Stratford Town First Team Match Reports 2017/18

28th APRIL 2018  –  BISHOPS STORTFORD  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

SUB ROBINSON THE PARTY POOPER AT CARL’S 300TH GAME

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Bishops Stortford   –   1   –     Robinson 90 + 3
Stratford Town        –   1   –     Stephens 26

With one of the four additional minutes to go at the ProKit Stadium on Saturday afternoon Carl Adams’ 300th match as Town boss was on course to end in fairytale fashion.

Still ahead through Ben Stephens’ 25th goal of his stellar campaign Town seemed on target to reach 57 points which would be their best yet at Premier Division level and mean that they had improved in each of Carl Adams’ six seasons in charge when Bishops substitute Joe Robinson spoiled the party and changed the mood from elation to deflation by firing in a close range equaliser.

Town’s side showed four changes from the Basingstoke game the previous weekend. Louis Connor was back in goal after his one match ban while Andy Gallinagh replaced Dan Summerfield who was preparing for his University exams. Charlie Evans and Jazz Luckie both dropped to the subs bench with skipper Jimmy Fry switching to left back allowing Loyiso Recci and James Hancocks to return to the starting line-up.

Town were first to threaten in only the fourth minute when Mike Taylor outmuscled Marcus Crowther down the inside left channel to force a decent save from the Bishops keeper Calum Kitscha followed soon after by Kitscha being alert enough to collect a speculative lob from Stephens from wide on the right.

The Bishops responded with a 25 yard effort from skipper Mark Hughes fizzing inches over in the 12th minute, and they went even closer in the 20th minute when their wily veteran striker Jamie Cureton met a cross from George Casey with a fiercely struck volley which was beaten away by Connor moving smartly to his right.

A couple of minutes later Cureton was involved again as he latched onto a long ball down the middle but under pressure from Gallinagh and Liam Francis he uncharacteristically screwed his shot well wide.

But it was Stratford who took the lead in the 26th minute. Taylor again escaped down the left to shoot against the bar, and as the Bishops failed to complete the clearance Will Grocott seized on the loose ball to float it across from the right and it was turned in by Stephens at the far post.

Having scored Town’s first goal of the campaign back in August at Royston it was entirely fitting that he should top and tail the season with what turned out to be their final goal as well.

Keen to get back on terms straight away the Bishops upped their tempo but the immaculately positioned Francis cut out two driven-in crosses from Casey intended for the lurking Cureton while in between their leading scorer Darren Foxley wasn’t far away with a left foot curler from the edge of the penalty area which drifted tantalisingly wide.

Tom Clifford shot wildly over for the Bishops early in the second half while at the other end Edwin Ahenkorah saw his shot from the right deflected behind by Kitscha, but only the woodwork prevented Town from going two up on 54 minutes when Francis’ header from a Grocott corner came back off the bar with Kitscha beaten.

They then had a lucky escape ten minutes later when Foxley’s free kick picked out substitute Jack Thomas who put a free header wastefully over.

The Bishops continued to press for a leveller but with Francis and Recci in commanding form Town were able to keep their lead intact without too many serious alarms as the minutes ticked away.

But the pressure was continuing to mount with Hughes heading over from another Foxley free kick with two minutes of normal time remaining followed by Connor plunging to his right to push away a stinging drive from Robinson as the Bishops piled forward.

And in that fateful third added minute Town struggled to deal properly with a corner launched into the six yard box and Robinson pounced to squeeze the ball inside the post.

So the Bishops joined a lengthy list of teams who have snatched points from Town’s grasp in the dying minutes of matches during the season beginning at Weymouth and continuing on through the likes of Slough and Farnborough to Basingstoke just a week ago as Town finished one place lower than last season in 15th spot with one point fewer on 55.

“How many times this season how we given away a goal in the dying minutes and how many points has it cost us ? “ reflected Carl Adams afterwards. “It’s all down to game management and having the guile, the knowhow and the concentration to see it through right to the final whistle.”

Looking back over the season as a whole I feel it’s been the hardest since I’ve been here, and even though we are one place and one point below last time in my opinion it’s probably a better overall performance as I firmly believe that the League has been a lot stronger this time round.

The games which I enjoyed most were the two against Scarborough in the F A Cup. Although the eventual result went against us they were both cracking encounters and as far as I was concerned it was another example of “if only” with Scarborough grabbing that late equaliser over there.

On the flip side the worst performance was really only half a game as in the first 45 minutes of the F A Trophy tie at Lancaster we were simply dreadful.

So that’s my 300th game gone and I just like to thank all the Town fans for their support during each one of them and hope that they can now enjoy a relaxing summer.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Andy Gallinagh, James Fry (c), James Hancocks, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Charlie Evans 84), Edwin Ahemkorah (Jazz Luckie 75), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Eli Bako 78).

B/STORTFORD : Calum Kitscha, George Casey, Tom Clifford, Mark Hughes (c), Marvel Ekpiteta, Max Brassington (Jack Thomas 55), Marcus Crowther (Joe Robinson 55), Jordan Westcott, Alfie Mason, Jamie Cureton, Darren Foxley..

Referee           –           Matthew Morrison

Assistant Referees          –         Adam Humphreys & Mark Pond

Attendance       –         307

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford     B/Stortford
            11 Goal Attempts                16
               5 On Target                  6
              0 Blocked Shots                  2
              2 Hit Woodwork                 0
              3 Corners Won                 5
              5 Crosses into Box               11
            15 Fouls Conceded                 8
              3 Off Side                 2
              2 Yellow Cards                 1
             0 Red Cards                 0

Stratford Yellow Cards           –         Hancocks & Marsden
B/Stortford Yellow Cards      –         Westcott

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

21st APRIL 2018  –  BASINGSTOKE TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

LAST MINUTE HEARTBREAK FOR TOWN IN SEASON’S FINAL HOME GAME

Stratford Town            –     0
Basingstoke Town      –     1     –    McAuley 90

Town’s last home game of the season ended in the most agonising way possible as substitute Kaine McAuley stole the points for Basingstoke with a last minute winner in a typical end of season encounter which up to then had seemed certain to end goal-less.

On an afternoon short of any real excitement the two sides looked to have settled for a point apiece until McAuley woke everyone from their slumbers to drill home the decider which sent Carl Adams’ side to their sixth successive home League defeat and their tenth in all.

For the first time this campaign there was a different face in the Town goal with last season’s Youth team keeper Scott Martin deputising for Louis Connor who was serving a one match ban after his indiscretion at Banbury.

Lee Thomas was also missing through suspension so Charlie Evans switched to left back with Justin Marsden and Jazz Luckie coming into midfield while James Hancocks dropped to the subs bench.

Showing no signs of nerves Martin made an early confidence boosting save getting well behind a snap shot from Harry Long before Town had a great chance to open the scoring in only the fifth minute.

Ben Stephens’ pinpoint pass allowed Luckie to surge into the left of the penalty area only to scuff his shot harmlessly wide. Shortly after Stephens was involved again as he slid the ball across to Will Grocott whose fierce right footer from 20 yards out was comfortably held by Basingstoke keeper Colin McAdden.

In between Mike Taylor had been in trouble for a late challenge on McAdden but to the relief of the Town supporters the colour of the card brandished by referee Simon Brown was only yellow.

Basingstoke’s main threat was coming from free kicks delivered into the penalty area with unerring accuracy by George Bennett which Town struggled to deal with, but when they came closest to scoring on 41 minutes in a first half of few clearcut chances it was from a free kick taken short.

Jack McKnight and Long combined on the left of the penalty area to make the space with McKnight having his shot cleared off the line by Evans and Long’s follow-up from the rebound being beaten away by Martin who – in spite of the constant barracking from the raucous contingent of Basingstoke supporters behind his goal – was putting in an impressive debut performance which saw him ultimately being nominated as Man of the Match.

Stephens briefly raised the hopes of the Town faithful early in the second half. On 53 minutes he swivelled on the ball to hit a low drive which was turned behind by McAdden plunging to his right, and ten minutes later he let fly with a spectacular strike from all of 30 yards out which had McAdden taking off acrobatically to his left to push it away.

At the other end Martin pulled off a smart save from Sam Smart with 20 minutes to go, but by now the game was drifting to a pretty uneventful close until with two minutes left Town almost snatched it when a Stephens free kick was parried by McAdden and Liam Francis could only head the loose ball over.

And having survived that scare Basingstoke promptly went down the other end to show how it could be done with McAuley – who had barely been on the pitch for five minutes – seizing on a mistake by Evans to drill the ball beyond Martin into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.

So if Town are to better last season’s points total of 56 they must win at Bishops Stortford next weekend, and if they do so – or even draw – they will finish with more points gained away than they have picked up at the MoodChimp this time round.

STRATFORD : Scott Martin, Dan Summerfield, Charlie Evans, Justin Marsden (James Hancocks 66), Liam Francis, James Fry (c), Jazz Luckie (Loyiso Recci 84), Edwin Ahemkorah, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.

BASINGSTOKE : Colin McAdden, Tim Wohlfiel, George Bennett, Dan Collier, Guri Demuria (c), Dan Bayliss, Sam Deadfield, Mike Atkinson, Harry Long (Kaine McAuley 85), Sam Smart, Jack McKnight.

Referee          –        Simon Brown

Assistant Referees        –        Darren Laska & Ross Smart

Attendance        –         266

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

Stratford Basingstoke
         8 Goal Attempts             9
         5 On Target             7
         0 Blocked Shots             0
         0 Hit Woodwork             0
         4 Corners Won            6
         6 Crosses into Box            8
        14 Fouls Conceded           13
          1 Off Side             0
         2 Yellow Cards             3
         0 Red Cards             0

Stratford Yellow Cards              –          Summerfield & Taylor
Basingstoke Yellow Cards       –           Demuria, Long & McAdden

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

18th APRIL 2018  –  ST IVES TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN HIT THE SAINTS FOR SIX

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St Ives Town         –    2    –    Clark 3  Knowles 39 (pen)
Stratford Town   –    6    –    Evans 2 Ahenkorah 17  Fry 24 Stephens (2) 31 & 56  Taylor 35

Town ended their five game losing run in some style at the Pro Edge Stadium on Tuesday evening effectively wrapping up the points in a storming first half which saw them find the back of the St Ives net five times each one from a different scorer.

The stunned Saints were blitzed from only the second minute when Charlie Evans fired Town ahead, and although Peter Clark equalised almost immediately further Town strikes from Edwin Ahenkorah, Jimmy Fry, Ben Stephens and Mike Taylor propelled Carl Adams’ side into an unassailable lead.

Tom Knowles pulled one from the penalty spot as a breathless first half ended with a scarcely believable 5-2 scoreline and Stephens then added Town’s sixth early in the second half to complete their biggest win of the season.

With Fry returning to the starting line-up in place of the sidelined Andy Gallinagh in the only change from the Biggleswade game at the weekend Town attacked straight from the kick off and were in front inside two minutes.

Taylor drove in a cross from the left and as the Saints defender Luke Warner-Eley made a mess of his attempted clearance Evans pounced to lift the loose ball over the helpless keeper Tim Trebes.

Although safe from relegation due to the forthcoming League restructuring the Saints have been struggling at the wrong end of the table all season and came into this game with just one win in their last 11 outings, but they responded to their early setback by promptly going down the other end to level it all up again barely 30 seconds later with Clark firing past Louis Connor.

Back came Town as the frantic opening to the game continued with Ahenkorah not far away from distance followed by Trebes saving well from a sharp Stephens effort low to his right and then beating away another Stephens drive before Town regained the lead in the 17th minute.

Lee Thomas started the move on the halfway line linking up with Stephens who in turn released Ahenkorah down the inside left channel and he ran on to drill the ball past the advancing Trebes.

As Town continued to boss the possession the busy Trebes was soon back in action with another smart save from a Will Grocott shot and on 24 minutes they went two ahead when a Grocott free kick from the left was headed back across goal by Liam Francis at the far post.

Trebes could only parry it towards Fry who had the simple task of slotting it over the line from a couple of yards out.

With the Saints now in total disarray Town added to their misery with two ,more goals in five minutes after the half hour mark. Firstly Stephens expertly made room on the edge of the penalty area to hit a sublime finish beyond Trebes into the top corner, and then Taylor outmuscled Lloyd Groves to reach a long ball down the middle and coolly lob it over the stranded keeper.

Amazingly the first half scoring still wasn’t finished as four minutes later Thomas conceded a penalty with a clumsy challenge and Knowles thumped the spot kick past Connor.

Then right on half time the Saints won a free kick in a promising position some five yards outside the Town penalty area but Phil Draycott summed up their first half performance by wastefully blasting it high and wide.

And any prospects of a Saints comeback in the second half disappeared when Town made it six in the 56th minute with a goal of pure quality which was all about the sheer class of Grocott and Stephens.

Exchanging passes in a confined space near the penalty spot with the bemused Saints defenders unable to get in any sort of tackle their trickery on the ball ended with Stephens being one-on-one with Trebes and calmly steering the ball past him into the net for the 24th goal of his stellar campaign.

Shortly after he made way for Jazz Luckie followed by Ahenkorah doing likewise for George Dawson, but with the result already beyond doubt the game inevitably petered out.

At least to their credit the Saints kept going to the end and went close to grabbing a third but Connor leapt to his left with a quarter of an hour to go to keep out a fiercely struck Knowles right footer and five minutes from the end also did well to push away a similar attempt from substitute Dubi Ogbonna.

And after a challenging sequence of results recently it was a much happier Carl Adams afterwards.

“We scored some tremendous goals this evening” beamed the Town boss “and it sets us up nicely for our final home game of the season on Saturday.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor Charlie Evans, Lee Thomas, James Fry (c), Dan Summerfield, Liam Francis, James Hancocks, Edwin Ahenkorah (George Dawson 68), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Jazz Luckie 60).

ST IVES : Tim Trebes, Ben Sawyer, Luke Warner-Eley, Charlie De’ath (c) (Declan Rogers 69), Lloyd Groves (Dubi Ogbonna 46), Eugene Libertucci, Tom Knowles, Lewis Leslie (Ben Baker 69), Danny Kelly, Peter Clark, Phil Draycott.

Referee               –            Tim Donnellan

Assistant Referees          –           Nick Fuller & Mark Stevens

Attendance       –        67

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Stratford       St Ives
             15 Goal Attempts            15
            10 On Target              7
              0 Blocked Shots              0
             0 Hit Woodwork              0
             1 Corners Won              5
             7 Crosses into Box              7
           10 Fouls Conceded              8
             4 Off Side              1
             1 Yellow Cards              0
             0 Red Cards              0

Town Yellow Cards          –       Thomas
St Ives Yellow Cards       –        None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

17th APRIL 2018  –  ST IVES TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

 

 

 

 

14th APRIL 2018  –  BIGGLESWADE TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN SUNK BY THE WADERS

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Biggleswade Town    –     3    –   Bowen 42  Bailey 72  Griffiths 75
Stratford Town           –      1    –   Stephens 52 (pen)

Out of sorts Town slumped to their fifth defeat in a row as their disappointing end of season form showed no signs of ending at a sunny Langford Road Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Biggleswade went ahead just before the break, and although Ben Stephens equalised from the penalty spot early in the second half with his 22nd goal of the season the Waders hit back to secure the points with two goals in three minutes late on.

Stephens was named in Town’s starting line-up even though he had played 90 minutes for Birmingham City’s Under 23 side 24 hours earlier while Will Grocott was back and Jazz Luckie was also included.

Dropping to the subs bench were Charlie Evans and Justin Marsden while Eli Bako was ruled out after apparently sustaining an injury playing Ten Pin Bowling.

Long serving midfielder and skipper Craig Daniel continued in goal for Biggleswade due to their well publicised goalkeeping crisis.

Luckie was the first to threaten with a promising run down the right which ended with his cross being turned behind by Nathan Hicks while soon after Stephens blasted a 30 yard free kick straight into the Biggleswade wall

But it was Town keeper Louis Connor who had to be alert in the 12th minute when Jordan Patrick’s cross ricocheted off a Town defender and he did even better on 26 minutes going full length to his right to push away a header from Jack Bowen.

In between the lively Stephens had a fiercely struck volley from a Mike Taylor cross blocked at point blank range by Reece Fielding followed by Daniel showing off his outfield skills as he came a long way out of his area to beat Luckie to a through pass and then calmly rolling the ball to Fielding to complete the clearance.

And on the half hour mark he demonstrated why he has been persuaded to take on the emergency keeper role with a reflex save from Stephens after Luckie’s pull back from the left byline had set up the chance.

But it was the Waders who broke the deadlock three minutes before the break when Bowen reached George Bailey’s low cross from the left before Liam Francis to steer it just inside the post.

Town began the second half with a Grocott corner from the right which was confidently claimed by Daniel, and they made it all square again in the 52nd minute.

Lee Thomas overlapped down the left and slipped the ball inside to Luckie who was brought down from behind by Tony Burnett. It was a straightforward penalty decision for referee Scott Williams and it was an equally straight forward finish from Stephens as he thumped the spot kick past Daniel with the minimum of fuss.

The Waders responded with Bowen hitting a shot into the side netting ten minutes later as Town struggled to deal with a corner from the right and this prompted Carl Adams to send on Charlie Evans and then James Fry for Mike Taylor and Edwin Ahenkorah with the intention of bolstering the midfield and hopefully seeing the game out for a point.

But the Waders regained the lead on 72 minutes when Bowen threaded the ball through to Bailey who swivelled past his marker to fire left footed past Connor from 12 yards out.

And three minutes later the Waders struck again to take the game out of Town’s reach.

Connor – who has been through a wobbly patch recently but was very much back on form here – did well to parry a rasping Bowen shot only for substitute Taishan Griffiths to react quickest and drill the rebound into the corner of the net with his first touch of the ball after coming on barely a minute before.

And as the Waders piled forward looking to extend their lead Connor came out best in a one-on-one with Bailey followed eight minutes from time by a Bowen drive beating Connor and spinning away off the outside of his right hand post.

Deep into added time Town at last tested Daniel with a James Hancocks effort which was tipped over before the final whistle signalled another frustrating result for Carl Adams’ side.

“We are in a bit of a rut at the moment” was Carl Adams’ honest assessment afterwards. “It’s a bad place to be in but we’ve still got three games to go in which to turn it round.

At 1-1 today l felt that we would come away with a draw at worst but it wasn’t to be so we’ll go again at St Ives on Tuesday which will be our third away games in six days.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor Dan Summerfield. Lee Thomas, James Hancocks, Liam Francis, Andy Gallinagh (Justin Marsden 81), Jazz Luckie. Mike Taylor (Charlie Evans 58). Edwin Ahemkorah (James Fry 66). Will Grocott. Ben Stephens.

BIGGLESWADE : Craig Daniel (c), Jordan Patrick. Lucas Perry, Reece Fielding, Nathan Hicks, Connor Hall, Tony Burnett (Mark Coulson 84), Robbie Parker, Jack Bowen, Liam Brooks (Taishan Griffiths 74), George Bailey (Luca Allinson-Statham 88).

Referee          –          Scott Williams

Assistant Referees        –          Ede Eruero & Andrew Trogoning

Attendance        –         125

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

       Stratford    Biggleswade
               9 Goal Attempts              15
              4 On Target              10
              3 Blocked Shots                1
              0 Hit Woodwork               1
             5 Corners Won               6
           11 Crosses into Box              11
             8 Fouls Conceded              14
             1 Off Side                0
             3 Yellow Cards               0
             0 Red Cards               0

Town Yellow Cards                         –             Luckie, Summerfield & Thomas
Biggleswade Yellow Cards          –             None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

12th APRIL 2018  –   BANBURY UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

ANOTHER DISMAL NIGHT FOR TOWN

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Banbury United   –     4     –     Sandy  16 (pen)  Johnson 45 + 2  Howards 46 Awadh 75                Stratford Town    –     0

Stratford Town made the short trip to the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium, on Thursday night, for the local derby against the Puritans. But like the weather it was a dismal night for Town in Banbury, as they slipped to their 6th defeat in the last 7 games, and again failed to score, and were reduced to 10 men when keeper Louis Conner was sent off after 15 minutes. So the hopes of finishing higher than last, season, now look very remote, with only 4 games left.

The only change from the Slough game was Dan Summerfield replacing James Fry in defence.

The early exchanges were fairly even, Edwin Ahenkorah had a good shot blocked and Amer Awoh shot over after a Charlie Wise effort was also blocked for Banbury. But in the 13th minute it was all change, as Town had keeper Louis Conner sent off, for preventing a goal scoring opportunity.

Connor failed to deal with a routine long ball into the Town half, headed on by Nicky Johnson, he could have cleared the ball but waited until it was in the area, but he dropped the ball twice and on the second occasion Amer Awadh won the ball and was then hauled down by Conner before he could put the ball into the empty net, and Connor then got the mandatory red card.

Charlie Evans was then replaced by James Fry who took over as custodian, as Town had no recognised keeper on the bench. It was Sandy who stepped up to take the resulting penalty, and scored with the minimum of fuss for Banbury to take the lead, Fry’s first part of the game was to get the ball out of the net.

Despite going down to 10 men it was Town who had the best 2 chances in the remainder of the half. First Michael Taylor won the ball in midfield and set up a great chance for Ahenkorah, his strike beat advancing Puritans Keeper Jack Harding but unfortunately hit the post in the 25th minute.

It was Taylor who had the next chance as he picked up a pass from Eli Bako, musceled his way into the box, but his goal bound shot was well blocked by Harding as he came off his line to prevent a Town equaliser.

The home sides response, was in the last 5 minutes of the half, Leam Howards shot over and Sandy planted a header wide from a George Nash cross, but the Puritans doubled their lead in the second minute of added time, when Elliot Sandy crossed from the left, and Nicky Johnson was allowed a free header to beat Fry, from 6yds out.

It was all Banbury in the second half, and within 2 minutes of the restart they were 3 up. A Jordy Ngathe cross from the left was headed back across goal by Johnson and Leam Howards scored with a close range header at the far post.

The second half was dominated by the Puritans as they took control with the man advantage. Sandy, Johnson and Awadh all had efforts easily saved by caretaker keeper Fry, but he was beaten again in the 75th minute as Amer Awadh scored Banburys 4th. He picked up the ball in his own half went past a couple of Town players, then outpaced the defence to fire a low strike inside the far post to put the result beyond doubt, beating the diving Fry.

Towns only effort of the half came in the 87 minute, when sub Jazz Luckie had a close range effort cleared off the line by a Banbury defender from a Lee Thomas free kick.

Not a good night for the Town faithful, having to suffer another defeat, but although being down to 10 men the Town players still tried to play some football. Manager Carl Adams, only comment was, it was not good, and a poor descion by Connor. It now appears to be a case of seeing out the rest of the season for Stratford, with 4 games left 1 at home, and 3 away.

Stratford Town :  Connor, Summerfield, Thomas, Hancocks, Francis, Gallinagh, Bako, Marsden, Ahenkorah, (61 Luckie), Taylor, Marsden, Evans, (14 Fry)  Sub Not Used Stephens, Recci.

Banbury United  ;  Harding, Stonehouse, Nash, Bradbury, Awoh, Johnson, (88 Macdonald), Howards, (73 Ngamvoulou), Ngathe, Sandy,(82 Wright) Wise, Finch,  Subs not Used, Humphreys, Barnett (GK)

Referee           —       Scott Robertson

Assistant Referees       –         Lee Dudman & Ben Chance

Attendance         –    302

Town Man of the Match  –   Mike Taylor

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Town Yellow Cards           –    Hancocks & Thomas

 Banbury Yellow Cards    –     None

Match Report by Rod Abrahams

 

7th APRIL 2018  –  SLOUGH TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

ONE IS ENOUGH FOR THE REBELS

Stratford Town     –      0
Slough Town          –      1      –      Coles  35

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Slough enhanced their promotion credentials with their fourth win in only nine days while Town slumped to their fifth successive home defeat with Perry Coles 35th minute goal deciding a closely fought game which seldom reached any great levels of excitement for either set of fans.

With Will Grocott away and Ben Stephens under the weather it was a much changed Town side. There was a welcome return Andy Gallinagh after missing the previous five games, while also back in the starting line-up after being on the subs bench for the Kings Lynn match were Edwin Ahenkorah, Eli Bako, Liam Francis and Jazz Luckie.

Town were first to threaten in only the fifth minute .when Justin Marsden hit a low drive from 25 yards which was straight at Slough keeper Jack Turner with Slough responding with a pinpoint Josh Jackman right cross being headed away by the well positioned Francis.

Town keeper Louis Connor then safely held a dipping cross-cum-shot from Scott Davies, but the game was developing into a midfield stalemate with hardly a clearcut chance at either end.

On 20 minutes Evans cut in from the right only for his shot to rebound away off a defender and shortly after Turner just beat Bako to an Evans cross, but the Rebels looked unruffled and they had their first goal attempt on 33 minutes when James Dobson’s shot from Matt Lench’s cross was deflected behind off Francis.

And two minutes later they took the lead when George Wells drilled in a low cross from the left which Town failed to deal with gifting Coles a simple close range finish.

Town immediately had a chance to level but from a promising position Ahenkorah could only blast a free kick straight into the Slough wall and it was already clear that they would have to up their tempo after half time if they were to get back into the game against an experienced and well organised Slough defence.

Manny Williams shot narrowly over for Slough in the opening minute of the second half while at the other end the lively Evans slipped the ball inside to Bako whose well struck right footer was shovelled round the post by Turner.

A couple of minutes later Evans skipped past Wells to reach the byline but his low cross was easily cut out by Turner before the Rebels squandered a great chance to go two up on the hour mark when a slick passing move involving Lench and Warren Harris ended with Davies firing wastefully over with only Connor to beat.

Soon after the Rebels skipper Mark Nisbet wasn’t far away with a header from a Lench free kick, but from then on Slough concentrated on seeing the game out with the impressive Lench bossing midfield and also causing Town more than one uncomfortable moment with his impeccable set piece deliveries into the penalty area.

Dan Summerfield and Mike Taylor came on for Jimmy Fry and Luckie and Taylor’s persistence soon set up a chance for Bako but his shot lacked the power to trouble Turner and as the minutes ticked away Town seemed to run out of ideas and Slough looked more and more comfortable.

Taylor had a couple of half chances but Slough survived without any really serious alarms and continued their push into the play off places.

“We’ve come up short against a promotion chasing side once again” was the honest assessment from Carl Adams afterwards. “As I said last week after the Kings Lynn game the top eight teams in this League are a class above us, and that’s been the story of our season.

We’re competitive against teams around us in the table but we simply haven’t got the resources to go head to head with the sides pushing for the play off spots.

So we do as well as we can and today it didn’t help having Will Grocott unavailable and Ben Stephens suffering from the flu. But we set out to be tighter as I didn’t want us to be on the end of another 5-1 scoreline, and we certainly didn’t make it easy for Slough who are really on a roll at the moment.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, James Fry (c) (Dan Summerfield 62), Lee Thomas, James Hancocks, Liam Francis, Andy Gallinagh, Jazz Luckie (Mike Taylor 62), Justin Marsden, Edwin Ahemkorah (Ben Stephens 77), Eli Bako, Charlie Evans.

SLOUGH : Jack Turner, Josh Jackman, George Wells, Nathan Smart, Mark Nisbet (c), Scott Davies, James Dobson (Chris Flood 69), Matt Lench, Perry Coles, Manny Williams (Lee Togwell 77), Warren Harris..

Referee           –             Sarah Garratt

Assistant Referees            –            Kurt Bartlett & Adam Clenaghan

Attendance      –        314

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford      Slough
             7 Goal Attempts           10
             5 On Target             4
             0 Blocked Shots             0
             0 Hit Woodwork             0
             2 Corners Won             4
             5 Crosses into Box             9
           18 Fouls Conceded           10
             7 Off Side             3
             4 Yellow Cards             1
             0 Red Cards             0

 Town Yellow Cards          –          Ahenkorah, Hancocks, Summerfield & Taylor
Slough Yellow Cards      –           Lench

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

31st MARCH 2018   –   KINGS LYNN TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

THE LINNETS FLY TOO HIGH FOR TOWN

Stratford Town        –    1     –    Recci 16                                                                                                                 Kings Lynn Town    –    5     –    Ward (20 3 & 12 Mettam 36  Fry 50 (og)  Siddons 81

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In spite of the heavy overnight rain this match went ahead after a morning pitch inspection allowing Kings Lynn to continue their pursuit of Hereford at the top of the table as they romped to their sixth successive win.

The highflying Linnets were two up inside the opening 12 minutes as Town’s recent defensive shortcomings resurfaced, and although Loyiso Recci pulled one back soon after the Linnets moved slickly through the gears to eventually hand Carl Adams’ side their heaviest defeat of the season.

Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from the Hitchin game in midweek with Charlie Evans, Justin Marsden and Lee Thomas coming in for Edwin Ahenkorah, Eli Bako and Liam Francis.

And following on from Ahenkorah at Farnborough last weekend it was the turn of Will Grocott to notch his 100th Town appearance this afternoon.

Knowing only as win would do if they were to keep tabs on Hereford the Linnets pushed forward straight from the kick off and went ahead in only the third minute when Simon Lapin’s right wing corner found the towering central defender Tom Ward unmarked in the penalty area and he headed powerfully into the net.

Town responded with a looping Dan Summerfield cross being confidently held by Linnets keeper Alex Street before another Lapin corner almost caught Town out again with Michael Gash’s header clipping the bar on its way behind.

And on 12 minutes the Linnets went two up from a third Lapin corner as Town keeper Louis Connor spilled another Gash header and Ward reacted quickest to prod the loose ball over the line.

With Town seeming stunned a well struck Craig Parker effort was pushed away by Connor before Town got back into the game from a corner of their own.

Floated over by Grocott into the congested six yard box it was met by Loyiso Recci and although his header was hooked clear the linesman flagged that it had already crossed the line.

Soon after Street was almost deceived by an Evans shot from the right but this time the linesman ruled in the Linnets’ favour, while another Town move saw Marsden surge through the middle only for Street to be smartly off his line to block.

But the Linnets restored their two goal advantage in the 36th minute when Gash made ground down the left with Town caught upfield and his cross picked out Leon Mettam who fired past Connor from 15 yards out.

The Linnets were soon into their stride after the break with Lapin hitting a 25 yard free kick narrowly wide, and five minutes into the second half the result was put beyond doubt when that man Lapin whipped in a cross from the left which Town skipper Jimmy Fry attempted to clear only for the ball to glance off his head and drift beyond Connor into the far corner of the net.

A couple of minutes later a deep cross from right back Cameron Norman led to a scramble in the Town six yard box ending with Connor gratefully falling on the ball at the foot of his left hand post.

But Town kept going as the Linnets began to make substitutions – no doubt with Easter Monday’s clash with fellow title chasers Kettering Town in mind – and on the hour mark Summerfield’s pinpoint pass released Evans down the right only for his shot to be parried by Street with the ball then rebounding off Ben Stephens for a Linnets goal kick.

A patient Town move then led to Grocott making room for a fiercely struck right footer which was pushed away by Street stretching high to his left followed by the keeper comfortably dealing with a snap shot from Stephens.

With just over a quarter of an hour left Carl Adams sent on Eli Bako and Jazz Luckie and Luckie soon forced Street into what was no more than a routine save.

But the Linnets still looked dangerous going forward and in the 81st minute substitute Tom Siddons added their fifth with an emphatic finish from the edge of the area.

And barely a minute later he should have made it six but he somehow lifted the ball over the bar from six yards out after another Lapin cross from the left

“It was a tough afternoon” admitted Carl Adams afterwards. “Us playing against the likes of Kings Lynn is similar to Watford or Bournemouth coming up against Manchester City in the Premier League in terms of resources.

The reality is that the top six or seven teams in this League are in a different class to the others, and the League is stronger this time round as last season it was probably two or three which were that much better.

Our next two fixtures against Banbury and Slough will also be difficult, but I still believe that we can better last season’s 14th ;place finish and 56 points total, and they remain our targets as we enter the last month of the season.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Charlie Evans, Lee Thomas, Loyiso Recci, James Fry (c), Justin Marsden (Eli Bako 73), James Hancocks (Jazz Luckie 73), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens

K/LYNN : Alex Street, Cameron Norman, Frazer Blake-Tracy (Dion Frary 71), Ryan Fryatt, Tom Ward, Ryan Jarvis (c), Cameron King (Michael Clunan 67), Craig Parker, Michael Gash (Tom Siddons 57), Leon Mettam, Simon Lappin.

Referee         –         Wayne Barratt

Assistant Referees        –            Jake Allsopp & Liam Corbett

Attendance        –          282

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford        K/Lynn
          12 Goal Attempts             13
            9 On Target                8
            0 Blocked Shots                0
            1 Hit Woodwork               1
            5 Corners Won               5
          15 Crosses into Box               8
            9 Fouls Conceded               9
             2 Off Side               3
             4 Yellow Cards               2
            0 Red Cards               0

Town Yellow Cards          –         Bako, Hancocks, Recci & Thomas
K/Lynn Yellow Cards       –         Lapin & Parker

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

27h MARCH 2018  –  HITCHIN TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

BELOW PAR TOWN GIFT THE POINTS TO HITCHIN

Strarford Ttown     –     1     –     Francis  12
Hitchin Town           –    2      –    Donnelly  8  Logan  25

In a rare coincidence Town and Hitchin came into the game with both teams having scored four first half goals on the way to wide margin weekend away wins at Farnborough and Dunstable respectively.-

But Town put in an error ridden performance totally different from their accomplished display at Farnborough, and an experienced and streetwise  Hitchin side took full advantage to complete the seasonal double over Carl Adams’ side and consolidate their position in the  top half of then table.

