs  –  Emmitt Delfouneso & Liam FrancisKETTERING : Paul Walker, Liam Bateman, James Brighton, Brett Solkhon, James Haran, Gary Mulligan, Wilson Carvalho, Spencer Weir-Daley (Jordan Wilson 78), Liam Canavan (Chris Carruthers 67), Kaid Mohamed, Anthony Howell (Ben Stephens 63).     Unused Subs  –  Nathan Hicks & Craig Hill (GK)Referee    –    Abbas KhanAssistant Referees    –    Anthony Quinn & Simon BickleyAttendance      –   430Town  Man of the Match    –  Jordan Cullinane-LiburdMatch Stats by Rod Abrahams                       Town                                                     Kettering 12       –           Goal attempts            –            114       –           On Target                       –              50       –           Blocked Shots             –               00       –           Hit Woodwork             –               03       –           Corners Won                 –              36       –           Crosses Into Box          –            1214       –           Fouls Conceded          –             51       –           Offside                               –             24       –           Yellow Cards                  –               10       –           Red Cards                         –             0Town Yellow Cards          –      Brooks, Cullinane-Liburd, Sheldon & SummerfieldKettering Yellow Cards    –      HaranMatch Report by Bryan Hale 

20 AUGUST 2016  –  HITCHIN TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

SHELDON STRIKES TWICE TO PROPEL TOWN TO THEIR FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON 

Stratford  Town       –   3    –      Summerfield  13  Sheldon (2) 38 & 54                                               Hitchin Town            –   2    –      Brooks 14  Pearson 21 

Two spectacular long range strikes from Town midfielder Jamie Sheldon decided  this see- saw of a game in which the lead changed hands three times before Carl Adams’ side clinched their first win of the season.

Dan Summerfield had given Town an early lead on just his second appearance for the Club but Hitchin equalised inside 60 seconds and went ahead soon after before the first of Sheldon’s two specials made it all square at half time.

Sheldon then struck again nine minutes after the interval and although Hitchin tried hard they couldn’t find a way past Nathan Vaughan who was deputising in the Town goal for the unavailable Niall Cooper.

The only other change to the starting line-up from the Slough midweek game proved to be  a masterstroke by the Town boss with Sheldon being recalled after two games on the subs bench in place of Warren Brooks

After a quiet start as both sides struggled to adapt to the swirling wind blowing from the Golf Course end Town went ahead on 13 minutes when Hitchin keeper Michael Johnson fumbled Edwin Ahenkorah’s cross from the left and Summerfield reacted the quickest to drill the loose ball into the net.

But the lead lasted barely a minute as Hitchin went straight down the other end to punish Town’s lapse in concentration as Liam Brooks  pounced  to slot in an immediate equaliser.

Hitchin were playing some neat football when in possession, and it was hardly a surprise when they took the lead in the 21st minute.   Town failed to clear a left wing corner and Mason Spence returned the ball into the penalty area where Stuart Pearson powered a  bullet header past the helpless Vaughan.

And soon after Hitchin came close to increasing their advantage when Spence’s thunderous effort  cannoned against the bar with Vaughan well beaten.

Town responded with Liam Francis’ firm header being comfortably held by Johnson, but the Hitchin keeper was beaten all ends up on 38 minutes when Town levelled it up again courtesy of a Goal of the Season contender from Sheldon.

Turning past a defender to make room for a shot he then let fly from all of 30 yards out with a sumptuous right footer which flew past Johnson into the top corner.

As the action continued end-to-end Robbie Burns was not far away with a decent effort for Hitchin while in the closing minute of the first half Johnson’s handling once more let him down as he went to claim a Sheldon corner and as the ball trickled towards the goal Matt Lench hacked it off the line.

Clearly not altogether happy with Town’s overall first half performance Carl Adams made two changes at the break with Emmitt Delfouneso and Liam Francis making way for Jordan Cullinane-Liburd and Warren Brooks.

