Stratford Town First Team Match Reports 2018/19

TOWN’S PLAY OFF HOPES ENDED BY THE HIGHFLYING LINNETS

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Kings Lynn Town        –     3     –      Hawkins 49 Clunan 61 McAuley 77
Stratford Town          –       1     –     Taylor 35

After a tempestuous week in which Stratford had been docked three points for a technical infringement relating to Dan Creaney’s loan move from Coalville while still able to retain their play off spot followed by the chaotic rearrangement of the entire Premier Division Central play off schedule there was at last some action on the pitch between Town and the Linnets on a bright and breezy Saturday afternoon at The Walks Stadium.

And although Thomas Baillie’s side were leading at half time it was the Linnets who stormed to victory with three second half strikes with a Town penalty miss helping them on their way.

Town’s starting line-up was as expected with Mo Sebbeh-Njie preferred to Lewis Wilson in midfield and Albi Skendi partnering Jordan Williams in the middle of the backline, while the Linnets were unchanged from the League game at Stratford at the end of March.

Both sides understandably made a cautious start and there was no serious goal attempt until the 15th minute when Ryan Fryatt headed over from a Frazer Blake-Tracey free kick.

The Linnets were seeing more of the ball but it was Town who threatened next when Mike Taylor set up a chance for skipper Jimmy Fry whose low drive was comfortably held by the Linnets long serving keeper Alex Street at the foot of his left hand post.

A Nabil Shariff cross from the left drifted just beyond Will Grocott at the far post on the half hour mark and with Town now growing in confidence they went ahead in the 35th minute.

Wilson Carvalho twisted and turned on the left of the penalty area before laying the ball off to Kynan Isaac whose first time cross was volleyed in by Mike Taylor from six yards out for his 20th goal of the season.

The Linnets came out fired up after half time and levelled it up four minutes into the second half when keeper Ross Etheridge conceded a cheap corner which Michael Clunan played across to Ryan Hawkins some 25 yards out and he lashed a sumptuous right footer into the top corner before Etheridge could even move.

Taylor had a half chance to regain the lead for Town almost immediately afterwards when he reached a backpass before Street but his shot from an impossibly narrow angle fizzed across the face of the goal much to the Linnets’ relief.

Etheridge then held a well struck Hawkins freekick and as the Linnets kept up the pressure they went ahead in the 61st minute when Town struggled to get the ball clear and it fell kindly to Clunan who drilled it into the bottom corner from 15 yards out.

As Town looked for a quick response Taylor netted after a scramble in the Linnets penalty area but it was ruled out for handball, but they were given a golden chance to get back into the game in the 67th minute when Isaac surged into the left of the penalty area where he was brought down by Fryatt.

Carvalho had a 100% record from the spot this season but that went here as he blazed wildly over and Town’s hopes of further play off progress effectively went with it.

Another Town “goal” slotted in by Shariff was ruled out for offside, but the Linnets were now gradually gaining control.

Wilson replaced Sebbeh-Njie with a quarter of an hour to go but before he could get involved the Linnets added a third when Town didn’t deal with a cross from the left allowing Ross McAuley to head in from no more than a couple of yards out.

Town had to pour forward from then on but the Linnets weren’t going to let anything slip and comfortably saw the rest of the game out to meet Alvechurch in the play off final on Monday.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Mo Sebbeh-Njie (Lewis Wilson 75), Jimmy Fry (c), Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Cody Fisher, Kai Williamsd, Tom Fishwick & Rajan Shergill (GK)

K/LYNN : Alex Street, Ross Barrows (Aaron Jones 69), Frazer Blake-Tracy, Ryan Jarvis, Ryan Fryatt, Rory McAuley, Michael Clunan (c), Jordan Richards (Ryan Hawkins 42), Michael Gash, Adam Marriott (Will Mellors-Blair 85), Chris Henderson Unused Subs – Joe Robinson & Craig Parker

Referee          –           Alistair Wilson

Assistant Referees     –           Richard Owen & Thomas Harvey

Fourth Official           –             Stuart Cheek

Attendance-            –               1253

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards         –             Fry & Isaac
K/Lynn Yellow Cards               –            Clunan & Fryatt

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

27th APRIL 2019  –   KETTERING TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE 

POPPIES’ CLASS TELLS AS TOWN FOCUS ON PLAY OFFS

Kettering Town        –     5     –      Hoeness (2) 16 & 58 Solkhon 37 Stanley 50 O’Connor 59
Stratford Town        –     1     –      Kian Williams

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Town ended their regular Premier Division Central campaign at Latimer Park on Saturday when Kettering emphasised their right to be Champions with a ruthless display against a much changed Town side.

With more than one eye on the play offs Thomas Baillie opted for youth here. Only skipper Jimmy Fry from the normal starting line-up was involved as Rajan Shergill, Jack Coates, Academy scholars Louis McDonald, Roman Faulkner and Rob Singer plus substitute Owen James all made their debuts and there were rare starts for Tom Fishwick and both Kai and Kian Williams.

Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Will Grocott and Lewis Wilson were all on the subs bench while Wilson Carvalho, Kynan Isaac, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor and Jordan Williams were rested altogether.

By contrast Kettering were pretty much at full strength with their starting line-up showing only one change from their Easter Monday win at Rushden and Diamonds.

Shergill was soon in the action having to sprint out of his area to kick clear as the Poppies leading scorer Rhys Hoeness looked to chase down a through ball, and it was Hoeness again in the tenth minute with a sharp turn and shot which Shergill did well to block with his outstretched right leg.

And inevitably it was Hoeness who set the Poppies on their way on 16 minutes when he broke clear down the inside left channel to give Shergill no chance as he smashed the ball into the roof of the net for his 21st goal of the season.

Town almost had the chance of an equaliser ten minutes later when Singer tried to latch onto a long ball but Lathaniel Rowe-Turner was there first to shepherd it back to keeper Paul White.

Kettering though continued to press with Fishwick showing plenty of composure on the half hour mark as he snuffed out another foray forward from the speedy Hoeness.

Another Town opportunity arrived in the 34th minute when Kettering conceded a free kick a yard or so, outside the penalty area but Dan Creaney fired harmlessly over.

Instead the Poppies doubled their advantage three minutes later when a neat ;passing move led to the ball reaching Brett Solkhon on the left and he had all the time and space he needed to shoot past Shergill from eight yards out.

Then a couple of minutes before half time only the woodwork prevented Kettering going three up when substitute Mike Richens’ header from a right wing corner cannoned against the bar before eventually being cleared.

But Town gave the Poppies a shock two minutes into the second half when Kian Williams slotted home from a Faulkner pass only for Kettering to make it 3-1 three minutes later when Craig Stanley headed in from a free kick.

Shergill was concussed in the process and he was replaced by Etheridge before the game restarted, but he was beaten twice in a minute as the Poppies turned on their champions style.

On 58 minutes the irrepressible Hoeness once again charged down the inside left channel to lash the ball into the far corner, and barely sixty seconds later Aaron O’Connor tapped in after Linden Meikle had crossed from the right byline.

To their immense credit the Town youngsters kept going and will surely have learnt a lot from the experience of playing against opponents of the quality of Hoeness and in front of a large and partisan crowd.

Richens shot straight at Etheridge with a quarter of an hour to followed by Solkhon blazing over while in between at the other end James had a decent effort safely held by White but there were to be no more goals as the afternoon gradually petered out.

By the final whistle the news had filtered through that Kings Lynn had won at Stourbridge and Town knew that they faced a testing trip to East Anglia for their much anticipated play off next Wednesday.

