Town’s F A Cup exploits had been the highlight of their 2011/12 season but their League form had again been disappointing, and realising that a shake-up was necessary Morton Titterton recruited Carl Adams to his management team for the start of the 2112/13 term.
Sadly after only a few games ill health forced Morton to stand down leaving Carl to oversee the remainder of what ultimately was Town’s MFA Championship winning campaign.
Yet it hardly started brightly with an undistinguished draw at Heath Hayes, and although Town were convincing winners against Highgate in midweek the following weekend saw any hopes of further F A Cup heroics ended as they were thumped 5-2 at Tividale.
But that was the turning point at least as far as League from was concerned as the next six games were all won propelling Town to top spot until that sequence was interrupted by a shock home defeat by North West Counties League side Eccleshall in the F A Vase.
So Town needed to bounce back after that and they did so in style the following weekend with a 9-0 drubbing of Continental Star which unsurprisingly was their biggest win of the season.
Read all about it below including how the result was influenced by the first half sending off of a certain Aaron Moses-Garvey.
RUTHLESS TOWN HIT NINE AGAINST TEN MAN STAR
Stratford Town – 9 – A Robinson (3) 40, 69 & 90 Donaghy 45 (pen) Edwards 55 Forde 60 Lait (3) 62, 82 & 89 Continental Star – 0
A week is a long time in football and that was emphatically proved by Town at the DCS on Saturday.
Just seven days after their dismal performance against Eccleshall in the F A Carlsberg Vase they bounced back to blast nine goals past a stunned and ultimately shell shocked Continental Star side, including seven in a sustained second half blitz which saw Chris Lait and Tony Robinson both end up with hat-tricks.
Admittedly Star – newly promoted to the Baker Joiner MFA after being Champions of the Athium Midland Combination last term – contributed hugely to their own downfall by having their influential midfielder Aaron Moses-Garvey red carded in only the 25th minute, and with joint manager Morton Titterton watching his first game since his operation a month ago Town mercilessly exploited their numerical advantage as Star wilted after half time to give a massive – and perhaps – crucial boost to their goal difference which could easily be worth a point in the end of season reckoning.
Following the Eccleshall loss Town’s starting line-up showed four changes of which the most significant was the return of Dan Parker – whose playing time this season had so far been restricted to the first six minutes of the opening match at Heath Hayes – to the centre of the backline. Elsewhere Chris Jay was recalled in goal in place of Brendan Hazlett with Mark Faulds and Josh O’Grady being promoted from the subs bench in place of Chris Lait and the injured Luke Williams.
Still favouring a 3-5-2 formation Town made a bright start with Tony Robinson and O’Grady combining promisingly on a couple of occasions, but Star showed that they could also knock the ball about with Garvey catching the eye with his skill in possession and incisive distribution, and although there was little goalmouth action the first twenty minutes were very much even.
O’Grady came closest for Town with a 25 yard free kick which landed on the roof of the net while Star’s most threatening move came when Moses-Garvey released Liam Sankey down the left to whip in a cross which was expertly dealt with by the impeccably positioned Parker.
But the whole complexion of the game changed shortly after when Moses-Garvey was dismissed after an altercation with the referee, and without their playmaker Star had the odds heavily stacked against them for the rest of the afternoon.
Indeed they could have been trailing inside a minute as Jamie Bailey worked his way down the left to pick out Joe Halsall with a low cross which the Town midfielder drilled narrowly wide.
As it was Town initially found it hard to make their extra man count as their passing lacked the necessary sharpness and instead of spreading the play wide they tended to concentrate on trying to work an opening down the congested middle.
And Star were quick to break when they had the chance with the lively Sankey testing Jay with a useful effort on the half hour mark, and Shane Paul firing inches wide after outmuscling Luke Edwards inside the penalty area.
But Town should have gone ahead on 35 minutes when Faulds threaded the ball through to Aaron Forde down the inside left channel and he squared the ball across to Tony Robinson who was unmarked six yards out, but as the Town faithful waited for the net to bulge the mercurial Robinson went for power over placement and to everyone’s disbelief blazed wide.