And it was Town who were fastest into their stride at the restart  with Richard Gregory going close with a free kick before Sheldon hit the second of his match winning stunners.

This time he received the ball on the left edge of the penalty area and curled an inch perfect effort beyond Johnson into the far corner.

This gave Town just the boost they needed and Johnson pulled off a smart one-handed save from a Gregory header on the hour mark before Hitchin rallied in the last twenty minutes.

Vaughan tipped over a Burns free kick and then confidently dealt with a long range attempt from Callum Donnelly followed  by a  more routine save from another Pearson header.

But time was now on Town’s side, and with ten minutes left they came close to putting the result beyond doubt when Will Wright’s attempted headed clearance from Ahenkorah’s cross went straight to Kieren Westwood 20 yards out and his first time volley was turned behind by Johnson getting down well  at the foot of his right hand post.

Hitchin kept going and they almost rescued a point as the game headed into added time when  Vaughan acrobatically tipped over Dan Webb’s header, but the final whistle soon followed and Town had that vital first three point haul on the board.

“A great result for us”  said Carl Adams afterwards.  “That’s four points from our last two games and with Slough winning 3-0 today it makes our point against them in midweek seem even better.

Even so I didn’t feel that we were at our best today particularly in the first half, but they were two tremendous strikes from Jamie Sheldon to win it for us and having got our first win of the season at least we’ve now got that monkey off our back.”

TOWN : Nathan Vaughan, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, Guy Clark, Liam Francis (Warren Brooks 46),  Emmitt Delfouneso (Josh Cullinanr-Liburd 46)i, Jamie Sheldon, Will Grocott, Richard Gregory (c) (Barry Fitzharris 76), Edwin Ahenkorah, Trey Brathwaite.

HITCHIN : Michael Johnson, Will Wright, Lewis Rolfe, Matt Lench, Dan Webb, Stuart Pearson, Mason Spence, Callum Donnelly (c), Liam Brooks (Lewis McBride 69), Robbie Burns (Brett Donnelly 76), Kieran Barnes (Kane Smith 79).

Referee    –    Scott Postin

Assistant Referees    –    Brian Boyle & Paul Hands

Attendance      –   176

Town  Man of the Match    –  Nathan Vaughan

Stratford Town ISA Man of the Match  –  Jamie Sheldon

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

   Town                                                       Hitchin 

12       –           Goal attempts                –          20

9       –           On Target                            –          10

0       –           Blocked Shots                  –            0

0       –           Hit Woodwork                  –            1

4       –           Corners Won                     –          11

12       –           Crosses Into Box            –          10

15       –           Fouls Conceded           –            10

1       –           Offside                              –               4

3       –           Yellow Cards                   –               3

0       –           Red Cards                          –             0

Town Yellow Cards      –      Clark, Gregory & Grocott

Hitchin Yellow Cards    –     Callum Donnelly, McBride & Pearson

Match Report by Bryan Hale

16 AUGUST 2016  –  SLOUGH TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

 SPIRITED TOWN BATTLE TO A POINT AT SLOUGH

 Slough Town           –     0                                                                                                                                  Stratford Town       –     0 

Town  headed back up the M40 from Holloways Park on Tuesday evening with  a with hard earned point which they fully deserved after a battling performance.  Slough were the more threatening of the two sides for most of the game but they couldn’t break down a resilient Town defence as Carl Adams’ side made it three draws from their opening four League games.

With Jordan Cullinane-Liburd and Simeon Tulloch not having recovered from the knocks which forced them off against Basingstoke and work commitments ruling out Mike Taylor and delaying Barry Fitzharris there was a debut for Dan Summerfield, a first start of the season for Edwin Ahenkorah and recalls for Emmitt Delfouneso and Liam Francis.

And it was Man of the Match  Summerfield who soon impressed as Slough had the better of the early possession although failing to create a really clearcut chance with Charlie Moone’s weak shot resulting in an easy save for Niall Cooper.

Town’s first real alarm came in the 17th minute when James Dobson cleverly made space for a shot on the edge of the penalty area but Summerfield was in swiftly to make a crucial block.