Town’s starting line-up showed one change from the romp at Farnborough with Eli Bako coming in for the injured Justin Marsden.

In a explosive start both sides could have taken the lead inside the opening couple of minutes.

Straight from the kick off Town forced a corner from which Loyiso Recci headed inches over followed at the other end by Jonny McNamara latching onto a long ball down the middle but with only Louis Connor to beat he miscued horribly and held his head in his hands as the ball spun harmlessly wide.

But on eight minutes Hitchin went ahead when Charlie Smith’s low drive from 25 yards out was pushed out by Connor plunging to his left and Brett Donnelly reacted quickest to slot home the rebound.

Four minutes later it was all square again as Will Grocott floated a left wing corner into the six yard box and Liam Francis climbed above everyone else to head into the net.

With both sides intent on ;pushing forward it was an open game, and in the 22nd minute Ben Stephens used his pace to surge down the inside left channel but Hitchin keeper Josh Mullinson was smartly off his line to block.

And on 25 minutes Hitchin regained the lead thanks to a calamitous mistake from Connor who called for the ball as Francis tried to guide it back to him but failed to claim it allowing Hugo Logan to roll it into the empty net.

As Town sought a second equaliser Stephens had an on-target effort blocked with penalty appeals for hands being waved away, and Edwin Ahenkorah was clean through but went for power over placement and blazed it wastefully wide.

Then a minute before the break a Grocott free kick was only cleared as far as James Hancocks whose first time volley wasn’t far away.

Hitchin were first to threaten after the restart with a neat move down the left setting up a chance for Logan whose shot from the edge of the penalty fizzed narrowly over.

Town responded with Mike Taylor working his way in from the left only to fire disappointingly over.

Then on 65 minutes Town were given a free kick in a promising position some 25 yards out which Stephens aimed for the top right hand corner but Mullinson took off to push it away.

Town continued to have plenty of the possession but Hitchin’s well organised defence gave little away and Town seldom looked like getting back into the game.

Mullinson safely held a curling Grocott free kick under the bar with ten minutes to go before Town at last created a real chance when Taylor slid the ball inside to substitute Jaxzz Luckie but from virtually on the penalty spot he lifted it agonisingly over.

Then as Town mounted one last desperate attack deep into added time a fiercely struck Dan Summerfield shot was parried by Mullinson and Bako’s follow-up from the loose ball ricocheted away of a defender as Town slipped to their third home League defeat in a row.

“It’s so frustrating for everyone” was the verdict from a downbeat Carl Adams afterwards. “We produce a top notch display at Farnborough and then follow it up with a poor effort tonight when I don’t think anyone could say they had a good game.

I know that Hitchin are a different side to Farnborough. They are tough, experienced, well organised and hard working, and I emphasised this to the lads in my pre-match team talk, but they still allowed Hitchin to dictate how the game was played.

The two goals we conceded were really poor, and we got what we deserved.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, James Fry (c). James Hancocks (Lee Thomas 65), Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Eli Bako, Edwin Ahenkorah (Jazz Luckie 65), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens

HITCHIN : Josh Mullinson, Toby Syme, Bob Walster, Lewis Rolfe, Josh Bickerstaff (c),.Matt Spring, Trey Charles, Charlie Smith, Jonny McNamara (Patrick Tshikala 61), Brett Donnelly, Hugo Logan (Lucas Kirkpatrick 81),

Referee        –         Richard Gardner

Assistant Referees      –           John Roskelly & Paul Tyler

Attendance       –       186

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Town Yellow Cards           –          None
Hitchin Yellow Cards       –          Bickerstaff, McNamara & Syme

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

24th MARCH 2018  –  FARNBOROUGH  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

ALL OVER AT HALF TIME AS FARNBOROUGH ARE SWEPT ASIDE BY SUPER SLICK TOWN

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Farnborough          –     1    –    Sealey-Harris  5
Stratford Town      –     4    –    Stephens (2) 19 & 40  Grocott (2) 25 & 30

In spite of going behind early in their first ever visit to Farnborough’s impressive Easy as HGV Stadium Town recovered to romp to their biggest away win of the season as they ran in four goals in twenty one blistering first half minutes.

Will Grocott and Ben Stephens who were both on the mark twice proved far too hot for the Farnbrough defence to handle, and it made for a comfortable second half as Carl Adams’ side saw the game out without any serious alarms.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from the Tiverton game with Loyiso Recci and Mike Taylor taking over from Charlie Evans and Eli Bako while there was the welcome return of Jazz Luckie on the subs bench on his first appearance since December 10th.

The afternoon was also a personal milestone for Edwin Ahenkorah who was playing in his 100th Town game.

But conversely only skipper CJ Fearan, Matt Jones and Jack Barton survived in the Farnborough team from the side that featured in the reverse fixture at the MoodChimp back in December.

Town were first to threaten on a heavy pitch with Ahenkorah’s right wing cross only being cleared as far as Justin Marsden who fired narrowly over.

At the other end Louis Connor pushed a decent effort from Connor Calcutt behind before Farnborough went ahead in only the fifth minute.

Andy Sealey-Harris surged forward down the inside right channel and from 25 yards out hit a low drive which beat Connor’s despairing dive at his near post.

Town immediately responded with a mix-up in the Farnborough defence allowing Ahenkorah time and space for a shot which was deflected behind, and as Farnborough struggled to deal with the resulting corner the ball reached Grocott on the right and his cross-cum-shot was headed off the line by Sam Hangar.

Back came Farnborough with dangerman Sealey-Harris again making ground down the right to whip in a low cross which was just out of Malakai Mars’ reach at the far post.

But Town were beginning to get on top, and equalised in the 19th minute when Ahenkorah had a fiercely struck effort ricochet off a defender and the loose ball fell kindly to Stephens who instantly volleyed it past Farnborough keeper Aaron Bufton into the top corner for his 20th goal of the season.

Six minutes later Connor launched a free kick down the middle which was flicked on by Stephens and Grocott ran on to slot it past the advancing Bufton.

It was all Town now and on the half hour mark they extended their lead when Ahenkorah twisted and turned in the penalty area to make room for a left foot shot which cannoned off Stephens and looped over Bufton to provide Grocott with a tap-in from virtually on the line.

Soon after Stephens wasn’t far away with a 35 yard free kick, and with Farnborough now in disarray it got even better for Town five minutes before the break when Stephens – who by now was looking like scoring every time he touched the ball – latched onto Marsden’s long passl down the right to skip past Bufton and steer it into the empty net.

Farnborough had no option but to attack in the second half while Town were content to soak up the pressure and use the pace of Stephens and the guile of Grocott to cause Farnborough plenty of problems on the break.

The lively Sealey-Harris was Farnborough’s main threat but he lacked any real support.

Mike Eilias-Fernandes blazed wildly over from a promising position in the 58th minute followed by Calcutt wriggling through only to see his finish trickle the wrong side of the post, while Connor had to go full length to push away a better effort from Elias-Fernandes and then do the same when Sealy-Harris let fly with a thunderous right footer in the 74th minute.

But any chance Farnborough had totally disappeared with twelve minutes to go when Nat Oseni was sent off after picking up a second yellow card, and Town confidently played out the remaining time .to complete a thoroughly professional performance.

“I feel a lot better after that” beamed Carl Adams afterwards. “We should have done that to Tiverton last Tuesday and today shows what we are capable of.

Ben and Will were the two best players on the pitch. They absolutely ran the show and Farnborough simply couldn’t handle them.

So we now look forward to facing Hitchin next week and if we can repeat this afternoon’s performance then we can achieve another  positive result.”

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, James Fry (c) (Charlie Evans 84), James Hancocks (Eli Bako 84), Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Jazz Luckie 68), Edwin Ahenkorah, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens

FARNBOROUGH : Aaron Bufton, Luke King, Matt Jones, CJ Fearn (c), Sam Hangar (Ambrose Gnahore 70), Nat Oseni, Mike Elias-Fernandes (Matt Campbell 79), Jack Barton, Connor Calcutt, Malakai Mars (Kieran Rhule 46), Andy Sealey-Harris.

Referee         –         Matthew Russell

Assistant Referees       –         Stuart Carter & Paula Wyatt

Attendance      –         224

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford   Farnborough
          13 Goal Attempts              12
            7 On Target                6
            0 Blocked Shots                2
            0 Hit Woodwork                0
            5 Corners Won                2
            7 Crosses into Box                8
          14 Fouls Conceded             16
            6 Off Side                1
            3 Yellow Cards               3
            0 Red Cards                1

 Town Yellow Cards                      –          Bako, Fry & Taylor
Farnborough Yellow Cards     –          Barton, Elias-Fernandes & Oseni         Red Card     –      Oseni

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

20th MARCH 2018  –  TIVERTON TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN BOSS THE GAME BUT TIVVY TAKE THE POINTS

Stratford Town     –   1    –        Stephens 51
Tiverton Town      –    2    –       Short  1   L Landricombe  80

“How did we manage to lose?” queried an incredulous Carl Adams after seeing Town totally dominate the game against a combative Tiverton side – particularly in the second half – yet still slip to their second home League defeat in four days.

Arriving at the MoodChimp with an outside chance of edging out Slough Town for the final play off spot Tiverton made the perfect start by taking the lead inside the opening minute, but after Ben Stephens had equalised for Town early in the second half there was only one team in it until their leading scorer Levi Landricombe stole the points when he rifled in the winner with ten minutes to go.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from the Kettering game with Charlie Evans and Justin Marsden coming in for the unavailable Loyiso Recci and Lee Thomas, while Mike Taylor was on the subs bench after his two game ban which because of all the weather related postponements took him four weeks to complete.

The Tivvy side included 17 year old debutant keeper Liam Armstrong on “work experience” from Bristol Rovers Academy and his heroics as Town peppered his goal contributed significantly to the eventual result.

But before he had even been able to touch the ball Tivvy went ahead. Jordan Rogers let fly from all of 25 yards out and the ball cannoned against the bar with Louis Connor well beaten allowing Jamie Short to follow up and head the rebound into the empty net.

Town responded with Armstrong making his first save of the evening from a Marsden shot before Town went desperately close to a leveller in the sixth minute when Will Grocott’s left wing corner reached Liam Francis at the far post.

The Town defender head it back across goal and there was total mayhem in the Tivvy six yard box before it was scrambled clear.

And ten minutes later Town had an even better chance to make it all square when Stephens was brought down from behind by Jamie Price.

It was a straightforward penalty decision for referee Scott Postin and up stepped Edwin Ahenkorah, but his spot kick lacked conviction although that is not to take anything away from Armstrong who plunged to his right to beat it away and keep Tivvy’s lead intact.

Soon after a Grocott free kick from the right touchline was only cleared as far as James Hancocks who blazed wildly over followed by Stephens heading wide from a pinpoint Dan Summerfield cross.

In a rare Tivvy attack Short’s low cross from the right was met by Levi Landricombe whose shot ricocheted away off Francis, but back came Town with Armstrong smartly off his line to smother the ball at Stephens’ feet.

Disappointingly the game had now developed into a tetchy affair with a number of niggly encounters between both sets of players as Town kept up the pressure and Tivvy had to defend in depth and in numbers to hang on to their advantage.

Five minutes before the break Ahenkorah threaded the ball through to Eli Bako, but he needed too many touches as he tried to wriggle through and again Armstrong was quickly off his line to block.

Stephens was first to threaten after the restart with a well struck effort which was acrobatically turned away by Armstrong, but six minutes in the much needed equaliser finally arrived.

Skipper Jimmy Fry picked out Stephens’ run down the inside left channel with a perfectly weighted pass and Town’s leading scorer ran on to lash it past Armstrong for his 19th goal of the season.

Surely that would be the springboard for Town to go on and win the game as it was virtually now being played entirely in the Tivvy half, but a Stephens cross fizzed tantalisingly beyond Ahenkorah while another Stephens free kick was capably dealt with by Armstrong.

Stephens then surged into the right of the penalty area only to shoot inches over while Hancocks was wide from distance and both Bako and Marsden had attempts which were straight at Armstrong.

With 15 minutes to go Summerfield burst forward to whip in a low cross but no Town player was able to get on the end of it, and as Town’s frustrations increased both on and off the field a Stephens shot was deflected behind and from the subsequent corner the loose ball fell kindly to Francis who fired over.

Then on 80 minutes Town were caught out by a Tivvy breaklaway and conceded a free kick some 30 yards out. Levi Landricombe blasted it into the Town wall but when the rebound came straight back to him he hit a stunning strike which rocketed past Connor into the top corner.

It was pretty much an exact replica of his winning goal against Town in the reverse fixture down in Devon back in November, and it meant that Tivvy now had even more to hang on to.

Armstrong showed he had what is best described as “bottle” as he raced out to challenge Taylor as Town’s burly striker tried to latch on to an underhit backpass from Owen Irish needing a bit of treatment as a result of the inevitable collision between the two.

But it was all now impossibly frantic as Town piled forward with Summerfield’s effort which flew narrowly over deep into added time proving to be their 24th and last goal attempt of an evening in which they did everything but score the winner.

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Charlie Evans, James Hancocks, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Eli Bako (Mike Taylor 72), Justin Marsden, Edwin Ahenkorah, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens

TIVERTON : Liam Armstrong, Jamie Short, Jamie Price (c), Mike Landricombe, Owen Irish, Tom Gardner, Tom Bath (Kye Mountford 81), Jared Lewington, Jordan Rogers, Levi Landricombe, Scott Rogers.

Referee       –         Scott Postin

Assistant Referees          –            Richard Cutts & Tom Kidd

Attendance        –        146

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford      Tiverton
          24 Goal Attempts              8
          12 On Target              4
            0 Blocked Shots              0
            0 Hit Woodwork              1
            5 Corners Won              1
         11 Crosses into Box              6
            5 Fouls Conceded           15
           2 Off Side             1
           3 Yellow Cards             3
           0 Red Cards             0

 Town Yellow Cards            –          Ahenkorah, Bako & Hancocks
Tiverton Yellow Cards     –          Mountford, J Rogers & S Rogers

Match Report by Bryan Hale

17th MARCH 2018  –  KETTERING TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE 

TOWN ARE BLOWN AWAY BY THE HIGH FLYING POPPIES

Stratford Town      –    0
Kettering Town      –    4    Solkhon 14 (pen)  Richens 58  Stevens 61  O’Connor 88

Promotion hopefuls Kettering showed their quality at a bitingly cold MoodChimp Stadium on Saturday as they completed the seasonal double over a Town side which seldom looked like getting anything from the game after falling behind to a 14th minute penalty.

Neither side had played for three weeks, but the Poppies showed few signs of rustiness and wrapped up the points with two goals in four minutes either side of the hour mark, with a fourth goal two minutes from time merely adding to their already impressive goal difference as they confirmed that they will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the end of season play offs.

Town had the Arctic wind behind them as they attacked the Golf Course End from kick off and in only the second minute a Ben Stephens free kick from 20 yards out was anxiously tipped over by Poppies keeper Paul White.

Kettering responded with Kalern Thomas getting forward to hit a fiercely struck shot which was blocked with Aaron O’Connor’s effort from the rebound being beaten away by Town keeper Louis Connor.

And it was Connor who was unfortunately involved as Kettering who took the lead in the 14th minute when he advanced to deal with a long ball but only succeeded in barging over the challenging Matt Stevens to concede a penalty with Brett Solkhon lashing the spot kick into the roof of the net.

Shortly after another long ball was launched into the penalty area but this time Connor read the situation better and was smartly off his line to smother as Stevens closed in.

Town were struggling to make best user of the wind but halfway through the half Stephens cleverly made room for a cross from the left which was only cleared as far as Jimmy Fry 25 yards out and the Town skipper let fly with a dipping effort which flew inches over.

Soon after Eli Bako also crossed from the left only for Ben Toseland to make a vital interception as Edwin Ahenkorah waited to pounce.

But the Poppies went close to doubling their lead five minutes before the break when a rasping shot from Rhys Hoeness was parried by Connor and Stevens’ follow-up ricocheted away off a defender.

The half ended with a Dan Summerfield attempt from distance not missing by much, but going in trailing at half time after having the best of the conditions meant that Town would inevitably face a challenging second 45 minutes.
At least Town made a ;positive start to the second half with Stephens close to an equaliser just three minutes in with his low free kick being scrambled away by White at the foot of his right hand post.

Soon after Will Grocott floated over another free kick which found Stephens unmarked eight yards out but his header drifted wide before the Poppies took the game out of Town’s reach with two goals in four minutes.

First Michael Richens picked up a loose ball in midfield in the 58th minute and from all of 30 yards out he left Connor helpless with a thunderous left footer which rocketed into the top corner.

And on 61 minutes Stevens seized onto a misplaced pass from Bako in the right of the penalty area to blast the ball past Connor from a narrow angle.

That was effectively “game over” and although Town kept beavering away the Poppies were now in their comfort zone.

They went close to a fourth with twenty minutes to go when Toseland’s inswinging corner was helped on by the wind to drop beyond Connor and be cleared off the line by Grocott.

And with two minutes left their fourth duly arrived when Stevens latched onto a through ball down the inside left channel to surge into the penalty area.

Connor bravely blocked his initial shot but he reacted quickest to retrieve the loose ball and chip it over to the far post to provide O’Connor with a simple close range header.

“A bad day at the office” admitted Carl Adams afterwards. “But I didn’t feel that we played that badly, and we never stopped trying to play some decent football.

The scoreline says 4-0 but I thought we did better than that.

The early penalty though was a killer. From then on we tried to rush things hoping that the wind would help us out, and after half time we knew that it would be a lot more difficult.

But we have to remember that Kettering are a big club with a strong squad as you can see when they a striker of Rene Howe’s quality on the subs bench.

We’ve now got to regroup and go again on Tuesday against Tiverton. That will also not be easy but if we can get a win that will be four out of the last six games which is pretty good going by anyone’s standards.”

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, James Fry (c), Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Eli Bako (Charlie Evans 71), James Hancocks, Edwin Ahenkorah, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens

KETTERING : Paul White, Kalern Thomas, Ben Toseland, Brett Solkhon (c), Gary Mulligan, Orrion Pendry, Lindon Meikle, Aaron O’Connor, Matt Stevens, Michael Richens (Rene Howe 71), Rhys Hoeness (Ben Milnes 80).

Referee          –          Neil Pratt

Assistant Referees        –          Tom Palmer & James Whittington

Attendance       –         248

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Town Yellow Cards                –          Connor & Thomas
Kettering Yellow Cards       –           Richens

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

24th FEBRUARY 2018  –  GOSPORT BOROUGH  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE 

THOMAS POUNCES FOR THE POINTS

Gosport Borough       –      0
Stratford Town           –      1      –   Thomas  49

Town added to Gosport’s woes at the bottom of the table with a narrow win at a sunny but bitingly cold Privett Park on Saturday with left back Lee Thomas popping up with what turned out to be the winner early in the second half.

Ben Stephens was back for this one replacing the suspended Mike Taylor in the only change to the starting line-up from the midweek game at Basingstoke.

In contrast it was a very different Gosport side from the reverse fixture back in September as they strive to avoid a second successive relegation and included keeper Mark Childs who had joined on loan from National League Eastleigh only the day before.

Town were first to threaten with Edwin Ahenkorah’s persistence winning a fifth minute corner from which Ben Stephens’ shot was blocked and the loose ball rebounded to Will Grocott whose cross-cum-shot clipped the top of the bar on its way behind.

Soon after Stephens shot over after Eli Bako had nodded down an Andy Gallinagh cross as Town bossed all the meaningful possession.

Grocott was back to his best in midfield while Town were always dangerous on the right where Ahenkorah, Gallinagh and Jimmy Fry were strangely allowed plenty of space push forward.

On 20 minutes Liam Francis might have done better than glance a header harmlessly wide after Grocott had picked him out with a pinpoint cross from the right, and soon after a teasing Gallinagh centre was confidently held by Childs as Stephens waited for any mistake.

In a rare Gosport foray forward Ryan Pennery blazed wide after cutting in from the left , but although Town continued to have plenty of the ball they couldn’t create a really clearcut chance with James Hancocks shooting over from some way out.

Thomas was similarly wayward after overlapping onto a Grocott pass as the interval was reached with the game still goalless.

Justin Marsden replaced Gallinagh for the restart moving into midfield with Fry switching into the backline.

And within four minutes Town had taken the lead when Gosport struggled to clear an Ahenkoah cross with the ball eventually reaching Thomas who drilled it into the bottom corner from ten yards out.

It was the defender’s first goal since the opening day of the season at Royston.

Gosport tried hard to get back into the game forcing their first corner of the afternoon on the hour mark, and their best chance so far arrived in the 67th minute when Matt Mayes volleyed over from an Eddie Sanders cross followed a couple of minutes later by Jordan Brooks firing in a low drive which was pushed away by Louis Connor plunging to his left.

But Town were always looking comfortable and with a quarter of an hour to go Stephens showed why he has attracted the attention of Ipswich Town among others with a fiercely struck right footer from all of 25 yards out which was shovelled behind by Childs at the foot of his right hand post.

And as Gosport became more desperate in their attempts to rescue a point they squandered two great opportunities in the closing minutes.

Firstly Brooks and Pennery combined down the left to set up a chance for Craig McAllister who inexplicably shot over from inside the six yard box, and in the third and last minute of added time substitute Joel Jackson surged into the right of the penalty area but was also well off target with his finish as Town hung on for the win.

“A great result and a fully deserved win” reflected Carl Adams afterwards. “I always said that February would be a good month for us after the challenging sequence of fixtures in January, and we’ve now won three out of the last four.

We are now only two points off tenth spot in the table, and that remains our focus over the last two months of the season.”
.
STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Andy Gallinagh (Justin Marsden 46), Lee Thomas, James Fry (c), Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Eli Bako, James Hancocks, Edwin Ahenkorah Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.

GOSPORT : Mark Childs, Eddie Sanders, Harry Medway (c), Eddie Wakeley (Jason Smith 81), Robert Flooks, Josh Warren, Joe Lea (Joel Jackson 72), Jordan Brooks, Craig McAllister, Matt Mayes (Stephane Bombelenga 72), Ryan Pennery

Referee       –        Steven Hughes

Assistant Referees        –         Thomas Price & Alex Bradley

Attendance         –         238

Match Stats by Chris Simpson

      Stratford        Gosport
             16 Goal Attempts                8
               6 On Target               1
               0 Blocked Shots                0
              1 Hit Woodwork                0
              4 Corners Won                3
            22 Crosses into Box                8
            10 Fouls Conceded             12
              4 Off Side               4
             0 Yellow Cards               0
             0 Red Cards               0

 Stratford Yellow Cards         –        None
Gosport Yellow Cards           –        None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

20th FEBRUARY 2018  –  BASINGSDTOKE TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

WRIGHT IS RIGHT ON TARGET FOR THE WINNER

Basingstoke Town     –      2     –   Smart 42    Wright  79                                                                       Stratford Town           –      1     –   Taylor  52

Even though they are only in mid-table Basingstoke boast one of the best home records in the Southern League Premier Division, and on a cold and windy Tuesday evening a sweetly struck late free kick from substitute Ben Wright propelled them to their tenth win of the season at the Camrose Stadium.

Sam Smart had fired them ahead shortly before half time, but Mike Taylor with his 12th goal of the campaign had levelled for Town early in the second half., and Carl Adams’ side looked to have secured a hard earned point until Wright blasted in the winner.

Ben Stephens was given the evening off ahead of his involvement with Ipswich Town Under 23’s in their Premier League Cup clash with Aston Villa at Hednesford’s Keys Park ground on Thursday, but James Fry returned after completing his two match ban in the only change to the starting line-up from the weekend.

A swirling breeze blowing straight down the pitch which grew stronger as the evening wore on meant that the game was never going to be a classic, but Town had it behind them from kick off and worked an early opening only for Eli Bako’s cross from the right to be too close to Basingstoke keeper Colin Mcadden.

Gradually though Basingstoke began to look the mote threatening of the two sides with Callum Bunting firing into the side netting from a narrow angle in the 10th minute and then seeing his looping header from Tim Wohlfiel’s cross acrobatically clawed away by Louis Connor six minutes later.

Fry then tried his luck from distance which was easily dealt with by Mcadden before another Wohlfiel cross on 22 minutes was only half cleared by Loyiso Recci with Sam Smart blazing the loose ball wildly over.

But was becoming Basingstoke’s danger man down the right, and he went close to giving them the lead on the half hour mark when he cut in from the right to hit a low drive which was only kept out by Connor’s outstretched leg.

And as Basingstoke kept pressing it was a quality finish from Smart which fired them ahead three minutes before the break. George Bennett floated over a deep cross from the left touchline which reached Smart at the far post and he gave Connor no chance with a thunderous volley into the roof of the net.

Town had the chance of an equaliser only two minutes into the second half with a free kick a couple of yards outside the penalty area but Edwin Ahenkorah hit it straight into the Basingstoke wall and it was cleared away.

But on 52 minutes they were back level when Will Grocott’s clever lob into the penalty area was expertly controlled by Taylor who swivelled past his marker and thumped it past Mcadden from eight yards out.

Back came Basingstoke and only two blocks in quick succession from Lee Thomas prevented Smart from restoring their lead, but in spite of now playing against the wind Town now enjoyed a decent little spell with Wohlfiel, Mike Atkinson and Charlie Kennedy all picking up yellow cards as Basingstoke were forced back.

But Town couldn’t really create a clearcut opening, and having survived Basingstoke began to apply the pressure once more. More heroic defending from Thomas with twenty minutes to go kept Town level as he cleared a Sam Argent off the line after the striker had skipped round the advancing Connor before Town had a great chance to take the lead on 77 minutes.

Taylor worked his way in from the left but his close range shot was deflected away and as the play switched to the other end Town conceded a free kick 25 yards out in a central position.

Up stepped Wright who lashed it past the Town wall and beyond Connor’s despairing dive and there was to be no way back for Town after that.

From then on Basingstoke concentrated on closing the game out and almost came close to a third themselves as another Argent effort drifted narrowly wide.

So a cheerless evening for Town in Hampshire, and they will be hoping for better when they head back down the A34 on Saturday to take on basement side Gosport Borough when they will be without Taylor who is suspended following his red card against Dorchester.
.
STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Andy Gallinagh, Lee Thomas, James Fry (c), Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Eli Bako, James Hancocks (Charlie Evans 67), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah.

BASINGSTOKE : Colin Mcadden, Tom Wohlfiel, Dan Bayliss, Charlie Kennedy, Euri Demuria, Shane Hollambyo, Mike Atkinson, George Bennett, Callum Bunting (Ben Wright 67), Sam Argent, Sam Smart (Dan Collins 76).

Referee       –        Shelby Elson

Assistant Referees       –       Derrick Lane & Alex Mathieson

Attendance        –         194

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Stratford     Basingstoke
              9 Goal Attempts            12
              5 On Target              5
             0 Blocked Shots             3
             0 Hit Woodwork              0
             0 Corners Won              3
              7 Crosses into Box              8
              9 Fouls Conceded            11
             4 Off Side               4
             0 Yellow Cards               3
              0 Red Cards               0

Stratford Yellow Cards              –        None
Basingstoke Yellow Cards       –        Atkinson, Kennedy & Wohlfiel

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

 

17th FEBRUARY 2018  –  DORCHESTER TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN SEND THE MAGPIES FLYING

Stratford Town          –     2     –     Ahenkorah 44  Grocott 45+ 1
Dorchester Town      –     0

Town recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since the end of November and completed the seasonal double over visiting Dorchester with an ultimately comfortable success at the MoodChimp Stadium on Saturday.

Two goals in the closing minutes of the first half were decisive and from then on Dorchester struggled to get back into the game, with the only downside for the Town faithful being the sending-off of Mike Taylor in the third minute of added time right at the end.

Before kick off there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence in memory of Mick Powlett who sadly passed away recently and who had supported the club both financially and otherwise through thick and thin over many years..

Dan Summerfield hadn’t recovered from the knock picked up at Dunstable so Andy Gallinagh switched to right back and in came Ben Stephens who was available for this game between his Ipswich commitments.

The Magpies were first to threaten with Kyle Egan hitting a fairly tame effort straight at Louis Connor while at the other end Luke Winsper reacted quickly to take the ball off Stephens’ toe from Edwin Ahenkorah’s flick-on.

As the afternoon’s lively start continued Connor then made a smart save low down to his left from Billy Lowes in the sixth minute followed by Archie Collins having a fierce right footer deflected behind off Liam Francis.

But as the game settled down Town began to have the better of the possession with Ahenkorah cleverly making space for a shot which was only a routine save for the Magpies keeper and skipper Chris Weale.

And they went close to talking the lead in the 25th minute when Will Grocott’s cross from the left reached Stephens at the far post whose close range shot ricocheted off Weale with Ahenkorah’s follow-up attempt being scrambled clear.

Weale then kept his side level on 32 minutes as he stretched to tip over a rasping drive from Eli Bako, but just as it looked as if the half would end up goal-less Town stunned the Magpies with two goals in the last three minutes.

Firstly Ahenkorah beat the offside trap down the inside right channel to run on to a Francis pass and slot the ball past Weale, and the subsequent celebrations had barely died down when it was again Ahenkorah cutting in from the left this time.

Weale pushed his shot against the bar and Grocott pounced to fire home the rebound.

And there was still time before the half time whistle for Connor to spectacularly beat away a piledriver from Collins as the Magpies looked for an immediate response.

Making two substitutions for the restart Dorchester were quickly on the attack in the early minutes of the second half, but some resolute Town defending snuffed out any real prospect of a comeback.

Instead it was Town who put together a couple of dangerous moves with Stephens having a low cross cut out by Weale before – with Ipswich undoubtedly in mind – he was replaced by Justin Marsden, and Ahenkorah also seeing his centre held by the Magpies keeper.

What turned out to be Dorchester’s best chance arrived on the hour mark when Neil Martin’s cross from the left was volleyed over by Sam Lanahan followed shortly after by Ashley Pope cutting in from the right only to blaze wastefully over.

And with twenty minutes to go Town went desperately close to going three up when Taylor twisted and turned to make room for a shot which went beyond Weale and was cleared off the line by Egan.

Shortly after Taylor was involved in an altercation with Ollie Griggs which saw both yellow carded by referee Steve Durnall, and this was to have drastic repercussions for the burly Town striker later on.

Meanwhile the game drifted to a conclusion with Town content to sit on their two goal lead and Dorchester unable to muster the bit of quality needed to create a clearcut chance.

But in the third minute of added time Taylor again clashed with a Dorchester player near the corner flag, and a second yellow card saw Taylor trudge disconsolately off as Town played out the remaining few seconds to secure the points.

“The League table suggests that Dorchester are a similar side to us “ said Carl Adams afterwards “ and I always knew that the game would be decided either by a mistake or quality goals.

As it was we came up with the goals and I felt we fully deserved the win.

What was particularly pleasing was keeping a clean sheet and our overall game management in the second half. This is something we have been working on in training, and it’s always good when it then pays off in games.

All we have to do now is keep going. We now have 45 points with 13 games still to go compared with 56 last season and 50 in our first season at this level which indicates that we are continuing to improve, and in a League as tough as this one that is an achievement to be proud of.”

.
STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Andy Gallinagh, Lee Thomas. James Hancocks, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis (c), Eli Bako (Charlie Evans 77), Edwin Ahenkorah (George Dawson 88), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Justin Marsden 55).

DORCHESTER : Chris Weale (c), Kyle Egan, Neil Martin, Luke Winsper, Ross Carmichael, Archie Collins, Tom Blair (Solomon Ayunga 80), Billy Lowes (Ollie Griggs 46), Ashley Pope, Sam Lanahan, David Jerrard (Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist 46).

Referee          –        Steve Durnall

Assistant Referees       –        Simon Lane & Luis Martin

Attendance         –           214

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Stratford     Dorchester
           16 Goal Attempts                9
           11 On Target               4
             5 Blocked Shots               5
             1 Hit Woodwork               0
            4 Corners Won               2
            8 Crosses into Box               8
          17 Fouls Conceded               7
            3 Off Side                1
            1 Yellow Cards                2
            1 Red Cards               0

 Stratford Yellow Cards            –      Taylor                               Red Card   –   Taylor
Dorchester Yellow Cards       –        Pope & Griggs

Match Report by Bryan Hale

10th FEBRUARY 2018  –  DUNSTABLE TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN BACK ON THE WINNING TRAIL

5F3A0579

Dunstable Town    –      2     –      Ogden 60   Amu 90
Stratford Town      –      3     –      Taylor (2) 9 & 50  Francis 76

Struggling Dunstable Town made Carl Adams’ side work harder than they probably expected to before securing their first win since Boxing Day at a wet and windy Creasey Park on Saturday.

Battling against relegation with only three League wins all season and having seen over 100 goals already hit the back of their net they nevertheless put in a spirited performance and their two pacy wide players Ryan Young and Andrew Osei-Bonsu caused the Town backline plenty of problems all afternoon.

It looked as if it was all going to be straightforward when Mike Taylor headed Town into a ninth minute lead, but Dunstable dug in to keep Town out for the rest of the first half with only the woodwork twice preventing them from going in at the break level or even better.