STRATFORD : Rajan Shergill (Ross Etheridge 53), Cody Fisher, Louis McDonald, Jimmy Fry (c), Jack Coates, Tom Fishwick, Kian Williams, Kian Faulkner, Rob Singer, Dan Creaney, Kai Williams (Owen James 60). Unused Subs – Lewis Wilson, Will Grocott & Chris Cox

KETTERING : Paul White, Brett Solkhon, Gary Stohrer (Joe Massaro 72), Linden Meikle, Aaron O’Connor, Ben Milnes (Michael Richens 19), Rhys Hoeness, Dion Kelly-Evans, Marcus Kelly (James Brighton 72), Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Craig Stanley. Unused Subs – Ben Toseland & Ben Bradshaw

Referee     –     Oliver Mackey

Assistant Referees     –      Gary Lord & Minesh Gupta

Attendance      –        660

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford    Kettering
           6 Goal Attempts            20
           3 On Target              8
           0 Blocked Shots              0
           0 Hit Woodwork              1
           1 Corners Won              6
           4 Crosses into Box              8
           3 Fouls Conceded              6
           3 Off Side              3
           0 Yellow Cards              0
           0 Red Cards             0

 Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 22nd APRIL 2019  –  BIGGLESWADE TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN’S SECONDHALF SURGE SWEEPS  THE WADERS AWAY

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Stratford Town            –     3    –    Taylor 68  Carvalho  73 (pen)  Creaney  86
Biggleswade Town     –    2     –   Lucian  41   Ball  90+6 (pen)

After Saturday’s setback at Lowestoft this had become a “must win” game if Town were to secure the hoped for play off spot while Biggleswade arrived having won four and drawn three of their last seven outings, and leading 1-0 at half time the Waders must have fancies their chances of leapfrogging Town into the top five.

But Town were a different side after the break and the Waders were simply overpowered as Town turned on the style to run in three goals and confirm their place in the end of season promotion shake-up along with Alvechurch, Kings Lynn and Stourbridge.

Chris Cox, Will Grocott and Mike Taylor were all back in Town’s starting line-up for this one with Cody Fisher, Mo Sebbeh-Njie and Dan Creaney dropping to the subs bench.

The Biggleswade team included striker Harry Draper who had made a solitary appearance for Town on loan from Stevenage back in September.

Unsurprisingly given what was at stake both sides made a cautious start with Lucas Perry soon causing a few flutters in the Town defence with a couple of long throws from the left touchline, but it was a Town long throw taken by Cox which produced the first chance of the afternoon in the 14th minute when the ball fell kindly to Nabil Shariff on the edge of the six yard box only for the striker to blaze wildly over.

Biggleswade in particular were favouring the long ball looking for the runs of Draper but keeper Ross Etheridge was smartly off his line to deal with the threat twice in quick succession around the midway point of the half.

Peter Clark then had an opening on the half hour mark but his weak shot was easy for Etheridge who shortly after did well to claim a swerving free kick from Ben Walster and then safely hold a Matt Ball effort from the edge of the penalty area.

And it was the Waders who took the lead in the 41st minute when Sean Lucian neatly controlled a deep left cross from Ball and drilled it beyond Etheridge into the far corner.

Town needed to up their game after the break and with the crowd urging them on that is exactly what they did.

Lewis Wilson soon had a half chance as the Waders struggled to clear a corner which he put narrowly over followed by Cox whipping over a low cross from the right which was frustratingly just out of Taylor’s reach at the far post.

Taylor was similarly close to a Grocott free kick in the 57th minute and almost immediately after it was the same combination with this time Taylor setting up a shooting chance for Grocott whose well struck effort was confidently held by Waders keeper Sam Donkin.

Town supporters were then on their feet on 66 minutes when a superb throw out by Etheridge released Cox who charged forward to slide the ball inside to Taylor whose shot drifted tantalisingly wide.

Two minutes later though Etheridge was able to claim the assist when Town equalised as his long punt upfield wasn’t cut out by the Waders backline and Taylor nipped into glance a header past Donkin for his 19th goal of the season.

And five minutes later Town had turned the game on its head when Carvalho twisted and turned in the penalty area before being flattened by the Waders skipper Kieran Forbes. It seemed a straightforward decision for referee Ben Cooke and Carvalho maintained his 100% record from the spot as he picked himself up to blast in his sixth penalty of the season with the minimum of fuss.

Town now had all the momentum, and they put the result beyond doubt with four minutes left when substitute Dan Creaney picked up an attempted clearance from a corner and volleyed it past Donkin from the edge of the penalty area.

Cox almost got on the scoresheet as the game headed into added time with his free kick turned behind with some difficulty by Donkin before Ball made it 3-2 when Town conceded a penalty for pushing.

Ball hammered it past Etheridge but it was the last kick of the game and it mattered not as Town were already safely in the;play off places.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c), Lewis Wilson, Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (Dan Creaney 79), Will Grocott (Mo Sebbeh-Njie 87), Wilson Carvalho (Kai Williams 89)    Unused Subs – Cody Fisher & Rajan Shergill (GK)

BIGGLESWADE : Sam Donkin, Ben Walster, Lucas Perry, Kieran Forbes (c) (Brett Donnelly 76) , Jordan Gent, David Longe-King, Sean Lucian, Peter Clark, Harry Draper (Claudio Ofesu 61) , Matt Ball, Soloman Nwaboukei (Bradley Bell 74).    Unused Subs – Lucas Allinson & Jack Bradshaw

Referee      –        Ben Cooke

Assistant Referees    –      Niall Nestor & Ian Croston

Attendance      –      415

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards               –        Creaney & Sebbeh-Njie
Biggleswade Yellow Cards        –        Draper & Walster

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

20th April 2019  –  LOWESTOFT TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE  

REED HAS HIS DAY AS TOWN FALTER IN THE FAR EAST

Lowestoft Town    –    3    –     Reed (3)  27  34  &  85
Stratford Town      –    2     –    Shariff  39   Creaney  477

Stratford’s first ever visit to the Amber Dew Events Stadium in the most easterly town in Britain ended in defeat as Lowestoft’s star striker Jake Reed enjoyed a memorable afternoon.

Town’s starting line-up was unchanged from their CSS Southern League Challenge Cup Final win on Tuesday which meant that Will Grocott and Mike Taylor remained on the subs bench where Kai Williams replaced Chris Cox who was ruled out by illness.

Worthy of note was referee Abi Byrne who is due to take charge of the Womens F A Cup final at Wembley next weekend.

While Town are chasing a play off spot Lowestoft needed a point to be absolutely sure of staying up and they were probably still smarting from their semi final defeat at the Arden Garages Stadium ten days earlier.

Town had a chance in only the second minute when Albi Skendi surged through to set up an opportunity for Dan Creaney but his scuffed shot was an easy save for keeper Elvijs Putnins and with Lowestoft in particular favouring the long ball neither goal was seriously threatened.

Dylan Williams had a shot rebound away off Jordan Williams and Ross Etheridge did well to hold a whipped in right wing cross from Jacek Zielonka.

But on 27 minutes Lowestoft took the lead when their ace marksman Reed celebrated his 200th Trawler Boys appearance as he latched onto a through ball to shoot past the advancing Etheridge. The Town keeper half stopped it but it had enough momentum to trickle over the line.

And seven minutes later Reed struck again with a clinical finish from ten yards out to put the Trawler Boys two up.

But Town were gifted a way back into the game six minutes before the break when there was a horrendous mix up over a backpass between Lowestoft skipper Josh Curry and keeper Putnins which allowed the alert Nabil Shariff to nip in and slot it into the empty net.

And Town could have levelled right on half time but Creaney blazed wastefully over after being picked out buy Kynan Isaac’s pinpoint cross.

Grocott had replaced an out of sorts Mo Sebbeh-Njie immediately after Lowestoft’s second goal and there was a further Town change at the restart with Taylor coming on for Cody Fisher and Isaac switching to left back.

But before that change had any effect Town had equalised when Grocott’s 47th minute corner was initially headed against the post by Creaney who then reacted quicker than anyone else to head the rebound into the net.

With Lowestoft looking rattled both Taylor and Creaney went close after Jordan Williams had flicked on a Grocott free kick followed soon after by Shariff having a fiercely struck effort deflected behind.

Reed though was chasing a hat-trick which would have taken his Trawler Boys tally to exactly 100 and in the 65th minute that looked on as he charged down the inside left channel only to be halted by a perfectly timed tackle from the immaculate Jordan Williams.

The game was far more open now and with twenty minutes to go Dylan Williams had the next chance firing narrowly wide while at the other end Wilson Carvalho headed across goal instead of trying to beat Putnins at his near post.