Ahenkorah and Richard Gregory were working hard up front for Town without much joy against the Slough central defensive pairing of Guy Hollis and Mark Nisbet although.  Gregory had a penalty appeal waved away after going down as he tangled with Hollis when chasing a long ball from Francis down the inside right channel and Kieren Westwood was not far away with a decent attempt as he cut in from the left.

But with Slough finding it equally hard to make headway as Town funnelled back in depth and in numbers there was little to bring the crowd to life until the 41st minute when Lee Barney headed narrowly over from Charlie Moone’s right wing cross.

Fitzharris came on for Warren Brooks after the interval as Slough noticeably upped their tempo.   Moone had a well struck effort turned behind by Cooper before Slough came close to breaking the deadlock in the 55th minute.

With Town struggling to get the ball away it ricocheted about in the their penalty area with  Warren Harris seeing his drive cleared off the line by Francis and then Cooper then beating away Moone’s follow-up.

Shortly after Barney shot straight at Cooper from 15 yards out, but it was not all Slough as in the 67th minute Town put together a slick move down the left with Westwood slipping the ball inside to Fitzharris whose fierce effort was well held by Slough keeper Mark Scott moving smartly to his left.

Realising something extra was needed if they were to make their possession count Slough made their three substitutions in a five minute spell either side of the 70 minute mark as they tried to crank up the pressure.

Harris pulled his shot wide as a loose ball fell kindly to him on the edge of the penalty area,  Summerfield broke up a couple of promising moves with perfectly timed tackles, Cooper made a smart save from Lee Togwell and both Francis and Delfouneso were dominant in the air as the clock ticked down and Town edged closer to  a point.

But then everything nearly changed as the game headed into added time.  Town conceded a free kick 20 yards out which  Lewis Putman sized up and then hit a thunderous left footer which swerved past the Town wall and cannoned against the angle of post and bar on its way behind.

So Slough were left frustrated and Town’s point was secure.

“That was a good hardworking performance” said Carl Adams afterwards.  “In particular we put in a strong defensive display with none of the individual mistakes which have blighted our previous games this season.   This was a good point as is every one gained away from home and we now look forward to our home game against Hitchin on Saturday.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, Guy Clark, Liam Francis,      Emmitt Delfouneso, Trey Brathwaite (Jamie Sheldon 64), Will Grocott, Richard Gregory (c), Edwin Ahenkorah (Charlie Evans 87), Warren Brooks (Barry Fitzharris 46).

SLOUGH : Mark Scott, Sean Fraser (c), Paul Stonehouse,  Guy Hollis, Mark Nisbet, Nathan Webb (Lee Togwell 74), James Dobson (Lewis Putman 69), Simon Dunn, Lee Barney (Gavin James 74), Charlie Moore, Warren Harris.  Unused Subs  –  Brad Hewitt & Josh Jackman.

Referee    –    Dean Appleby

Assistant Referees    –    Simon Parberry & John Perry

Attendance      –   336

Town  Man of the Match    –  Dan Summerfield

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

Town                                                       Slough 

6       –           Goal attempts            –          17

2       –           On Target                     –            7

0       –           Blocked Shots           –             0

0       –           Hit Woodwork            –            1

2       –           Corners Won               –             5

5       –           Crosses Into Box         –           12

14       –           Fouls Conceded      –            12

3       –           Offside                           –               0

3       –           Yellow Cards              –                 1

0       –           Red Cards                    –                 0

Town Yellow Cards      –      Brooks, Fitzharris & Summerfield

Slough Yellow Cards    –      Hollis

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 13 AUGUST 2016  –  BASINGSTOKE TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN TAKE AN EARLY LEAD BUT BASINGSTOKE HIT BACK TO SHARE THE POINTS 

Stratford Town         –    1   –    Clark  15                                                                                                                 Basingstoke Town    –    1   –     Hallahan  55 

Town’s first ever meeting with Basingstoke ended with honours even at a sunny DCS on Saturday after an absorbing afternoon in which Town had deservedly taken an early lead through Guy Clark;s close range finish and gone in at half time still in front thanks to Niall Cooper’s penalty save only for George Hallahan to pounce for the equaliser ten minutes into the second half after which it was Basingstoke who looked the more likely winners.