Another Taylor strike soon after the restart offered Town some breathing space but Kieran Ogden’s stunning effort on the hour mark put Dunstable right back into the game.

Liam Francis restored Town’s two goal lead with a quarter of an hour to go and the points seemed to be safely heading back up the M1 until Arel Amu caused some late nerve jangling with Dunstable’s second as the game headed into added time.

With Ben Stephens continuing his involvement with Ipswich town Edwin Ahenkorah came into the starting line-up while  other changes from the Frome game saw Liam Francis return in place of the suspended Jimmy Fry and Lee Thomas take over from Charlie Evans.

On an inevitably heavy pitch which had to survive a couple of inspections Town were soon on the attack, and in only the fourth minute Taylor had a header from an Ahenkorah cross clawed away at full stretch by keeper Will Hunt.

Dunstable responded almost immediately with Ty Ward hitting a low drive from a few yards outside the penalty area against the foot of Town keeper Louis Connor’s right hand post.

But Town were soon piling forward again, and Taylor had better luck on nine minutes when he opened the scoring  with a perfectly placed header from Will Grocott’s left wing corner.

Dunstable though had the chance of an equaliser five minutes later when a slip by Loyiso Recci allowed Osei-Bonsu to race away down the inside left channel but Connor was smartly off his line to make a vital block.

Town were bossing the possession, and went close to doubling their lead in the 24th minute when Taylor skipped past the advancing Hunt and squared the ball inside only for Peter Kioso to clear it off Ahenkorah’s toe.

A Grocott long range free kick was easily gathered by Hunt before Young showed his quality with a floated effort from out on the right which was only inches too high.

And Dunstable went even closer five minutes before the interval when Amu rattled the bar with a fiercely struck 25 yard free kick before Eli Bako squandered a great chance for Town with a tame finish from only eight yards out.

Recci kept Town’s lead intact with a goal line clearance from Young immediately after the restart, but five minutes into the second half Town went two up when Taylor met Dan Summerfield’s pinpoint  cross with a spectacular volley which rocketed past Hunt into the roof of the net.

Town’s burly striker clearly likes playing against Dunstable as five of his eleven goals this season have been against them including an 18 minute hat trick in the reverse fixture back in October.

To their credit Dunstable kept going and on 61 minutes a Young shot was deflected behind off Francis. Town failed to deal properly with the resulting corner and the loose ball was seized on by Ogden all of 30 yards out who lashed a thunderous right footer into the top corner.

Back came Town with Grocott and Charlie Evans having shots blocked in quick succession followed by Ahenkorah cutting from the right to shoot straight at Hunt.

Then in the 75th minute Taylor’s shot was parried by Hunt with Kioso turning his follow-up effort behind, and when Grocott delivered the corner into the six yard box Recci’s header came back off a defender and Francis stabbed home the rebound from close range.

That seemed to have wrapped up the points, and Taylor was close to making it a hat trick in both Dunstable games with five minutes to go only for Hunt to get down well to his left.

But just as Town were all but over the line Amu fired in Dunstable’s second in the 90th minute followed by Osei-Bonsu shooting narrowly wide deep into added time as Dunstable put in an unavailing late flourish.

“We made hard work of it” was Carl Adams’ reaction afterwards, “but it was good to get the three points and after the run of games we had in January we all feel a whole lot better now.”
.
STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield (Charlie Evans 67), Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis (c), Eli Bako (Justin Marsden 74), James Hancocks, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott (George Dawson 87), Edwin Ahenkorah.

DUNSTABLE : Will Hunt, Peter Kioso, Gedeon Okito (c), Ty Ward, Ben Collins (Ethan Lamptey 81), Kieran Ogden, Ryan Young, Alex Ward (Lanre Ladipo 59), Arel Amu, Charlie Black (John Sonuga 63), Andrew Osei-Bonsu.

Referee          –         Chris Reeson

Assistant Referees       –         Nick Fuller & Ian Stewart

Attendance       –         75

Match Stats by Chris Simpson

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

Stratford Yellow Cards         –        Gallinagh & Recci
Dunstable Yellow Cards       –        Kioso & A Ward

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

3rd FEBRUARY 2018  –  FROME TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

THE ROBINS FLY TOO HIGH FOR TOWN

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Stratford Town     –   1    –    Stephens 90 + 4                                                                                                      Frome Town           –   2    –    Raynes  4   Mapstone 66

Town are without a win since Boxing Day from what has certainly been a challenging sequence of fixtures after a well organised Frome side deservedly took all three points back to Somerset following an at times bad tempered encounter at a damp and grey MoodChimp Stadium on Saturday.

Looking for their fourth win in five games Frome went ahead in only the fourth minute, and although they went down to ten men when centre forward Mitchell Page was red carded early in the second half their doubled their lead soon after, and Ben Stephens’ 18th goal of the season deep into added time was far too late to affect the result.

Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from the defeat at Kings Langley with the fit-again James Hancocks and Dan Summerfield plus Charlie Evans coming in for Edwin Ahenkorah, Justin Marsden and Lee Thomas.

On an inevitably testing surface Town made a bright start with Summerfield overlapping down the right to whip in a low cross which was safely held by Frome keeper Kyle Phillips and then hitting a decent effort which was again capably dealt with by the Robins stopper.

And in their first foray forward it was the Robins who took the lead Joe Raynes seized on a mistake by Andy Gallinagh to fire past Town keeper Louis Connor.

Town responded with Stephens having a rasping right footer turned behind by Phillips before Mike Taylor squandered a great chance to equalise on the quarter hour mark.

Receiving a cross from Summerfield he expertly turned past his marker to have only Phillips to beat but from five yards out he fired straight at the keeper who was able to beat it away.

But Frome were becoming a constant threat going forward with Jon Davies making some eyecatching runs down the right while the lively Raynes and the combative Page were causing plenty of problems in the middle.

Right back Ben Griffiths got forward in the 20th minute to let fly with a useful attempt which didn’t miss by much followed at the other end by Hancocks going similarly close after latching on to a misdirected clearance.

Stephens then showed the skill on the ball which has attracted the attention of Ipswich Town with a mazy run into the penalty area before he was crowded out while soon after Davies surged down the inside right channel from halfway to shoot inches wide.

Towards half time both Stephens and Hancocks weren’t far away with long range efforts but Frome were always looking comfortable and went in at the break with their lead still intact.

And only the woodwork prevented them from doubling their lead in the opening minutes of the second half with Darren Jefferies hitting a low drive against the foot of Connor’s left hand post followed by a 25 yarder from Raynes rattling the bar.

By now a number of niggly tackles were flying in, and in the 52nd minute Eli Bako was pulled back by Marcus Mapstone which resulted in a yellow card for the Robins defender allowing Town skipper James Fry to float in a free kick which Taylor headed inches wide.

Two minutes later Town were provided with a real glimmer of hope when Page was sent off after a foul and subsequent fracas on the halfway line,.

But they struggled to make their extra man count, and in the 66th minute Frome went two up when Fry conceded a free kick for which he was yellow carded and Davies launched it into the penalty area for Mapstone to head firmly past Connor.

From then on Town tried hard to get back into the game but with a two goal cushion Frome were firmly in control and a Town comeback seldom looked likely.

Stephens shot straight at Phillips from a promising position with twenty minutes to go and five minutes later headed narrowly over from an Evans cross, but Robins substitute Kriss Miller almost made it three six minutes from the end with a curler which came back off the angle of post and bar with Connor well beaten.

And when Stephens netted from a Taylor knock-down in the fourth added minute it was no more than a footnote to what had become a frustrating afternoon for the Town faithful.

“Frome were a good side” admitted Carl Adams afterwards. “I was particularly impressed with their two central defenders and they fully deserved their win.

But we have to put results like today’s into perspective. We have now lost 12 League games this season, but all except one were to teams which at the time we played them were in the top ten.

The only exception was Kings Langley last week, and under a new manager they have been showing much improved form recently so we probably played them at a bad time.

Coming up short against the top teams in this Division is nothing to be ashamed of, and I’m certain that our upcoming fixtures against teams below us in the table will offer us the chance to get back to winning ways.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Charlie Evans, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci (Lee Thomas 82), James Fry (c), Eli Bako, James Hancocks (Justin Marsden 63), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.

FROME : Kyle Phillips, Ben Griffiths, Ben Withey, Connor Roberts, Marcus Mapstone, Chas Hemmings (Kriss Miller 82), Jono Davies, George Miller (c), Mitchell Page, Joe Raynes, Darren Jefferires (Ollie Knight 61).

Referee          –     Olie Williams

Assistant Referees        –         Jamie Evans & Jon Price

Attendance       –          172

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards        –          Fry & Hancocks
Frome Yellow Cards              –         Mapstone               Red Card    –     Page

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

27th JANUARY 2018  –  KINGS LANGLEY  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

THE KINGS REIGN IN THE RAIN

Kings Langley       –      2     –     Ball (2) 35 & 90+3
Stratford Town    –      0

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Town’s first game for a fortnight ended in a disappointing defeat at a rainsoaked CRY Community Stadium on Saturday.

On an inevitably testing pitch they could never really get to grips with a spirited Kings side who led at the interval and wrapped up the points with a second goal deep into added time at the end.

Justin Marsden came in for the suspended Liam Francis in the only change to Town’s starting line-up from the Weymouth game, while the Kings were missing their leading scorer Mitchell Weiss who was apparently away on a winter sports break.

But in spite of his absence it was the Kings who were the more threatening of the two sides in the early exchanges.

Town keeper Louis Connor had to move smartly off his line to smother the ball at Stevie Ward’s feet in the seventh minute followed soon after by Josh Coldicutt-;Stevens seeing his low drive deflected wide off another Kings player and Kieran Turner firing over from the edge of the penalty area.

A Will Grocott free kick on the 20 minute mark caused some temporary panic in the Kings six yard box, and as Town gradually worked their way into the game the current headline grabbing Ben Stephens netted a couple of minutes later only to be correctly ruled offside.

And they went tantalisingly close to taking the lead on 27 minutes when Edwin Ahenkorah’s shot ricocheted off Arjun Jung and looped over the stranded Kings keeper Martin Bennett to clip the angle of post and bar on its way behind.

But it was the Kings who went ahead on 35 minutes when Gareth Price whipped in a low cross from the right byline and as a couple of Town defenders slipped trying to clear it the ball reached Matt Ball at the far post who was presented with a straightforward finish from eight yards out.

Almost immediately after Ahenkorah had a great chance to equalise but his shot was deflected behind off Jorell Johnson as the Kings held on until half time with their lead still intact.

Stephens wasn’t far away with a decent effort in the opening minute of the second half followed by Eli Bako having a shot charged down, but only a stunning save from Connor on 54 minutes prevented the Kings from doubling their lead as he plunged to his right to beat away a Jung free kick.

Stephens then hit a Town free kick straight into the Kings wall and with twenty minutes still to go a cross-cum-shot from Ahenkorah grazed the bar as Carl Adams’ side battled away to try and rescue a point.

A mistake by Loyiso Recci allowed Ward to let fly with a rasping effort which came back off the bar before another fiercely struck Ahenkorah shot was blocked virtually on the line as the Kings were forced to defend in depth and in numbers.

Town kept up the pressure and had forced ten corners by the end, but they couldn’t create the opening they needed and as they piled forward they were caught on the break in the third minute of time added on.

Turner surged clear down the right and switched the ball inside to Ball who had the time and space to thump it past Connor from 15 yards out.

.
STRATFORD : Louis Connor, James Fry (c), Lee Thomas, Justin Marsden (Dan Summerfield 70), Loyiso Recci, Andy Gallinagh, Eli Bako (Charlie Evans 78), Edwin Ahenkorah, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.

K/LANGLEY : Martin Bennett, Arjun Jung, Callum Adebiyi, Gary Connolly (c), Jorell Johnson, Elliot Godfrey, Stevie Ward (Nikolay Minchev 81)), Josh Coldicutt-Stevens, Gareth Price, Matt Ball, Kieran Turner.

Referee          –        Michael Smith

Assistant Referees       –         Chris Fernandes & James Barry

Attendance      –         135

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Stratford Yellow Cards         –        Thomas
K/Langley Yellow Cards       –        None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

13th JANUARY 2018  –  WEYMOUTH  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN BATTLE TO ANOTHER POINT FROM A TOP SIX SIDE

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Stratford Town    –       0
Weymouth             –       0

Affter being seconds away from a win at Slough just before Christmas and then giving Hereford a real fright only four days ago Carl Adams’ battlers once again gave a title chasing side plenty to think about as for the second time this season they frustrated promotion hopefuls Weymouth.

Down in Dorset back in August the Terras needed an added time equaliser to rescue a draw, and they arrived at the MoodChimp Stadium on Saturday on an eight game unbeaten League run.

But although they created plenty of chances here they couldn’t apply the necessary finish even though they hit the bar twice, and Town’s resilience and commitment saw them through to a clean sheet and a fully deserved point.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from the Hereford game with Andy Gallinagh and Eli Bako coming in for Justin Marsden and James Hancocks who hadn’t recovered from the knock which forced him off at half time against Hereford.

Weymouth had fielded a much changed side in midweek and paid the price in being knocked out of the BFB Cup by Larkhall Athletic, but all their regular starters were back for this one including striker Brandon Goodship who is second only to Hereford’s John Mills in the Premier Division goalscoring charts.

Town made a bright start with Edwin Ahenkorah having an early shot deflected behind, and they had a great chance to take the lead in the 10th minute. Ben Stephens caught Ashley Wells dithering on the ball and nipped in to go clear with only Will Dennis to beat but he shot too close to the keeper who saved well low to, his right.

The Terras first chance arrived a few minutes later when a mistake by Liam Francis let in Ben Thomson whose fiercely struck effort was brilliantly turned behind by Town keeper Louis Connor.

A Will Grocott free kick had to be headed over his own bar by the imposing Stephane Zubar, but Weymouth were gradually beginning to, assert, and on 22 minutes another Town mistake allowed the dangerous Goodship to race away only for Connor to move smartly off his line forcing the Weymouth marksman wide and the chance disappeared.

And with Weymouth now really getting into their stride only the woodwork prevented them going ahead just before the half hour mark when a thunderous Charlie Davis effort from the edge of the penalty area cannoned against the bar with Connor beaten followed by Goodship’s low drive from the rebound flashing narrowly wide.

Another slick Terras move involving Goodship and Abdulai Baggie was only halted by a crucial interception from Town skipper Jimmy Fry and with the interval fast approaching Josh Carmichael surged forward to hit a low right footer inches the wrong side of Connor’s right hand post.

Town were first to threaten after the restart with a Stephens effort being correctly ruled out for offside in the opening minute of the second half, and Stephens was involved again soon after when he nodded on Grocott’s corner to Francis whose header was superbly kept out by Dennis at point blank range.

But as the Terras responded they were again denied by the Town bar in the 63rd minute with Thomson’s header from Baggie’s pinpoint right wing cross ricocheting away.

Five minutes later Goodship set up an opening for Calvin Brooks who wasn’t far away with a decent attempt from twenty yards out and it was Goodship who created another promising chance with twenty minutes to go.

A Town corner was cleared to the Weymouth front man who charged forward before laying the ball off to Thomson whose shot was deflected behind by Connor and from the subsequent corner Zubar’s header drifted tantalisingly wide.

Goodship limped off with cramp soon after and Weymouth’s hopes of a crucial three points probably went with him.

Instead it was Town who were now applying the pressure. A Stephens cross was somehow deflected over his own bar by Wells as Taylor waited to pounce while Dennis had to go full length to his left to push a Stephens snap shot behind.

But both defences were now on top and an entertaining afternoon was destined to end goal-less.

“Another great effort from my lads” reflected Carl Adams afterwards. “We followed up a tremendous performance against Hereford in midweek with another one here and we fully deserved our point today.

We’ve had a tough run of fixtures recently and done really well in all of them. We may not have come away with a lot of points but we have certainly come away with a lot of credit,

We’re playing some entertaining football and I’m intensely proud of every single one of them”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Andy Gallinagh, Lee Thomas, James Fry, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Eli Bako (Charlie Evans 87), Edwin Ahenkorah (Justin Marsden 72), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.

WEYMOUTH : Will Dennis, Ashley Wells, Tiago Sa, Stephane Zubar, Callum Buckley, Josh Carmichael, Charlie Davis (Jake McCarthy 82), Calvin Brooks, Ben Thomson, Brandon Goodship (Harry Baker 71), Abdulai Baggie.

Referee       –          Darren Wilding

Assistant Referees       –          Paul Tyler & James Whittington

Attendance       –          274

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Stratford Yellow Cards        –           Francis, Fry & Taylor
Weymouth Yellow Cards    –           Wells

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

9th JANUARY 2018  –  HEREFORD  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TEN MAN BULLS FIND IT TOUGH AGAINST BATTLING TOWN

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Stratford Town    –     1    –   Taylor  88
Hereford                 –      2   –   Mills (2)  57 (pen) & 58

A penalty followed less than sixty seconds later by a typically assured finish from their ace marksman John Mills just before the hour mark propelled Hereford to another crucial win at the MoodChimp Stadium on Tuesday evening in their bid for a third successive promotion.

But it had been hard going for the title contenders against a spirited Town side before then, and it was similarly tough five minutes after Mills’ double strike when Dara O’Shea was red carded.

Town though couldn’t take advantage of their extra man until the 88th minute when Mike Taylor’s glancing header set up a nervy end to an entertaining game for the sizeable contingent of Hereford fans who had made up the majority of the bumper 707 crowd.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from the weekend with both Taylor and Lee Thomas returning after suspension to take over from Eli Bako and Charlie Evans.

Encouragingly for the home supporters it was Town who made the brighter start with Ben Stephens almost catching Hereford keeper Martin Horsell by surprise with a snap shot from 20 yards out in only the second minute which flew inches over.

Town were certainly up for it and it was fifteen or so minutes before the Bulls got into the game with the tricky Keyon Reffell starting to threaten down the right and Mills beginning to show his quality in the middle.

Town keeper Louis Connor made his first save of the evening on 18 minutes getting down well to his left to hold a decent long range effort from Hereford skipper Jimmy Oates followed almost immediately by Town Man of the Match Liam Francis making a perfectly timed tackle to halt a surging run by Mills.

A rasping right footer from Reffell was then deflected behind off Thomas, but it was not all Hereford and with half an hour gone a Will Grocott free kick from the left touchline ricocheted off Taylor to be grabbed right on the line by Horsell.

And it was Horsell who kept the scores level a couple of minutes later with a smart save from Edwin Ahenkorah at the foot of his left hand post with the ball rebounding across to Grocott who uncharacteristically lifted his shot over from six yards out.

At the other end Connor had to be alert to hold a misdirected header from Justin Marsden as the midfielder attempted to clear another teasing Reffell cross, and as a pretty even first half ended a Jimmy Fry centre led to some momentary panic in the Hereford six yard box while with the last kick before the break Mills wasn’t far away from all of 25 yards out.

James Hancocks had taken a knock right at the end of the first half and was replaced by Dan Summerfield at the restart.

Hereford were now beginning to assert and five minutes into the second half they came the closest yet when a Reffell right wing corner bounced on top of the Town bar before being cleared.

And on 57 minutes they went ahead when Mills cut in from the right to slide the ball into Lance Smith. Connor went down to smother it and when Smith tumbled over the keeper referee Richard Cattlell immediately pointed to the spot.

Inevitably Mills made no mistake to put Hereford one up, and within a minute he was celebrating again when Town carelessly lost possession straight from the kick off to allow him to surge down the inside left channel before expertly switching inside to work the ball onto his right foot and lash it past Connor.

It looked all over for Carl Adams’ battlers, but in the 63rd minute O’Shea scythed down Taylor on the edge of the penalty area as the Town striker tried to turn past him and under the “last man” rule he had to go.

And only the woodwork prevented Town really getting back into the game as from the subsequent free kick Stephens beat Horsell all ends up to cannon against the underside of the bar without crossing the line before being hacked away to safety.

With the Bulls now looking to see the game out Francis was narrowly over with a header from a Thomas cross and Ahenkorah had a shot charged down, but Hereford were running down the clock and their lead remained intact.

By now Evans had replaced Marsden and Summerfield had limped forlornly off with a recurrence of his hamstring problem as Town kept pushing forward.

But the Bulls remained a threat when they had the ball and with ten minutes to go Mills set up an opening for Jamie Bird whose first shot was parried by Connor and his second from the loose ball was deflected behind.

Mills then volleyed over and Connor confidently dealt with another Bird attempt, but in between Town had almost pulled one back when Stephens crossfield ball sent Evans through on the left with his shot being turned behind by Horsell.

Then with just two minutes left Thomas crossed from the left and Taylor steered header beyond Horsell to set up a frantic finale.

Connor went up for a corner and deep into added time did so again for a Grocott free kick which was cleared to Mills who sped away towards the empty Town goal, but with his hat trick beckoning he chose to shoot early and from probably 30 yards out the ball drifted tantalisingly wide.

Nevertheless the points were now safely heading back to Hereford and the Bulls had extended their scarcely believable record of unbeaten League away matches to an astonishing 52.

“Another hard working performance against a top side” reflected Carl Adams afterwards. “After a hard game at St Neots we were virtually running on empty here which is the last thing we wanted against a side of Hereford’s quality.

But especially in the first half I felt that we had the better chances which in this sort of game have to be taken and we certainly pushed them all the way.

I thought that the penalty was a bit of a soft one. But Louis was a bit naïve in going down when he didn’t really need to and it gave the referee a decision to make which went against us. And it was naivety again which led to their second goal.

But I was impressed with their game management in the closing stages. They knew how to take time out of the game to make sure they held on to their lead and that’s a lesson for us to learn at this level.”

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, James Fry (c), Lee Thomas, James Hancocks (Dan Summerfield 46) (Andy Gallinagh 82), Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Charlie Evans 73), Edwin Ahenkorah, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens

HEREFORD : Martin Horsell, Jimmy Oates (c), Cameron Pring, Billy Murphy (Rob Purdie 55), Ryan Green, Dara O’Shea, Keyon Rteffell, Jamie Bird, John Mills, Pablo Heysham, Lance Smith (Mike Symons 66).

Referee       –         Richard Cattell

Assistant Referees       –        Peter Woodfield & Brasndon Scaife

Attendance          –        707

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford     Hereford
           16 Goal Attempts              20
             6 On Target              10
             0 Blocked Shots                0
             1 Hit Woodwork                1
            8 Corners Won             11
            9 Crosses into Box               8
          13 Fouls Conceded            13
            1 Off Side               3
             3 Yellow Cards               3
             0 Red Cards               1

Town Yellow Cards              –         Connor, Francis & Fry
Hereford Yellow Cards      –         Bird, Green & Smith                     Red Card – O’Shea

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

6th JANUARY 2018  –  ST NEOTS TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

A TALE OF TWO OFFSIDES AS TOWN AND THE SAINTS SHARE THE POINTS

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St Neots Town     –       2     –      Williams 27   Shariff 86
Stratford Town    –       2     –      Ahenkorah  15   Stephens  33

In spite of being on the wrong end of two controversial offside decisions at the Premier Plus Stadium on Saturday Town maintained their record of never having lost to St Neots in their six meetings to date.

Town led twice through Edwin Ahenkorah and Ben Stephens and were grimly hanging on to a 2-1 lead when Justin Marsden looked to have secured all three points in the 79th minute as he netted from an Eli Bako cross only for his celebrations to be cruelly cut short by the offside flag.

Then with only four minutes to go the flag from the other linesman stayed resolutely down as Nabil Shariff scrambled in the late leveller to rescue a point for the Saints.

The return of Ahenkorah in place of the suspended Mike Taylor was the only change to Town’s starting line-up from the Banbury game on New Year’s Day.

And Town were quickly into their stride forcing a corner inside the opening 30 seconds followed by Stephens having an effort blocked in only the second minute and Marsden’s follow-up from the rebound being held by Saints keeper Mike Emery.

At the other end a teasing cross from Shariff was headed behind by Town skipper James Fry before Town went ahead in the 15th minute.

Some nimble footwork from Will Grocott in the left of the penalty area took him to the byline and his low cross was turned in at the far post by Ahenkorah from a couple of yards out.

The Saints responded with their leading scorer Dylan Williams hitting a useful attempt straight at Louis Connor followed by Ahenkorah swivelling to make room for a well struck 20 yarder which was a routine save for Emery before the Saints equalised on 27 minutes.

And a well worked goal it was too as a slick passing move on the left set up the opening for Williams who lashed it past the helpless Connor into the far corner.

But Town regained the lead six minutes later when the Saints right back Tom Wood and Emery dithered over who should deal with a through ball into the left of the penalty area and Stephens nipped between them to steer it over the line for his 17th goal of the season.

The Saints wasted a great chance of an immediate equaliser when the tricky Dion Sembie-Ferris picked out Kyran Wiltshire with a cross from the right but he could only blaze it well over while Shariff saw his header come back off the bar as Town held on to go in at half time with their lead still intact.

The Saints upped their tempo after the break forcing Town to defend in depth and in numbers. Steffan Broccoli fired narrowly wide five minutes into the second half and soon after only a perfectly timed tackle from Loyiso Recci prevented Shariff breaking through down the inside left channel.

Andy Gallinagh came on for Charlie Evans who had been given a chastening time by Sembie-Ferris as the Saints cranked up the pressure with Sembie-Ferris, Shariff and Williams causing plenty of problems.

But with some heroic defending from Carl Adams’ battlers the Saints couldn’t make their possession count while Town were able to relieve the pressure with the occasional breakaway.

Another Shariff surge was halted by Liam Francis followed by substitute Scott Sinclair heading wide from inside the six yard box and Shariff then having a fiercely struck effort beaten away by Connor before the travelling Town faithful thought that Marsden’s assured finish had wrapped up the points.

He had seemed to run on to Bako’s cross from behind the ball but the flag nevertheless went up and the Saints were reprieved to return to the attack.

Luke Knight wasn’t far away from 20 yards out and Connor again saved from Shariff until on 86 minutes Shariff got on the end of a hopeful ball into the six yard box to prod it past Connor as Town appealed unavailingly for the offside decision to go in their favour this time.

With four added minutes the Saints piled forward in search of a winner but although there were a one or two near misses with another Shariff header grazing the bar Town survived to head back down the A14 with a fully deserved point.

But if only lone of those decision had gone their way it would surely have been three.

“Two unbelievable decisions have cost us the win” fumed Carl Adams afterwards. “It’s beyond me how Justin’s goal can be ruled out as Eli pulled the ball back to him, while for their equaliser the player was only a yard or so from the goal line and he had to be offside.

But after all that it was a very pleasing and strong performance from a squad that has been stretched to the limit with injuries and suspensions and I couldn’t ask more from them in terms of effort.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, James Fry (c), Charlie Evans (Christian Tudorache 62), James Hancocks, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden, Eli Bako (George Dawson 82), Edwin Ahenkorah (Andy Gallinagh 77), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.

ST NEOTS : Mike Emery, Tom Wood, Jonny Herd, Luke Knight (c), Liam McDevitt, Taylor Parr, Dion Sembie-Ferris, Kyran Wiltshire (Dave Bridges 84), Nabil Shariff, Dylan Williams, Steffan Broccoli (Scott Sinclair 66).

Referee           –          Andrew Humphries

Assistant Referees        –           Thomas Cooke & Christian Leonte

Attendance      –        233

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Stratford     St Neots
             14 Goal Attempts            18
               9 On Target              6
               0 Blocked Shots              0
               0 Hit Woodwork               2
               5 Corners Won             10
               8 Crosses into Box              9
               8 Fouls Conceded            12
               4 Off Side              1
               4 Yellow Cards              2
               0 Red Cards              0

 Stratford Yellow Cards           –          Evans, Fry, Hamcocks & Stephens
St Neots Yellow Cards            –           Broccoli & Knight

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

1st JANUARY 2018   –  BANBURY UNITED  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN FALL TO LATE PURITANS’ WINNER

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Stratford Town      –     2     –    Stephens 18 Taylor 61
Banbury United    –     3     –    Winters 32  Johnson 51  Howards 82

Town fell to only their second home League defeat of the season when a late strike from Banbury substitute Leam Howards earned the Puritans all three points in an entertaining New Year’s Day clash at the MoodChimp Stadium.

In a game played at a generous pace throughout on an inevitably heavy pitch after all the recent rain both sides had led before being pegged back on an afternoon in which the result was in doubt right up until the final whistle.

Earlier Ben Stephens had fired Town ahead only for Tom Winters to level it all up at the break. Banbury then took an early second half lead through skipper Ricky Johnson followed by Mike Taylor equalising for Town and from then on it was end to end stuff with only the woodwork preventing Town grabbing a dramatic leveller as the match headed into added time.

Town were without the suspended Lee Thomas while Dan Summerfield was ruled out after limping off at Redditch on Boxing Day, and they were replaced in the starting line-up by Eli Bako and Charlie Evans.

Stephens was first to threaten when he cut in from the right in the fifth minute to shoot against Charlie Wise followed soon after by Bako forcing a corner from the right from which Loyiso Recci had his volley deflected behind and then Stephens not being all that far away with an ambitious effort from distance.

It was not all Town though, and at the other end Johnson showed his quality as he turned to hit a decent left footer which rebounded away off Liam Francis.

But Carl Adams’ side had probably had the better of the possession, and they went ahead on 18 minutes after an intricate build-up down the right involving Bako and Justin Marsden with the ball eventually reaching Stephens who thumped it past Banbury keeper Jack Harding for his 16th goal of an increasingly prolific season.

The dangerous Johnson went close with a header soon after and a few minutes later Town did well to survive a free kick on the edge of their penalty area which Tom Winters blasted straight into the Town wall.

Another Johnson header was smartly pushed behind by Louis Connor as Banbury cranked up the pressure, and they equalised on 32 minutes.

Connor did well to beat away a fierce shot from Elliot Sandy only for Winters to seize on the loose ball and lash an unstoppable volley into the top corner.

Will Grocott had a great chance to restore Town’s lead not long after as Town attacked down the middle but from only eight yards out he uncharacteristically lifted his shot well over.

But it was Banbury who finished the half strongly with both Johnson and Sandy having on targets attempts blocked in the congested Town penalty area.

And it only took Banbury six minutes into the second half to take the lead with a cleverly  worked goal when Jordy Ngathe’s cross from the right was nodded back across the six yard box by Winters at the far post for Johnson to steer his header past  Connor.

Back came Town with Bako’s persistence earning a corner on the right from which Stephens’ header was cleared off the line by Luke Carnell.

The tricky Conor McDonough then jinked his way past Evans only for Connor to move quickly off his line to close him down followed by another Johnson header fizzing inches over.

But just after the hour mark it was all square again when Grocott launched a free kick into the Banbury penalty area where it was met by the onrushing Taylor with wondrous volley which rocketed into the net past the stunned Harding.

Both sides then battled for the winner with Johnson poking a close range try wide from a Sandy cross and Recci getting in the way of a McDonough shot while Taylor completely missed his kick after substitute Edwin Ahenkorah had set up the opening with a cross from the right.

And what proved to be the decider arrived on 82 minutes when Harding’s long free kick after Town had been caught offside was missed by the otherwise impeccable Recci and Howards ran on to slot the ball past the advancing Connor sparking some unsavoury scenes from the Banbury supporters clustered behind the goal.

But even then it wasn’t all over as Town piled forward in an attempt to rescue a point and in the first of four added minutes a Taylor piledriver came back off the foot of Harding’s right hand post with Evans’ effort from the rebound somehow being turned behind.

Connor came up for the corner which was eventually cleared and did so again in the final minute as Town forced another corner.

This time the clearance went straight to Town skipper James Fry whose shot sailed over the bar with what was the last kick of the game.

“It was a tight affair” reflected Carl Adams afterwards. “There was not a lot in it and it was a pity that it was won due to Loyiso’s mistake on an afternoon when he had again put in an immense effort.

But it shows how far we have come when we went into this game confident of getting a positive result and in the end it was only the width of the post which stopped us getting a point.
We now look forwards to St Neots at the weekend. Justin Marsden came off today but should be OK for that one as should Andy Gallinagh and Dan Summerfield, but on the downside both Lee Thomas and Mike Taylor will be missing through suspension.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, James Fry (c), Charlie Evans, James Hancocks, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Edwin Ahenkorah 61), Eli Bako, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.

BANBURY : Jack Harding, George Nash, Luke Carnell, Charlie Hawtin, Jack Self, Conor McDonough (Jack Finch 86), Tom Winters, Ricky Johnson (c), Jordy Ngathe, Elliot Sandy (Leam Howards 65), Charlie Wise.

Referee       –        Robert Hathaway

Assistant Referees        –        Simon Kavanagh & John Roskelly

Attendance        –      376

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford     Banbury
           14 Goal Attempts           14
              6 On Target             7
              0 Blocked Shots             0
             1 Hit Woodwork             0
             9 Corners Won             6
             9 Crosses into Box          10
             9 Fouls Conceded            7
             5 Off Side            3
             1 Yellow Cards            1
            0 Red Cards            0

 Stratford Yellow Cards         –      Stephens
Bambury Yellow Cards         –      Wise

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

26th DECEMBER 2017  –  REDDITCH UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

STEPHENS GIVES THE REDS THE BOXING DAY BLUES

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Redditch United    –     0
Stratford Town      –     2    –      Stephens (2) 34 & 45 +1

Two first half strikes from Town’s leading scorer Ben Stephens, who now has 15 for the season, propelled Carl Adams’ side to an ultimately comfortable Boxing Day win at the Trico Stadium as they added to the Reds recent woes and ended 2017 in the dizzy heights of 10th spot in the Premier Division table.