But Reed was not to be denied and in the 85th minute he expertly tucked away a Dylan Williams cross to reach his century of goals and his double century of appearances on the same afternoon as Lowestoft secured their status for another season while Town’s play off hopes remain on hold.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Lewis Wilson, Cody Fisher (Mike Taylor 46), Jimmy Fry (c), Mo Sebbeh-Njie (Will Grocott 39),, Jordan Williams, Wilson Carvalho, Albi Skendi, Nabil Shariff, Dan Creaney, Kynan Isaac (Kai Williams 89). Unused Sub – Rajan Shergill (GK)

LOWESTOFT : Elvijs Putnins, Josh Curry (c), Adam Smith (Cion Wren 90 + 4) , Kyle Barker, Adam Tann, Connor Deeks, Jacek Zielonka (Henry Pollock 80), Andrew Fisk, Jake Reed, Shaun Bammant, (Armani Schaar 71) Dylan Williams. Unused Subs – Jack Wilkinson & Andrew Reynolds

Referee           –        Abi Byrne

Assistant Referees          –        Cameron Saunders & Murray Grant

Attendance      –     461

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards           –          Skendi & Wilson
Lowestoft Yellow Cards         –           Deeks, Fisk, Tann & Zielonka

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

16th APRIL 2019  –  CINDERFORD TOWN  –   HOME  –  LEAGUE CUP FINAL

KYNAN ISAAC FIRES TOWN TO LEAGUE CUP GLORY

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Stratford Town      –       1     –     Isaac  61
Cinderford Town    –     0

Town joined some illustrious names on the Southern League Challenge Cup’s roll of honour as Kynan Isaac’s close range finish in the 61st minute decided a closely fought final against a battling Cinderford side at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening

Their starting line-up showed three changes from the weekend. As he had done after only eight minutes on Saturday Mo Sebbeh-Njie replaced Jamie McAteer, although it was skipper Jimmy Fry who dropped back to partner Jordan Williams in the middle of the backline, while elsewhere Nabil Shariff and Dan Creaney came in for Mike Taylor and Will Grocott.

Cinderford arrived in a rich vein of from having won seven of their last eight games and drawn the other to surge into the Division One South play off places, but it was Town who were first to threaten with Kynan Isaac not far away with a rasping left footer after just six minutes.

As Town continued to press Cinderford conceded a free kick 25 yards out in a central position in the 16th minute and were grateful for the woodwork keeping them level as Wilson Carvalho’s beautifully struck effort beat keeper Jordan Dibble’s despairing dive and ricocheted away off his right hand post.

Then on 22 minutes it was the woodwork to their rescue again as Sebbeh-Njie threaded the ball through to Creaney whose shot cannoned against the opposite post with Dibble once more well beaten.

Williams went close with a header from an Isaac corner and Cinderford had to wait until the half hour mark for their first goal attempt when Josh Hunt fired well wide from distance.

As Cinderford began more of the ball Craig Norman then headed over from a Lorcan Sheehan free kick, and it was from another free kick on 38 minutes that Richard Greaves got in a header which forced Ross Etheridge into his first save of the evening.

Soon after Norman had a shot deflected behind off Williams but half time was reached with the game still goal-less.

Cinderford had the first opportunity after the restart when Williams tripped Hunt a few yards outside the penalty area and Lewis Binns drilled the resulting free kick narrowly wide.

And they had the second opportunity as well in the 57th minute when Williams did well to block an on-target effort from Matt Macdonald.

But it was Town who took the lead four minutes later when Wilson latched onto a Creaney pass to run on and whip in a low cross which was turned in by Isaac from inside the six yard box.

Cinderford had a great chance to equalise on 67 minutes when Greaves’ deep cross from the right picked out Hunt at the far post who headed wastefully wide followed a few minutes later by Sheehan blazing a free kick harmlessly over.

Town could then have gone two up when Isaac released Albi Skendi down the middle but he was crowded out as he tried to make room for his shot.

By now Grocott and Chris Cox had come on for Creaney and Wilson, and with twelve minutes to go Mike Taylor replaced Isaac going close to scoring with his first touch only for Sam Turl to get in a vital saving challenge.

Cinderford kept going and there were a few nervy moments both on the field and in the stands as the fourth official indicated four minutes added time, but Etheridge confidently collected Sheehan’s last gasp free kick and referee Greg Rollason’s final whistle a few seconds later confirmed that Thomas Baillie had emulated Morton Titterton’s feat of eight years ago in guiding Town to a cup final win in his first season as Town boss.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Lewis Wilson (Chris Cox 72), Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c), Mo Sebbeh-Njie, Jordan Williams, Wilson Carvalho, Albi Skendi, Nabil Shariff, Dan Creaney (Will Grocott 65), Kynan Isaac (Mike Taylor 78). Unused Subs – Tom Fishwick & Rajan Shergill (GK)

CINDERFORD : Jordan Dibble, Sam Turl, Lewis Binns, Ben Watkins, Nick Rhodes (Andy Lewis 77), Liam Angel, Craig Norman, Lorcan Sheehan (c), Richard Greaves (Blaine Waugh 77), Josh Hunt, Matt Macdonald. Unused Subs – James Harding, Robbie Atkinson & Alex Harris (GK)

Referee         –        Greg Rollason

Assistant Referees         –         James Scerri & Ben Watkiss

Fourth Official      –       Ruebyn Ricardo

Attendance        –        349

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

   Stratford    Cinderford
          11 Goal Attempts              9
            2 On Target              2
            0 Blocked Shots              0
            2 Hit Woodwork              0
            6 Corners Won              1
            8 Crosses into Box              6
          20 Fouls Conceded            15
            1 Off Side               5
            2 Yellow Cards               2
            0 Red Cards               0

Stratford Yellow Cards              –       Isaac & Williams
Cinderford Yellow Cards           –      Hunt & Rhodes

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

 

13th APRIL 2019  –   ROYSTON  TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN EASILY TAME THE LACKLUSTRE CROWS

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Stratford Town      –      2    –   Wilson  13  Taylor  53
Royston Town       –       0

Town weren’t seriously extended to consolidate their play off spot with a comfortable win against a lacklustre Royston side which had a real end of season look about it.

Lewis Wilson in the first half and Mike Taylor in the second were on target for Town with keeper Ross Etheridge also making a major contribution with his second penalty save in two games when Royston had their best chance to get back into the game shortly after Town had gone two up.

Town’s starting line-up originally showed three changes from the Lowestoft game in midweek. To the delight of the Town supporters both Jamie McAteer and Jordan Williams returned to the centre of the backline, and another popular returnee was Mike Taylor up front, while making way and dropping to the subs bench were Tom Fishwick, Mo Sebbeh-Njie and Dan Creaney.

But as against Rushall a week ago Thomas Baillie had to make a further alteration before the kick off. Last week it was Jordan Williams who picked up a knock in the pre-match warm up and this time it was Chris Cox meaning that he was replaced by Lewis Wilson.

Having reached the final of the CSS Southern League Cup in dramatic fashion with two late goals against Lowestoft in midweek Town seemed to be in a buoyant mood straight from the kick off and after only six minutes the fans favourite Taylor outmuscled Harold Joseph as they chased after an Albi Skendi through pass to lob the ball over the advancing keeper Harry Stuart only to see it drift agonisingly the wrong side of the post.

But two minutes later Thomas Baillie was having to reorganise again as McAteer’s return proved to be frustratingly shortlived. Skendi took over alongside Williams and Mo Sebbeh-Njie came on into midfield.

Town though were not put off and in the 13th minute a pinpoint Will Grocott pass released Wilson Carvalho down the right. Cutting inside he worked the ball onto his favoured left foot for a shot which was deflected behind.

The resulting corner wasn’t properly dealt with by the Crows defence with the loose ball being retrieved by Skendi who helped it on to Jimmy Fry and his cross into the penalty area was turned past Stuart by the lurking Wilson.

Carvalho was finding plenty of space on the right and soon after he whipped over a cross to the far post where Kynan Isaac headed inches over.

Another Carvalho cross in the 22nd minute reached Grocott who laid it off to Taylor but his weak finish failed to trouble Stuart and as Town continued to boss the meaningful possession a further chance came and went when Carvalho opted to pass instead of shoot when almost clean through.

Royston eventually began to push forward with Gus Scott-Morris blazing over from distance and Etheridge doing well to hold a well struck 25 yard free kick from Tom Knowles at the foot of his right hand post pushed forward Town remained in control even if they were still only one up at half time.

Taylor headed over Town’s first chance after the break, but they eventually doubled their lead on 53 minutes when Grocott’s free kick caused panic in the Royston penalty area.

The ball was only half cleared to Fry and the Town skipper he claimed his second assist of the afternoon as his lofted pass was expertly controlled by Taylor who fired home from six yards out.

Royston responded with Devante Stanley hitting a low drive which was kept out by Etheridge’s right leg and they then had their best opportunity to pull one back in the 62nd minute when Knowles was tripped as he tried to wriggle past Wilson.