Carl Adams had been fairly vocal in his criticism after the midweek loss to Redditch, and made three changes to the starting line-up here.   In came Barry Fitzharris, Warren Brooks and Trey Brathwaite in place of Emmitt Delfouneso, Liam Francis and Jamie Sheldon with the Town boss opting for a 3-5-2 formation.

And encouragingly Town made a lively start against their full-time opponents with Basingstoke keeper Alex Tokarczyk having to save from Kieren Westwood and Trey Brathwaite inside the opening ten minutes.

At the other end Cooper pushed away a half hit effort from Hallahan, but Town kept up the pressure and they took the lead on 15 minutes.  Richard Gregory turned in the penalty area to shoot against a defender and Clark reacted quickest to turn the rebound into the net from inside the six yard box.

Soon after Town suffered the first of two first half injury blows when Simeon Tulloch limped off to be replaced by Francis, but they maintained their grip in midfield where Fitzharris and Will Grocott were firmly in control.

Another well struck Brathwaite attempt was safely held by Tokarczyk followed by Grocott firing wide from a Westwood pass before Town had to reorganise again shortly after the half hour mark when Jordan Cullinane-Liburd couldn’t continue and made way for Sheldon.

Tokarczyk then kept his side in the game when he pulled off a tremendous double save in the 34th minute parrying a thunderous Grocott free kick and then recovering quickly enough to turn behind Brathwaite’s follow-up effort.

And soon after Town missed a great chance to go two up when Mike Taylor headed wide of an empty goal from Gregory’s cross after the Town skipper had beaten Tokarczyk to a long ball on the left edge of the penalty area.

But it was Cooper who then kept Town’s lead intact a minute before the break.  Clark was penalised for hands as the ball ricocheted about in the crowded penalty area and the new Town keeper took off to his right to brilliantly push away George Bennett’s spot kick.

Andy Kemp would certainly have been proud of that one.

Having been second best up to now it was Basingstoke who were much sharper after the restart with Cooper doing well to grasp a swerving right footer from Michael Atkinson.

However it was an error by Cooper which gifted  Basingstoke their equaliser ten minutes into the second half when he fumbled Tamille Roache’s deep cross from the left and Hallahan drilled the loose ball into the net.

Five minutes later Hallahan got on the end of another looping cross from Roache to hit a rasping volley which was acrobatically tipped over by Cooper.

Basingstoke were now definitely the more threatening of the two sides with the combination of Roache and the speedy Ashleigh Atrwell down the left giving them plenty of problems.

But they held on and the introduction of Edwin Ahenkorah gave them an extra boost up front.  On 79 minutes he cut in from the left to force Tokarczyk into a smart save at the foot of his right hand post and a couple of minutes later it was a more routine save when Ahenkorah tried his luck from 15 yards out.

Westwood then surged forward to shoot inches wide while in added time Aaron Jarvis fired wildly over for Basingstoke , but at the final whistle it was a point apiece which over the 90 minutes was probably the right result.

“Firstly having to make those two early substitutions didn’t help us at all” reflected Carl Adams afterwards.  “I thought Basingstoke were a decent team who passed the ball well and I can see them doing well as the season progresses, but we had chances to win the game.

In the end it was an individual error which has cost us which is all the more frustrating because Niall had made a great save from the penalty at the end of the first half.

I feel that we could have won all three of our games this season, but instead we’ve only taken two points and we need to become tougher if we are to go on and win when the opportunity is there.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Jordan Cullinane-Liburd (Jamie Sheldon 34), Kieren Westwood, Barry Fitzharris, Guy Clark, Warren Brooks, Simeon Tulloch (Liam Francis 21), Will Grocott, Mike Taylor (Edwin Ahemkorah 68), Richard Gregory (c), Trey Brathwaite. Sheldon.   Unused Subs  –  Emmitt Delfouneso & Dan Summerfield.