A precision finish on 34 minutes sent Town on their way and a second goal right on half time secured the points as Town made it six wins and two draws from their last nine games with the only defeat during that sequence coming at title chasing Kettering.

Their starting line-up here showed two changes from the Slough game with Liam Francis coming in for the struggling Andy Gallinagh and Justin Marsden swapping places on the subs bench with Eli Bako.

No doubt eager to impress new boss Tim Harris the Reds were first to threaten with Lewis Wright shooting over in the fifth minute followed soon after by Tristian Dunkley having a close range effort blocked by Town skipper James Fry.

Town responded with Reds keeper Ethan Ross making a routine save from Stephens who was well off target with a free kick from as promising position a few minutes later.

Soon after Ashley Sammons cut in from the left to hit his shot against Loyiso Recci, but as the half reached its midway point Town were beginning to get their passing game going on their second game of the festive season on a 3G pitch.

Stephens wasn’t far away with a low drive in the 25th minute and on the half hour mark he saw his teasing effort beat Ross only to clip the bar on its way behind.

But he had better luck just four minutes later when Fry’s clever pass on the right of the penalty area provided him with the time and space to coolly steer the ball past the helpless Ross to put Town ahead.

The Reds went close to an immediate equaliser when Sammons had a fierce effort deflected behind before Town doubled their lead in added time at the end of the first half thanks to a calamitous error by Ross.

The Reds conceded a free kick all of 30 yards out which was hit well enough by Stephens but it should have been no problem for Ross to deal with.

Instead he only flapped at the ball as it bounced in front of him and it trickled beyond him into the net.
With the soon to be substituted ex-Town striker Dior Angus barely being allowed a kick by the Town defence Louis Connor had hardly been tested so far, but he kept Town’s lead intact a couple of minutes into the second half with a brilliant save low down to his left from Spencer Weir-Daley.

But although from then on the Reds put in plenty of effort they never really looked like scoring with Town content to soak up the pressure and protect their two goal advantage.

And on 66 minutes they could have gone three up from another free kick in a similar position to their earlier successful one. Stephens clearly fancied his hat trick chance but this time he went for the aerial route and Ross at least partially redeemed himself by acrobatically tipping it over the bar.

As the Reds kept trying Orrin Pendley had a looping header drift narrowly over the bar with 15 minutes to go while at the other end Will Grocott’s free kick from the left touchline floated tantalisingly beyond both Recci and Francis at the far post.

In between Mike Taylor had picked up a yellow card after colliding with Ross and this was to prove costly in the 84th minute when he collected a second yellow for a late challenge on the halfway line and became the sixth Town player to be sent off this season.

And a little bit more gloss was taken off what had been a thoroughly satisfying afternoon for the sizeable contingent of travelling Town faithful when Dan Summerfield limped off a minute later with a hamstring problem.

But Carl Adams was still a happy man afterwards.

“That was another strong performance from us” beamed the Town boss “and following on from Slough on Saturday that’s four points from two tough away games on artificial pitches.”

“Loyiso Recci and Liam Francis were both absolutely immense and I never thought that Redditch really hurt us in the second half. We controlled the game throughout and I felt that we were convincing winners.”
.
STRATFORD : Louis Connor, James Fry (c), Lee Thomas, Dan Summerfield (Eli Bako 85), Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Edwin Ahenkorah 73), James Hancocks, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.

REDDITCH : Ethan Ross, Keenah Rosser, Nathan Fox, Danny Jackman (c), Marcel Simpson, Orrin Pendley, Lewis Wright (Gowan Stares 46), Ashley Sammons, Dior Angus (Pauly Apostolopoulos 64), Tristian Dunkley (Kyle Belmonte 73), Spencer Weir-Daley.

Referee            –           Richard Price

Assistant Referees         –         Simon Lane & Matthew Jackson

Attendance        –            345

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford      Redditch
          13 Goal Attempts              16
            6 On Target                7
           0 Blocked Shots               0
           0 Hit Woodwork               1
           3 Corners Won              4
           8 Crosses into Box            10
         12 Fouls Conceded           14
           1 Off Side             3
           3 Yellow Cards             2
          1 Red Cards             0

 Stratford Yellow Cards        –        Hancocks, Taylor & Thomas         Red Card     –       Taylor
Redditch Yellow Cards        –        Simpson & Stares

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

23rd DECEMBER 2017  –  SLOUGH TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN’S LATE EQUALISER CURSE STRIKES AGAIN

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Slough Town         –   1   –  Inns  90 + 2
Stratford Town   –    1   –   Taylor 54

Already this season equalisers of the latest and cruellest kind have cost Town vital wins at Weymouth and Scarborough followed more recently against  Farnborough, and the same happened once more on Saturday in this clash of the two STFC’s at Slough’s hugely impressive new Arbour Park stadium when Alan Inns’ header rescued a point for the title chasing Rebels in the second of four minutes of added time.

Until then in spite of being under almost constant pressure Town’s heroic defensive performance had looked to be on the verge of securing  all three points thanks to Mike Taylor’s breakaway goal early in the second half, but again they couldn’t quite make it to the finishing line.

Will Grocott had returned to full fitness and came in for Charlie Evans in the only change to Town’s starting line-up from last weekend.

Having played only 17 League games due to their F A Cup adventures Slough have ground to make up on the likes of Kings Lynn and Hereford at the top of the table, and they wasted no time in going on the attack here.

They quickly forced a couple of corners, and had their first real chance in only the tenth minute when Nathan Webb released Warren Harris down the right and his cross was headed narrowly over by Brad Watkins.

Harris was seeing plenty of the ball as Slough continued to boss the possession with Town having to defend in depth and in numbers, and they went close to making the break through in the 20th minute.

Inns had a close range effort deflected behind and from the subsequent corner in a move clearly rehearsed on the training ground Sean Fraser fired the flag kick straight to Manny Williams lurking some 20 yards out whose low drive through the congested penalty area fizzed inches wide.

In a rare Town attack Dan Summerfield had a well struck right footer beaten away by Slough keeper Jack Turner, but it continued to be pretty much one way traffic with Williams heading over on the half hour mark when well placed followed by Watkins having his header deflected wide and from the resulting corner Town keeper Louis Connor brilliantly pushing away another header from Harris.

Although the 3G surface is more suited to keeping the ball on the floor Slough strangely opted for the aerial route with a succession of crosses being cleared by the imposing Loyiso Recci well supported by skipper James Fry and the experience of Andy Gallinagh.

And so even though they had conceded 13 corners in the first half Town reached the interval somehow still on level terms.

It was more of the same after the restart with Connor spectacularly turning away a fierce effort from Simon Dunn and Lee Thomas making a wondrous block from Webb’s follow-up from the loose ball.

But then on 54 minutes Town stunned the home supporters by taking the lead when Mike Taylor beat the offside trap to latch onto a through ball from Thomas down the inside left channel and run on to coolly slot it past the advancing Turner.

The Rebels responded by sending on their two top scorers James Dobson and Chris Flood who curiously were both only named on the subs bench having previously been regular starters, and Flood soon got on the end of a cross only for his header to be a routine save for Connor.

But Connor was far more severely tested on 70 minutes when he kept Town’s lead intact with a tremendous point blank save as Flood connected with a low cross from George Wells.

By now Slough must have realised that their tactic of pumping high balls into the Town penalty area was not having the desired result, but they didn’t seem to have a Plan B and the clock was now very much on Town’s side.

With a quarter of an hour to go Turner almost presented Town with a second goal when he came out of his area to head a long ball clear only to direct it straight to Grocott.

The Town midfielder immediately drove it back towards the empty net but Turner desperately stuck out his leg to divert the ball to Taylor whose snap shot drifted tantalisingly over.

Five minutes later Town had another chance to go two up when the busy Taylor again timed his run to perfection this time down the right only for his thunderous drive to be fingertipped onto his left hand post by Turner with the ball rebounding away to safety.

With the frustration of the Slough supporters now close to boiling point Dobson blazed over from 15 yards out and did exactly the same with a free kick from 25 yards out as the game headed into added time.

But at last the Slough’s reliance on the high ball paid off as Dobson floated over Slough’s 18th corner of the afternoon and Inns powered a bullet header past Connor to deny Carl Adams’ battlers what would have been a momentous win

“It was gutting to concede right at the end” reflected Assistant Manager Gary Moran afterwards. “Our defenders and keeper have been superb all afternoon, but I suppose that Slough’s relentless pressure was bound to pay off eventually.

It’s just a pity that we couldn’t hang on for those extra couple of minutes.

They certainly bossed the first half when I felt that we stood off them too much but we did a lot better in the second particularly after Mike’s goal.

I was surprised that they didn’t play the ball on the floor more and for a side in their position they didn’t really create that much in spite of all their possession.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh (Liam Francis 58)), Loyiso Recci, James Fry (c), Eli Bako (Justin Marsden 64), James Hancocks, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.          Unused Subs – Edwin Ahenkorah & Jazz Luckie

SLOUGH : Jack Turner, Sean Fraser, George Wells, Alan Inns, Mark Nisbet (c), Lee Togwell, Nathan Webb (James Dobson 58), Simon Dunn, Manny Williams (Chris Flood 58), Brad Watkins (Gavin James 76), Warren Harris.        Unused Subs – Josh Jackman & Nathan Smart

Referee     –        Joel Mannix

Assistant Referees        –         Thomas Burt & Simon Parberry

Attendance      –        598

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford      Slough
             8 Goal Attempts            19
             4 On Target              6
             0 Blocked Shots              2
             1 Hit Woodwork              1
             3 Corners Won            18
             1 Crosses into Box            19
           14 Fouls Conceded              9
             4 Off Side              1
             3 Yellow Cards              0
             0 Red Cards              0

Stratford Yellow Cards                 –                Bako, Summerfield & Thomas
Slough Yellow Cards                     –                 None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

16h DECEMBER 2017  –  BIGGLESWADE TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TAYLOR POUNCES TO SINK THE WADERS

Stratford Town         –      1     –    Taylor 58
Biggleswade Town  –      0

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Town continued their recent impressive home form with an ultimately hard fought win against a resolute Biggleswade side at the MoodChimp Stadium on Saturday.

In their last five home League games Carl Adams’ battlers have accumulated 13 points from four wins and one draw. At the halfway stage of the season they lie 13th in the League table and thus bang on target to continue Adams’ record of achieving a better finishing spot in each of his six seasons in charge.

In a game which Town never looked like losing they eventually had to settle for a narrow margin win with Mike Taylor’s opportunism in the 58th minute after a Ben Stephens shot had been pushed onto the bar by the Waders keeper Liam Gooch proving to be decisive.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from last weekend. Charlie Evans came in for Justin Marsden while Will Grocott hadn’t recovered fully from the groin strain which forced him off at Kettering and missed his first League game of the season as he was replaced by Eli Bako.

Town piled forward from kick off with Taylor hitting an ambitious long range effort well over inside the opening two minutes and then Stephens testing Gooch with a fierce 20 yard right footer in just the fourth minute which the keeper only held at the second attempt.

Soon after Taylor had another shot charged down followed by a Loyiso Recci thunderbolt from all of 30 yards out which flew inches wide and then a Dan Summerfield effort which rebounded away off a defender.

In a rare Waders attack Morgan Penfold headed wide from a George Bailey cross on 20 minutes, but Town continued on top with Gooch impressively claiming an Evans cross under pressure from Taylor on the half hour mark and then doing equally well to hold on to another fearsome Recci strike.

And a couple of minutes later the busy Taylor squandered Town’s best chance so far by glancing his close range header the wrong side of the post after being picked out by a precision cross from wide on the right from Stephens.

Recci then hit his third thunderous effort of the afternoon which was again kept out by Gooch, and having somehow survived all that pressure unscathed the Waders hit back to enjoy their best spell of the afternoon so far.

Five minutes before the break Connor Hall headed over from a corner before having a well struck shot beaten away by Town keeper Louis Connor at the foot of his right hand post.

And right on half time the Waders skipper went even closer with another header which clipped the bar on its way behind.

But it was Town who again bossed the possession after the restart with Evans having a shot blocked before they finally broke through for what proved to be the winner in the 58th minute.

Stephens let fly with a rasping effort from just outside the penalty area which looked destined for the top corner until it was spectacularly pushed onto the bar by Gooch and as the ball bounced down it was Taylor who reacted the quickest to follow up and force it over the line.

The Waders tried to respond but another Penfold header was a routine save for Connor, and instead Taylor went close to doubling Town’s lead on 74 minutes with a header which flicked the top of the bar.

Town’s next chance fell to Jazz Luckie who had come on for Stephens as he latched on to a through ball down the middle but he was forced wide by the advancing Gooch,

But still being only one down the Waders made a renewed effort to salvage a point in the last ten or so minutes with their best chance of an equaliser coming in the 86th minute when Liam Brooks was brought down barely a yard outside the penalty area only for substitute Jordan Patrick to blaze the free kick wastefully over.

Into five minutes added time and Connor was smartly off his line to smother a through ball at the feet of Tony Burnett and then parry a decent attempt from Brooks but unlike against Farnborough a fortnight ago there was to be no late twist this time as Town saw the game out for their sixth home win of the season.

“Our home form is very strong” beamed a satisfied Carl Adams afterwards. “But we have to remember that so far we’ve played none of the big boys like Hereford or Kings Lynn here while away we’ve yet to play any of the struggling sides, so the difference between our home and away records will probably change during the second half of the season.

But I’m certainly pleased with our current position. There is a good atmosphere in the dressing room, and all along I’ve said that I’ve had every confidence in the squad I’ve got.

So far as today’s game is concerned I felt that we totally dominated the first half without scoring and they only came into it after we went ahead.

But it was pleasing that this time we were able to hang on to a lead and see a game out successfully which should give us the confidence to do the same again.

Overall we should have won more comfortably than 1-0 but that’s football.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Charlie Evans (Liam Francis 81), Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, James Fry (c), Dan Summerfield, James Hancocks, Mike Taylor, Eli Bako (Justin Marsden 73), Ben Stephens (Jazz Luckie 73).

BIGGLESWADE : Liam Gooch, Tyler Walker, Lucas Perry, Reece Fielding, Nathan Hicks (Jack Bowen 62), Gavin Hoyte, George Bailey (Jordan Patrick 73), Connor Hall (c), Liam Brooks, Robbie Parker (Tony Burnett 83), Morgan Penfold.

Referee           –         Ryan Haynes

Assistant Referees         –        Kieran Hatfield & Jak Machin

Attendance            –          183

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Town     B/wade
         16 Goal Attempts            15
           8 On Target              3
           3 Blocked Shots              2
           2 Hit Woodwork              1
           1 Corners Won              4
           8 Crosses into Box              8
        11 Fouls Conceded              5
           0 Off Side             1
           4 Yellow Cards             2
          0 Red Cards            0

 Town Yellow Cards            –         Connor, Francis, Recci & Taylor
B/wade Yellow Cards       –         Hall & Patrick

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

9th DECEMBER 2017  –  KETTERING TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN FROZEN OUT AT KETTERING

Kettering Town      –     2     –     Stevens  4   Howe  88
Stratford Town      –     0

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Carl Adams’ side completed the double over his old club last season, but a repeat never looked likely this time round as title chasing Kettering ended Town’s five game unbeaten run by scoring early and late at a bitingly cold Latimer Park on Saturday.

Town’s starting line-up was unchanged for the third successive game which meant only a place on the subs bench for Liam Francis who was returning after finishing his three match ban, and it was the same for Edwin Ahenkorah and Jazz Luckie who were unavailable for the trip to Dorchester due to work commitments.

The Poppies boast an impressive home record this season with eight wins and a draw from their nine League games, and they got off to a dream start here as they took the lead in only the fourth minute.

Ben Toseland swung in a corner from the right which was bundled in by Matt Stevens at the near post with Town keeper Louis Connor also ending up in the net. Connor protested furiously that he had been impeded but referee Richard Eley was having none of it and added to the keeper’s frustration by brandishing the first of the afternoon’s seven yellow cards.

Town tried to respond with Dan Summerfield having a fierce effort blocked, but Kettering had their tails up and with fifteen minutes gone Connor did well to turn behind a low drive from Gary Stohrer as the Poppies dominated the meaningful possession.

On 20 minutes Stevens wasn’t far away with a delicate curler from the left and soon after Lindon Meikle had a rasping effort blocked, but he then should have put Kettering two up on the half hour mark when he burst into the penalty area only to pull his shot well wide with only Connor to beat.

So far it been all Kettering with Stohrer glancing a header wide, and in the final minute of the half Town had a real let-off when James Hancocks brought down Stohrer on the right edge of the penalty area.

Toseland floated the free kick over to the far post where it was headed in by the towering Rene Howe only for it to be mysteriously ruled out by referee Eley seemingly for pushing as the ball came across.

Francis replaced Hancocks after the break, but Kettering continued in control with both Stohrer and Howe failing to make the most of decent chances in the opening minutes of the second half.

Town were then dealt a blow when Will Grocott had to go off after picking up a knock with Eli Bako taking over.

In a rare Town attack Mike Taylor looked to have worked an opening before being crowded out but with Andy Gallinagh and Loyiso Recci both immense in Town’s backline and Kettering unable to make their pressure count it had developed into an untidy affair. .

On 70 minutes the Poppies eventually  created another great chance when Howe’s persistence led to Stevens surging down the inside left channel but Connor was smartly off his line to block followed by Howe and Meikle getting in each other’s way as Town struggled to clear a Toseland cross and then Stohrer blazing wildly over.

Being only one down Town were still in the game and Justin Marsden added to the growing anxiety of the home supporters with five minutes to go when his firmly struck shot forced the first real save of the afternoon out of Poppies keeper Paul White.

Immediately after Poppies substitute Rhys Hoenes fired over when well placed, but with only two minutes of normal time remaining Kettering at last made sure of the points when Howe seized on a loose ball on the left of the penalty area and drilled it past Connor into the bottom corner.

Into the three minutes added time Luckie had a close range shot blocked with Taylor’s follow-up from the rebound only held by White at the second attempt, but Kettering were deserving winners and their promotion push rolls on.

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, James Fry (c), Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Dan Summerfield (Jazz Luckie 70), Justin Marsden, James Hancocks (Liam Francis 46), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott (Eli Bako 56), Ben Stephens.           Unused Subs – Edwin Ahenkorah & Charlie Evans.

KETTERING : Paul White, Liam Bateman, Ben Toseland, Tom Marshall, Gary Mulligan, Michael Richens, Gary Stohrer (Kalern Thomas 90+1), Matthew Stevens (Ibby Akkindi 85), Rene Howe, Ben Milnes, Lindon Meikle (Rhys Hoenes 76).            Unused Subs – Brett Solkhon & Aaron O’Connor

Referee            –            Richard Eley

Assistant Referees          –          Shaun Barry & Karl Donaghey

Attendance         –       508

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Town     Kettering
           6 Goal Attempts             14
           4 On Target               5
           1 Blocked Shots               0
           0 Hit Woodwork              0
          2 Corners Won              6
          5 Crosses into Box              8
        18 Fouls Conceded           14
           1 Off Side               5
           5 Yellow Cards              2
           0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards                 –            Connor, Fry, Gallinagh, Hancocks & Marsden
Kettering Yellow Cards        –             Howe & Marshall

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

4th DECEMBER 2017  –  DORCHESTER TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

DRAMATIC LATE WINNER IN DORSET FOR TOWN

Dorchester Town 1                                               Stratford Town 2  

Billy Lowes 61                                                        Ben Stephens   62                                                                                                                                                          Loyiso Recci      90+2

Louis Connor

Louis Connor.

On Monday night Stratford Town made the long trip to take on Dorchester Town at the impressive Avenue Stadium. With 10 points from their last four games, Town were looking for another win on the road to continue moving up the table.

The starting line-up was the same as for the Farnborough game, but with Jazz Luckie and Edwin Ahenkorah unavailable, and Liam Francis serving the last of a three match suspension and Charlie Evans injured, Stratford Academy players George Dawson and Dan Purvin were on the bench along with Dean Paulson from FC Stratford.

This was an entertaining game from both sides which could have gone either way. With chances missed. Some great saves and a dramatic, last ten minutes.

Town started brightly, with Lee Thomas a half chance as he chased down a long ball but keeper Chris Weale saved at his feet. Justin Marsden jinked past a couple of defenders in to the Magpies box but pulled his shot just wide of the post.

After 10 minutes Dorchester started to dominate the game. Town keeper Louis Conner, (who was Towns man of the match), produced two double saves within a couple of minutes. Firstly to deny Sam Lanahan and then Antonio Diaz, and when Lanahan’s strike looked goal bound in the 17th minute, Connor made a great save with his legs to keep the scores level, and it was Lanahan again 3 minutes later, when his volley on the turn was inches wide with Connor beaten, and Gary Bowles skimmed the Town bar with a 25yd strike.

Towards the end of the half Town got back in the game, Marsden was crowded out by the keeper and a defender when in a good position, and his shot on target was sliced over his own bar by Ross Carmichael and from the corner James Fry headed over.

Half Time Dorchester 0 Stratford 0

Stratford made a positive start to the second half, and had a great chance to go in front, when Marsden was allowed space in the inside right channel, he squared the ball to Dan Summerfield 10yds out but he blazed over with only the keeper to beat. Marsden hit the side netting with an angled strike and a 30yd effort from James Hancocks was just wide.

The Magpies responded with a Lanahan header hitting the Town bar from a Gary Bowles cross, and it was the home side that broke the deadlock on the hour mark. Stratford failed to deal with a Tom Blair cross and Billy Lowes smashed the loose ball into the roof of the net from 12yds out.

The Magpies celebrations were short lived however, as straight from the restart a slick passing move found Marsden who found Ben Stephens in space and he curled a shot inside the far post to beat the diving Weale to level the game up. Fry headed wide from a Grocott corner, and Connor saved a Paul Ormrod effort at the other end. 

But when Dorchester were awarded a penalty with 6 minutes left, when Thomas brought down sub Edward Bastic, it looked as if the points were going to stay in Dorset. Ormrod stepped up to take the spot kick, but Conner was up to the task, diving low to his left to make the save and keep Town in the game. George Dawson replaced Marsden to make his Town debut in the 89th minute.

The drama was still not over, as it looked like Justin Marsden had grab all 3 points for Town deep into stoppage time when his shot looked goal bound, but a brilliant save from Sam Weale as he pushed it wide for a corner. This was virtually the last play of the game as Grocotts corner came in Loyiso Recci rose to power in a header in the top corner, despite the efforts of two defenders on the line trying to keep it out. Town celebrated as did the smattering of the Towns faithful supporters.

A sterling effort from the Town and another battling performance, and that makes it 13 points from 15, in the last 5 games. This was an entertaining game in Dorset in which both teams played their part, next up for Town is Kettering on Saturday. 

Stratford Town

Connor, Summerfield, Thomas,(Paulson 88) Gallinagh, Reccie, Fry ©, Marsden,(Dawson 89), Hancocks, Taylor, (Bako 86), Grocott,  Stephens.                                              

Sub Not Used Purvin 

Dorchester Town

Weale, Bowles, Martin, Rose, Carmichael, Lanahan,(Baghdadi 67), Diaz, Lowes, Ormrod,(Ayunga 89), Panesar-Power, Blair (Bastic 67)

Subs not Used, Davies, Brooks. 

Referee Scott Robertson 

Assistant Referees Lee Dudman & Ben Chance 

Attendance 276 

Town Man of the Match Louis Connor 

Match Stats.           GA      OT       BS     HW       CW     CIB      FC       OS       YC       RC

Stratford                  10       4           0        0           5        11      12      5         3         0

Dorchester              17       11        0        1          3        5         8         1         2         0 

Stratford Town      Yellow Cards           Thomas, Gallinagh, Recci. 

Dorchester              Yellow Cards           Martin & Panesar-Power    

Match Report by  Rod Abrahams

 

 

2nd DECEMBER 2017  –  FARNBOROUGH  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN CRUELLY PEGGED BACK IN ADDED TIME

Stratford Town      –       2      –     Taylor  2  Stephens  66                                                            Farnborough          –       2       –     Cardini  20   Cureton 90 + 3

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In the first ever meeting between the two clubs Town looked to be all set to record their fourth successive win until Farnborough’s veteran striker Jamie Cureton hit a dramatic late equaliser.

Earlier Town had got off to a perfect start with Mike Taylor firing them into a second minute lead. Nick Cardini’s free kick levelled it up on 20 minutes, but Town seemed to have clinched the win when Ben Stephens put them back in front halfway through the second half only for Cureton to snatch it from them with his late heartbreaker.

Charlie Evans was ruled out with the hamstring problem picked up in midweek, but James Fry was back in Town’s starting line-up after missing the Chesham game as were Justin Marsden and Mike Taylor who both moved up from the subs bench swapping places with Edwin Ahenkorah and Eli Bako.

The Farnborough line-up included teenagers Josh Brace and Lewis Ellington who had joined from Bristol Rovers on a month’s loan during the week, and also the much travelled and vastly experienced Cureton who is now in his third spell with the Boro.

Full of confidence after three wins in eight days Town went on the attack straight from the kick off and went ahead inside two minutes when Taylor neatly controlled a lobbed pass from Will Grocott before turning past his marker to sweep the ball past the Farnborough keeper Jordan Beeney.

Farnborough were struggling to make any impression as Grocott, James Hancocks and Justin Marsden bossed the midfield, but having barely threatened so far Farnborough equalised in the 20th minute when Town conceded a free kick right on the edge pf the penalty area and Cardini drilled it into the bottom corner.

Town could have regained the lead almost immediately after but Taylor planted a free header wide from a pinpoint Dan Summerfield cross, and soon after Taylor almost bustled his way through only to be halted by a perfectly timed tackle from Matt Jones.

But Farnborough were gradually working their way into the game and Town keeper Louis Connor was a relieved man when his weak punch from Cardini’s corner went directly to Bobby Dormer who returned the favour by heading it straight back.

Keith Emmerson then surged forward from halfway to hit a low drive which was pushed behind by Connor plunging to his right before Taylor failed to make the most of another Summerfield cross with his header being a comfortable save for Beeney.

Little had so far been seen of Cureton, but he was presented with a great chance two minutes before the break when Cardini escaped down the right to pick him out with a sliderule cross only for him to uncharacteristically blaze well over.

Then in the final minute of the half Stephens came close to restoring Town’s lead as he cut in from the left to hit a decent effort which was well held by Beeney at the foot of his right hand post.

Farnborough were first to threaten after the restart with the busy Cardini not far away from distance while at the other end Marsden cleverly made enough room on the edge of the penalty area to hit a fierce right footer which fizzed inches over.

Taylor’s persistence then set up a chance for Stephens whose weak attempt resulted in an easy save for Beeney, and as Town upped their tempo Lee Thomas overlapped down the left to whip in a cross which was held low down by Beeney as Taylor waited to pounce.

But on 66 minutes Town regained the lead when Grocott floated over a left wing corner to the far post where it was bundled in by Stephens for his 12th goal of the season.

And for most of the rest of the game that looked to be the decider. Connor clawed away a curling effort from Cardini and then acrobatically parried a thunderbolt from Josh Huggins after a Cureton shot had clipped the foot of the post, but time was on Town’s side and as the game switched from end to end Stephens and substitute Jazz Liuckie both had chances to take the game out of Farnborough’s reach.

But then in the third of four added minutes another rasping Huggins’ shot came back off the post and Cureton turned in the rebound much to Farnborough’s delight and Town’s despair.

“I’m gutted to be honest” was Carl Adams’ reaction afterwards. “It shouldn’t have come to that. We had so many chances that we should have won by three or four, but if you’re only one ahead that sort of thing can always happen and we have to accept it and move on.

But we’ve played very well today. We.ve created a lot of chances and always looked like scoring and I felt that we deserved to win.

It’s been a good 10 days for us as we’ve won three and drawn this one. Only Chesham have beaten us at home in the League and no-one can come here and expect an easy game.

It will be tough at Dorchester on Monday what with unavailabilities, injuries and suspensions but we’ll go there and give it our best shot.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, James Fry (c), Justin Marsden, James Hancocks, Mike Taylor (Jazz Luckie 75), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Eli Bako 87).

FARNBOROUGH : Jordan Beeney, Josh Higgins (c), Matt Jones, C J Fearn, Keith Emmerson, Bobby Dormer, Josh Brace (Elijah Anyan 82), Jack Barton, Jamie Cureton, Lewis Ellington (Matt Roberts 84), Nick Cardini.

Referee           –         Simon Brown

Assistant Referees      –        George Enerver & Matthew Hopton

Attendance     –      184

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Town        F/boro
          12 Goal Attempts             14
            6 On Target               6
            0 Blocked Shots               0
            0 Hit Woodwork               2
            5 Corners Won               2
          14 Crosses into Box               6
          12 Fouls Conceded              8
            4 Off Side              1
            1 Yellow Cards              0
            0 Red Cards              0

Town Yellow Cards        –       Taylor
F/boro Yellow Cards     –        None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

28th NOVEMBER 2017  –  CHESHAM UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

NINE POINTS IN A WEEK FOR TREMENDOUS TOWN

Chesham United     –      1      –    Criley 37                                                                                                          Stratford Town        –      3      –     Evans  6  Grocott 62   Locke 89 (og)   

Stratford turned in a performance bristling with character and commitment at the Meadow on Tuesday evening to record their first away success since the opening day of the season and make it three straight wins overall in the last eight days.

Charlie Evans was in the right place to give them an early lead and after Chesham had hit back to level at half time Will Grocott put them back in front just after the hour mark with a stunning victory being sealed when Darren Locke’s own goal a minute from time wrapped up the points for Carl Adams’ battlers.

An interesting stat from the evening is that Chesham only conceded three free kicks with the first not arriving until the 75th minute.

Town were without the suspended duo of Liam, Francis and skipper James Fry. Fry was missing a league game for the first time this season after accumulating five bookings while Francis was beginning his three game ban following his sending-off against King Langley.

Andy Gallinagh returned after sitting out Saturday’s game and took over the captain’s armband while there were starts for Edwin Ahenkorah, Eli Bako and Evans who had all been on the subs bench at the weekend.

And on a typically chilly Chesham night Town could hardly have made a better start as they took the lead in only the sixth minute. Bako wriggled his way along the byline on the right before pulling the ball back to set up a straightforward finish for Evans from inside the six yard box.

Maybe still recovering from their F A Trophy win over National League South Gloucester City Chesham seemed stunned at going behind, but they looked for an immediate response and went close to an equaliser ten minutes later when David Hutton’s free kick from the right was met at the far post by a bullet header from Locke which cannoned against Town keeper Louis Connor’s right hand post.

Another Hutton free kick was punched away by Connor followed by Adam Watkins having a rasping effort deflected behind as Chesham began to pile on the pressure with Town having to work hard to keep their lead intact.

Connor superbly tipped over a well struck left footer from Watkins on 34 ,minutes and three minutes later it was all square when Town failed to deal properly with Hutton’s right wing corner.

The loose ball fell kindly to Benji Crilley lurking some 20 yards out and he thumped it back through the congested penalty area into the net.

Mike Taylor replaced Ahenkorah after half time and Town were first to threaten when Grocott threaded a pass through to Ben Stephens but a poor first touch from Stephens allowed the ball to run through to the Chesham keeper Hafed Al-Droubi.

Chesham though were soon pushing forward again forcing three corners in quick succession and were close to going ahead on 57 minutes when Zack Reynolds surged down the left to find Joe Iaciofano in space only for Chesham’s leading scorer to blaze inches lover.

Instead it was Town who regained the lead in the 62nd minute when Taylor’s persistence on the left of the penalty area led to the ball dropping to Grocott who immediately volleyed it past the surprised and static Al-Droubi.

Soon after Grocott sent Taylor through down the inside left channel but the big s triker was forced wide by the advancing Al-Droubi and the chance was gone.

By now Evans had limped off with a hamstring problem to be replaced by Justin Marsden as Chesham redoubled their efforts to get back into the game.

Shane Bush headed over from a Reynolds free kick followed by substitute Ravi Shamsi – making his Chesham debut after switching from Banbury – wasting a free header from a Crilley cross, but they were struggling to create any really clearcut chances as Town defended doggedly with everyone putting in a real shift to hang on to the lead.

To the ironic cheers of the Chesham supporters Connor was booked for time wasting as Town ran down the clock but their frustration went up another notch as Town wrapped up the points a minute from time when Lee Thomas’ cross from the left was turned into his own net by Locke as he stretched to get it clear.

“A tremendous performance from everyone involved “ was Carl Adams’ reaction afterwards. “It was always going to be another tough away assignment for us but the players worked ever so hard and we thoroughly deserved the win.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Charlie Evans (Justin Marsden 58), Andy Gallinagh (c), Loyiso Recci, Lee Thomas, Eli Bako, James Hancocks, Ben Stephens, Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah (Mike Taylor 46).

CHESHAM : Hafed Al-Droubi, Benji Crilley, Zack Reynolds, Matt Bevans (Jon-Jo Bates 83), Kieran Murphy (c), Darren Locke, David Hutton (Ravi Shamsi 70), Adam Watkins, Shane Bush (Scott McGleish 74) , Joe Iaciofano, Oran Swales.