It was a straightforward penalty decision for referee Liam Corbett and Knowles got off the floor to take the spot kick himself, but in a mirror image of his game changing penalty save against Lowestoft Etheridge plunged to his right to palm it away.

From then on the result was never really in doubt. Royston substitute Tom Newman tried his luck with a couple of decent efforts while a Joseph header was a routine save for Etheridge who continued to impress as he confidently claimed a flighted Knowles corner under pressure from Stanley and then held a long range attempt from Josh Castiglione under his crossbar.

But Town were never flustered and came close to adding a third with five minutes to go when Carvalho’s low cross from the left picked out Sebbeh-Njie whose effort was scrambled behind by the combination of Stuart and Taylor Parr.

With the other contenders all winning it’s as you were in the play off places but it’s also another game gone and while Biggleswade remain six points behind they now have only three games to make the difference up.

Clearly their visit to the Arden Garages Stadium on Easter Monday is now going to have an awful lot riding on it.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer (Mo Sebbeh-Njie 8), Jordan Williams, Wilson Carvalho, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott (Dan Creaney 78), Kynan Isaac (Nabil Shariff 73). Unused Sub – Tom Fishwick

ROYSTON : Harry Stuart, Gus Scott-Morris, Harold Joseph, Joe Newton, Taylor Parr, Dan Braithwaite (c), Eren Kinali (Josh Castiglione 65), Luke Knight, Devante Stanley, Joe Neal (Tom Newman 65), Tom Knowles. Unused Subs – Adam Murray & Aaron Benstead (GK)

Referee          –       Liam Corbett

Assistant Referees        –      Charlie Dickens & Jake Allsopp

Attendance        –         245

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford       Royston
           12 Goal Attempts            12
             6 On Target              7
             0 Blocked Shots              1
            0 Hit Woodwork              0
            5 Corners Won              5
            5 Crosses into Box             4
          13 Fouls Conceded           14
            1 Off Side             2
            0 Yellow Cards             3
            0 Red Cards             0

Stratford Yellow Cards        –       None
Royston Yellow Cards          –       Joseph, Knowles & Scott-Morris

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

9th APRIL 2019  –  LOWESTOFT TOWN  –  HOME   –   LEAGUE CUP

IT’S THE LATE LATE SHOW AS TOWN REACH THE FINAL

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Stratford Town      –     3     –     Cox (2) 64 &  89   Carvalho   86                                                      Lowestoft Town   –     2     –     Williams 37  Deeks 68 (pen)

With four minutes of normal time remaining at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening Town looked to be heading out of the CSS Southern League Challenge Cup at the semi final stage as Lowestoft were hanging on grimly to a 2-1 lead and Thomas Baillie’s side were struggling to create the opening they needed to get back into the tie.

But then Will Grocott got on the end of a Kynan Isaac cross to fire against the post and Wilson Carvalho drilled in the rebound and three minutes later with Lowestoft now in disarray at the back Grocott delivered an inch perfect cross for Chris Cox to head in the winner and spark wild celebrations both on and off the pitch as deflation turned to elation in an instant.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from Saturday with Tom Fishwick replacing Lewis Wilson in defence and Grocott taking over in midfield from Nabil Shariff, while in a positional reshuffle Albi Skendi dropped into the backline alongside Fishwick allowing Isaac to move forward wide on the left with Carvalho switching to the right.

There were chances at both ends early on. Firstly Jake Reed whipped in a low cross from the right which fizzed just beyond Jacek Zieloka at the far post and then at the other end Dan Creaney headed narrowly wide from a Kynan Isaac cross.

But Lowestoft were dealt a blow in only the sixth minute when Travis Cole couldn’t continue having been involved in a clash of heads almost straight from the kick off with Cion Wren coming on instead.

Grocott was next to threaten soon after with a decent effort which brought a smart save from Lowestoft keeper Elvijs Putnins, and as both sides made a bright start the dangerous Reed had a well struck shot blocked by Fishwick.

But Town began to have the better of the possession with Chris Cox whipping in a couple of tempting crosses, and Creaney had a great chance to put Town ahead in the 24th minute when he headed disappointingly over from a Grocott free kick.

Another Town chance went begging on 34 minutes when Carvalho picked out Grocott with a pinpoint cross from the right only for the midfielder to fire wide when he had the time and space to do much better,

And the significance of that miss was emphasised three minutes later when Reed’s cross from the right was missed by Ross Etheridge allowing Dylan Williams to head into the empty net and put Lowestoft ahead.

As Town looked for an immediate response a Grocott free kick tantalisingly drifted beyond everyone and right on half time Carvalho miscued horribly over from six yards out prompting calls from the crowd to “bring Taylor on.”

Two minutes into the second half Lowestoft should have gone two up when Skendi brought down Reed to concede a penalty. Reed picked himself up to take the kick but Etheridge made up for his earlier error by plunging to his right and turn it behind to keep Town still in the tie.

Then in the 53rd minute Reed set up a gilt edged opportunity for Armani Schaar whose shot was cleared off the line by Fishwick before the supporters’ pleas were answered by the arrival of Mike Taylor.

But Town’s frustrations continued with Carvalho blasting a free kick from a promising position wildly over before Town drew level in the 64th minute thanks to a horrendous blunder by Putnins.

A Grocott cross fell kindly to Cox and although his shot laced any real power the keeper allowed it to trickle through his legs into the net.

Four minutes later though another Town mistake led to Lowestoft regaining the lead when confusion between Etheridge and Fishwick over who should clear a bouncing ball led to Etheridge clattering into Schaaar to give Lowestoft their second penalty of the evening.

This time Connor Deeks stepped up and smashed the spot kick past Etheridge with the minimum of fuss.

It was desperate stuff from then on with Town finding it difficult to find any cohesion or fluency and Lowestoft determined to hang on to their advantage as the minutes ticked away and the crowd’s frustration mounted.

Cody Fisher had a piledriver deflected behind off Adam Tann and Taylor dribbled through only to pass when he should have shot, but with just four minutes to go everything changed.

Carvalho’s equaliser came as a hammer blow to Lowestoft who had sensed that they were almost there and at the same time it gave Town all the incentive they needed to press for the winner.

And on 89 minutes it duly arrived through Cox’s header to amazingly send Town through to next week’s final.

So is their name on the Cup ?

After what happened this evening it might well be.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c), Tom Fishwick (Nabil Shariff 87), Mo Sebbeh-Njie,(Lewis Wilson 76), Wilson Carvalho, Albi Skendi, Dan Creaney (Mikee Taylor 53), Will Grocott, Kynan Isaac. Unused Sub – Rajan Shergill (GK)

LOWESTOFT : Elvijs Putnins, Josh Curry (c), Adam Smith, Kyle Barker, adam Tann, Travis Cole (Cion Wren 6), Dylan Williams, Connor Decks, Jake Reed, Armani Schaar, Jacek Zielloka Unused Subs – Fletcher Hedge, Jamie Godbold & Andrew Reynolds

Referee   –    Richard Casttell

Assistant Referees    –     Sam Clarke & Jamie Conde

Attendance        –     143

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford YellowCards         –       Cox & Etheridge
Lowestoft Yellow Cards     –       Schaar & Tann

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

6th APRIL 2019  –  RUSHALL OLYMPIC  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

SARGEANT’S HEROICS DENY MISFIRING TOWN

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Stratford Town      –       0
Rushall Olympic    –       1     –     Maye  22

An inspired display by keeper Matt Sargeant earned ten man Rushall a battling win over a decidedly below par Town at the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday.

Town were particularly off the pace in the first half and trailed to Simeon Maye’s close range finish at the break, but they showed far more sparkle after half time and had a great opportunity to go on and win the game when Rushall’s Joe Hull was sent off in the 55th minute.

But a series of top quality saves from Sargeant combined with some resolute defending by his team mates and a lack of real creativity from Town saw the Pics hold on for all three points.

Town had suffered a blow even before the game started when Jordan Williams aggravated a long standing hip problem in the warm-up which meant that Chris Cox had to switch inside to partner Lewis Wilson in the middle of the backline with Kynan Isaac coming into the right back slot.