BASINGSTOKE : Alexr Tokarczyk, Marcus Johnson-Schuster, Tamille Roache, Max Partridge, Joe Gater (Sam Deadfiled 78), David Ray (c), Michael Atkinson, George Bennett, Aaron Jarvis, George Hallahan (Robert Atkinson 78),  Ashleigh Artwell.  Unused Subs  –  Kieren Greeve & Charlie Kennedy.

Referee    –    Simon Brown

Assistant Referees    –    Josh Hackett & Dan Stokes

Attendance      –   219

Town  Man of the Match    –  Will Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

 Town                                                       B/stoke 

9       –           Goal attempts            –          12

8       –           On Target                     –            8

0       –           Blocked Shots            –            0

0       –           Hit Woodwork             –            0

4       –           Corners Won               –             5

7       –           Crosses Into Box         –            9

15       –           Fouls Conceded          –             4

1       –           Offside                             –              2

5       –           Yellow Cards                  –             0

0       –           Red Cards                       –            0

Town Yellow Cards        –      Clark, Fitzharris, Francis, Grocott & Sheldon                                                       B/stoke Yellow Cards    –      None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

9 AUGUST 2016  –  redditch united  –  home  –  league

THE REDS SPEED TO A SECOND DCS WIN IN FOUR DAYS 

Stratford Town      –    2    –     Cullinane-Liburd 25  Gregory 76

Redditch United     –    4    –     Johnson 2  Hewitt 6  Roberts 44  Spink 89 

Redditch must love playing at the DCS as they followed their “home” victory against Chesham on Saturday  –   when the game was switched from the Valley Stadium as the installation of their 3G pitch had not been completed  –  with another three points as the away team on Tuesday evening  as they took full advantage of  Town’s shortcomings at the back.

Two eminently preventable goals in the opening six minutes provided them with the perfect start, and although Town pulled one back midway through the first half a third Reds strike just before the break kept them firmly in control.

Skipper Richard Gregory making his 100th Town appearance gave Carl Adams’ side a glimmer of hope with his 67th goal for the Club on 76 minutes but any prospect of salvaging even  a point was snuffed out by Redditch’s fourth a minute from the end of normal time.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from St Ives on Saturday.  Kieren Westwood returned at left back meaning that Guy Clark switched inside to partner Emmitt Delfouneso in the centre of the back four with Liam Francis replacing Warren Brooks in midfield while Mike Taylor was brought in up front with Trey Brathwaite dropping to the subs bench.

A notable inclusion in the Reds team was ex-Birmingham City striker Clinton Morrison.

The evening got off to an electric start as Town could have gone ahead inside 90 seconds when Javi Roberts miscued his attempted clearance of Westwood’s cross and only the swift reaction of his keeper Bradley Catlow prevented an own goal.

Instead it was the Reds who took the lead when play switched to the other end where Danico Johnson seized on a mistake by Delfouneso to surge down the inside right channel and shoot past the advancing Niall Cooper into the far corner of the net.

Four minutes later it was 2-0 as the Reds were allowed to move the ball unchallenged across the edge of the Town penalty area from right to left until it reached Reece Hewitt who calmly stroked it past the helpless Cooper.

And it could have got even worse for Town soon after when Roberts slipped the ball inside to Morrison and his first time effort cannoned against Cooper’s right hand post.

With Francis and Delfouneso changing places and Clark getting to grips with Johnson and Morrison Town at last began to settle. Will Grocott was seeing plenty of the ball, and they were right back in the game when they halved Redditch’s lead in the 25th minute.

Grocott  was the creator with a perfectly weighted cross into the six yard box from by the right corner flag and summer signing from the Reds Jordan Cullinane-Liburd climbed the highest against his former club to power a header past Catlow.