Referee     –        George Warren

Assistant Referees       –        Samuel Gregory & Turan Yesilyurt

Attendance        –       151

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Town Yellow Cards            –        Connor, Hancocks, Stephens & Thomas
Chesham Yellow Cards    –        Crilley

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

 

25th NOVEMBER 2017  –  ST IVES TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

AFTER THE KINGS TOWN FOLLOW UP AGAINST THE SAINTS

Stratford Town    –     3    –    Stephens 25  Luckie  29   Ahenkorah  80 (pen)                                       St Ives Town         –      0

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A week ago Town boss Carl Adams was reflecting on the unlucky defeat at Tiverton and referring to the two upcoming home fixtures against Kings Langley and St Ives – who were both below Town in the league table – he suggested that “in an ideal world we would take six points from those games.”

And that ideal world became reality at the MoodChimp Stadium on Saturday as his side followed up their midweek win over the Kings of Langley with a hard fought success over the Saints of St Ives.

Ben Stephens and Jazz Luckie fired Town into a 2-0 half time lead, and after Town had survived some concerted St Ives pressure in the second half Edwin Ahenkorah put the result beyond doubt from the penalty spot ten minutes from time.

Luckie had come into the starting line-up in place of the suspended Mike Taylor while Justin Marsden replaced Charlie Evans and Loyiso Recci took over from the rested Andy Gallinagh.

Both teams made a cautious start although only a perfectly timed tackle by Recci halted a threatening run from Dubi Ogbonna while at the other end Lee Thomas and Stephens combined to set up a chance for Marsden whose shot rebounded away off the imposing St Ives centre back Tom McGowan.

But neither goal had been seriously threatened until Town took the lead on 25 minutes with a goal more or less out of nothing. Leading scorer Stephens received the ball some 25 yards out and surprised the Saints keeper James Goff as he let fly with a precision low drive which arrowed into the bottom corner of the net for his 11th goal of the season.

And just four minutes later Town went two up when Luckie latched onto a through ball down the inside left channel and coolly steadied himself before steering it past Goff.

The Saints tried to hit back with Hall scuffing his shot wide from Jordan Jarrold’s left wing cross a couple of minutes later followed by the lively Ogbonna grazing the bar with a fiercely struck effort after Ben Seymour-Shove had laid on a promising shooting opportunity.

And in the final action of the first half Ogbonna again went close as he headed inches wide from Seymour-Shove’s corner.

Town had a scare as soon as the second half began with skipper James Fry slicing a clearance over his own bar, but almost immediately after Marsden could have put the game out of the Saints reach as he went clear from halfway pursued by Jarrold and with only Goff to beat but the keeper was able to deflect his shot behind.

Boosted by that let-off the Saints began to push forward and Town were forced to defend in depth and in numbers.

On the hour mark a Seymour-Shove free kick caused mayhem in the Town six yard box with Ogbonna having a header cleared away by Liam Francis and shortly after another Seymour-Shove corner fell to Hall whose snap shot was beaten away by Connor.

Town were certainly living dangerously, and on 74 minutes Connor pulled off a brilliant save as he plunged to his right to turn behind a rasping drive from Phil Draycott with Hall soon after having a close range shot cleared off the line by Grocott before Town broke away to clinch the points with ten minutes to go.

Thomas surged down the left to whip in a low cross for Grocott whose shot was handled by a Saints defender and Ahenkorah – who had come on for Luckie five minutes earlier – lashed the spot kick into the roof of the net.

With the eventual outcome now certain it all became a bit feisty, and five minutes later there was an altercation on the touchline in front of the stand when Ahenkorah was fouled with most of the players seeing fit to join in, and when referee Robbie Dadley was able to restore order there were yellow cards for Ahenkorah, Recci and the Saints Rogan McGeorge.

But Ahenkorah almost had the last word in the final minute when he cut in from the left with Goff only half parrying his shot and Jarrold getting back to hack it off the line seconds before the final whistle.

“That’s three home wins in a row and nine goals scored” beamed a bullish Carl Adams afterwards. “a clean sheet is an added bonus and overall our home form is very strong.

I thought that James Fry was immense for us today and Ben Stephens is now looking like the player we all know that he is, but more than that it was an excellent team performance and it’s great when I can bring on substitutes of the calibre of Edwin Ahenkorah who is getting fitter by the game.

I rested Andy Gallinagh today but he will be back for Chesham next Tuesday when we will unfortunately be without James Fry and Liam Francis. That will be another tough away assignment but we will go there with plenty of confidence after these last two results.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield (Charlie Evans 69), Lee Thomas, James Fry (c), Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden, James Hancocks, Jazz Luckie (Edwin Ahenkorah 75), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Eli Baklo 75)         . Unused Sub – Andy Gallinagh

ST IVES : James Goff, Miles Smith, Jordan Jarrold, Lewis Ferrell, l.loyd Groves, Tom McGowan (c), Ben Seymour-Shove (Danny Kelly 73), Peter Clark (Rogan McGeorge 5), James Hall, Dibi Ogbonna, Phil Draycott.           Unused Subs – Daniel Moyes & Matt Wright

Referee              –              Robbie Dadley

Assistant Referees         –          Simon Kavanagh & Nicholas Metcalfe

Attendance       –       201

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Town Yellow Cards      –        Ahenkorah, Recci & Thomas
St Ives Yellow Cards    –       McGeorge & Smith

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

21st NOVEMBER 2017  –  KINGS LANGLRY  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TEN MAN TOWN DIG DEEP TO TOPPLE THE KINGS

Stratford Town       –        3     –    Grocott 30  Summerfield  33  Stephens 63                                      Kings Langley         –         1     –    Recci (og) 53

With a round a quarter of an hour to go at the MoodChimp stadium on Tuesday evening Town were 3-1 up and well on course for their fourth home win of the season when Liam Francis launched into a reckless challenge on Kings Langley striker Mitchell Weiss and was instantly sent off by referee Greg Rollason.

Suddenly the Kings sensed that it might not be all over and Carl Adams’ side had to survive a frantic finale which included seven additional minutes before the three points were secure.

Earlier Will Grocott and Dan Summerfield had put Town two up at half time before the Kings soon pulled one back through a Loyiso Recci own goal. Ben Stephens restored Town’s two goal advantage shortly after the hour mark, and that seemed to be the decider until the late twist as Town went down to ten men.

Charlie Evans for Justin Marsden was the only change to the starting line-up from the weekend as Town looked to put the setbacks of their last three games at Redditch, Lancaster and Tiverton behind them.

Making its debut this evening was the netting behind the Knights Lane End goal funded and erected by STISA members and designed to prevent wayward shots hurtling towards Tiddington and a cheer greeted its first call into action in the 25th minute.

Before then the evening had got off to a lively start with both sides eager for points to climb away from the wrong end of the table. Grocott set up an opening for Mike Taylor on seven minutes but the burly front man was neatly dispossessed by the Kings central defender Sam Tring as he tried to turn past him, while at the other end Kieran Turner let fly with a useful effort which Town keeper Louis Connor could only push away.

Lee Thomas was next to threaten as he latched onto a crossfield pass from Summerfield to close in on goal with the Kings keeper Martin Bennett parrying his shot and then recovering quickly enough to deal with Taylor’s follow-up from the rebound.

The Kings then enjoyed a decent little spell with Connor saving well from Weiss at the foot of his right hand post and then pushing another Weiss effort behind after the Kings target man had surged through the middle before keeping the Kings out again when a deep left wing cross from Steve Ward reached Turner at the far post.

But having survived Town responded and it was James Hancocks who had the distinction of being the first tester of the new netting when his fiercely struck attempt from 25 yards out was tipped over by Bennett.

And five minutes later Town took the lead when Stephens ran onto a headed clearance from Francis down the left to reach the byline and whip in a low cross which was turned in by Grocott from six yards out.

The Kings appeared stunned at going behind but before they could recover their composure Town had added a second as Summerfield escaped down the inside right channel to cut inside and sweep the ball past the advancing Bennett into the far corner.

It was all Town now and only a point blank reaction save from Bennett kept them from going three down as he somehow pushed out James Fry’s bullet header from a Grocott corner.

Soon after an Evans cross from the left caused mayhem in the Kings penalty area before it was eventually cleared as the interval was reached with Town well on top.

Weiss was the second player to hit the netting as he blazed wide two minutes after the restart but having conceded both goals from corners at Tiverton another flag kick led to Town seeing their lead reduced in the 53rd minute.

Andy Gallinagh had been rested for the second half with Recci taking over and he had the ill luck to be involved as Brendan Ocran’s delivery into the six yard box led to two or three players having a stab at the ball before it eventually ricocheted into the net.

Back came Town with Bennett saving with his legs from Stephens and then the Kings skipper Jorell Johnson almost gifting Town a goal when his intended back pass under pressure from Taylor dribbled beyond Bennett and only inches wide of the post.

And it was Taylor’s typical hustle and bustle which set up Town’s third goal in the 63rd minute. Outmuscling a couple of defenders in real old fashioned centre forward style in the right of the penalty area he drew Bennett out and then rolled the ball across to Stephens who calmly steered it into the empty net.

It was Stephens’ tenth goal of the season and he is the first Town player into double figures this time round.

A flying save from Connor kept out an Ocran free kick before the Kings quickly made a triple substitution in an effort to get back into the game.

Town followed by swapping Stephens and Taylor for Jazz Luckie and Edwin Ahenkorah and it seemed to simply be a question of Town seeing the remaining time out.

But then Francis clattered into Weiss which precipitated a scrimmage with near enough everyone joining in and another Kings player being shoved to the ground.

When order was restored and Francis had trudged off the Kings realised that they still had a chance of getting something from the evening and piled forward. The Town defence was tested as the Kings threatened with a couple more corners with Hancocks making a goal-line clearance from one of them and Connor did well to deal with a number of crosses into the six yard box.

But Town hung on and the Kings best chance didn’t arrive until the fourth added minute when Weiss slipped the ball across to Ceykan Karagozlu only for Connor to be smartly off his line to make a vital block and effectively clinch the much needed win.

“It was a big win for us” said Carl Adams afterwards. “They didn’t look like a bottom four side and we were having a real battle until we scored which seemed to take a lot out of them.

From then on we could have had a few more but their keeper made some fantastic saves as did Louis Connor when it all got a bit frantic towards the end.

But this result shows that we are well capable of beating the sides around us in the table. It’s really only the top six or so that are in a class of their own which is why I am always emphasising that our away record is not as bad as the bare figures suggest given that we have already travelled to most of them already.

I’m sure we will start to pick up more points on the road as the fixtures become less challenging, and meantime we will look to bolster our home record with another win against St Ives at the weekend.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Charlie Evans, Lee Thomas, James Fry (c), Andy Gallinagh (Loyiso Recci 46), Liam Francis, Dan Summerfield, James Hancocks, Mike Taylor (Edwin Ahenkorah 72),, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Jazz Luckie 72).           Unused Subs – Eli Bako & Justin Marsden

K/LANGLEY : Martin Bennett, Emmanuel Folarin (Jack Waldren 69), Callum Adebiyi,, Gary Connolly, Sam Tring (Ceykan Karagozlu 69), Jorell Johnson (c), Brendan Ocran, Elliot Godfrey, Mitchell Weiss, Steve Ward, Kieran Turner (Josh Coldicutt-Stevens 69).      Unused Subs – Ross Hampton & Michael King

Referee          –         Greg Rollason

Assistant Referees         –         James Clements & Dean Steatham

Attendance      –        130

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Town     K/Langley
          12 Goal Attempts              17
         10 On Target                9
          0 Blocked Shots                2
          0 Hit Woodwork                0
          3 Corners Won               8
          5 Crosses into Box               9
         8 Fouls Conceded             10
         3 Off Side               0
         4 Yellow Cards               3
         1 Red Cards               0

Town Yellow Cards              –      Ahenkorah, Fry, Hancocks & Thomas     Red Card   –   Francis
K/Langley Yellow Cards    –      Adebiyi, Johnson & Waldren

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

18th NOVEMBER 2017  –  TIVERTON TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

BEN STRIKES EARLY BUT TIVVY HIT BACK TO TAKE THE POTINTS

Tiverton Town     –     2     –     Bath  72   Levi Landricombe  81                                                                      Stratford Town   –     1     –     Stephens  5

Highflying Tiverton came from behind to make it seven wins from nine home League games at a damp and drizzly Ladysmead on Saturday, but this was tough on Town who had put in a spirited performance far removed from their limp effort at Lancaster a week ago.

Ben Stephens fired Town ahead in only the fifth minute and Carl Adams side battled tenaciously to hold on to their lead until Tom Bath’s scrambled equaliser on 72 minutes followed nine minutes later by Tivvy’s leading scorer Levi Landricombe lashing in the winner.

Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from the Lancaster game with James Hancocks, Justin Marsden and Mike Taylor coming in for Eli Bako, Jazz Luckie and Loyiso Recci.

And Town almost made a sensational start as virtually straight from the kick off Taylor seized on a mistake by Nick Hurst to gallop to the byline and slip the ball across to Will Grocott whose shot cannoned against the bar although had it gone in it wouldn’t have counted as the linesman was already flagging for offside.

But the travelling Town faithful didn’t have long to wait for the afternoon to get better as five minutes later Taylor’s deft flick-on released Stephens into the penalty area and he coolly slotted the ball past Tiverton keeper Martin Rice.

Tiverton were clearly ruffled by going behind so early and the game developed into a bit of a niggly affair with both Liam Francis and Levi Landricombe soon collecting yellow cards for over enthusiastic tackles.

Tivvy then thought they had levelled on 18 minutes when Owen Howe netted from Hurst’s cross but his celebrations were cut short by the offside flag while at the other end a Dan Summerfield shot was deflected behind.

Clearcut chances were few and far between but either side of the half hour mark Stephens shot straight at Rice after more good work by Taylor followed by Howe’s header from a corner being cleared away by Francis.

Another Stephens effort was blocked a couple of minutes before the break as a feisty first half ended with Town’s lead still intact.

Bath went close for Tiverton immediately after the restart with Marsden and Taylor doing likewise for Town while Rice saved well from James Hancocks shortly after the hour mark.

But Tivvy were now cranking up the pressure and they eventually equalised on 72 minutes when a right wing corner was headed back across goal by Howe and turned in at the far post by Bath from a couple of yards out.

Almost immediately after Louis Connor made a smart save from Levi Landricombe followed by an Ollie Knowles shot rebounding away off Hancocks before Grocott’s firmly hit low drive was well held by Rice plunging to his left.

But Tivvy now had the momentum and with ten minutes to go Connor could only parry a Levi Landricombe cross from the right with the ball falling kindly to Howe whose shot was somehow kept out by Andy Gallinagh’s heroics on the line.

The reprieve though was only to be shortlived as Town could only clear the subsequent corner straight to Levi Landricombe 20 yards out and the birthday boy let fly with a sumptuous strike through the congested penalty area into the back of the net for his 14th goal of the season in all competitions.

Town tried hard to get back into the game but time was against them and Tivvy held on for the win which reinforces their top six spot in the table.

“We put in a tremendous performance and deserved at least a point” reflected a rueful Carl Adams afterwards. “The improvement from Lancaster was massive and we know that if we continue to work as hard as we did today the results will come.

In the coming week we have home games against Kings Langley and St Ives who are both below us, and in an ideal world we would take three points from both which would propel us nearer to where we want to be but I’m realistic to know that neither will make it easy for us.

But today ends a run of really difficult away games. Of the eight that we have played five have been against teams currently in the top seven in the table which emphasises how hard it has been for us to pick up points but I still believe in the players and I’m still determined that we will improve on last season’s 14th place finish.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Charlie Evans 77) , James Hancocks (Edwin Ahenkorah 84), Mike Taylor (Jazz Luckie 73), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.       Unused Subs – Eli Bako & Loyiso Recci

TIVERTON : Martin Rice, Nick Hurst, Callum Hall, James Richards (Jamie Short 65), Michael Landricombe, Tom Gardner, Scott Rogers, Ollie Knowles, Owen Howe, Levi Landricombe, Tom Bath.            Unused Subs – Owen Irish, George Rogers, Jamie Price & Jason Curtis

Referee             –           Sean Rothwell

Assistant Referees           –           James Gould & Christopher Rea

Attendance          –            227

Match Stats by Rod Abrahamsr

     Town      Tiverton
         12 Goal Attempts             11
           6 On Target               6
           0 Blocked Shots               0
          1 Hit Woodwork               0
          4 Corners Won               6
        10 Crosses into Box               7
        12 Fouls Conceded            14
           1 Off Side              5
           2 Yellow Cards              2
          0 Red Cards              0

Town Yellow Cards              –     Francis & Taylor
Tiverton Yellow Cards       –     L Landricombe & Knowles

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

 

11th NOVEMBER 2017  –  LANCASTER CITY  –  AWAY  –  F A TROPHY

THE DOLLY BLUES GIVE TOWN THE F A TROPHY BLUES

Lancaster City          –       3      –     Francis 8 (og)  Winder (2)  23 & 42
Stratford Town       –        0

Stratford bowed out of the Buildbase F A Trophy at the Giant Axe Stadium after a woeful first half display allowed Lancaster to go in at half time already three up.

An early Liam Francis own goal set the tone for a wretched opening 45 minutes with Ryan Winder adding two more as Town were second best throughout.

Carl Adams’ side perked up after the break but the damage had already been done as Lancaster cruised through to the next round.

All the regular starters who had been rested for the Redditch game in midweek were back for this one but Town were soon under pressure as the quaintly nicknamed Dolly Blues piled forward straight from the kick off.

The tricky Winder gave an immediate warning of what was to come in just the third minute when he lured Francis into a clumsy challenge a few yards outside the penalty area on the right but Paul Dugdale failed to make the most of the free kick as he blasted it into the Town wall.

But that let off was only to be shortlived. Unbeaten at home so far this season Lancaster went ahead in only the eighth minute when Hannu Tam latched onto a long ball down the inside left channel and his low cross was turned into his own net by the luckless Francis as he tried to prevent it reaching Winder who was lurking behind him ready to pounce.

Six minutes later the Town defender almost redeemed himself as he met a Will Grocott corner with a bullet header which was only held by keeper Josh Powell at the second attempt.

But Tam with his hustle and bustle and Winder with his pace and persistence were causing Town no end of problems and it was hardly a surprise when Lancaster doubled their lead on 23 minutes.

Craig Carney was brought down by Loyiso Recci just outside the penalty area on the left. Winder’s free kick was headed out by Andy Gallinagh but Winder seized on the clearance and worked the ball onto his right foot before returning it into the six yard box where it totally deceived Town keeper Louis Connor and bounced beyond him into the far corner of the net.

Little had been seen of Town’s attack as the well organised Dolly Blues defence built around their imposing centre back Steve Williams quickly snuffed out any possible openings, but they almost pulled one back in the 41st minute when Eli Bako’s well struck effort from 20 yards out was pushed over by Powell.

Bizarrely it then led to Lancaster’s third goal as Grocott’s corner was cleared out to Tam on the halfway line who promptly swept it out to Winder on the left and he ran on to steer it unerringly past the advancing Connor to effectively put the result already beyond doubt.

And with Town in disarray it could even have got worse before the break as another surge forward by Tam was only halted by a perfectly timed Francis tackle followed by Carney firing narrowly over.

Town at least looked a bit more lively after half time with Jazz Luckie making his presence felt up front. Cutting in from the left four minutes into the second half he shot into the side netting and soon after went close again, but squandered Town’s best chance on the hour mark when Dugdale’s misdirected header fell kindly to him eight yards out only for his shot to be too close to Powell who was able to beat it away.

Lancaster though were always looking comfortable and as the game began to peter out with twenty or so minutes to go they withdrew both Tam and Winder to understandable ovations from their supporters.

And they then went close to adding a fourth near the end when substitute Sam Bailey’s thunderbolt was spectacularly turned behind by Connor taking off to his left before the final whistle signalled that Town could set off on their long return journey down the M6 with much to contemplate.

So following the result at Redditch on Tuesday Town have exited their last two Cup competitions of the season inside a week leaving them – as the saying goes – to concentrate on the League where Carl Adams’ stated intention is to better last term’s finishing position of 14th.

For that to happen there have to be no more performances like this one.

“There are no excuses” was the blunt verdict of a dejected Carl Adams afterwards.

“We were very weak defensively in the first half, and we were out of the game at half time. . We are becoming too easy to score against and that has to stop.

It’s a blessing that Tuesday’s game against Hereford is now off as that will give us a clear week to learn from what happened here which is something that we’ve simply got to do.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield (Charlie Evans 72), Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Eli Bako (James Hancocks 72), James Fry ( c), Jazz Luckie. Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.       Unused Subs – Mike Taylor, Justin Marsden & Edwin Ahenkorah

LANCASTER : Josh Powell, Lewis Fensome, Paul Dugdale, Simon Willis, Steve Williams, Ricky Mercer, Ryan Winder (Sam Bailey 72), Billy Akrigg, Hannu Tam (Elliott Pond 79), Craig Carney (Charlie Bailey 82), Scott Harries.           Unuded Subs – Ben Hudson & Tom Kilfin

Referee             –            Dale Baines

Assistant Referees        –           Nigel Anderson & Michael Johnson

Attendance           –           252

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Town Yellow Cards              –        Recci
Lancaster Yellow Cards    –         None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

7th NOVEMBER 2017  –  REDDITCH UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE CUP

THE REDS MARCH ON AS CARL ADAMS TARGETS LANCASTER

Redditch United    –   3   –     Hussain 15  Pendley 45  Weir -Daley 55 (pen)                                          Stratford Town      –    0

Redditch gained at least a modicum of revenge for their F A Cup defeat at Stratford back in September with a comfortable success in this Second Round BigFreeBet Cup tie at the Trico Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Zaqib Hussain capitalised on a Town mistake to give them a 15th minute lead which was doubled by Orrin Pendley on the stroke of half time before Spencer Weir-Daley added a third from the penalty spot ten minutes into the second half to take the tie well out of Town’s reach.

With Saturday’s F A Trophy tie at Lancaster in mind Carl Adams fielded a much changed team here. Only Louis Connor, Justin Marsden, Loyiso Recci and Dan Summerfield remained from the weekend’s starting line-up against Bishops Stortford with Eli Bako, Charlie Evans, James Hancocks and Christian Tudorache moving up from the subs bench. Jazz Luckie retuned after his one match suspension, and the team was completed by FC Stratford’s Dean Poulson and Daniel Stokes.

Both sides had early chances from set pieces with Bako going close from a corner after a Luvkie shot had been deflected behind while at the other end a Pauly Apostolopoulos free kick provided an opportunity for Pendley who fired wide.

But the Reds took the lead in the 15th minute after Tudorache in the right back position fatally dallied on the ball allowing Hussain to nick it off him and scamper away to reach the penalty area and shoot right footed past Connor into the far corner.

Town responded with Stokes seizing on a half chance to fire wide under pressure from ex-Town defender Marcel Simpson, but the Reds were looking the sharper of the two sides and the lively Hussain set up an opening for Weir-Daley whose shot rebounded away off Recci.

Stokes wasn’t far away with a header from a Hancocks cross on the half hour mark and Evans saw his on-target effort deflected wide before the Reds doubled their lead in the final minute of the half when Apostolopoulos floated another free kick into the Town six yard box which picked out the unmarked Pendley at the far post and his looping header drifted beyond Connor into the net.

The Reds were first to threaten after the break with Weir-Daley shooting narrowly over before they put the result beyond doubt in the 55th minute.

Reece Jacobs tried to turn past Summerfield into the penalty area and as Summerfield made his challenge the Reds substitute stumbled and eventually went down and referee Matthew Law immediately pointed to the spot.

Weir-Daley blasted it past Connor with the minimum of fuss and there was no way back for Town after that.

To their credit Town kept going to the end with Poulson going close with a low drive on 64 minutes followed by Luckie shooting over and then having a free kick held by Reds keeper Ethan Ross low to his left.

Another decent Poulson attempt went behind off a defender as did one from Stokes with two minutes to go while Evans had a well struck right footer fizz inches over and Luckie shot straight at Ross but the Reds weren’t seriously troubled in seeing the game out.

“I’m not too disappointed if I’m honest” admitted Carl Adams afterwards. “Playing two games a week is a real test and I was keen to ensure that we got through this evening without picking up any injuries ahead of the F A Trophy game at Lancaster.

I thought that we played some nice football at times here without really getting anywhere and the two FC Stratford lads both did well against a fairly strong Redditch team.

But I can now look forward to the Lancaster tie and I’m under no illusions as to how tough a test that will be. They are a very powerful side with an excellent home record, but we will go up there to give it our best and see what happens.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Christian Tudorache, James Hancocks, Dean Poulson, Loyiso Recci, Dan Summerfield, Daniel Stokes. Justin Marsden (c} Jazz Luckie, Eli Bako, Charlie Evans.

REDDITCH : Ethan Ross, Keenah Rosser, Zaqib Hussain, Guy Mailancol, Marcel Simpson (Gowan Stares 74), Orrin Pendley, Joseph Billingham, Kyle Belmonte, Danico Johnson (Reece Jacobs 44), Pauly Apostolopoulos (Jack Nicholls 72), Spencer Weir-Daley.

Referee            –                  Matthew Law

Assistant Referees        –           Simon Fradley & Liam Mayes

Attendance           –             111

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Town Yellow Cards              –        Summerfield
Redditch Yellow Cards      –         Hussain & Johnson

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

4th NOVEMBER 2017  –  BISHOPS STORTFORD  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

GROCOTT STARS AS TOWN KNOCK DOWN THE BISHOPS

Stratford Town         –   3   –   Grocott 34 (pen)  Bako 70  Stephens 75                                                    Bishops Stortford   –    1   –    Taylor 86

Town’s playmaker Will Grocott displayed the full range of his skills as Carl Adams’ side ended a run of only one point from three League games with an ultimately comfortable success over Bishops Stortford at the MoodChimp Stadium on Saturday.

The two clubs only previous meeting had been an F A Cup tie in 2006 when the Bishops were in what is now  National League South with Town languishing in the MFA, but one relegation – at the end of last season – for the Bishops and two promotions for Town meant that they were now at the same level.

And it was Town who were deserving winners with Grocott firing them ahead from the penalty spot in the first half and then making a major contribution to their two goals in five second half minutes which put the result beyond doubt.

Andy Gallinagh, Mike Taylor and Lee Thomas were all back after missing the Frome game in midweek, while Justin Marsden was promoted from the subs bench.

Dropping down to the bench were Eli Bako, Charlie Evans and James Hancocks while Jazz Luckie was serving a one game ban following his sending off against Bedworth a week ago.

Both teams made a cautious start with Taylor heading over from a Grocott free kick after ten uneventful minutes followed by a perfectly timed tackle from Dan Summerfield halting a promising run down the left by Darren Foxley.

The first serious threat came from the Bishops in the 20th minute when George Casey surged into the penalty area only for Loyiso Recci to make a vital block and then recover instantly to repeat his heroics as Casey had another go from the rebound.

At the other end Taylor seized on an underhit backpass to reach the ball before the Bishops keeper Tyler McCarthy and pull it back to Marsden who fatally delayed his shot and was quickly crowded out.

At last the game was coming to life and a couple of minutes later two fierce efforts in quick succession from Freddy Moncur were deflected behind off Town defenders before Town took the lead on 34 minutes .

Grocott threaded the ball through to Marsden who made ground into the right of the penalty area where he was brought down by the Bishops skipper Marvel Ekipteta. It was a straightforward penalty decision for referee Mark Howes and Grocott sent McCarthy the wrong way from the spot with the minimum of fuss.

Soon after a cross from the overlapping Summerfield flew across the face of the goal with no Town player close enough to apply the finishing touch, but they should have doubled their lead in the final minute of the half when another Grocott free kick fell kindly to Taylor who could only shovel it wide.

Taylor had limped off feelingly at the interval and was replaced by Bako for the restart, and Town soon began to look the more lively of the two sides.

Ten minutes in Grocott shot straight at McCarthy after exchanging passes with Thomas, and as Town began to dominate possession it was Grocott’s wizardry which led to them wrapping up the points with two goals in five minutes.

On 70 minutes a crucial interception by Liam Francis saw him slide the ball out to Thomas on the left and he immediately squared it inside to Grocott whose well struck effort from 20 yards was spectacularly turned behind by McCarthy.

Inevitably it was Grocott himself who floated over the corner to the far post which was headed back in by Recci and chested over the line by Bako from no more than a yard out.

Grocott was now running the show and in the 73rd minute his precision pass sent Ben Stephens clear down the right to cut in and shoot beyond both McCarthy and the far post.

But the Bishops’ reprieve was only shortlived as barely two minutes later the peerless Grocott hit another sliderule pass which this time released Stephens down the middle and he ran on to steer it past the advancing McCarthy.

As the Bishops realised that the game was already beyond them Town could have added a couple more goals but Bako had the ball taken off his toe by Joe Robinson just as he was about to shoot and McCarthy saved well from Stephens after Summerfield and Evans had combined to set up the opening.

The Bishops then ruined Town’s hopes of a first clean sheet in twelve games when substitute Callum Taylor hit what could only be a late consolation with four minutes left but by then the destiny of the points had long since been decided.

“After Frome on Wednesday the result was all that mattered today” said a relieved Carl Adams afterwards. “I felt that we were much the better side and I was really pleased with the way we played.

It was a tremendous response after what happened at Frome although it must be emphasised that we had a number of senior players missing down there which obviously had an impact.
But we now face a crucial week with the two cup ties at Redditch and Lancaster.

Given the importance of the Lancaster game I may well try to rest a few at Redditch on Tuesday but Mike Taylor may well be struggling for that one anyway after coming off today so I may have limited options in that respect.

But we will go to both games and give them both our best shot.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Lrancis,, Justin Marsden (Charlie Evans 57), James Fry (c) (James Hancocks 76), Mike Taylor (Eli Bako 46), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.        Unused Sub – Christian Tudorache

B/STORTFORD : Tyler McCarthy, George Casey, Darren Foxley, Ryan Richefond (Callum Taylor 63), Marvel Ekipteta (c), Joe Robinson, Freddy Moncur, Jordan Westcott, Christian Owusu, Tyrique Hyde-Skerritt (Jack Thomas 25), Afolabi Akinyemi       . Unused Subs – Alex Rogers & Marcus Crowther

Referee     –        Mark Howes

Assistant Referees      –       George Emever & Simon Lane

Attendance      –      184

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

       Town     B/Stortford
           11 Goal Attempts                 7
             6 On Target                 3
             0 Blocked Shots                0
            0 Hit Woodwork                0
            2 Corners Won               7
            7 Crosses into Box               4
            9 Fouls Conceded             12
            4 Off Side               2
            2 Yellow Cards              1
            0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards                   –      Recci & Summerfield
B/Stortford Yellow Cards       –      Owusu

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

28th OCTOBER 2017  –  BEDWORTH UNITED  –  HOME  –  F A TROPHY

FEW THRILLS BUT TOWN SAFELY THROUGH TO THE NEXT ROUND

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Stratford Town             –     2       –       Taylor 26  Grocott 48                                                                      Bedworth United      –        1      –        Keen 90 + 3

Town eased past Bedworth into the Second Qualifying Round of the Buildbase F A Trophy without too much difficulty in a generally undistinguished affair at the MoodChimp Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Mike Taylor’s opportunism gave Carl Adams’ side a half time lead which was doubled by Will Grocott early in the second half, and from then on the game more or less petered out until the closing minutes when Jazz Luckie was sent off followed by Luke Keen netting what could only be a consolation goal for the Greenbacks right at the end.

With Liam Francis serving a one game ban James Hancocks came into the starting line-up in the only change from the midweek game at Merthyr.

The early exchanges were fairly even with neither side able to create a worthwhile chance. Ben Stephens tried his luck with a long range free kick which was easily held by Bedworth keeper Dan Crane, and Taylor briefly threatened as he cut in from the left until he lost control allowing Crane to smother the ball at his feet.

Soon after Hancocks crossed the ball into the six yard box with Crane reaching it just in front of Taylor before Town took the lead in the 26th minute. The Bedworth defence failed to deal properly with another cross from Hancocks and the ball fell kindly to Taylor who thumped it past Crane from ten yards out.

Bedworth responded and came close to levelling on the half hour mark when Elliot Parrott’s lob over Town keeper Louis Connor was headed off the line by Andy Gallinagh.

Town were then dealt a blow on 38 minutes when Taylor limped off to be replaced by Luckie, and by now Bedworth prompted by that wily old campaigner Iyesden Christie were seeing more and more of the ball

A Levi Rowley free kick was clawed away by Connor who then turned another Rowley effort over the bar, but the first half ended with Luke Rowe taking the ball off Stephens’ toe as the Town front runner was about to shoot followed by Loyiso Recci directing a powerful header from a Grocott corner straight at the well positioned Crane.

And it was Town who went on the attack immediately after the restart and were rewarded as they doubled their advantage three minutes into the second half.

A slick passing move down the right led to Dan Summerfield launching over a deep cross which drifted beyond the far post but was retrieved by Stephens who slid the ball inside to Grocott and he expertly swivelled past his marker to hit a crisp right footer into the top corner.

Five minutes later Town could have been three up when Grocott’s crossfield pass found Eli Bako in acres of space on the left but he chose to cut inside and then shot wildly over.