Elsewhere Jimmy Fry and Wilson Carvalho returned to the starting line-up while Will Grocott was consigned to the subs bench

And the warning signs were there right from the kick off as Town appeared to be strangely lethargic although they did fashion the first chance of the afternoon on 12 minutes when Dan Creaney flicked on Isaac’s free kick but with time and space Mo Sebbeh-Njie sliced his shot disappointingly wide.

Rushall responded with Dan Waldron having a shot on the turn easily gathered by Town keeper Ross Etheridge followed by hull heading wide from a Taylor Lyttle free kick.

But neither side was ;playing with any fluency until the Pics took the lead in the 22nd minute when Waldron seized on a mistake by Wilson to cut in from the left and slide the ball across the six yard box to provide Maye with a tap-in at the far post.

Sebbeh-Njie wasn’t far away with a well struck effort from 25 yards out but Waldron almost put the Pics two up on the half hour mark when he again got the better of Wilson only to fire into the side netting.

There was an anxious moment for Town supporters soon after when Etheridge sprinted out of his area to challenge Waldron for a through ball and collided with Cox.

Both players need treatment but fortunately were quickly on their feet.

Town were still struggling to get into any sort of rhythm and the Pics continued to look the more threatening with Dan O’Callaghan heading inches wide from another Lyttle free kick and they almost went two up three minutes before the break when Ashley Sammons’ left wing corner was unconvincingly scrambled away by Etheridge as it was about to creep in at the near post.

No doubt Thomas Baillie had words during the interval as Town were far more lively after the restart and Sargeant began his heroics just four minutes into the second half when  Fry connected with a  Carvalho cross and his header was brilliantly pushed away one-handed by the Rushall keeper plunging instinctively to his left.

But the complexion of the game changed completely on 55 minutes when Hull’s crude lunge left Sebbeh-Njie in a heap on the floor and referee Steve Durnall had no hesitation in flourishing a red card to leave the Pics a man down as Hull trudged disconsolately off.

From then on it was inevitably all Town but Sargeant immediately kept Rushall’s lead intact with stunning saves from Nabil Shariff and Carvalho as Town piled forward.

Tom Fishwick replaced Sebbeh-Njie in the 66th minute and took over alongside Wilson which allowed Cox to revert to his normal right back position and join in the attacks from there while Isaac was also thrust further forward.

But to their credit Rushall were hanging on grimly and Town and their supporters became increasingly frustrated.

Sargeant was at it again in the 72nd minute parrying a Shariff effort at point blank range with the Town striker then hitting the rebound against the post while a looping Cox cross drifted beyond both Creaney and Carvalho and fiercely struck attempts from Isaac and Albi Skendi ricocheted away off Pics defenders.

Not even the belated introduction of Mike Taylor could work the oracle this time while  Grocott  wasn’t called upon at all

Even Etheridge came up as Town forced a couple of corners in the four minutes of added time but it was all to avail as Rushall held on to take the points.

So with Alvechurch winning at Kettering to leapfrog Town into fourth Thomas Baiilie’s side now occupy the final play-off spot, but there is still a five point gap to Coalville in sixth and two wins from their remaining four games or even a win an a draw would surely be enough to keep them there.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c), Lewis Wilson, Kynan Isaac, Nabil Shariff (Mike Taylor 73), Albi Skendi, Dan Creaney, Mo Sebbeh-Njie (Tom Fishwick 66), Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Will Grocott & Rajan Shergill (GK)

RUSHALL : Matt Sargeant, Tyler Lyttle, AJ Adelekan, Sam Whittall, Joe Hull, Orrin Pendley, Simeon Maye, Lee Smith, Dan Waldron (Benjamin Lund 90), Ashley Sammons (c) (Brian Smikle 90 + 2), Dan O’Callaghan. Unused Subs – Massiah McDonald, Aram Soleman & David Bridgwater

Referee     –     Steve Durnall

Assistant Referees     –       Luis Martin & Josh Hackett

Attendance     –      295

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards        –        Fishwick, Isaac & Skendi
Rushall Yellow Cards            –        Lyttle & Sammons               Red Card     –      Hull

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

30th MARCH 2019  –  BEDWORTH UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

CREANEY AND WILSON ON THE MARK AS TOWN EDGE CLOSER TO THE PLAY OFFS

Bedworth United       –      0
Stratford Town           –      2      –       Creaney  48    Wilson  65

Town duly collected the expected three points from their visit to already relegated Bedworth to reinforce their push towards the play offs, but it certainly wasn’t straightforward against the battling Greenbacks and it was only in the second half that Thomas Baillie’s side really made the quality count before they finished as reasonably comfortable winners.

Bedworth had shown plenty of courage and commitment to go in at half time with the game still goal-less, but once Dan Creaney had fired Town ahead three minutes after the break there was only going to be one eventual outcome and Lewis Wilson put the result beyond doubt with Town’s second halfway through the second half.

Town’s starting line-up showed four changes from last weekend beginning in goal where Ross Etheridge returned following the unexpected ending of Laurence Bilboe’s loan spell.

Kynan Isaac replaced the unavailable Wilson Carvalho on the left of midfield while elsewhere Mo Sebbeh-Njie and Creaney came in for James Fry and Mike Taylor.

In bright sunshine on the Oval’s 3G pitch both sides had free kicks from promising positions in the opening five minutes with Will Grocott firing Town’s inches over followed by Etheridge easily dealing with Alex Troke’s effort for Bedworth.

Soon after Cody Fisher floated over a cross from the left which saw Nabil Shariff come off worst as he challenged for the ball with Bedworth keeper James Fogg only for the referee to give a goal kick when Town were hoping that he might have had a spot kick in mind instead.

Ex-Town favourite James Hancocks was understandably eager to get into the action and in the tenth minute he had one fiercely struck shot ricochet away off Jordan Williams and another fizz inches over, but it was Town who came close to opening the scoring on 20 minutes when Fogg did well beat away a decent attempt from Nabil Shariff.

He then confidently claimed a whipped-in cross from Chris Cox under pressure from Creaney and followed up with a tremendous reflex point blank save from a Creaney header which he deflected onto the bar with Shariff putting the rebound behind.

At the other end long range efforts from Hancocks and Lewis Noon were only routine saves for Etheridge while in between Creaney went close again in the 37th minute with a glancing header from a Will Grocott cross.

Frustratingly for Town it was still all square at half time.but it was not to be goal-less much longer as Town stepped up a gear after the break and only three minutes into the second half Fogg had to plunge to his ;left to push a way a Shariff header.

Bedworth struggled to deal with the loose ball and it eventually fell to Creaney on the edge of the penalty area who thumped it past Fogg to put Town on their way.

The Greenbacks tried to respond and ten minutes later only the woodwork kept Town’s lead intact when Elliott Parrott’s low drive from 20 yards out cannoned against Etheridge’s left hand post with the keeper well beaten.

Town though were now showing a bit more of their quality and doubled their lead on 65 minutes when a Grocott corner from the right was flicked on by Williams and headed in from six yards out by his centre back partner Wilson.

From then Town were in control although substitute Levi Rowley spurned a great chance to pull one back for the Greenbacks with twenty minutes to go when he wriggled his way through only to shoot weakly straight at the advancing Etheridge.

Bedworth’s difficulties were increased when Reece Blackmore was sent off after picking up a second yellow card as the game finished with one or two feisty tackles going in, but for Town it was a job well done.

It may not have been pretty for much of the time but it was the right result and at this stage of the season that is all that matters.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox (Tom Fishwick 84), Cody Fisher, Mo Sebbeh-Njie (James Fry 63), Lewis Wilson, Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skendi, Dan Creaney, Will Grocott (Mike Taylor 75), Kynan Isaac Unused Subs – Robert Singer & Rajan Shergill (GK)

BEDWORTH : James Fogg, Richard Platt, Luke Rowe (c), Elliott Parrott, Ricardo Dudley (Mark Albrighton 73), Tom Sharpe, Chekaine Steele, Reece Blackmore, Lewis Noon (Levi Rowley 66), Alex Troke, James Hancocks.. Unused Subs – Ryan Baldwin, Lewis Collins & Adam Harrison (GK)

Referee    –     Richard Walker

Assistant Referees     –      James Cox & Ashley Davenport

Attendance    –    151

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards        –     Skendi
Bedworth Yellow Cards      –     Blackmore, Dudley, Platt & Troke     Red Card   –   Blackmore

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

23rd MARCH 2019  –  KINGS LYNN TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN FALL TO THE HIGHFLYING LINNETS

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Stratford Town          —         0
Kings Lynn Town       –          2       –      Marriot  3    Gash  87

A single point separated Town and Kings Lynn at kick off but it was the Linnets who came out on top scoring early and late to deservedly win an entertaining clash between these two play off contenders at the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday..