An  equaliser then seemed a possibility a couple of minutes later when Taylor bustled through the middle only for Catlow to come off his line to kick clear but it was certainly now very much an even game with Taylor’s physical presence keeping the Reds backline fully occupied.

But two minutes before half time Town’s defensive frailties let them down again as they lost possession on the halfway line and Reece Hales galloped away before slipping the ball into the path of the overlapping Roberts who steered it well wide of Cooper into the bottom corner.

Even then Town had a chance to hit back straightaway as the Reds skipper Clayton McDonald missed a through pass giving Taylor an opportunity but he lifted the ball over both Catlow and the bar as the keeper came out to meet him.

Knowing a much improved performance was needed  Town made a bright start to the second half and began to move the ball about quite nicely.  Gregory had a shot blocked, Delfouneso fired over, Taylor’s firm header went straight to Catlow and the keeper then did well to hold a fiercely struck drive from Grocott low down to his right.

The Reds had to defend in depth and in numbers but in spite of their pressure Town couldn’t make the necessary breakthrough until there was less than a quarter of an hour to go.

Then a slick passing move beginning with Westwood and Jamie Sheldon led to Grocott threading the ball through to Gregory some 15 yards out and he expertly turned past his marker to slide the ball past Catlow.

For the first time in the evening the Reds looked rattled but Catlow tipped over a rasping effort from Edwin Ahenkorah  and confidently held a number of crosses aimed at Taylor as time began to run out.

And with a minute left the Reds wrapped it all up with their fourth as Johnson worked his way to the byline down the left and pulled the ball back for Liam Spink to thump it into the roof of the net.

Amazingly Town could have made 4-3 in added time but Catlow saved at point blank range from Simeon Tulloch and Delfouneso’s header from the resulting corner flashed narrowly over, but in the end it was those first six minutes which had been decisive.

“It’s all very frustrating” admitted an uncharacteristically downbeat Carl Adams afterwards.  “We looked good going forward but we were very poor defensively and that’s something that I need to put right urgently.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Jordan Cullinane-Liburd (Edwin Ahenkorah 67), Kieren Westwood, Guy Clark, Liam Francis, Emmitt Delfouneso, Simeon Tulloch, Will Grocott, Mike Taylor, Richard Gregory (c),   Jamie Sheldon.   Unused Subs  –  Trey Brathwaite, Warren Brooks & Charlie Evans.

REDDITCH : Bradley Catlow, Jordan Jones, Javi Roberts, Duane Courtney, Clayton McDonald (c), Cameron Young, Reece Hewitt, Masx Loveridge (Liam Spink 69), Danico Johnson, Clinton Morrison (Jazz Luckie 62), Eli Bako (Reece Hales 26)   Unused Subs  –  Jason Cowley & Ricardo Dudley..

Referee    –    Mark Howes

Assistant Referees    –    Liam Teraud & Richard Walker

Attendance      –   327

Town  Man of the Match    –  Guy Clark

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

 T own                                                       Redditch

20        –           Goal attempts              –          12

6       –           On Target                        –            6

1       –           Blocked Shots               –            0

0       –           Hit Woodwork              –            1

5       –           Corners Won                  –            4

13        –           Crosses Into Box          –            4

11        –           Fouls Conceded           –              8

1       –           Offside                              –               3

0       –           Yellow Cards                 –                 2

0       –           Red Cards                      –                 0

Town Yellow Cards         –      None

Redditch Yellow Cards    –      Bako & Spink

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

6 AUGUST 2016  –  ST IVES Town  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

St Ives Town – 1 – O’Malley 44
Stratford Town – 1 – Taylor 70

Half Time – 1 – 0 Attendance – 342

Town and newly promoted St Ives shared the points in a sundrenched season’s opener at a sweltering Pro-Edge Stadium on Saturday, and with the temperature in the 80’s throughout referee Paul Quick sensibly allowed water breaks during both halves.

After an impressive pre-season Carl Adams; side went into this game in confident mood, but they found it hard to impose themselves on a hardworking Saints side who might have made it a winning start had not Town keeper Niall Cooper pulled off a spectacular save four minutes from time.