Instead Bedworth were close to pulling a goal back on the hour mark when Parrott’s header from Rowe’s right wing cross landed on the roof of the net, but they seldom threatened to get back into the game after that as Town concentrated in holding on to their two goal cushion.

Town skipper James Fry went close with a header and Hancocks shot over from a Grocott pass but there was little meaningful action until late on.

Then with only two minutes of normal time to go Luckie got involved in an off the ball incident with Ricardo Dudley. Having already been booked barely ten minutes earlier he was now inevitably shown a second yellow by referee Neil Pratt and as he trudged disconsolately off Bedworth sensed an unlikely reprieve.

As they piled forward in one last desperate effort a Rowley shot came back off the foot of Connor’s right hand post with the Town keeper then reacting quick enough to turn away substitute Kai Williams’ effort from the rebound, before Keen fired in from Rowley’s pass in the third of four added time minutes.

But it was too little too late and Town were safely through to Monday’s next round draw.

“It’s always good to win” observed Carl Adams afterwards. “It wasn’t the greatest of games but we did what we needed to do and stuck at it.

There’s some big teams gone out of this competition today such as Kings Lynn, Merthyr, Redditch and Weymouth so we’ve got to be pleased that we’re still involved.

I thought that our second goal was a tremendous team goal with a patient build-up and an excellent finish, but obviously I’m less pleased with the sending off and we should have done better with their goal but in the end we got the result we wanted.

I am however concerned with our injury situation. Edwin Ahenkorah is unlikely to be back any time soon, and both Mike Taylor and Andy Gallinagh must be doubtful for the Frome game on Wednesday after coming off today.

So we will have to wait and see how quickly they can recover.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, James Hancocks, Andy Gallinagh (Charlie Evans 78), Loyiso Recci, Lee Thomas, Eli Bako (Justin Marsden 76), James Fry (c), Mike Taylor (Jazz Luckie 38), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.          Unused Subs – Christian Tudorache & Scott Martin (GK)

BEDWORTH : Dan Crane, Ryan Smith (Richard Blythe 66), Luke Rowe, Elliot Parrott, Mark Albrighton (c) (Khaellen Bailey-Nicholls 72), Ricardo Dudley, Iyesden Christie (Kai Williams 76), Reece Blackmore, Luke Keen, Levi Rowley, Joe Pegg.         Unused Subs – Janabi Amour & Adam Harrison (GK)

Referee        –          Neil Pratt

Assistant Referees       –          John Roskelly & Paul Tyler

Attendance          –       176

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Town Yellow Cards                –         Grocott, Luckie & Stephens         Red Card   –    Luckie
Bedworth Yellow Cards      –         Christie, Dudley & Rowe

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

24th OCTOBER 2017  –  MERTHYR TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

MERTHYR TAKE THER POINTS AS TOWN FAIL TO TAKR THEIR CHANCES

Merthyr Town         –    3    –    Traylor 19 Morgan 80 Richards 90 + 2
Stratford Town      –    1    – Summerfield 37

Merthyr struck twice late on to secure all three points at a damp Loadlok Community Stadium on Tuesday evening after Town had been on top for much of the second half without being able to turn their possession into goals.

Earlier their long serving striker Ian Traylor had fired Merthyr into a 19th minute lead which was cancelled out by Town’s ex-Martyr Dan Summerfield much to his unrestrained delight eight minutes before the break.

Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from the weekend draw with Royston. Edwin Ahenkorah who limped off on Saturday with a recurrence of his knee problem was replaced by Mike Taylor while Jazz Luckie was unavailable due to work commitments with Eli Bako taking over and Loyiso Recci was brought in to the backline instead of Charlie Evans.

Almost uniquely Carl Adams then went through the evening without using any of players on the subs bench, nor for lovers of football trivia was their a single offside decision either  .

Town were first to threaten with Bako having a shot rebound off Kyle Patten straight to Will Grocott whose low drive fizzed inches wide.

As Town continued their encouraging start moving the ball about with purpose on the slick 3G surface Ben Stephens’ ninth minute free kick was only parried by Merthyr keeper Ollie Davies with Patten having to put the loose ball behind as Taylor closed in.

But dangerman Traylor who has racked up well over 100 goals in his Merthyr career soon began to make his presence felt going close with a rasping effort from distance, and on 19 minutes inevitably it was Traylor who fired them ahead.

Curtis McDonald surged down the left to whip in a low cross which Traylor expertly drilled into the bottom corner from 15 yards out.

A couple of minutes later Merthyr should have doubled their lead when Traylor’s cross from the right reached Eliot Richards who blazed wastefully over, and as the Martyrs cranked up the pressure Andy Gallinagh blocked another Traylor effort and Summerfield did likewise from Jaye Bowen.

The alert Richards then caught Liam Francis in possession on the half hour mark to release Traylor down the inside right channel with the striker reaching the edge of the penalty area before shooting across Town keeper Louis Connor with the ball missing the outside of the far post by no more than a coat of paint on its way behind.

But having somehow survived to be still only one down Town drew level in the 37th minute with a beautifully worked goal

Lee Thomas overlapped charged down the left to reach the byline and deliver a pinpoint cross which was met by a bullet header from Summerfield at the far post.

Almost immediately after it was Traylor again escaping down the right with Connor having to come to the edge of his area to close him down and keep it all square at half time.

Town were much sharper in the second half with Summerfield floating over a cross from which Francis saw his shot deflected behind followed by Stephens skimming the bar after Merthyr had been undone by Recci’s long throw-in.

Another cross from Summerfield – who was certainly enjoying himself against his old team mates – was collected by Davies whose attempted clearance was charged down by Francis only for Taylor to slide the rebound the wrong side of the post.

With most of the action now taking place in the Merthyr half Grocott went close with a couple of well struck long range attempts, and on 70 minutes only the woodwork prevented Town from taking the lead when Stephens’ effort came back off the bar following a real old fashioned scramble in the Merthyr six yard box.

And it was Stephens who had Town’s best chance yet with a quarter of an hour to go when he was picked out by yet another precision cross from Summerfield for a free header which he inexplicably glanced wide from no more than five yards out.

But having been under sustained Town pressure since the break Merthyr now showed Town had to take their chances. Winning the ball in the centre circle Merthyr swept it out to Traylor wide on the right. So far he had hardly been in the game in the second half but as he cut in from the touchline the threat was obvious.

He could have gone for goal himself but instead he unselfishly squared the ball across the penalty area to provide substitute Kerry Morgan with a straightforward finish to put Merthyr back in front..

As Town piled forward in search of a second equaliser which on the balance of play they surely deserved the energetic Thomas set up a great chance for Taylor but it summed up Town’s night when the burly striker ballooned it right out of the ground.

Connor then did well to claw away a misdirected header from Gallinagh before Merthyr wrapped it all up in the second minute of added time when Richards turned on the ball some 25 yards out to hit a delightful right foot curler which nestled just inside Connor’s left hand post.

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci. Liam Francis, Eli Bako, James Fry (c), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens      Subs (all unused) – Charlie Evans, James Hancocks & Justin Marsden

MERTHYR : Ollie Davies, Adam Davies, Curtis McDonald, Ashley Evans (c), Kyle Patten, Jarrad Wright, Corey Jenkins (Kerry Morgan 57), Jaye Bowen (Mo Touray 68), Stuart Fleetwood, Eliot Richards, Ian Traylor (Robbie Patten 88).       Unused Subs – Scott Tancock & Kyle Copp

Referee         –          Darren Wilding

Assistant Referees       –           Josh Brookland & Alan Robertson

Attendance      –        351

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Town Yellow Cards – Francis & Thomas
Merthyr Yellow Cards – None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

21st OCTOBER 2017  –  ROYSTON TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

STORM BRIAN IS THE WINNER AS TOWN AND ROYSTON MAKE DO WITH A DRAW

Stratford Town        –     1     –   Stephens  2
Royston Town         –      1      –   Corcoran 62

Storm Brian blowing straight down the MoodChimp Stadium from the Golf Course end ensured that this was very much a game of two halves with Town and Royston battling away to the probably fair outcome of a point apiece.

With the wind behind them in the first half Town took the lead inside the opening 90 seconds through Ben Stephens, but Royston had that advantage after the break and Sam Corcoran levelled in the 62nd minute.

And they thought they had secured what would have been a fifth straight win when James Potton fired home in the final minute of normal time only for it to be ruled out for offside against his strike partner John Frendo.

All the players rested at Evesham on Wednesday were back for this one, but Town’s starting line-up did show two changes from last weekend’s win over Dunstable with Ben Stephens and Jazz Luckie replacing Eli Bako and Mike Taylor.

And Town got off to the perfect start. Will Grocott’s corner from the left was deflected behind for another corner on the opposite flank, and this time Grocott played it short to Edwin Ahenkorah whose cross reached Stephens on the far side of the penalty area and he neatly controlled the ball on his chest before lifting over Royston keeper Joe Welch.

Town piled forward looking to make the most of having the conditions in their favour, and they should have doubled their lead in the tenth minute,

Stephens was carrying on from where he left off at Evesham, and his perfectly weighted pass sent Luckie galloping clear down the inside right channel, but the four goal hero from Wednesday shot too close to the advancing Welch who was able to push it behind.

And having survived that early blitz Royston gradually got a foothold in the game with Scott Bridges having a shot rebound away off Liam Francis followed by Adam Marriott netting but having his effort chalked off for offside and then Louis Connor turning behind a decent attempt from James Potton.

The Town faithful were becoming edgy feeling that their side needed at least a two goal cushion to take into the second half when Brian would be very much on Royston’s side, and on 33 minutes they became even more anxious as Royston almost fashioned an equaliser when Josh Castiglione and Frendo combined to set up an opportunity for Potton whose well struck right footer beaten away by Connor.

Soon after another Stephens sliderule pass put Luckie in the clear once more but with only Welch to beat he blazed wastefully over, and with half time fast approaching it was only Connor who kept Town’s lead intact as he acrobatically tipped over Potton’s equally spectacular overhead kick

As soon as the second half began Royston showed their intentions with their imposing central defender Adam Murray charging upfield to unleash a shot from all of 35 yards out which didn’t miss by much.

Town were soon struggling to get out of their own half as Royston dominated the possession. Bridges had a header from a Lee Chappell free kick held by Connor, but an equaliser seemed inevitable and it duly arrived on 62 minutes when Corcoran exchanged passes with Frendo on the edge of the penalty area before drilling the ball beyond Connor into the bottom corner.

A couple of minutes later Chappell went close with another free kick but Town at last responded with substitute Mike Taylor seizing on a weak headed pass back by Gus Scott-Morriss only to then shoot against the relieved Welch.

With fifteen minutes left Royston made a triple substitution which also involved Murray being moved up front as they went all out for the winner.

Frendo wasn’t far away with a thunderbolt from 20 yards out, Ryan Ingrey had an on-target deflected behind and Chappell’s surge down the middle was halted on the edge of the penalty area by a combination of Francis and Andy Gallinagh.

Then just as a draw seemed certain Potton ran through to shoot past Connor only for the offside flag to be raised against Frendo who although he didn’t actually touch the ball he certainly appeared to make an attempt to do so.

The furious Royston protests were to no avail, and the points were shared.

“It’s so frustrating to get off to a good start and not then go on to win” commented a rueful Carl Adams afterwards. “This afternoon was a game which I felt got away from us. They may have had more of the possession but we had the better chances and should have been more clinical with our finishing.

We are 19th in the table, but I believe that the group of players I have are better than that. At the moment we seem to be winning one, drawing one and losing one whereas we should be winning two, drawing two and losing one. That will move us up the table but it’s all down to consistency and what I term football knowledge and that’s what we need to introduce into our performances.

Merthyr on Tuesday will be another stern challenge, but if we put our minds to it we can certainly come away with something from what I consider one of the three hardest places to go to in this League – especially in midweek.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Charlie Evans (Loyiso Recci 69), Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Dan Summerfield, Liam Francis, Ben Stephens, James Fry (c), Jazz Luckie (Eli Bako 69), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah (Mike Taylor 59). Unused Subs – Justin Marsden & James Hancocks

ROYSTON : Joe Welch, Ed Asufu-Adjaye, Lee Chappell, Scott Bridges (c), Adam Murray, Gus Scott-Morriss (Josh Oyinsan 76), Josh Castiglione (Scott Thomas 76), Sam Corcoran, John Frendo, James Potton, Adam Marriott (Ryan Ingrey 76). Unused Subs – Martin Powell & Romelle Alomenu

Referee       –         Scott Robertson

Assistant Referees        –        Daniel Pattison & Liam Teraud.

Attendance      –        236

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Town       Royston
            6 Goal Attempts              11
            4 On Target                5
            0 Blocked Shots                0
           0 Hit Woodwork                0
           5 Corners Won             10
           6 Crosses into Box               6
        13 Fouls Conceded               9
           4 Off Side               4
          1 Yellow Cards              2
          0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards           –          Luckie
Royston Yellow Cards      –         Bridges & Frendo

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

18th OCTOBER 2017  –  EVESHAM UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE CUP

LUCKIE HITS FOUR AS TOWN PROGRESS IN ELEVEN GOAL THRILLER

Evesham United     –     4   –Tudorache 5 (og) Mann 8 Powell 63 Brown 64
Stratford Town       –     7    –   Stephens (2) 5 & 26 Luckie (4) 11, 18, 48 & 84 Ahenkorah 90 + 2

2After a crazy evening which included five goals in the opening 18 minutes and eleven goals in all plus a near quarter hour break when the Spiers and Hartwell Jubilee Stadium’s lights went out Town eventually progressed through this BigFreeBet Challenge Cup First Round tie to set up yet another meeting with Redditch United in the next round.

Jazz Luckie led the way in the scoring stakes with a clinically taken four timer while Ben Stephens found the net with two exquisite free kicks and Edwin Ahenkorah finished it all off with Town’s seventh in added time right at the end.

But Town didn’t have it all their own way as the Robins led 2-1 early on and had a great chance to make it 5-5 with ten minutes to go before Town pulled away again with two more just to make sure.

Clubs often use this competition to give fringe players an opportunity for game time, and Town and Evesham were no exception this time with both starting line-ups including only three players from their weekend games.

Town’s survivors were Louis Connor, Lee Thomas and Mike Taylor who were joined by the five from Saturday’s subs bench plus Christian Tudorache who had played in the Birmingham Senior Cup tie against Solihull Moors and two debutants in Trene Payne and Adil Mohammad.

The subs bench here consisted of Charlie Evans, Liam Francis and Edwin Ahenkorah, with previous ever presents James Fry, Andy Gallinagh and Will Grocott being given the night off altogether.

The pattern for the game was set almost straight from the kick off with Town taking the lead in only the third minute.

Stephens was barged over a few yards outside the penalty area on the left and took the free kick himself with ball ricocheting down from the angle of post and bar and crossing the line before being hooked away by a Robins defender.

No goal line technology here but the assistant referee was perfectly positioned instead and his flag confirmed that Town were one up.

But not for long as barely two minutes later there was a fatal misunderstanding in the Town defence over who should deal with a cross from the right and it ended with Tudorache turning the ball into his own net.

And three minutes later Town found themselves trailing as they allowed Adam Mann to surge forward from halfway to hit a sumptuous effort beyond Connor into the top corner from 20 yards out.

But this time it was Evesham’s lead that was shortlived. On 11 minutes Stephens’ trickery took him through past two or three ineffective challenges into the penalty area where he unselfishly laid the ball off to Luckie who drilled it past Robins keeper Sam Gilder.

A full seven minutes then passed before the next goal with Luckie again producing an unerring finish after latching on to Taylor’s flick on to put Town back in front.

But all the excitement was too much for the floodlights as in the 22nd minute the ground was plunged into darkness and there was an anxious 14 minutes before power was restored.

Normal scoring service was resumed four minutes later when Town doubled their lead from another Stephens free kick. It was from a similar position as the first one except that this time it was on the right and he delicately floated it over the Evesham wall to nestle just inside the far post.

Amazingly neither side managed to find the net again before half time although there were plenty of chances, but Connor saved well from Ashley Williams and Taylor’s charge was halted by a perfectly timed tackle from Leroy Odiero.

But the goal spree continued as soon as the second half got under way with Luckie completing his hat trick three minutes in when he seized on a lofted pass from Stephens to lash the ball past Gilder.

Town were now three up and should have been four up a couple of minutes later when Stephens laid on an apparently unmissable opportunity for Taylor only for Saturday’s hat trick hero to roll it tamely past the post.

Both sides were now making substitutions but the Robins were still pushing forward and on the hour mark Mann almost got through with Connor half stopping his shot and James Hancocks getting back to complete the clearance from off the line.

Three minutes later though they did pull a goal back when Lewis Binns’ shot from the right deflected off a Town defender and fell kindly to substitute Lewis Powell who had a simple tap-in from six yards out.

And within a minute they were right back in the game when Carl Brown with probably his first touch of the ball blasted it past Connor to make it 5-4.

After a couple of near misses at both ends a double error from Loyiso Recci on 80 minutes presented the Robins with a tremendous opportunity to draw level.

Firstly he allowed himself to be caught in possession by Mann and he then compounded his mistake by chasing after the Evesham striker and bringing him down a yard or so outside the penalty area.

If it had been a Town free kick Stephens would clearly have been a threat but it was Bradley Gray for the Robins and he blazed it wildly over into the car park behind the goal.

Realising that they still had work to Town promptly went down the other end and in the 84th minute Luckie hit his fourth and Town’s sixth with an absolute screamer from wide on the right.

That made sure that Town were going to be the winners, but in the second minute of added time Ahenkorah received the ball from Evans wide on the right before wriggling along the byline to somehow squeeze it past Gilder from a seemingly impossible angle and a spectacular evening’s entertainment was finally over.

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Trene Payne (Liam Francis 75(, James Hancocks, Christian Tudorache, Loyiso Recci, Lee Thomas (Charlie Evans 53), Justin Marsden (c), Adji Mohammad, Mike Taylor, Ben Stephens (Edwin Ahenkorah 62), Jazz Luckie.

EVESHAM : Sam Gilder, Matt Williams (Bradley Gray 46), Matt Bennett, Nick Hancock, Leroy Oderio, Ashley Williams, Jordan Bryan, Archie Haskayne (Carl Brown 63), Greg Paal (Lewis Powell 53), Adam Mann (c), Lewis Binns

Referee           –           Scott Tallis

Assistant Referees           –          Joe Clarke & Alan Cox

Attendance       –          159

Town Man of the Match       –            Jazz Luckie

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Town      Evesham
         10 Goal Attempts              20
            9 On Target                9
            0 Blocked Shots                0
            0 Hit Woodwork                0
            1 Corners Won               5
            2 Crosses into Box             11
         21 Fouls Conceded               9
            1 Off Side               2
           3 Yellow Cards              1
           0 Red Cards               0

Town Yellow Cards              –          Hancocks, Recci & Taylor
Evesham Yellow Cards       –          Binns

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

14th OCTOBER 2017  –  DUNSTABLE TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

MIKE TAYLOR’S TREBLE DESTROYS DUNSTABLE

Stratford Town        –     5          Ahenkorah 7 Taylor (3) 26, 41 & 44 Marsden 73
Dunstable Town      –     1    –      Osei-Bonsu 59

Mike Taylor’s hat trick in 18 first half minutes propelled Town to their biggest win of the season so far and sent struggling Dunstable to their ninth defeat in twelve League games.

Edwin Ahenkorah gave Town an early lead before Taylor struck in the 26th, 41st and 44th minutes to effectively put the result beyond doubt.   Andrew Osei-Bonsu pulled one back for Dunstable after the interval but Town restored their four goal advantage when substitute Justin Marsden added their fifth in the 73rd minute.

Ahenkorah, Dan Summerfield and Lee Thomas were all back in the starting line-up for this one with a strong looking subs bench made up of players who have all featured as starters in recent games.

Town were on the attack straight from the kick off with Thomas getting forward in only the fourth minute to hit a shot which didn’t have the pace to trouble Dunstable keeper Casey Harker, but three minutes later they were in front.

A fierce effort from Charlie Evans was pushed away by Harker but Will Grocott seized on the loose ball to return it across the six yard box and it was volleyed in at the far post by Ahenkorah for his fifth goal of the campaign.

Dunstable were close to grabbing an immediate equaliser when Peter Kioso’s header from a Gedeon Okito corner landed on the roof of the net, but Town were soon piling on the pressure again with Taylor making space for a shot which he put straight at Harker.

The lively Osei-Bonsu then worked his way across the penalty area to hit a shot which Louis Connor only dealt with at the second attempt followed by Aaron Hudson letting fly with a decent effort from wide on the left which was held by Connor at his right hand post before the Taylor goal rush began.

Going into this game the Town striker was yet to get off the mark for the season, but on 26 minutes that statistic was put right as his persistence on the right of the penalty area took him through a couple of challenges before he neatly lifted the ball over Harker to put Town two up.

Town were now totally in control and they almost went further ahead in the 38th minute when only the fortuitous combination of Harker and the woodwork deflected behind a Liam Francis header from a pinpoint Evans cross.

But three minutes later it was three for Town and two for Taylor as the imposing front man climbed the highest to head in a Grocott corner.

Eli Bako was next to threaten with a shot from the edge of the penalty area which was fumbled round the post by Harker before Taylor finished off the first half in style as he completed his treble with a bullet header from another Evans cross.

To their credit Dunstable showed plenty of spirit after the break and Osei-Bonsu ended Town’s hopes of a clean sheet in the 59th minute when he turned in the left of the penalty area to steer the ball beyond Connor into the far corner.

A few minutes later he wasn’t far away with another curler which drifted tantalisingly wide, but in between his two efforts Town had replaced Ahenkorah and Taylor with Jazz Luckie and Justin Marsden followed soon after by Bako making way for James Hancocks.

And it was Marsden’s opportunism which led to Town’s fifth on 73 minutes as he caught Harker dallying over a clearance and took his chance to nick the ball off him and roll it into the empty net.

From then on the game petered out although Town had several attempts to boost their goal difference still further, but Luckie shot into the side netting, James Fry fired over from s20 yards out and Hancocks was similarly wide from distance.

“A really positive performance” purred a delighted Carl Adams afterwards. “The two Scarborough games really hurt us so it’s nice to see some smiles back on peoples faces.

Mike Taylor was tremendous today and was a different player to previously, but as with all the players they need to perform at their best every game and not just one in five or six because in this League if you don’t you won’t get the results.

But today will certainly give us a lift confidence wise although as I’ve said before I think that we’ve had a tough start to the season with the likes of Kings Lynn and Hereford away and I can only really think of two games when we’ve let ourselves down.

And we can now focus on the League Cup tie at Evesham on Wednesday. I was originally toying with using some of the FC Stratford lads, but I’ve now decided to take a full strength squad as it’s a competition I believe we can do well in.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Charlie Evans, Lee Thomas,  Andy Gallinagh, Dan Summerfield, Liam Francis, Eli Bako (James Hancocks 71), James Fry (c), Mike Taylor (Jazz Luckie 63), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah (Justin Marsden 63). Unused Subs – Loyiso Recci & Ben Stephens

DUNSTABLE : Casey Harker, Peter Kioso, Gedeon Okito, Lanre Lapido (Claudio Silva 81), John Sonuga (c). Scott Betts, Ryan Young (Brandy Makeundi 46), Ben Collins, Arel Amu, Andrew Osei-Bonsu, Aaron Hudson (Kieran Ogden 40). Unused Subs – Joseph Chidyausiku & Sam Odusoga

Referee       –          Richard Price

Assistant Referees        –           Richard Cutts & Matthew Hopton.

Attendance       –         194

Town Man of the Match       –         Mike Taylor

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Town Yellow Cards                –     None

Dunstable Yellow Cards       –    Kioso

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

10th OCTOBER 2017  –  SOLIHULL MOORS  –  HOME  –  B’HAM SNR CUP

THE MOORS ARE THE MERRIER AS THEY GO THROUGH ON PENALTIES

Stratford Town       –      1     –      Ahenkorah 82 (pen)
Solihull Moors        –       1     –     Afolayan 43
(Solihull Moors won 5-4 on penalties)

Solihull keeper Charlie Bannister’s save from Jazz Luckie’s spot kick in the penalty shoot-out after the sides had finished level at one apiece over the scheduled 90 minutes propelled the Moors into the Second Round of the Birmingham Senior Cup at the MoodChimp Stadium on Tuesday evening.

The Moors had dominated the first half and deservedly led at half time, but Town were much sharper after the break and equalised through Edwin Ahenkorah’s penalty with eight minutes left to send the tie into the shoot-out decider.

Carl Adams made three changes to Town’s starting line-up from the Hitchin game. Christian Tudorache who had featured in a couple of pre-season friendlies was introduced for his competitive debut, while Eli Bako was handed a start after five appearances from the subs bench. Mike Taylor was the third change from Saturday with James Hancocks, Luckie and Ben Stephens being the players who dropped out.

The strong looking Moors starting line-up included six players who had started Saturday’s National League game against Hartlepool United plus the five players who had been on the subs bench, and included Jordan Liburd who had made a handful of appearances for Town at the beginning of last season.

The Moors were first to threaten with Richard Brodie forcing an early save from Louis Connor, and with Wesley McDonald and Oladapo Afolayan controlling the possession in midfield most of the action was in the Town half of the pitch.

And Town supporters held their collective breath in the 25th minute when the ovderlapping Shepherd Murumbedzi went down in the penalty area under Charlie Evans’ challenge, but after consulting his assistant referee Simon Brown ruled that there was no foul.

Town as the saying goes probably got away with one this time.

The Moors continued to press forward with McDonald having a couple of shots rebound off Town defenders while in between Town skipper James Fry had a thunderous 30 yard effort held by Bannister at the second attempt.

Five minutes before the break McDonald set up a great chance for Courtney Richards whose volley fizzed inches wide, but just as it looked as if Town had survived until half time a calamitous mistake by Loyiso Recci gifted Moors the lead.

Under no pressure the Town defender looked to find Connor with a backpass but only succeeded in playing the ball into the path of Afolayan who ran on to slot it past the stranded keeper.

Town should have levelled within two minutes of the second half starting when Taylor’s persistence provided Bako with a decent opening but the midfielder fired disappointingly over.

But that set the pattern for the rest of the evening with Town seeing more and more of the ball as Will Grocott began to stamp his authority in the crucial midfield area.

Stephens replaced Tudorache on the hour mark and ten minutes later his shot was handled by Joel Kettle seemingly just inside the penalty area which prompted another referee/assistant discussion before Town were awarded a free kick right on the 18 yard line.

Stephens took it himself with his low drive scorching past the Moors wall and being pushed out by Bannister getting down well to his right with the keeper then recovering quickly enough to beat away Liam Francis’ effort as he seized on the loose ball.

Soon after the Town supporters were able to cheer the return of Ahenkorah after missing the last five matches with a knee problem as he came on for Justin Marsden with Luckie following in place of Bako.

With a plenty of attacking options now on the pitch Town cranked up the pressure, and it paid off in the 82nd minute when Evans burst into the left of the penalty area where he was upended by Kettle and this time referee Brown immediately pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Ahenkorah to lash it past Bannister with the minimum of fuss to make it all square and set up a frantic finale as both sides looked for a winner in the time remaining.

Substitute Tahvon Campbell had a couple of on target attempts turned away by Connor while Liburd and Dan Cleary also went close while at the other end Grocott almost wriggled through down the right and Ahenkorah wasn’t far away from close range, but neither side could come up with the winner before the final whistle.

And so to penalties. Grocott was first up and scored for Town followed by Richards doing likewise for the Moors, but then came what turned out to be the decider as Luckie’s effort was deflected over by Bannister.

McDonald immediately gave the Moors a 2-1 lead, and after Ahenkorah, Stephens and Fry had all netted for Town and Campbell and Afolayan for the Moors the tie rested on the Moors fifth penalty.

Cleary blasted it past Connor and the Moors were through to the next round.

Nevertheless Town boss Carl Adams was far from downbeat and instead preferred to concentrate on the positives

“It was a much improved performance tonight.” was his post match verdict. “In the first half I felt that we showed them too much respect. We stood off them and allowed them to play, but they didn’t really hurt us and it took a mistake from us to give them the lead.

But in the second half I thought that we were the better team. We passed the ball well and fully deserved to draw level. Had the game gone on for another fifteen minutes I’m sure that we would have won, but it came down to a penalty shootout and that’s always a lottery.

But we now have to concentrate on improving our league position. We’ve had a tough schedule with the likes of Kings Lynn and Hereford away, but I believe that we are better than our current position and we now need to show our character and start picking up some points starting with two Saturday home games in a row against Dunstable and Royston.”

STRATFORD : Louis Connor, Loyiso Recci, Charlie Evans, Andy Gallinagh,
Christian Tudorache (Ben Stephens 59), Liam Francis, Eli Bako (Jazz Luckie 76), James Fry (c), Mike Taylor,, Will Grocott, Justin Marsden (Edwin Ahenkorah 73)..      Unused Subs – James Hancocks & Dan Summerfield

SOLIHULL : Charlie Bannister, Shepherd Murumbedzi , Jordan Liburd, Joel Kettle, Fiacrs Kelleher, Dan Cleary, Wesley McDonald, Courtney Richards (c), Richard Brodie (Tavhon Campbell 76), Orladapo Afolayan, George Carline.      Unused Subs – Ramford Martin, Matt Hill, Kristian Green & Callum Coyle

Referee          –        Simon Brown

Assistant Referees          –          Ashley Clarke & Simon Lane.

Attendance       –       162

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Town      Solihull
           9 Goal Attempts            14
           7 On Target              5
           0 Blocked Shots              0
           0 Hit Woodwork              0
          2 Corners Won              7
           6 Crosses into Box           11
           7 Fouls Conceded           12
           1 Off Side            1
           0 Yellow Cards            1
          0 Red Cards            0

Town Yellow Cards         –      None
Solihull Yellow Cards    –      Afolayan

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

7th OCTOBER 2017  –  HITCHIN TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

ON SONG CANARIES FLY TOO HIGH FOR OUT OF TUNE TOWN

Hitchin Town        –   4  –    Donnelly (2) 18 & 33    Charles (2) 79 & 87
Stratford Town    –   0

Town’s wretched week which had seen them dumped out of the F A Cup by Scarborough Athletic ended in more disappointment as they were comprehensively beaten by a lively Hitchin side at Top Field on Saturday.

Brett Donnelly’s double propelled the Canaries into 2-0 half time lead, and substitute Trey Charles added two more late on as a totally out of sorts Town managed only three goal attempts all afternoon none of which were on target.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from the Scarborough game on Tuesday with Charlie Evans and James Hancocks coming in for the injured Dan Summerfield and the holidaying Lee Thomas.

Town started quite brightly and had the better of the early possession without looking really threatening, and it was Hitchin who created the first serious chance in the 12th minute when in a sign of things to come Donnelly’s crisp effort was turned behind by Louis Connor at the foot of his left hand post.

Soon after Jack Green escaped down the right only to scuff his shot at the vital moment, and as Hitchin began to take control it was Donnelly who opened the scoring in the 18th minute.

A cross from the right was only half cleared by the Town defence and when Charlie Smith returned the ball into the centre Donnelly climbed the highest to direct his header beyond Connor into the net.

And with Town struggling to make an impact Donnelly doubled Hitchin’s lead in the 33rd minute. Collecting a pass some 20 yards out he swivelled past Loyiso Recci to hit a precision right foot drive into the bottom corner.

There was only a limited response from Town and for the rest of the first half most of the action took place in the Town half as the Canaries seemed to be playing well within their comfort zone.

Two minutes into the second half only the woodwork prevented Donnelly celebrating a hat-trick as he surged clear with the offside flag staying resolutely down to let fly with a thunderous effort which was tipped onto the bar by Connor and fortunately for Town then ricocheted away to safety.

Eli Bako replaced Ben Stephens but there was little difference to the pattern of play with Jonny McNamara whipping in a low cross from the right which was just out of the reach of the stretching Green.

Mike Taylor came on for Town skipper Jimmy Fry while the Canaries withdrew Donnelly for Connor Vincent and Green for Lewis Rolfe as Town continued to offer little threat to Hitchin’s lead.

Connor saved a firmly hit drive from Elliot Bailey and both Kavan Cotter and Smith floated over tempting crosses which drifted harmlessly away before Hitchin introduced Charles in place of McNamara.

And after just six minutes on the pitch Charles made his mark as he skipped down the right touchline. Neatly evading a lunging challenge from Bako he reached the byline and from an apparently impossible angle he lashed the ball past Connor into the far side of the net.

The goal was initially credited to Vincent who may have got a slight touch as the ball went past him virtually on the goal-line but after the match it was officially given to Charles.

If it was not “game over” before it certainly was now but Hitchin and Charles were not finished yet, and with three minutes to go Town’s misery was complete as the supersub again used his pace to shoot against Connor after bursting into the penalty area and then reacting quickly enough to drill the rebound into the empty net.

“That was probably the worst Town performance under my leadership” admitted a downbeat Carl Adams afterwards. “Nobody turned up. We were very poor and very weak and that’s saying it as it was.

Heads are down, and it’s all about character now. I’ve just got to lift them for Tuesday’s game against the Moors and then our next league game at home to Dunstable.

The players have got to be mentally tough to cope and to put the Scarborough cup tie and today behind them.”