Sticking to the principle of not changing a winning side Thomas Baillie selected the same starting line-up for the third game running. Kynan Isaac was recalled to the subs bench but again there was no place in the squad for Jamie McAteer.

The in-form Linnets arrived having won six of their last eight matches, and made a dream start here as they took the lead in only the third minute when debutant Ross Barrows’ deep cross from the right was flicked on by Michael Gash and turned in from close by their leading scorer Adam Marriott for his 18th league goal of the season.

Town responded with Chris Cox getting forward to make room for a shot which was a comfortable save for the Linnets long serving keeper Alex Street, but the combination of Gash and Marriott was continuing to cause Town plenty of problems and in the tenth minute they were nearly caught out again when Lewis Wilson dwelt on the ball and was dispossessed by Marriott who then fortunately screwed his shot well wide.

Soon after Ryan Jarvis was similarly off target from a Michael Clunan cross followed by Gash helping on a Barrows free kick which had Town keeper Laurence Bilboe moving smartly off his line to make sure that this time he reached it before Marriot.

Town forced a couple of corners both of which were confidently claimed by Street while a teasing cross from Cox had to be headed behind for another corner by Rory McAuley, and from around the half hour mark Town at last began to see more of the ball.

And they should have equalised in the 34th minute when Wilson Carvalho squared the ball across from the left only for Will Grocott to slice his shot disappointingly wide from barely six yards out.

Soon after Albi Skendi threaded the ball through to Nabil Shariff on the right of the penalty area and his rasping effort was superbly kept out by Street at the foot of his left hand post.

But the Linnets were quick to regain their composure, and in the 42nd minute Barrows almost put them two up when he cut in from the right only for his shot to be deflected behind off Bilboe’s legs.

Town made a lively start to the second half with Ryan Fryatt having to be at full stretch to cut out a Cody Fisher cross and Carvalho hitting a crisp right footer which swerved into the side netting.

But it wasn’t long before the Linnets were threatening once more with substitute Ryan Hawkins surging forward from halfway only to finish weakly and then Frazer Blake-Tracey letting fly with a speculative attempt from distance which Bilboe watched all the way as it fizzed inches over.

Clunan also fired over from 25 yards out followed by Bilboe turning behind a well struck effort from Jordan Richards, and with twenty minutes to go Thomas Baillie decided it was time for a change.

Grocott came off to be replaced by Dan Creaney and three minutes after coming on he hit a shot which rebounded off Street straight to Shariff whose low drive was cleared off the line by Fryatt.

Fisher made way for Isaac as Town went all out for a leveller but it was the Linnets who wrapped up the points with a second goal in the 87th minute.

A Richards’ free kick was deflected behind and when Town failed to deal properly with the resulting corner Gash pounced on the loose ball on the edge of the penalty area and drilled it  beyond the diving Bilboe’s left hand into the bottom corner of the net.

There was no way back for Town after that, but depending on results between now and then they may well have to face the Linnets again in the end of season play offs.

They now know how tough a task that might be but they also know that it is not an impossible one.

STRATFORD : Laurence Bilboe, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher (Kynan Isaac 84), Jimmy Fry (c), Lewis Wilson, Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Mo Sebbeh-Njie, Tom Fishwick & Ross Etheridge (GK)

K/LYNN : Alex Street, Ross Barrows, Frazer Blake-Tracy, Ryan Jarvis, Ryan Fryatt, Rory McAuley, Michael Clunan (c), Jordan Richards, Michael Gash, Adam Marriott (Will Mellors-Blair 88), Chris Henderson (Ryan Hawkins 54). Unused Subs – Craig Parker, Harry Limb & Paul Bastock (GK)

Referee     –     Paul Stoner

Assistant Referees       –      Dan Parkes & Alex Ovens

Attendance       –        402

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

   Stratford      K/Lynn
            8 Goal Attempts             15
            4 On Target               6
            0 Blocked Shots               0
            0 Hit Woodwork               0
            4 Corners Won               9
            9 Crosses into Box               6
          13 Fouls Conceded             14
             2 Off Side               2
             2 Yellow Cards               1
            0 Red Cards               0

Stratford Yellow Cards       –      Fry & Williams
K/Lynn Yellow Cards            –      Gash

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

19th MARCH 2019  –  LEISTON  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN’S QUICKFIRE DOUBLE SECURES THE POINTS IN THE FAR EAST

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Leiston                                1      –       Blake  26
Stratford  Town        –       2      –      Carvalho  45 + 3 (pen)    Taylor 46

Town’s 350 mile round trip to the Suffolk coast on Tuesday night turned out to be worth it as two goals in the space of 42 seconds either side of half time propelled them to their third successive win and strengthened their grip on an end of the season play off place.

Their starting line-up was unchanged from Saturday but the subs bench was boosted by the return of Dan Creaney.

Leiston made a bright start and only the woodwork prevented them from talking the lead in the second minute when Kyle Hammond’s corner from the left reached Harry Knights at the far post and his volley cannoned against the bar.

Soon after Hammond surged forward down the inside right channel until he was crowded out on the edge of the penalty area before Stratford put together their first serious attack in the 12th minute only for Will Grocott’s cross to be miscontrolled by Mike Taylor and the chance was gone.

Wilson Carvalho then blasted a free kick in a promising position straight into the Leiston wall, but with Christy Finch being particularly lively on the left Leiston were looking the more dangerous of the two, sides and they went ahead in the 26th minute when Matt Blake latched onto a long ball and coolly slotted it past Laurence Bilboe.

Town tried to respond but a couple of dangerous crosses around the half hour mark from Carvalho and Grocott were well defended by the imposing Leiston central defensive duo of skipper Joe Jefford and Knights.

Leiston were close to doubling their lead ten minutes before half time when Finch hit a fierce effort inches wide but Town were to equalise with last kick of the first half when Nabil Shariff was brought down in the area and Carvalho thumped the penalty past keeper Marcus Garnham with the minimum of fuss.

And just 42 seconds into the second half Town were ahead when Shariff crossed from the right and Taylor expertly directed his header beyond Garnham for his 16th goal of the season.

The woodwork came to their rescue for the second time in the evening barely a minute later when Finch’s shot deflected off Chris Cox onto the post but they were now causing Leiston plenty of problems with Taylor not far away from the edge of the penalty area and Carvalho forcing a smart save from Garnham at the foot of his right hand post.

Blake and Finch were still as threat but as at Coalville at the weekend Thomas Baillie’s side showed that they know how to protect a lead and as Leiston began to fade they almost went two up in the 79th minute when a close range attempt from Shariff looped over Garnham to come back off the bar with Grocott’s shot from the rebound being deflected behind.

Albi Skendi then had a thunderous drive fizz narrowly wide as did Jordan Williams with three minutes to go and when Knights put a header wide from a corner as the game headed into added time Town had three more vital points safely in the bag for their long journey home.

STRATFORD : Laurence Bilboe, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c) (Mo Sebbeh-Njie 77), Lewis Wilson, Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (Dan Creaney 88), Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho (Kai Williams 90 +  3)      Unused Subs – Tom Fishwick & Ross Etheridge (GK)

LEISTON : Marcus Garnham, Kyle Hammond, Seb Dunbar, Noel Atkins, Joe Jefford (c), Harry Knights, Josh Cheetham (Harrison Bacon 70), Matt Rutterford, Matt Blake, Dominic Docherty, Christy (Louie Bloom 82).      Unused Subs – Charlie Canham, Rob Eagle & Joe Porter

Referee       –         Aaron Farmer

Assistant Referees       –         Warren Skoulding & Bradley Mingay

Attendance       –       182

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards      –         Fry & Grocott
Leiston Yellow Cards          –        Atkins & Hammondn

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

16th MARCH 2019  –  COALVILLE TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN’S SECOND HALF COMEBACK KILLS OFF THE RAVENS

Coalville Town      –     1     –     McGlinchey  42
Stratford Town     –     2     –    Grocott  50   Taylor  66

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One down at the break a wild and windy Owen Street on Saturday Town roared back to take all three points from one of their rivals for a play off spot and gain revenge for their defeat by the Ravens at the Arden Garages Stadium in early February.