Apart from Cooper there were also Town debuts here for Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, Warren Brooks, Will Grocott and substitute Mike Taylor while missing were Kieren Westwood (away), Dior Angus (injured) and Barry Fitzharris who was serving a two match ban carried over from last season..

Town made bright start and had an early opportunity to take the lead when Jamie Sheldon broke away down the inside left channel in only the second minute, but instead of shooting he slid the ball inside to Town’s newly appointed skipper for the season Richard Gregory who was immediately crowded out.

The Saints responded with Buster Harradine – who scored a blinder on this ground against Town when playing for Cambridge City last season – hitting a decent effort straight at Cooper followed by Ben Seymour-Shove whipping in a cross from the left which flew across the six yard box with no-one able to apply the finishing touch.

Town’s next chance didn’t arrive until the 20th minute when after a patient build-up down the left the ball deflected off a defender into the path of Gregory whose fiercely struck drive from the edge of the penalty area was turned behind by the Saints keeper Ollie Sutton at the foot of his right hand post.

Another Gregory shot didn’t miss by much while at the other end Josh Dawkin was giving the Town defence a testing time down the left with a couple of threatening runs but after Trey Brathwaite had hit a free kick from a promising position well over the first half looked to be ending goal-less until the Saints went ahead a minute before the break.

Jack Higgs floated in a free kick from the right touchline into the congested town penalty area and Harry O’Malley got the slightest of touches to direct his header beyond Cooper into the far corner of the net.

Edwin Ahenkorah was introduced at the restart in place of Brooks but the goal had given the Saints a real confidence booster, and Sam Ives twice went close in the opening five followed by Dawkins blazing wildly over from 25 yards out.

With the Saints now having the better of the possession Town had to defend in depth, but Cooper impressed with his clean handling of a couple of testing crosses and as the Saints began to run out of steam Town got back on level with 20 minutes to go.

Taylor had replaced Sheldon five minutes earlier and was in the right place at the far post to volley in Guy Clark’s cross from the left after it had been missed by centre half Liam McDevitt.

Town then enjoyed a useful little spell when they put the Saints under a bit of pressure although without really troubling Sutton and in the last ten minutes it was the Saints who looked the stronger side.

Substitute Andrew Phillips fired over from 20 yards out and then with only four minutes remaining fellow substitute Joe Carden let fly with a thunderous effort which was brilliantly pushed behind by Cooper taking off full length to his right to ensure that Town headed back down the A14 with the point they just about deserved.

“It was a disappointing performance” admitted Carl Adams afterwards “but we’ll take a point away from home every time. We now need to focus on Tuesday’s home game with Redditch and I expect us to be much sharper then.”

TOWN : Niall Cooper, Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, Guy Clark, Warren Brooks (Edwin Ahenkorah 46), Liam Francis, Emmitt Delfouneso, Simeon Tulloch, Trey Brathwaite Charlie Evans 80), Richard Gregory (c), Will Grocott, Jamie Sheldon (Mike Taylor 65).

ST IVES : Ollie Sutton, Harry O’Malley, Jordan Jarroki, Charlie De’ath (c), Liam McDevitt, Jack Higgs, Ben Seymour-Shove, Tom McGowan, Buster Harradine (Andrew Phillips 79), Sam Ives (Joe Casrden 84), Josh Dawkin.

Referee – Paul Quick

Assistant Referees – Graham Swanton & Geovanni Marasca

Attendance – 342

Town Man of the Match – Niall Cooper

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

Town St Ives

7 – Goal attempts – 11
2 – On Target – 6
0 – Blocked Shots – 0
0 – Hit Woodwork – 0
4 – Corners Won – 9
6 – Crosses Into Box – 11
9 – Fouls Conceded – 11
2 – Offside – 1
1 – Yellow Cards – 0
0 – Red Cards – 0

Town Yellow Cards – Tulloch
St Ives Yellow Cards – None

Match Report by Bryan Hale