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Charlie Evans, James Hancocks, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis Justin Marsden, James Fry (c) (Mike Taylor 62), Jazz Luckie, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Eli Bako 55). Unused Subs – Dan Summerfield & Edwin Ahenkorah

HITCHIN : Michael Johnson, Kavan Cotter, Ben Webster, Lucas Kirkpatrick, Dan Webb (c), Josh Bickerstaff, Jack Green (Lewis Rolfe 65), Charlie Smith, Brett Donnelly (Connor Vincent 63), Elliot Bailey, Jonny McNamara (Trey Charles 73) . Unused Subs – Kieran McCaffrey & Martin Bennett (GK)

Referee        –        S Cheek

Assistant Referees         –         G Connell & L Hantea

Attendance          –          755

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Town Yellow Cards       –       Hancocks
Hitchin Yellow Cards    –      None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

3rd OCTOBER 2017  –  SCARBOROUGH ATHLETIC  –  HOME  –  F A CUP

EXTRA TIME AGONY FOR TOWN AS SCARBOROUGH DELIVER A LATE KNOCKOUT BLOW

Stratford Town                       1   –    Luckie 26
Scarborough Athletic     –     4  –    Nelthorpe 74  Cadman (2) 115 & 116  Coulson 119

If you hadn’t been at the MoodChimp Stadium on Tuesday evening for this Emirates F A Cup Third Qualifying Round replay you would never have believed it.

In a game which seemed to have absolutely everything, including a delayed kick-off,  the referee being injured and having to be replaced and the final whistle not sounding until 10.41 pm  Town’s dreams of advancing further in this famous old competition were shattered in the cruellest way possible with Scarborough scoring three times in the last five minutes of extra time when a penalty shootout appeared inevitable.

Earlier Jazz Luckie had given Carl Adams’ side a 26th minute lead, but they fatally spurned a number of opportunities to hit what would surely have been a killer second goal.

Instead Craig Nelthorpe’s stunning free kick levelled it all up with sixteen minutes of normal time to go, but the tie could still have either way until it all went crazy right at the end.

Town’s starting line-up was the same as Saturday’s, but Scarborough’s showed three changes. Jamie Price came in for Jack Johnson while Nelthorpe took over from Dave Merris who was ruled out after being stretchered off with concussion in the first game, and Leon Osborne who scored that dramatic late equaliser on Saturday was promoted from the subs bench in place of Emile Sinclair.

With Scarborough having been held up by traffic problems on the M42 the match kicked off a quarter of an hour late but both sides were close to breaking through in the early exchanges.

A crucial header from Liam Francis to cut out a threatening pass intended for Luke Dean was followed by a perfectly timed tackle from Nathan Valentine which halted Justin Marsden’s charge down the middle.

Soon after Lee Thomas overlapped down the left to set up a chance for Will Grocott who was promptly crowded out while at the other end Osborne headed wide from a Ross Daly cross.

But neither keeper had been seriously tested when Town took the lead on 26 minutes. Max Wright clattered into Ben Stephens a few yards inside the Scarborough half and when Grocott launched the free kick into the penalty area it glanced off a defender for a corner.

Grocott had caused Scarborough plenty of problems with his corners in the first game and he did so again here with his delivery into the six yard box not being properly dealt with allowing Luckie to pounce on the loose ball and fire it into the net.

It was his fifth goal of the season in all competitions and took him into top spot in Town’s goalscorers charts.

Scarborough looked to respond straightaway and it needed a combination of Andy Gallinagh and keeper Louis Connor to snuff out Osborne’s surge down the inside left channel, while dangerman Mike Coulson showed his class with a strong run from halfway which had the Town defence retreating until the move petered out when Coulson’s intended to Daly was intercepted by Thomas.

Then five minutes before the break Town had a great chance to double their lead when Stephens got away down the right and squared the ball back across to Luckie who inexplicably put it wide from eight yards out.

There was still time for a decent Valentine effort from distance to drift narrowly wide and for Francis – who was putting in another Man of the Match performance – to expertly dispossess Wright as he closed in on goal before half time was reached with Town good value for their albeit slender advantage.

With Scarborough having to push forward in search of an equaliser there were soon spaces for Town to exploit as the second half began, but both Stephens and Marsden couldn’t make the most of promising positions while Luckie was also too slow to get a shot away after Dan Summerfield and Stephens had exchanged passes to open up the Scarborough defence.

Then on the hour mark Stephens’ trickery took him into the penalty area where he played a slick one-two with Grocott to leave him with only keeper Tom Taylor to beat but again the clinical finish was missing as Taylor was smartly off his line to smother the shot.

Francis then went close with a header from another Grocott corner and after Connor had just about beaten Osborne to a through ball a fierce Grocoot drive from 20 yards out was only held by Taylor getting down well to his left at the second attempt.

But Town were still only one up and that lead disappeared in the 74th minute when they gave away a free kick some 30 yards out on the right.

Town brought everyone back to defend it, but Nelthorpe can never have hit a free kick better as it rocketed into the top corner past the bemused Connor.

Suddenly it was a different game with Connor having to move sharply to his left to hold a shot from Osborne and Coulson then providing a chance for Dean who blazed well over.

Back came Town with skipper James Fry firing narrowly too high but the momentum seemed to be with Scarborough. A Coulson shot didn’t miss by much and nor did a long range effort from Wright while in between Osborne was quickly closed down when he found some space in the penalty area, but it was still all square at 90 minutes and the tie went into extra time.

And it was Town who almost regained the lead in the opening minute when Mike Taylor’s header led to a wholesale scramble in the Scarborough six yard box which ended with Tom Taylor grabbing the ball right on the line after it was miscued by one of his defenders.

With the game inevitably becoming more and more stretched Coulson cut in from the right to try his luck from a narrow angle with Connor doing well to turn it behind, but with only ten minutes of the extra thirty played there was another twist to the evening when referee Josh Smith went down with a suspected pulled hamstring and couldn’t continue.

The senior assistant referee Richard Walker took over in the middle and after an appeal over the tannoy for a suitably qualified official Town’s Under 9’s Colts manager Justin Kearney replaced Walker on the line.

Town though were now living dangerously. Connor had to go full length to push away a Coulson free kick and from the resulting corner Sam Hewitt’s shot flashed across the face of the goal.

Crucially another Town chance then went begging a minute before the end of the first extra time period when Mike Taylor seemed to be through on goal only to apparently miss his kick as the vital moment.

And so to the final fifteen minutes with Scarborough soon making what turned out to be the match winning substitution. Osborne had come off the bench to net the late equaliser on Saturday and now ironically he was replaced by James Cadman who was to become the Scarborough hero to the sizeable contingent of supporters who had made the long journey from the East coast  in the 12 minutes he was on the pitch.

With just five minutes remaining they put together a decent move down the left with Coulson then sliding the ball across the edge of the penalty area for Cadman to hit it first time into the top corner giving Connor no chance whatsoever.

It was the first time over the two games that Town had been behind, and within a minute the tie had been taken completely out of their reach as Cadman swept the ball past Connor after receiving the ball played in from the right.

Then with a minute left it was all academic as Coulson danced through the middle to slot past Connor with the final scoreline being no reflection of how close both the games had been.

“We weren’t mentally tough enough” was Carl Adams’ reaction afterwards. “ We lost the tie on Saturday when we really should have seen the game out and not been in the position where they were allowed that last gasp equaliser.

It’s all down to individuals taking responsibility and I wonder if some of them will ever learn.
And tonight we have been let down by our finishing. We’ve had good chances at 1-0 up to put the game to bed but didn’t take them while in contrast their finishing was far more clinical when their chances came along.

So it’s a hard one to take. At the moment I’m more frustrated than deflated as I know it’s a tie we could and should have won and it’s a big opportunity that’s been let slip.

But we just have to get over it and lift ourselves for the Hitchin game on Saturday.”

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis Justin Marsden (Eli Bako 74), James Fry (c), Jazz Luckie (Mike Taylor 61), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Charlie Evans 84). Unused Subs – Edwin Ahenkorah & Scott Martin (GK).

SCARBOROUGH : Tom Taylor, Nathan Valentine, Craig Nelthorpe, Jamie Price (Emile Sinclair 67), Dan Thirkell, Sam Hewitt (c), Ross Daly, Luke Dean, Leon Osborne (James Cadman 108), Michael Coulson, Max Wright. Unused Subs – Charlie Binns, Matt Dempsey, Jack Johnson & Tom Morgan (GK)

Referee         –            Josh Smith

Assistant Referees            –       Scott Chalkley & Richard Walker.

Attendance          –           498

Town Man of the Match       –           Liam Francis

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Town     Scarborough
        16 Goal Attempts             17
          7 On Target               9
          0 Blocked Shots               0
          0 Hit Woodwork              0
         5 Corners Won              7
         8 Crosses into Box              6
       18 Fouls Conceded           24
          2 Off Side              1
          4 Yellow Cards             3
         0 Red Cards              0

 Town Yellow Cards                      –               Evans, Fry, Marsden & Thomas
Scarborough Yellow Cards        –              Daly, Price & Wright

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR AS TOWN’S CUP PROGRESS IS HALTED BY A LAST GASP LEVELLER

Scarborough Athletic    –   2  –   Coulson 19 Osborne 90 + 3
Stratford Town                 –   2  –Stephens 8  Summerfield  23

Town were agonisingly close to reaching the F A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round for the first time ever at the Flamingo Land Stadium on Saturday when only a late equaliser deep into added time gave Scarborough a second chance in a replay on Tuesday evening.

In a typically feisty cup tie with an intimidating atmosphere generated by the 1000 plus home support Ben Stephens’ close range finish gave Town an eighth minute lead which was cancelled out on 19 minutes by Mike Coulson’s exquisite strike.

Dan Summerfield restored Town’s advantage four minutes later after Stephens’ penalty had been saved by Scarborough keeper Tom Taylor, and that looked certain to be the decider until that late late heartbreak.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changed from the Chesham game. Justin Marsden replaced James Hancocks in midfield while Stephens came in for Mike Taylor with Jazz Luckie being handed the main striker’s role.

Quickly adapting to the 3G pitch Town were soon pushing forward and there were optimistic claims for a penalty in just the third minute when Luckie went down as he tangled with Dan Thirkell while chasing down a through ball.

Thirkell escaped as Luckie’s appeals were waved away but he was not to be so fortunate some twenty minutes later.

As it was Town only to wait a further five minutes before going in front. Will Grocott’s right wing corner was headed down by Liam Francis at the far post and slotted home by Stephens from inside the six yard box.

Scarborough had come into this tie on an eight game winning run and soon responded with Ross Daly picking out Emile Sinclair with a pinpoint cross from the right which the burly target man headed wastefully wide.

And in the 19th minute they were back on level terms. Their leading scorer Coulson who was with St Johnstone in the Scottish Premier League last season showed his class as he twisted and turned in the left of the penalty area to hit a sumptuous right footer which soared beyond Town keeper Louis Connor into the top corner.

Four minutes later though Town regained the lead when Luckie and Thirkell had another coming together. This time the Scarborough central defender clearly barged over the Town striker and referee Paul Brown immediately pointed to the spot.

Stephens’ firmly struck penalty was beaten away by Taylor plunging to his left with the keeper then recovering instantly to block Luckie’s follow-up effort but was then helpless as Summerfield pounced on the loose ball to fire it into the net.

Back came Scarborough with Sam Hewitt’s header being cleared off the line and dangerman Coulson having another fierce right foot effort deflected wide before Town thought  that they had gone two up on the half hour mark when Stephens netted from another Grocott corner only for it to be disallowed for pushing as the ball came across.

With no let-up in the frenetic pace Sinclair put a second header well wide while Coulson again wasn’t far away with yet another decent attempt.

But a few minutes before the break Scarborough suffered a blow when skipper Dave Merris came off worst in an aerial collision with Marsden on the halfway line and had to be stretchered off with severe concussion.

Having already upset the crowd with his earlier penalty decision referee Brown now incensed them even more by only awarding Scarborough a free kick and not showing Marsden even a yellow card let alone the red that was being demanded.

After all that had gone on in the first half the second half was slow to really get going.

Daly had a shot blocked by Andy Gallinagh and Max Wright – on a month’s loan from Grimsby Town – saw his effort headed away by Francis before Grocott livened it all up in the 59th minute with a thunderous effort from all of 35 yards out which cannoned against the bar.

Luckie was first to the rebound but after taking a fateful touch his eventual shot was superbly charged down by Taylor.

At the other end a weak back header from Loyiso Recci nearly put Town in trouble until Gallinagh got across to snuff out the danger, but with Town now concentrating on keeping the ball away from Coulson’s deadly right foot they were able to soak up the Scarborough pressure without too many alarms.

Francis and Gallinagh were immense as the minutes ticked away and Connor was never seriously tested.

Although Luke Dean had a rasping decent attempt ricochet away off Gallinagh with seven minutes to go a second Scarborough equaliser leveller seldom looked likely until the game headed into stoppage time.

Then in the third of five added minutes Wright met a right wing cross with a bullet header which was pushed out by Connor getting down smartly at the foot of his left hand post only for substitute Leon Osborne to lash in the rebound via the underside of the bar from a narrow angle to spark pandemonium in the Scarborough hordes behind the goal and total deflation among the travelling Town faithful.

Nevertheless everyone connected with Town would probably accepted a draw before kick off, and Tuesday evening’s replay at the MoodChimp Stadium will have the added spice of the winners knowing who awaits them in the last Qualifying Round following Monday’s draw.

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis Justin Marsden (Eli Bako 66), James Fry (c), Jazz Luckie, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Mike Taylor 81). Unused Subs – James Hancocks, Edwin ahenkorah & Scott Martin (GK).

SCARBOROUGH : Tom Taylor, Jack Johnson (James Cadman 88), Dave Merris (c) (Craig Melthorpe 43), Nathan Valentine, Dan Thirkell, Sam Hewitt, Ross Daly, Luke Dean, Emile Sinclair (Leon Osborne 51), Michael Coulson, Max Wright. Unused Subs –  Charlie Binns, Matt Dempsey,   Jamie Price & Tom Morgan (GK)

Referee        –        Paul Brown

Assistant Referees      –        Kevin McKitterick & Dave Carr.

Attendance      –        1180

Town Man of the Match        –        Liam Francis

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Town     Scarborough
          12 Goal Attempts              20
            5 On Target              13
            0 Blocked Shots                0
            1 Hit Woodwork                0
            6 Corners Won                9
            7 Crosses into Box              10
          10 Fouls Conceded               11
             3 Off Side                 2
             3 Yellow Cards                 1
             0 Red Cards                 0

Town Yellow Cards                            –         Bako, Francis & Thomas
Scarborough Yellow Cards             –        Thirkell

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

TOWN DISAPPOINT AHEAD OF THEIR BIG DAY

Stratford Town          –       1    –  Luckie 90+ 1
Chesham United       –        –   Iaciofano  52 Toomey (2) 60 & 65

In terms of preparation for the weekend’s F A Cup encounter at Scarborough Tuesday’s evening’s League fixture against Chesham could hardly have gone any worse.

Town put in a particularly lacklustre display and only a series of top drawer saves – including one from a penalty – from Man of the Match Louis Connor kept the game scoreless at half time, but after James Hancocks had been sent off barely a minute into the second half Chesham took full advantage with three goals in a thirteen minute spell to clinch a thoroughly deserved win.

Continuing his policy of squad rotation ahead of the Scarborough game Carl Adams brought Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas and Jazz Luckie into the starting line-up in place of Charlie Evans, Justin Marsden and Ben Stephens.

The omens were not good from as early as the fourth minute when Will Grocott of all people tried to find Connor with an ambitious backpass from the halfway line. Not hitting it with enough power he gave Chesham’s experienced striker Lewis Toomey the opportunity to chase it down and as Connor advanced out of his area in an attempt to kick clear Toomey clattered into him leaving him in a heap on the floor.

It was a brief period of treatment for Connor and a yellow card for Toomey but the pattern for the evening had been set.

Soon afterwards Liam Francis had a header from a Grocott corner clawed away by the Chesham keeper Hafid Al’Droubi, but as the half progressed Connor was the busier of the two keepers and kept Town from going behind with a tremendous double save in the 32nd minute.

Jhai Dillon’s deep cross from the left was not properly cleared and when Zack Reynolds seized on the loose ball and tried to work his way into the penalty area he was pulled back by Hancocks and referee Robbie Dadley immediately pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Toomey but his kick was brilliantly pushed out by Connor plunging to his right and the keeper then recovered in an instant to block the fiercely struck follow-up effort from David Hutton.

Toomey was back in the thick of the action a couple of minutes later as he latched on to a through pass to be one-on-one with Connor but his chip over the Town keeper drifted wide of the far post.

At the other end another Grocott corner resulted in a scramble in the Chesham penalty area with James Fry and Luckie both having shots charged down before Connor again denied Toomey in the final minute of the half when he spectacularly tipped over the striker’s bullet header as he connected with a pinpoint cross from Guiseppe Iaciofano.

If then Town faithful hoped that they would see an improvement in the second half they were to be sadly disillusioned inside the opening minute. Already on a yellow card from giving away the earlier penalty Hancocks again took a tug as a Chesham player tried to brush past him in the centre circle and the resulting second yellow followed by the mandatory red was inevitable.

Before Chesham could capitalise on Hancocks’ dismissal Town had their best chance yet when Mike Taylor’s flick-on sent Luckie surging through down the inside right channel but Al’Droubi came out to block the shot and Summerfield fired the rebound into the side netting.

Then on 52 minutes Chesham took the lead when a mix up in the Town defence allowed Iaciofano to thump the ball past Connor from ten yards out.

From then on Chesham were going to be the only winners and on the hour mark they doubled their lead. Skipper Kieran Murphy’s volley from a right wing corner was parried by Connor and Toomey could smile at last as he reacted quickest to lash the rebound into the roof of the net.

And he was celebrating again five minutes later as Chesham went three up with the best move of the match as Hutton sprinted down the left to whip in an inch perfect cross for Toomey to blast it first time past Connor without breaking his stride.

The final whistle couldn’t now come soon enough even with a quarter of the game still to go and Taylor summed up Town’s performance in the 79th minute by gliding a free header from a Lee Thomas cross wastefully wide.

But as the game headed into added time Town did at ;least get on the scoresheet when the evening ended as it had begun with a misplaced backpass. This time Dillon was the culprit and Luckie was on hand to steer the ball past the stranded Al’Droubi into the empty net.

“We were outfought and outworked” was Carl Adams honest assessment afterwards. “They were hungrier than us and wanted it more than us and that’s what disappoints me the most.

Maybe there was an element of having one eye on the F A Cup tie but it never does anyone any good to lose 3-1 at home, and I’ve now got to pick them back up in time for Saturday.

I’ve no complaints about the sending-off, but the way we played tonight I don’t think the result would have been any different if we had kept eleven players on the pitch for the 90 minutes.
Saturday will be a really tough challenge. I’ve no illusions about that. They will be really up for it on their 3G pitch and we’ve got to go there and play the sort of football that I know we’re capable of on our day.

Edwin Ahenkorah is our only injury worry, but if he can’t make it we’ve got Eli Bako who has come on in the last two games and can play up front if needed.”

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci (Justin Marsden 63), Liam Francis James Hancocks, James Fry (c) (Eli Bako 70), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Jazz Luckie. Unused Subs – Charlie Evans, Ben Stephens & Edwin Ahenkorah

CHESHAM : Hafid al’Droubi, Benji Crilley, Jhai Dillon, Matt Bevans, Darren Locke, kieren Murphy (c), Danny Green (Jon-Jo Bates 74), Zack Reynolds, Lewis Toomey (Shane Bush 78), Giuseppe Iaciofano (Oran Swales 69), David Hutton.. Unused Subs – Adam Pepera & Ty Ward

Referee        –        Robbie Dadley

Assistant Referees       –          Ian Croston & Niall Nestor.

Attendance    –      178

Town Man of the Match     –      Louis Connor

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Town Yellow Cards             –           Hancocks & Taylor             Red Card     –     Hancocks
Chesham Yellow Cards    –            Crilley & Toomey

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

TOWN STRIKE TWICE EARLY AS GOSPORT STAY POINTLESS

Stratford Town        –   2  –   Francis 5 Grocott 11
Gosport Borough    –    0

Two early goals were enough to give Town their first home League win of the season and ensure that Gsoport are still searching for their first point after eight games.

Strikes from Liam Francis and Will Grocott in the opening eleven minutes effectively decided the destiny of the points, and although Gosport had their moments particularly in the second half it was only Town’s lack of concentration that prevented them making the scoreline even more emphatic.

Carl Adams made two changes to Town’s starting line-up from the Redditch F A Cup game bringing in Charlie Evans and Mike Taylor in place of Dan Summerfield and Edwin Ahenkorah.

After a traumatic week in which they had parted company with long serving manager Alex Pike and then a nightmare journey up from the South coast due to the closure of the M3 which led to the kick off being delayed by a quarter of an hour  the last thing Gosport needed was to go behind early on, but it only took Town five minutes to take the lead.

Taylor released Evans down the right and the Town Youth graduate cut in to unleash a fierce effort which was turned behind by Gosport keeper Matt Cafer. Grocott floated over the resulting corner and as the Gosport defence allowed it to land in the six yard box Francis pounced to steer it into the net.

Soon after a thunderous Ben Stephens drive cannoned against Cafer’s right hand post and away to safety before Town went two up on 11 minutes. A flowing crossfield move from the left involving Stephens and Justin Marsden ended with Grocott drilling the ball past Cafer into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.

Town looked as if they could score at will with Stephens having a close range shot blocked and then seeing Cafer move smartly to his left to hold another on-target effort,

In a rare Gosport attack Iffy Onwuachu had a header deflected behind via the top of the bar before two more chances fell to Stephens either side of the half hour mark. He firstly latched on to a weak clearance only to fire wide and a minute or so later he expertly controlled a long pass from Loyiso Recci before trying an ambitious lob which drifted over as Cafer anxiously backpedalled.

Gosport then had their best chance so far in the 35th minute when Obi Saidy’s cross from the right was spilled by Town keeper Louis Connor with the loose ball falling kindly to Matt Buse who blazed wastefully over.

Jamie Granger was not far away from distance a couple of minutes before the break but the first half then ended as it had begun with Cafer beating away another rasping left footer from Evans.

Two minutes into the second half Cafer had to get down smartly at the foot of his right hand post to grasp a Stephens free kick and that proved to be the tricky midfielder’s final contribution as having been on the wrong end of more than one heavy challenge he limped off to be replaced by Jazz Luckie.

But with Town perhaps thinking that the game was already won a lot of their urgency disappeared with the ball being given away far too easily and Gosport were able to get more into the game.

On 55 minutes skipper Aaron Dawson surged forward to shoot narrowly over and ten minutes later Connor did well to turn behind a powerpacked effort from the lively Onwuachu before Town almost gifted Gosport a goal two minutes later when Dawson intercepted Connor’s poorly hit clearance.

Probably surprised at being given such an opportunity he couldn’t get enough power into his shot and the relieved Town keeper was able to stretch and fingertip it behind.

Onwuachuthen saw his sot fizz across the face of the goal followed by Connor saving well from Dawson befoto the end, but re only the bar prevented Town from adding a third with a quarter of an hour to go when substitute Eli Bako on his Town let fly with a tremendous dipping right footer from 20 yards out which had Cafer beaten all ends up.

To their credit and to the credit of their small but vocal contingent of supporters Gosport kept plugging away right up to the final whistle but Town somehow held on as Gosport’s wretched run continued.

“I felt that we blew them away in the first twenty minutes” reflected Carl Adams afterwards, “but from then on they were probably the better side.

We had the chances to be out of sight at half time but didn’t take them so in the end it was a good result but a poor performance.

In some ways it was a difficult game for us in spite of them still looking for their first point as they had changed their manager and that always makes a difference to how a team plays.

So it wasn’t as straightforward an afternoon as it might have seemed on paper, but we got the win and I’ll always take that.”

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Charlie Evans, James Hancocks. Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis Justin Marsden (Eli Bako 64), James Fry (c), Mike Taylor (Lee Thomas 74), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Jazz Luckie 51), Unused Subs – Dan Summerfield & Edwin Ahenkorah

GOSPORT : Matt Cafor, Obi Saidy Ashton Leigh (Jack Breed 59), Aaron Dawson, Harry Medway, Ed Saunders, Matt Buse (Liam Kimber 75), Jamie Granger, Declan McCarthy, Iffy Onwuachu, Kurt Watts (Sam Woodward 75). Unused Subs – Alfie Lis & Max Smith

Referee          –            Ollie Williams

Assistant Referees        –          Jake Allsopp & Dan Stokes.

Attendance     –       156

Town Man of the Match          –         Andy Gallinagh

 Town    Gosport
    17 Goal Attempts           15
      9 On Target             6
      0 Blocked Shots             0
      2 Hit Woodwork             1
      6 Corners Won            9
     5 Crosses into Box            6
    11 Fouls Conceded          13
      5 Off Side             1
      2 Yellow Cards            2
      0 Red Cards            0

 Town Yellow Cards              –       Connor & Bako
Gosport Yellow Cards        –         Medway & Onwuachu

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

TOWN MARCH ON AS THE REDS GO OUT

Stratford Town       –   –   Fry 33 Francis 64  Grocott (2)  82 & 82 (pen)                                                Redditch United    –  1   – Weir-Daly 67

Town advanced into the Emirates F A Cup Third Qualifying Round with an ultimately emphatic success against near neighbours Redditch.

These two sides had played out a goal-less draw on Bank Holiday Monday, but Carl Adams’ side were on top virtually throughout this time round.

Skipper James Fry fired Town ahead in the first half and the lead was doubled by Liam Francis before the Reds pulled one back almost immediately afterwards.

But two goals in the last eight minutes from Man of the Match Will Grocott – the second coming from the penalty spot – made sure that Town will be in the hat for Monday’s eagerly anticipated draw.

After the two chastening experiences at Kings Lynn and Hereford it was no surprise that Carl Adams shuffled the pack here. Lee Thomas, Jazz Luckie and Mike Taylor were consigned to the subs bench and together with Bromsgrove Sporting bound Guy Clark were replaced in the starting line-up by James Hancocks, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden and Ben Stephens as Town reverted to more of a 3-5-2 formation.

And they made a bright start with an early right wing cross from Dan Summerfield just out of the reach of Edwin Ahenkorah while only the woodwork prevented them from going ahead in the seventh minute when Ahenkorah’s curling shot from the edge of the penalty area came back off the post with Reds keeper Ethan Ross well beaten.

As Town kept up the pressure Ross had to move smartly off his line to smother the ball at Ahenkorah’s feet as the Town striker chased down a through pass from Marsden, and as the half reached its midway point a Grocott cross was only cleared as far as Summerfield whose fiercely struck shot fortunately for the Reds was straight at Ross.

With Town continuing to boss the meaningful possession they at last made the breakthrough on 33 minutes. Another Summerfield cross from the right was not properly dealt with by the Reds defence and the clearance fell kindly to Fry 25 yards out who hit a thunderous left footer which flew past a static Ross.

The Reds almost grabbed an immediate equaliser when Pauly Apostolopoulos’ long range effort was spectacularly tipped over by Town keeper Louis Connor before Stephens had two chances to extend Town’s lead in the closing minutes of the half.

Firstly he found himself one-on-one Ross only for the keeper to stretch to his left and push the ball away one handed and soon after his angled shot was comfortably held by the well positioned Reds keeper.

.
Town were again looking sharp after the restart with Summerfield once more putting in some great work down the right before floating over a teasing cross which was confidently claimed by Ross who then had to make a far more straightforward save from Grocott.

In a rare Reds attack a Dior Angus cross-shot wasn’t far away, but Town were well on top and went two up in the 64th minute when Grocott’s free kick from out on the left reached Francis at the far post and he expertly controlled the ball on his chest before swivelling to shoot past the helpless Ross.

Three minutes later though the Reds were back in the game when Spencer Weir-Daly fired home from 12 yards out to reduce the arrears but although the Reds tried to up their tempo Town were seemingly unruffled.

Connor did well to hold a whipped-in low cross from Angus with a quarter of an hour to go and as the game entered its final ten minutes Reds forced a corner which led directly to Town’s third goal.

The ball was swiftly cleared upfield and was latched on to by Luckie who surged down the right before drilling the ball across the six yard box where it was turned in by the fast arriving Grocott.

That surely made it “game over” and it definitely was in the 85th minute when Gui Malancol brought down Mike Taylor in the area and Grocott slammed the spot kick past Ross with the minimum of fuss.

The Reds tried to rescue something in the time remaining which included five additional minutes Town saw the game out to complete a thoroughly satisfying afternoon.

“A fully deserved win” was the verdict of a beaming Carl Adams afterwards. “After our last two results we needed to bounce back and we did so in style.

In spite of the performances at Kings Lynn and Hereford I still had every confidence in this group of ;players and they proved me right this afternoon. Even when Redditch got back to 2-1 I still felt certain that we would win which is exactly what we did.

For me the whole team was Man of the Match for putting in a great performance. Some harsh words have inevitably been said in the past week so it’s nice to end it all on a high.

We might well draw a top side in the next round but I look upon it as a free hit. There will be no pressure on us so we can go out and enjoy ourselves.

Finally I would like to pay tribute to Guy Clark who has just left us. He gave the club terrific service during his time with us and I genuinely wish him well at Bromsgrove Sporting where I’m sure he will be a tremendous addition to their squad.”

TOWN ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, James Hancocks, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Lee Thomas 63), James Fry (c), Edwin Ahenkorah (Jazz Luckie 65), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Mike Taylor 74). Unused Subs – Charlie Evans & Eli Bako

REDDITCH : Ethan Ross, Keenah Rosser (Danico Johnson 56), Nathan Fox, Danny Jackman (c), Guiyoulouwe Mallancol, Orrin Pendley, Pauly Apostolopoulos (Donnell Benjamin 74), McKauley Manning (Marcel Simpson 46), Dior Angus, Andi Thanoj, Spencer Weir-Daley. Unused Subs – Arjun Jung & Elikem Amenku

Referee      –       Simon Brown

Assistant Referees       –        Andrew Genders & Harley McKittrick.

Attendance      –      326

Town Man of the Match    –      Will Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

      Town     Redditch
          16 Goal Attempts              6
          10 On Target              3
            2 Blocked Shots              0
            1 Hit Woodwork              0
            2 Corners Won              5
            8 Crosses into Box             5
         15 Fouls Conceded           14
            1 Off Side              3
           2 Yellow Cards             4
           0 Red Cards             0

 Town Yellow Cards – Grocott & Stephens
Redditch Yellow Cards – Fox, Johnson, Pendley & Simpson

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

12th SEPTEMBER 2017  –  HEREFORD  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN ARE FLATTENED BY THE BULLS FIRST HALF RAMPAGE

Hereford                  –   5   –   Preen (2) 28 & 34  McGrath 32  Hill 39  Symons 85
Stratford  Town   –   2    –  Stephens 79  Luckie  81

It was back-to-back defeats for Town at a wet and windy Edgar Street on Tuesday evening as Hereford took over from where Kings Lynn left off on Saturday to leave Carl Adams’ side wondering how their previous six game unbeaten run had come to such a sudden and violent end.

In tricky conditions the match took some time to come to life, but once the Bulls had found their shooting boots to power home four goals in 11 minutes the result was beyond doubt, and although Town caused a few momentary flutters with two of their own in three minutes late on a fifth Bulls strike confirmed that Town had again struggled against a team with table topping credentials.

The fixtures schedule had hardly been kind to Town with the lengthy trip to title contenders Kings Lynn being followed four days later by this visit to another of the Premier Division’s heavyweights in the reformed and resurgent Bulls.

And while Town had been losing their unbeaten record when going down 4-1 to the Linnets Hereford had been easing to a comfortable success at Royston by the same scoreline, so in effect the outcome here ran very much to form.

Town’s starting line-up showed one change from Kings Lynn on Saturday with Guy Clark coming in for Liam Francis, while a familiar face in the Bulls line-up was the combative midfielder Michael McGrath who was a regular in the Town side the season before last.\

Both teams struggled to come to terms with the increasingly greasy surface early on, and neither goal was seriously threatened during the opening 20 minutes.

But that all changed in the 27th minute when Garyn Preen cut in from the left to hit a low drive from the edge of the penalty area which seemed to go straight through Town keeper Louis Connor on its way into the far corner.

Four minutes later the Bulls doubled their lead when McGrath moved in from the right touchline to work the ball onto his left foot and then thump it past Connor from 20 yards out.

With Town clearly reeling the Bulls quickly added a third when Preen drilled a 25 yard drive beyond the diving Connor’s left hand into the bottom corner. It was a sumptuous strike but made easier for him as no Town defender was near enough to put in any sort of challenger.

And if that was not bad enough it got even worse on 39 minutes when Gethyn Hill was allowed to dribble his way in from left brushing through a couple of ineffectual tackles and then slotting the ball past the helpless Connor to take the game well out of Town’s reach.

Half time could not come soon enough but before it did only the woodwork prevented the Bulls going five up as John Mills got on the end of a corner only for the ball to come back of the post with Connor well beaten.

Hereford were soon back on the attack after the restart with the hat trick chasing Preen surging in from the right this time to let fly with a thunderous effort which was spectacularly beaten away by Connor taking off to his right.

But Town were now showing signs of recovery after that first half battering and as the hour mark approached Edwin Ahenkorah had his well struck shot from ten yards out turned behind by Bulls keeper Martin Horsell.