Tom McGlinchey had fired Coalville into a 42nd minute lead and almost immediately after Kairo Mitchell smashed the ball against the bar. Had that gone in Town would have been two down at half time and as Thomas Baillie admitted afterwards it was the turning point of the game.

Having turned down an approach from Alvechurch during the week Will Grocott showed his commitment to Town by curling in a sumptuous equaliser soon after the restart, and halfway through the second half Mike Taylor ran through to slot home what turned out to be the winner with his first goal since returning from his brief stints at Tamworth and Leamington.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from last weekend’s win against Rushden and Diamonds. As expected Jimmy Fry took over from Ross Oulton while Jamie McAteer was left out as work commitments make him unavailable for the long midweek trip to Leiston.

Thomas Baillie wanted to use the same squad for both games, and so Lewis Wilson dropped back to partner Jordan Williams in the centre of the backline and Nabil Shariff was promoted from the subs bench to take Wilson’s midfield spot.

Kynan Isaac was serving the final match of his suspension while Dan Creaney was ineligible as part of Town’s loan arrangement with the Ravens.

Coalville began kicking down the Owen Street slope and Town were soon under pressure with Andrew Wright dragging his shot wide from a promising position in only the fifth minute and soon after having a better directed effort held by Laurence Bilboe getting down well to his right.

A tricky run down the right by Alex Dean earned the Ravens their first corner in the 16th minute from which Scott McManus got in a header which was only a routine save for Bilboe.

But Town gradually started to make their presence felt with Chris Cox cleverly making room for a fierce left footer in the 22nd minute which was confidently dealt with by the Ravens keeper Richard Walton who had had a spell at Town earlier in the season.

Soon after Walton did well to grasp a teasing left wing cross from Wilson Carvalho as he was challenged by Taylor and on the half hour mark only the woodwork prevented Town taking the lead when another Carvalho cross was headed against the post by Coalville skipper Steve Towers.

Walton then had to plunge to his right to push away a low drive from Albi Skendi before the Ravens finished the first half on the attack. A couple of shots were blocked as Town struggled to get the ball clear and they fell behind three minutes before the break when a corner from the right fell kindly to McGlinchey on the opposite side and he shot past Bilboe with the help of a  deflection off Jordan Williams..

And barely sixty seconds later it was Town’s turn to be saved by the woodwork when Bilboe fumbled a Perry cross and Mitchell thumped the loose ball against the bar with the goal gaping.

But Town stunned the Ravens by equalising five minutes into the second half when Grocoot’s sweetly struck effort from 20 yards out seemed to take Walton by surprise as the ball arrowed past him into the back of the net.

From then on Town always looked the likely winners as Coalville’s confidence seemed to drain away. In an attempt to get back into the game they made a double substitution in the 63rd minute but before that change had had a chance to work Town took the lead.

The Ravens were pushing forward down the right when Cody Fisher hit a long ball down the middle where Taylor judged the bounce better than Kieran Fenton and galloped away to expertly steer the ball past the advancing Walton.

Thomas Baillie’s side are not known for giving games away from winning positions and as Coalville efforts became ever more frantic while the minutes ticked away Town looked increasingly comfortable.

Tom Berridge miscued when fellow substitute Luke Shaw set him up with a decent opening while McManus bent a free kick round the Town wall only for it to be safely held by the well positioned Bilboe.

Mitchell then put a free header wide and Bilboe made another smart save from McGlinchey but as the Ravens ran out of ideas it was Town who went close to extending their lead late on.

Taylor headed against the bar from a Grocott free kick and they then should have had two corners as Taylor had a fierce right footer tipped over by Walton while Skendi surged into the penalty area only for his shot to be deflected behind off Towers.

Inexplicably referee Greg Rollason indicated a goal kick on both occasions, but it was’nt to matter as Town now had everything firmly under control.

Sadly though their afternoon ended on a sour note when substitute Kai Williams was shown a straight red card in added time for a rash challenge on Joe Doyle-Charles, but that couldn’t detract from a thoroughly professional performance and a result which could well have major play off significance at the season’s end.

STRATFORD : Laurence Bilboe., Chris Cox, Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c), Lewis Wilson, Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (Tom Fishwick 90+4), Will Grocott (Mo Sebbeh-Njie 85), Wilson Carvalho (Kai Williams 77) Unused Sub – Ross Etheridge (GK)

COALVILLE : Richard Walton, Kalern Thomas, Scott McManus, Steve Towers (c), Kieren Fenton, Joe Doyle-Charles, Alex Dean (Tim Berridge 63), Andrew Wright (Curtis Burrows 87), Kyle Perry (Luke Shaw 63), Kairo Mitchell, Tom McGlinchey, Unused Subs – Dean Freeman & Ollie Luto

Referee      –        Greg Rollason

Assistant Referees           –          Carl Clinton & Jordan Griffiths

Attendance       –       195

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford       Coalville
           11 Goal Attempts             15
             9 On Target               6
             0 Blocked Shots               2
             2 Hit Woodwork              1
            4 Corners Won              6
            7 Crosses into Box              6
          16 Fouls Conceded              5
             3 Off Side              3
             1 Yellow Cards              0
             1 Red Cards              0

Stratford Yellow Cards       –        Jordan Williams               Red Card      –      Kai Williams
Coalville Yellow Cards       –         None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

9th MARCH 2019  –  RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

SUPERSUB JIMMY FRY IS THE MATCHWINNER AS THE DIAMONDS LOSE THEIR SPARKLE

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Stratford Town                              –        1       –       Fry  75
AFC Rushden & Diamonds        –        0

Town’s usual skipper Jimmy Fry came off the subs bench to hit the winner and send the Diamonds to their first defeat in ten games in a closely fought encounter between these two play off contenders in which clearcut chances were otherwise few and far between.

With the yellow card cut-off date of March 10th Fry had been rested for this one, but had to come on in the 36th minute when Ross Oulton couldn’t continue after picking up a ligament injury which might well rule him out for the rest of the season.

That was one of four changes in Town’s starting line-up from last weekend’s game at Barwell as apart from Fry Dan Creaney also dropped to the subs bench while Kynan Isaac was suspended and Kian Williams was omitted altogether.

Replacing them were Jamie McAteer and the fit again Cody Fisher plus the return of the “old firm” fans favourites of Will Grocott and Mike Taylor.

And it was Taylor who was first to threaten in lonely the fourth minute when his shot was fumbled round the post by Diamonds keeper Ben Heath.

Soon after Town again went close when Lewis Wilson’s volley from a corner was cleared off the line followed by Wilson Carvalho’s sweetly struck shot from 25 yards out being turned away by Heath taking off at full stretch to his left.

Gradually the Diamonds began to work their way into the game with Town keeper Laurence Bilboe comfortably holding a long range drive from Sam Johnson and then being in the right place to deal with Ben Diamond’s header from a Declan Rogers free kick.

But it was Town who went closest to opening the scoring on the half hour mark when Taylor latched onto a through ball down the inside left channel to hit a thunderous right footer which was spectacularly tipped over by Heath.

And it was almost immediately after that when Oulton went off and Fry came on instead..

Town were having the better of the possession and Grocott was next to threaten with a strong run from halfway five minutes before the break only to delay his shot and be robbed by a perfectly timed tackle from the imposing Diamonds skipper Liam Dolman.

Town kept up the pressure in the closing minutes of the half but the Diamonds defence held on and the interval was reached with the game still goal-less.

Seven minutes into the second half the Diamonds had a real let-off when Chris Cox’s swinging cross from the right looped over Heath and cannoned against the underside of the bar without crossing the line, but by now both defences were firmly in control and neither keeper was seriously troubled until Town at last broke the deadlock in the 75th minute.

A loose Diamonds clearance was seized on by Fry 25 yards out and he drilled the ball into the bottom corner past the diving Heath’s left hand for Town’s first goal in four games.

Diamonds piled forward in search of an equaliser but Town missed a great chance to go two up with eight minutes to go when Carvalho threaded the ball to Grocott only for Heath to move smartly off his line to make a vital block at point blank range.

That could have been costly as in added time the Diamonds had a frantic penalty appeal for handball turned down and their frustration of their supporters at that decision was still simmering when the sound of final whistle barely sixty seconds later meant that Town had seen the game out for a crucial win in their hunt for an end of the season play off place.