Soon after Robinson did better with a far post header from an O’Grady right wing cross which was grabbed on the line by Star keeper Andy Pring, with frantic Town claims that the ball was already over being waved away.
Town though were now cranking up the pressure and at last broke through five minutes before the break when Parker received the ball from a throw-in on the right and lofted it into the penalty area. Faulds stretched to flick it on toTony Robinson whose glancing header looped over Pring into the net.
And in the final minute of the half Town went two up with a penalty after O’Grady was bundled over by Josh O’Garro as he latched onto another Faulds pass, and Harry Donaghy coolly sent Pring the wrong way from the spot.
Town were immediately into their stride after the restart with Bailey and Halsall both making threatening runs into the penalty area before being crowded out, and they effectively put the result beyond doubt in the 55th minute with a vital third goal. Donaghy was the provider with a teasing free kick from the left which was touched on by Tony Robinson and turned in by Edwards at the far post.
Pring then saved well from Forde but Town were now really buzzing, and Lait came on for Bailey to make an instant impression. He almost scored from close in with his first touch, and when the attempted clearance by the hard pressed Star defence fell to Forde 30 yards out the Town midfielder calmly took aim and let fly with a spectacular volley which rocketed into the net before the startled Pring could move.
Two minutes later Lait made it five as he gained possession halfway inside the Star half raced away to slot the ball past the advancing Pring.
And in the 69th minute it was a round half dozen for Town as Forde surged down the right to exchange passes with Lait before slipping the ball inside for Tony Robinson to sweep it past Pring from eight yards out.
In a by now rare Star attack an Allando Davis shot was safely held by Jay, but it was really all Town and Star’s nightmare first visit to the DCS got even worse as they conceded another three in the closing eight minutes.
Firstly Donaghy’s pinpoint cross from the left was thumped home by Lait from practically on the penalty spot, then Jon Powis floated the ball in from the right which Faulds unselfishly sidefooted to Lait who completed his hat-trick from close in. And in the final minute it was Tony Robinson’s turn to celebrate as he rifled in a low drive from the edge of the penalty area.
So in stark contrast to their Cup form Town’s exhilarating start to their League campaign continues with eight wins and one draw from their opening nine games. And with Stourport Swifts only drawing with Dunkirk Town have extended their lead at the top of the table to six points with Boldmere St Michaels now the closest pursuers.
Next up for Town is a testing Black Country trip to face Tipton Town, but with confidence now surely sky high Town supporters will be hoping for another positive result there to keep this spellbinding run going.
TOWN : Jay, R Robinson (Powis 74), Donaghy, Edwards, Parker, Faulds, Forde, Halsall (Porter 62), A Robinson, O’Grady, Bailey (Lait 59). Unused Subs – Morris & Hazlett (GK)
STAR : Pring, Stewart, Sankey, D Robinson, O’Garro (Tomlinson 66), Green, Hamilton (Powell 71), Hazell, Paul (Swaby 61), Moses-Garvey, Davis. Unused Subs – Brown & Price
Attendance – 178
Marston’s Town Man of the Match – Tony Robinson
The View From The Dug-Out – Carl Adams savours another League win
“After last week we were desperate to put things right, and we did exactly that. Obviously the sending off had an impact, but sometimes it can be equally as hard playing against ten and it is to our credit that we never let up.
Those nine goals are great for our goal difference and it is also worth pointing out that we have only conceded seven in nine games.
I’m very conscious that expectations are understandably high here and I know that League success is the priority. We have got off to the best possible start and we now have to keep it going.”
Match Stats by Rod Abrahams
Town – GA 18 OT 11 HW 0 CW 5 FC 11 OS 10 YC 1 RC 0
Star – GA 8 OT 4 HW 0 CW 2 FC 18 OS 4 YC 1 RC 1
Town Yellow Cards – A Robinson
Star Yellow Cards – D Robinson Red Card – Moses-Garvey
Match Report by Bryan Hale