Carl Adams then made a double substitution bringing on Ben Stephens and Justin Marsden in place of Mike Taylor and James Fry, but with a four goal cushion the Bulls were inevitably looking comfortable and chose to take off both Preen and Mills with twenty minutes still to go.

Surely for the first time ever in a match involving Town crowd segregation applied, and in the 79th minute the small but select contingent of travelling Town faithful housed in the Away Supporters Enclosure at last had something to cheer about when Stephens latched onto a pass from Will Grocott to steer the ball past Horsell to make the scoreline a bit more respectable.

Three minutes later they were celebrating again as Horsell fumbled Marsden’s shot and Jazz Luckie reacted the quickest to stab the loose ball over the line.

The Bulls supporters were suddenly looking anxiously at the clock and with five minutes still to go a Lee Thomas cross looked to be on its way to Loyiso Recci until Horsell came out to grab the ball off his head and then launch a long clearance upfield.

As the ball reached the edge of the Town penalty area there was a fatal misunderstanding between Connor and Andy Gallinagh over who should deal with it and Pablo Haysham took full advantage of the confusion to nip in and slide it across to Mike Symons who had the simple task of rolling it into the empty net.

That pretty much summed up Town’s night, and in spite of an improved second half display Carl Adams has much to mull over ahead of this weekend’s F A Cup clash with in-form Redditch United whose two wins since the Bank Holiday Monday draw at the MoodChimp Stadium have hoisted them up into third spot in the Premier Division table.

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Guy Clark (James Hancocks 78), Will Grocott, James Fry (c) (Justin Marsden 62), Mike Taylor (Ben Stephens 62), Jazz Luckie, Edwin Ahenkorah, Unused Subs – Charlie Evans & Liam Francis

HEREFORD : Martin Horsell, Jimmy Oates (c), James Bowen, Calvin Dinsley, Ryan Green, Dara O’Shea, Garyn Preen (Pablo Haysham 71), Mike McGrath, John Mills (Mike Symons 71), Keyon Reffel, Gethyn Hill (Rob Purdie 86). Unused Subs – Dan Preston & Max Harris

Referee    –      Wayne Barratt

Assistant Referees    –    Daniel Pattison & Liam Teraud

Attendance    –     2005 (Including 26 in the Away Supporters Enclosure !!)

Town Man of the Match  –  Jazz Luckie

Match Stats by rod Abrahams

     Town      Hereford
          6 Goal Attempts            16
          4 On Target           10
          0 Blocked Shots              0
          0 Hit Woodwork              1
          1 Corners Won              6
          5 Crosses into Box            11
          7 Fouls Conceded            15
          2 Off Side             4
         3 Yellow Cards             1
          0 Red Cards            0

 Town Yellow Cards – Clark, Fry & Recci
Hereford Yellow Cards – McGrath

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

9th SEPTEMBER 2017  –  KINGS LYNN TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN ARE BLITZED BY THE HIGHFLYING LINNETS

Kings Lynn Town – 4 – Gash25 Clunan 37(pen)Mettam (2) 45 &78                                                          Stratford Town     – 1 – Stephens 68 (pen)

Town ‘s unbeaten record for the season went west in East Anglia as Kings Lynn powered to the top of the Premier Division table in some style at The Walks Stadium on Saturday.

The Linnets were already three up at half time as they controlled the game right from the kick off, and although Carl Adams’ side pulled one back through a Ben Stephens penalty a fourth Linnets goal confirmed their overall superiority.

Wearing all white Town’s starting line-up showed one change from the Newcastle F A Cup game with Loyiso Recci coming in for Charlie Evans in a 3-4-3 formation.

And Town soon found out that they were in for a tough afternoon as the Linnets almost took the lead in the opening 20 seconds when Ryan Hawkins cut in from the left to unleash a fierce effort which was beaten away by keeper Louis Connor with Craig Parker hitting the rebound narrowly wide.

Five minutes later a Cameron Norman cross from the right was headed inches over by Parker followed soon after by Norman exchanging passes with Parker to surge into the penalty areas only to be halted by a perfectly timed tackle from Andy Gallinagh.

A couple of minutes later Gallinagh was penalised for a push on Parker to concede his first free kick of the season after going through the first six games without attraction the attention of the referee.

With the Linnets having far more of the possession Tom Ward was next to threaten with a header from a Mike Clunan free kick before in a rare Town attack in the 20th minute Mike Taylor wasn’t far away with a decent attempt from some 20 yards out.

But the Linnets continued to boss the game and eventually went ahead in the 25th minute when another Clunan free kick was met with a bullet header at the far post by Mike Gash.

The busy Parker then went close with a curling shot from the edge of the penalty area, before the Linnets then doubled their lead on 37 minutes. Norman tried to work his way along the byline on the right when he went down under a challenge by Lee Thomas just as he reached the penalty area and Clunan blasted the spot kick past Connor with the minimum of fuss.

With Town on the back foot only another crucial interception from Gallinagh prevented Leon Mettam from breaking clean through, but a minute before the break Town almost got lucky when Ward went to clear Will Grocott’s cross from the left only to slice it inches over his own bar with keeper Alex Street nowhere.

But as the first half headed into added time it got even worse for Town as they struggled to get the ball away from another Linnets attack, and when Gash returned it into the penalty area Mettam pounced to thump it past Connor from ten yards out.

The Linnets continued on top after the break with Gallinagh once again doing well to close down Hawkins as he prepared to shoot while both Gash and Mettam went close with headers.

But approaching the hour mark Town enjoyed their best spell of the game with Thomas picking out Taylor with a pinpoint cross from the left only for the striker’s header to drift off target followed by Jazz Luckie’s centre from the opposite flank finding its way to Edwin Ahenkorah whose well struck shot from only eight yards out was superbly held by Street plunging to his left.

That was to be Ahenkorah’s final contribution as he and Taylor made way for Stephens and Justin Marsden, shortly afterwards and a few minutes later Town were offered a glimmer of hope when Luckie was upended by Ryan Fryatt in the left corner of the penalty area.

And with Town’s regular penalty taker Ahenkorah no longer on the pitch it was his replacement Stephens who also took over the spot kick duties and promptly sent Street the wrong way.

But any chance that Town may have had of getting back into the game was only to be shortlived as ten minutes later Gash crossed from the left and Mettam fired home his second and the Linnets’ fourth.

Having been the better side throughout the Linnets then concentrated on seeing the game out before learning at the final whistle that defeats for Banbury and Kettering meant that they had the added bonus of being table toppers as well.

“We were blown away by the best side we’ve faced this season” was Carl Adams honest assessment afterwards “ and they will surely right up there as genuine title contenders for the rest of the campaign.

Kings Lynn are a big club with a playing budget to match, and they showed their quality all afternoon.

Now we face another big club on Tuesday when we travel to Hereford. It doesn’t get any easier and it shows the strength of the Division that we are now competing in.”

STRATFORD ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis (Guy Clark 54), Will Grocott, James Fry (c), Mike Taylor (Ben Stephens 62), Jazz Luckie, Edwin Ahenkorah (Justin Marsden 62), Unused Subs – Charlie Evans & James Hancocks

K/LYNN : Alex Street, Cameron Norman, Frazer Blake-Tracey, Ryan Fryatt, Tom Ward, Ryan Jarvis, Michael Clunan (c), Craig Parker, (Sam Gaughran 79) Michael Gash (Tom Siddons 80).Leon Mettam (Craig Gillies 80), Ryan Hawkins, Unused Subs – Toby Hilliard & Harry Whayman

Referee  –  J Burridge

Assistant Referees  –  R Allison & J Gregory

Attendance   –   659

Town  Man of the Match   –   Andy Gallinagh

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

Town                                                                    K/Lynn

10                       Goal Attempts                         14

2                       On Target                                    6

2                      Blocked Shots                            0

0                      Hit Woodwork                            0

1                     Corners Won                                3

6                     Crosses Into Box                       11

16                       Fouls Conceded                      8

1                      Offfside                                          4

1                     Yellow Cards                                 0

0                     Red Cards                                      0

Town Yellow Cards – Francis
Royston Yellow Cards – None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

 

2nd SEPTEMBER 2017  –  NEWCASTLE TOWN  –  HOME  –  F A CUP

TOWN SWEEP ASIDE NEWCASTLE TO END THEIR F A CUP FAMINE

Stratford Town    –  4  –  Luckie 42 Grocott 54 Ahenkorah (2) 65 (pen) & 90                             Newcastle Town  –  0

What Carl Adams ruefully described as “the monkey on my back” when referring to the lack of F A Cup success during his time as Town boss was sent packing in some style at the MoodChimp stadium on Saturday as his side eased past Newcastle Town in this First Qualifying Round tie to end a barren run in the competition stretching back over the last five seasons.

The Northern Premier League Division One South team made life difficult for Town in the opening half hour or so, but Jazz Luckie gave Town a crucial lead just before half time and an opportunist strike from Will Grocott followed by a penalty Edwin Ahenkorah in the first twenty minutes of the second half settled the tie before Ahenkorah added Town’s fourth in the final minute.

Sensing that this tie offered a real chance of progress Carl Adams made his attacking intentions clear before kick off by bringing Mike Taylor into the starting line-up to join Ahenkorah and Luckie as a three man strike force in a marked change from the usual 3-5-2 formation.

An early Ahenkorah header from a Charlie Evans cross went well wide followed at the other end by Town keeper Louis Connor moving smartly off his line to smother a Jordan Cole through ball at Sam Wilson’s feet, but it was fifteen minutes before either goal was seriously threatened when Town skipper James Fry’s header from Ahenkorah’s corner dropped onto the roof of the net.

Almost immediately after another Ahenkorah corner was only cleared as far as Dan Summerfield 20 yards out and his thunderous low drive ricocheted away off a defender.

Town continued to press and five minutes later a pinpoint cross from Grocott picked out Ahenkorah whose header was turned behind by Newcastle keeper Raajan Gill at the foot of his right hand post.

But Newcastle were having their dangerous moments too, and they went close on 25 minutes when Sam Bradbury’s free kick from the left was met by James Askey with a bullet header which clipped the top of the bar on its way behind.

And they went even closer just after the half hour mark when Cole’s fierce effort was beaten away by Connor with Liam Francis getting back to block Aaron Bott’s follow-up attempt

Although Town were having the better of the possession they were struggling to make it count but they eventually made the breakthrough three minutes before the interval when Connor’s long clearance was headed on by Taylor allowing Luckie to race clear and slide the ball past the advancing Gill.

Town piled forward as soon as the second half began with Taylor going close with a header, and they doubled their lead in the 54th minute when Grocott threaded the ball through to the overlapping Lee Thomas down the left.

Town’s impressive new left back reached the byline before whipping in a low cross which was not properly cleared and Grocott pounced on the loose ball to rifle it into the bottom corner.

Connor pushed behind Wilson’s effort from a narrow angle as Newcastle tried to get back into the game followed by Cole having a goalbound header blocked by Summerfield before Town went further ahead on 65 minutes when Luckie surged into the penalty area where he was brought down by Luke Dennis and Ahenkorah blasted the spot kick past Gill with the minimum of fuss.

That was effectively “game over” although Newcastle never gave up, but their afternoon was probably summed up when they missed their best chance of the match a quarter of an hour from the end .

Jonny Kapend took advantage of some uncertainty in the Town backline to suddenly find himself with a clear run on goal. Choosing to shoot early his low drive arrowed past the advancing Connor only to cannon against the post and rebound straight into the bemused keeper’s gloves.

Realising that had to concentrate right to the end Town were soon back on the attack with Gill making a comfortable save from an Ahenkroah shot and then a more spectacular one from a Taylor header before Ahenkorah wrapped it all up in the last minute when he ran on to Luckie’s pass to steer the ball past Gill for Town’s fourth.

So Town were safely through to the Second Qualifying Round for the first time since 2011 and Carl Adams’ monkey was now consigned to history.

“It’s great to win an F A Cup at last and earn some prize money for the Club” beamed an ecstatic Carl Adams afterwards. “If I’m honest I think the 4-0 scoreline flattered us but they were all good goals and we were well on top at the end.

We made a bit of a flat start and having three up front didn’t really seemed to suit us so we reverted to our usual 3-5-2 halfway through the first half and we were a lot better from then on.

As you know I’ve always concentrated on our League performances since I’ve been here but I know that the financial rewards from a good Cup run can be significant and hopefully we can repeat this in the next round.”

TOWN ; Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Liam Francis (Guy Clark 81), Andy Gallinagh, James Fry (c) (James Hancocks 67), Charlie Evans (Loyiso Recci 64), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah, Mike Taylor, Jazz Luckie. Unused Sub – Justin Marsden

NEWCASTLE    Raajan Gill, Sam Bradbury, Oliver Davies, Luke Askey, James Askey (c), Luke Dennis, Aaron Bott (Tom Urwin 55), Sam Wilson, Jordan Cole (Connor Russo 85), James Lee (Jay Burgess 84), Jonny Kapend. Unused Subs – Richard Smith, Oliver Ritchie, John Higham & James Griffiths

Referee   –   Matthew Law

Assistant Referees   –   Karl Donaghey & Merhul Karia

Attendance   –   187

Town Man of the Match   –   Dan Summerfield

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

Town                                                                                       Newcastle
21                                   Goal Attempts                                      7
10                                   On Target                                              3
0                                      Blocked Shots                                     0
0                                      Hit Woodwork                                     2
4                                      Corners Won                                        4
16                                    Crosses into Box                                 8
12                                    Fouls Conceded                                  9
3                                      Off Side                                                   4
2                                      Yellow Cards                                         1
0                                       Red Cards                                              0

Town Yellow Cards – Francis & Fry
Newcastle Yellow Cards – Cole

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

28th AUGUST 2017  –  REDDITCH UNITED  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

ANOTHER DRAW AS TOWN ARE FRUSTRATED BY THE REDS 

Stratford Town        –     0                                                                                                                                             Redditch United     –     0  

Town made it two draws from their Bank Holiday fixtures as they fought out an entertaining but ultimately goal-less clash with local rivals Redditch United at a sundrenched MoodChimp Stadium on Monday.

Carl Adams made two changes to Town’s starting line-up from Saturday with Jazz Luckie and Justin Marsden coming in for Loyiso Recci and Mike Taylor.

The Reds team included ex-Town striker Dior Angus  –  complete with a fetching new blonde hairstyle  –  who has made a blistering start to the season by topping\the fledging Premier Division scorers table with five goals already this time round.

The two sides had experienced contrasting fortunes at the weekend with Town having a nightmare five hour journey to Weymouth before conceding a heartbreak last kick equaliser, while Redditch were enjoying all the comforts of home with a four goal romp against  Dorchester.

But it was Town who created the first opening when Saturday’s hero Charlie Evans surged down the right to slip the ball inside to Marsden who helped it on to Grocott whose cross was headed narrowly wide by Edwin Aahenkorah.

At the other end a perfectly timed tackle from Andy Gallinagh prevented Angus from forcing his way through, before town skipper James Fry threaded the ball through to Ahenkorah down the right and his cross was tantalisingly just out of the reach of the stretching Luckie.

A Fry drive from distance was then safely held by the well positioned Reds keeper Ethan Ross, and as Town continued to push forward Luckie wasted a decent chance by delaying his shot and eventually being crowded out.

Ross then saved from Dan Summerfield on the 25 minute mark when the Reds struggled to clear a corner followed by another Fry effort fizzing narrowly over   before the Reds nearest attempt yet came five minutes before the break when Orrin Pendley was not far away with a header from Andi Thanoj’s free kick.

Town continued to look the more threatening of the two sides after the restart with Luckie forcing Ross into another save, but the clinical finish was missing as the Reds soaked up the Town pressure.

Fry almost made the breakthrough in the 65th minute when his close range shot was grabbed by Ross right on the line, but Town’s best chance so far arrived shortly after when substitute Mike Taylor’s persistence led to the loose ball falling kindly to Evans who lifted his shot over the bar with only Ross to beat.

Then with ten minutes left Taylor latched onto a deep cross from Evans and appeared to be impeded as he made room for a shot but his frantic penalty appeals were waved away by referee Richard Watson.

The Reds had hardly troubled Town keeper Louis Connor all afternoon. but with a minute of normal time remaining they almost stole the points when Danico Johnson was allowed to run on to a long clearance from Ross and his thunderous drive from 20 yards out cannoned against the bar and away to safety.

So it was a share of the points, and more frustration for Carl Adams.  “I felt we were by far the better team” he said afterwards.  “I can’t recall Louis Connor having a serious save to make and just as on Saturday at Weymouth we’ve drawn a game which we could and should have won.

So it’s another hard luck story because over the two Bank Holiday games we haven’t taken the points that our efforts deserved.”

TOWN  ;  Louis Connor, Charlie Evans, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Dan Summerfield,, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Mike Tayllor 62), James Fry (c), Jazz Luckie (James Hancocks 78), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah.  Unused Subs  –  Loyiso Recci, Guy Clark & Eli Bako

REDDITCH :  Ethan Ross, Keenah Rosser, Nathan Fox, Danny Jackman (c), Guiyoulouwe Mallancol, Orrin Pendley, Kevin Monteira (McKauley Manning 51), Pauly Apostolopoulos (Kaylum Mitchell 55), Dior Angus, Andi Thanoj, Spencer Weir-Daley (Danico Johnson 64).   Unused Subs  –  Arjun Jung & Marcel Simpson

Referee    –    Richard Watson

Assistant Referees    –   James Clements & Daniel Clenton

Attendance      –   312

Town Man of the Match   –   James Fry

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

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

 Town Yellow Cards         –    Francis, Fry & Taylor

Redditch Yellow Cards    –    fox & Mallancol

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

 

19th AUGUST 2017  –  ST NEOTS TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN HELD BY THE STUBBORN SAINTS  

Stratford Town   –   1   –   Fry  8                                                                                                                               St Neots Town     –   1   –   Sembie-Ferris  21 

Town continued their unbeaten start to the season at MoodChimp Stadium on Saturday  as they shared the points with a hard working and well organised St Neots side.

In  a game which seldom reached any great heights in terms of entertainment skipper James Fry gave Town an 8th minute lead, but Dion Sembie-Ferris equalised for the Saints on 21 minutes and from then on neither side could come up with the decider.

Carl Adams was forced into making his first change to Town’s starting line-up this season with Guy Clark coming in for the suspended Loyiso Recci, and it was Town who were soon on the attack.

Edwin Ahenkorah went close in just the 5th minute with a well struck shot from the left which fizzed across the face of the goal, and  three minutes Town went ahead.

Lee Thomas’ persistence down the left won a corner, and when Will Grocott’s flag kick was not properly dealt with by the Saints defence Fry drilled the loose ball into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.

St Neots were quick to respond with Scott Sinclair floating over a cross from the right  to pick out Michael Hyem whose a bullet header cannoned against the bar with Town keeper Louis Connor beaten.

Connor then held a low drive from Sembie-Ferris under pressure from Hyem, and the equaliser arrived on 21 minutes just seconds after Town seemed poised to double their advantage.

Ben Stephens nicked the ball off Lee Clarke on the halfway line and threaded it through to Ahenkorah who burst into the penalty area with only the Saints keeper Mike Emery to beat, but Emery spread himself to parry the Town striker’s shot and the ball ricocheted away.

It was eventually cleared to the speedy Sembie-Ferris  – who has Football League experience with Colchester United  –  and he powered down the left touchline before cutting in and unerringly slotting the ball past the advancing Connor.

With St Neots gaining in confidence Kyran Wiltshire wasn’t far away with a decent left footer from 20 yards out, but in the 28th minute Town almost regained the lead in bizarre circumstances.

Emery left his area to kick clear but he hit the ball straight to Ahenkorah who promptly lobbed the ball towards the empty goal.  Emery frantically backpedalled and apparently managed to tip it onto and over the bar as it threatened to drop into the net but to Town’s disbelief referee Mark Howes ruled that he hadn’t touched it and gave a goal kick instead.

Soon after Grocott had a shot deflected over with this time a corner being awarded to the ironic cheers from the crowd, but Town then had a real let-off a couple of minutes before the break when Taylor Parr’s header  from a Dylan Williams corner bounced down off the underside of the bar before being hacked away with the referee waving aside concerted appeals from the St Neots players that it had crossed the line.

The Saints began the second half with some neat ;passing moves mostly involving Sembie-Ferris but it was Town who came closest to scoring when Stephens header from an Ahenkorah cross was pushed behind by Emery at the foot of his right hand post.

And from the hour mark it seemed inevitable that the game would peter out into a draw.  The Saints central defensive pairing of Liam McDevitt and Parr won more or less everything in the air while at the other end it was only Sembie-Ferris’s pace which was of real concern to the Town backline.

Ahenkorah nearly wriggled his way through with twenty minutes to go before being crowded out but the two best chances came as the game headed into added time.

Firstly Hyem beat Clark to hit a rasping effort which was deflected behind off Liam Francis followed by substitute Mike Taylor’s header being turned away by Emery, but by then both sides had long settled for a point apiece.

“It was a poor game with not much quality from either side” was Carl Adams’ honest assessment afterwards.  “On paper this was probably the easiest of our opening three fixtures, but it goes to show that there are no easy games at this level. And I’m happy that at least we’ve maintained our unbeaten record.

I would certainly have settled for five points from these three games before the season started although they haven’t come in quite the way we expected.

So although the negative is that we were very flat today the positive is we still took a point and didn’t lose, and we can now prepare for two tough games against Weymouth and Redditch over the Bank Holiday weekend.”

TOWN : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Guy Clark,  Liam Francis, Ben Stephens, James Fry (c), Edwin Ahenkorah, Will Grocott (Charlie Evans 83), Jazz Luckie (Mike Taylor 67).   Unused Subs  –  James Hancocks, & Justin Marsden

ST NEOTS: Mike Emery, Scott Sinclair, Jack Bradshaw, Lee Clarke (Ryan Horne 62), Liam McDevitt, Taylor Parr, Dion Sembie-Ferris, Kyran Wiltshire, Danny Watson, Michael Hyem (c), Dylan Williams. (Matt Foy 75)  Unused Subs  –  Tom Wood & George Bugg (GK)

Referee    –    Mark Howes

Assistant Referees    –   Jamie Evans & Dan Stokes

Attendance      –   209

Town Man of the Match   –   Lee Thomas

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

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

 Town Yellow Cards         –    Grocott & Taylor

St Neots Yellow Cards    –    None

Match Report by Bryan Hale 

 

15th AUGUST 2017  –  MERTHYR TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN PEG BACK THE MARTYRS AFTER EARLY SETBACKS 

Stratford Town    –   2   –   Luckie 40  Ahenkorah  50                                                                                 Merthyr Town      –   2   –   Wright  27  Tancock 38 

Town came from two goals down in the opening 38 minutes to earn a fully deserved point in a pulsating first home League game of the new season at the MoodChimp Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Headers from Merthyr skipper Jarrad Wright and Scott Tancock had propelled the Martyrs into what looked to be a match winning lead, but two minutes after their second goal Town pulled one back with an opportunist finish from Jazz Luckie and a sublime effort from Edwin Ahenkorah five minutes after the break levelled it all up.

Shortly after came the evening’s only sour note when Town’s Ben Stephens and Merthyr’s Ian Traylor were sent off after a flare-up on the touchline, but from then on either side could have won with several chances at both ends keeping both sets of supporters on their toes until the final whistle.

Unsurprisingly after the winning start at Royston Carl Adams named an unchanged side for the first home game of the new season, but it was Merthyr who were the quickest into their stride.

Kyle Copp wasn’t far away with a with a decent attempt inside the opening 30 seconds followed soon after by Eliot Richards heading over from a Cameron Pring cross, and Merthyr went even closer in the 15th minute when Corey Jenkins’ shot was blocked by Andy Gallinagh and Pring’s effort from the rebound was beaten away by Town keeper Louis Connor.

In  a rare Town attack Ahenkorah hit a firmly struck shot straight at Merthyr keeper Oliver Davies, but Merthyr continued to have the better of the meaningful possession, and they duly went ahead on 27 minutes when Wright climbed above everyone else to head Traylor’s left wing corner beyond Connor into the net.

Five minutes later their lead could have been doubled.  A Town corner was immediately cleared by the Merthyr defence and Pring sprinted clear down the left to reach the byline and pull the ball back to Traylor on the edge of the six yard box.

But as the Merthyr fans behind the goal prepared to celebrate Traylor inexplicably fired into the side netting giving Carl Adams’ side a real let-off.

That reprieve however was to prove only temporary as in the 38th minute Richards floated over a free kick from the left to the far post where Tancock  had the time and space to power his header past the helpless Connor.

Another Merthyr win to follow their 3-0 successes here in each of the past two seasons seemed a certainty, but two minutes later Town got themselves back into the game.   Ahenkorah worked his way into the penalty area down the right and when the ball cannoned off a defender it fell kindly to Luckie who swept it past Davies into the bottom corner.

And in the final action of the half Town almost equalised when another Luckie effort was scrambled away after Stephens’ corner had been was headed  back into the six yard box by Loyiso Recci.

Having been on the back foot for most of the first half Town needed to be far more positive after the break and that is exactly what they were as they upped their tempo to draw level in the 50th minute.

Andy Gallinagh won the ball in midfield and threaded it through to Ahenkorah who expertly switched the ball onto his left foot on the edge of the penalty area before completely deceiving Davies with an exquisite effort which curled over the bemused keeper and dipped under the bar into the net.

But the cheers of the Town supporters at the brilliance of Ahenkorah’s strike had barely died down when Stephens and Traylor clashed right in front of the Merthyr dug-out.  As is customary players from both sides piled in, and when referee Neil Pratt was able to restore order it was a straight red card for the two combatants and a ten man per side game from then on.

And it was now very much “game on” as both sides pressed for a winner.  Ahenkorah fatally delayed his shot after being sent clear by Dan Summerfield and Liam Francis glanced a header wide from a Will Grocott corner before play switched to the other end where Adam Davies had a fierce 20 yard drive turned behind by Connor at the foot of his left hand post.

With twenty minutes left the next chance fell to Grocott who couldn’t connect cleanly enough with an Ahenkorah cross followed by Merthyr’s Robbie Patten seeing his shot deflected behind off Francis and then substitute Kerry Morgan being inches away from converting Richards’ cross just seconds after coming on for Copp.

Into the closing ten minutes and another smart low save from Connor kept out a thunderous long range right footer from Ashley Evans with the Town keeper repeating his heroics shortly after to deny the busy Richards.

Then as the game headed into added time the final opportunity fell to Town when another perfectly delivered Grocott corner picked out Guy Clark whose header fizzed agonisingly wide.

So in the end a point apiece which was probably fair enough on the night, and certainly a result that Carl Adams was more than happy with.

“A tremendous game and a great point” was the verdict of the Town boss afterwards.  “In the first half we showed them too much respect.  We stood off them and allowed them to dictate the game.

The turning point was our first goal which put us right back in it.  In  the second half we went to a flat back four and played higher up the pitch, and I’m convinced that if the match had stayed 11 versus 11 we would have won as the sendings off seemed to effect us more than them.

But we have to remember that they are one of the best teams in the League and we have more than matched them tonight.  So I’m really proud of our lads, and to come back from two down to take a point is testament to their character and spirit.”

TOWN : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis (Guy Clark 80) , Ben Stephens, James Fry (c), Edwin Ahenkorah (Mike Taylor 78), Will Grocott, Jazz Luckie.   Unused Subs  –  Charlie Evans, James Hancocks, & Justin Marsden

MERTHYR: Oliver Davies, Adam Davies, Cameron Pring, Robbie Patten, Jarrad Wright (c), Scott Tancock. Corey Jenkins (Ashley Evans 51), Eliot Richards, Stuart Fleetwood, Kyle Copp (Kerry Morgan 76), Ian Traylor.  Unused Subs  –  Ben Watkins, Matthew Harris & Jaye Bowens

Referee    –    Neil Pratt

Assistant Referees    –   John Roskelly & James Whittington

Attendance      –   258

Town Man of the Match   –   Will Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

      Town        Merthyr
           6 Goal Attempts             13
           4 On Target                6
           0 Blocked Shots                1
           0 Hit Woodwork                0
           4 Corners Won             10
           7 Crosses into Box               7
        10 Fouls Conceded             11
           3 Off Side                2
           1 Yellow Cards                0
           1 Red Cards                1

 Town Yellow Cards        –    Summerfield            Red Card   –  Stephensi

Merthyr Yellow Cards    –    None                         Red Card   –  Traylor

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

12th AUGUST 2017  –  ROYSTON TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN STUN THE CROWS IN SEASON’S OPENER 

Royston Town      –   1   –   Frendo  21                                                                                                                 Stratford Town    –   2   –   Stephens 5  Thomas  27   

Town made the perfect start to the new season with a performance brimming with character and commitment as they battled to a hard fought win against newly promoted Royston at Garden Walk on Saturday.

Ben Stephens headed Carl Adams’ side into a fifth minute lead, but the Crows hit back to level on 21 minutes through their experienced striker John Frendo before Lee Thomas hit what proved to be the decider six minutes later.

Then in an increasingly feisty second half which saw both number 5’s  –  Royston’s Adam Murray and Town’s Loyiso Recci  –  sent off and five minutes added on at the end of the scheduled ninety Town held on to head back down the A14 with all three points.

There had been much speculation among the travelling Town supporters regarding their side’s starting line-up with Carl Adams eventually opting for a 3-5-2 formation including Recci, Thomas and Andy Gallinagh which meant that three of last term’s regulars  –  Guy Clark,  James Hancocks and Mike Taylor  –  were on the subs bench.

The afternoon was all action straight from the kick with Royston almost taking the lead in just the third minute.  Gus Scott-Morriss floated over a deep cross from the right which was met with a firm header by the Crows’ skipper Scott Bridges  only for Town’s new keeper Louis Connor to plunge to his left and push the ball round the post..

And the importance of that save was emphasised two minutes later when Thomas  –  another new Town signing  –  crossed from the left to the far post where it was headed in by Ben Stephens to put Town in front.

Royston had been Southern League Central Division Champions last season scoring 121 goals and accumulating 102 points, and soon recovered from this early setback to draw level on 21 minutes when Town failed to clear a cross from the right and  Frendo drilled the loose ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.

But six minutes later Town were back in front when Stephens surged through a couple of unconvincing challenges to slip the ball inside to Will Grocott who helped onto to the overlapping Thomas, and the left back thumped it beyond the helpless Royston keeper Joe Welch from 12 yards out.

Back came the Crows but they were finding life at Premier Division level a lot tougher than in the Central Division last time, and with the likes of Andy Gallinagh and Liam Francis showing all their quality in the Town defence they were unable to create a really clearcut chance as halftime was reached with Town’s lead still intact.

Royston were soon pressing for their second equaliser after the restart with Connor needing to be at full stretch to tip over a dipping free kick from Scott-Morriss, but their chances of getting back into the game became a loot slimmer in the 56th minute.

The dangerous Frendo let fly with a fiercely struck right foot volley from a Scott Bridges cross which Connor brilliantly turned behind with a point blank reaction save, and when the subsequent corner came across there a an incident in the six yard box which led to referee Scott Williams showing a straight red card to Murray and a yellow to Recci.

A flurry of substitutions including the surprise withdrawal of Frendo followed as the Crows looked for a way through the well organised Town midfield but a decent first time effort from Scott-Morriss flew narrowly wide as time began to run out.

Then with ten minutes to go Recci’s rash challenge on substitute Josh Castiglione on the halfway line saw the referee reach for a second yellow card followed by the inevitable red and both teams were down to ten.

Realising that they had been given some sort of lifeline the Crows piled forward but as a succession of crosses and free kicks were launched into the Town penalty area Francis was immaculate as he somehow got his head to all of them while a Sam Ives shot was blocked by Thomas and a Stuart Bridges effort was scrambled away.

The announcement of five added minutes provided Royston with a bit of added impetus, but Town were in no mood to let this one slip, and saw the game out  for a crucial opening day success.

“A fantastic performance from everyone” was the verdict of an ecstatic Carl Adams afterwards.

We scored two great goals and I felt that we thoroughly deserved to win against a side that ran away with the Central division last season.

It was tight in the end, and we brought some of that pressure on ourselves when we went down to ten, but in those closing minutes Liam Francis was a real man mountain for us as we had to battle right through to the final whistle.”

TOWN : Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Ben Stephens (Charlie Evans 78), James Fry (c), Edwin Ahenkorah (Mike Taylor 76), Will Grocott, Jazz Luckie.   Unused Subs  –  James Hancocks, Guy Clark & Justin Marsden

ROYSTON: Joe Welch, Gus Scott-Morriss, Dan Brathwaite, Scott Bridges (c), Adam Murray, Stuart Bridges, James Potton, Martel Powell (Josh Castiglione 71), John Frendo (Jack Vasey 63), Adam Marriott (Ed Asafu-Adjaye 58), Sam Ives.  Unused Subs  –  Matt Nolan & Romelle Alomenu

Referee    –    Scott Williams

Assistant Referees    –  Michael Mackey & James Kerton

Attendance      –   224

Town Man of the Match   –   Lee Thomas

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams                       

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

Town Yellow Cards        –      Ahenkorah & Thomas       Red Card  –  Recci

Royston Yellow Cards    –     Scott Bridges & Potton    Red Card  –  Murray

Match Report by Bryan Hale