STRATFORD : Laurence Bilboe, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher, Ross Oulton (c) (Jimmy Fry 36) , Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott (Dan Creaney 87), Wilson Carvalho (Nabil Shariff 90). Unused Subs – Kai Williams & Ross Etheridge (GK)

RUSHDEN : Ben Heath, Zac Reynolds (Ben Farrell 76), Jack Ashton (Sam Brown 82), Jack Westbrook, Liam Dolman (c), Alex Collard, Sam Johnson, Declan Rogers (Jack Bowen 82), Tom Lorraine, Ben Diamond, Nathan Hicks. Unused Sub – Joe Curtis

Referee     –      Richard Cattell

Assistant Referees      –      James Howe & James Clements

Attendance      –       449

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards      –      None
Rushden Yellow Cards       –      Westbrook

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

2nd MARCH 2019  –  BARWELL  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOOTHLESS TOWN DRAW ANOTHER BLANK

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Barwell                    –       0
Stratford Town    –       0

Town’s dismal run of form showed no sign of ending anytime soon as they  stuttered to a drab no-score draw at Barwell’s UK Flooring Direct Stadium on Saturday failing to find the back of the net for the third game running and for the fifth time in their last six outings.

Just as at Hitchin last week only the woodwork prevented Kynan Isaac firing Town into a first half lead, but that apart they never really thretened and with Barwell equally ineffective up front there was little entertainment or excitement  on offerfor the long suffering supporters of either side

Thomas Baillie again rang the changes after last week’s setback at Hitchin with Albi Skendi slotting in alongside Jordan Williams in the centre of Town’s backline with Wilson Carvalho and Kian Williams coming into midfield as the Town boss reverted to the more usual 4-2-3-1 formation all of which meant that Jamie McAteer and Nabil Shariff dropped to the subs bench where they were joined by the returning Mike Taylor.

Kicking off down the Kirby Road and with the wind also in their favour Town made an encouraging start with Dan Creaney having an early header from a Ross Oulton free kick easily held by Barwell’s long serving keeper Liam Castle.

Oulton was typically making his presence felt in midfield and with Kian Williams and Carvalho both catching the eye Town were certainly having most of the possession.

And on 19 minutes it was luckless Isaac’s turn to be frustrated by the woodwork for the second week in a row as he seized on a mistake by Elliott Percival to stride forward and hit a low drive which cannoned against Castle’s right hand post with the keeper well beaten.

Barwell responded with Danny Durkin having a decent attempt confidently dealt with by Town keeper Laurence Bilboe followed by Creaney shooting over for Town before Barwell twice went close in the closing minute of the half.

Firstly a Jamie Towers free kick from out on the right somehow fizzed through the congested penalty area with no-one getting a touch as it slid inches wide of the far post and right on half time Bilboe made another smart stop from a well struck effort by Jake Whitmore.

Castle did well to punch away another Oulton free kick soon after the restart but Town were struggling to fashion a cleacut opening, and in an effort to boost their threat up front Thomas BaiIlie introduced Taylor on the hour mark followed by Shariff ten minutes later.

But the changes made little impact, and in between Town had a real let-off when Alex Tomkinson’s free kick floated over Bilboe into the back of the net only for referee Stuart Richardson to rule it out for a foul on the keeper as he tried unsuccessfully to reach it.

it was a decision that left Barwell feeling aggrieved and Town relieved.

And as the minutes ticked by Town became even more urgent and at the same time even more sloppy with the ball being given away too easily too many times yet surprisingly Will Grocott remained an unused substitute with  his creativity not being  called on to try to carve out the one opportunity which would surely have been decisive.

Carvalho had a shot blocked and Chris Cox whipped over a cross which sailed beyond Taylor but with the commanding Brad Gascoigne mopping up everything in the middle of the Barwell defence a Town moment of magic let alone a shot on target never looked likely and an undistinguished afternoon drifted away to the goal-less draw which had seemed a certainty from a long way out.

STRATFORD : Laurence Bilboe, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac (Nabil Shariff 72), James Fry (c), Lewis Wilson, Jordan Williams,, Ross Oulton, Albi Skemdi, Kian Williams (Mike Taylor 60), Dan Creaney, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Will Grocott, Jamie McAteer & Ross Etheridge (GK)

BARWELL : Liam Castle, Elliott Percival, Eliot Putman, Henry Eze, Brad Gascoigne, Nigel Julien (c), Jamie Towers, Jake Whitmore (Dominic Brownhill 82), Danny Durkin (Kurtis Revan 68), Lee Hildreth, Alex Tomkinson (Brady Hickey 73), Unused Subs – Eddy Nisevic & Aiden Print

Referee       –     Stuart Richardson

Assistant Referees       –     Christopher Hunter & Thomas Hales

Attendance        –      203

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford      Barwell
            9 Goal Attempts             7
            2 On Target             3
           0 Blocked Shots             0
           1 Hit Woodwork             0
           3 Corners Won             5
          12 Crosses into Box             8
          14 Fouls Conceded           10
             2 Off Side             5
            4 Yellow Cards             2
            0 Red Cards            0

Stratford Yellow Cards       –     Isaac, Oulton, Skendi & J Williams
Barwell Yellow Cards          –      Eze & Julien

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

23rd FEBRUARY  –  HITCHIN TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

MORE FEBRUARY WOES FOR TOWN AS THE CANARIES FLY OFF WITH THE POINTS

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Hitchin Town        –       2     –      Galliford  63    Forde  81
Stratford Town    –       0

Two second half strikes propelled Hitchin to a comfortable success at a sunny Top Field on Saturday leaving Thomas Baillie to reflect on a miserable February which has seen Town muster only four points from five matches and score just two goals along the way.

The in-form Canaries have now won five of their last six to pull away from the wrong end of the table while Town seldom offered any threat apart from right on half time when a Kynan Isaac shot rattled the bar.

Thomas Baillie had promised changes after the midweek setback at Rushden and the first was in goal where Laurence Bilboe who is on a month’s loan from Rotherham United came in for Ross Etheridge to become the sixth keeper used by Town this season and the 48th player in all.

Elsewhere Jamie McAteer and Jordan Williams returned after suspension and were joined in the backline by Lewis Wilson while Nabil Shariff partnered Dan Creaney up front in a 3-5-2 formation all of which meant that Will Grocott and Wilson Carvalho dropped to the subs bench.

The Canaries team included Harry Draper who made a solitary Town appearance as an 87th minute substitute against Bedworth back in September.

Hitchin were soon pushing forward with Bilboe doing well to deal with useful efforts from both Draper and Michael Cain in the opening quarter of an hour followed by Cain shooting straight at Bilboe maybe he should have done better.

On 20 minutes a neat exchange of passes between Alfie Cue and Draper sent Draper clear down the left and his low cross flashed across the face of Town’s goal with no Canary able to apply the finishing touch, and soon after Bilboe needed two attempts to hold a low drive from Isaac Galliford.

In a rare Town attack Nabil Shariff forced a decent save out of Hitchin keeper Michael Johnson but it was the Canaries who were creating all the chances with McAteer having to clear off the line from Cue after Morgan Penfold’s original shot had also been blocked.

But having been under pressure for most of the first half only the woodwork prevented Town from taking the lead right on half time when a quickly taken free kick caught Hitchin out and Isaac cut in from the left to smash a shot against the underside of the bar with the loose ball ricocheting away to safety.

Chris Cox worked a shooting chance soon after the restart with Johnson held on to getting down well to his right before normal service was resumed with Hitchin bossing the possession once more.

And on 63 minutes they deservedly went ahead with the same piece of woodwork involved that had kept out Isaac’s earlier effort. Cue’s long throw-in from the right was flicked on by Draper to reach Galliford and his fiercely struck shot cannoned against virtually the identical spot as Isaac’s with the linesman immediately signalling that this time it had bounced down over the line.

Hitchin then missed a great chance to double their lead a couple of minutes later when Cue burst through the middle only to drag his shot wide as Bilboe advanced to challenge.

Bilboe then came out best in a one-on-one with substitute Ezra Forde with fellow substitute Jay Dowie hitting the follow-up[ inches wide before the Canaries wrapped up the points on 81 minutes when the busy Galliford’s shot again came back off Bilboe and Forde drilled the rebound into the bottom corner.

Carvalho wasn’t far away with a 25 yard free kick as the game headed towards added time but Town were second best all afternoon, and the fact that the players didn’t emerge from the dressing room until nearly an hour after the final whistle following a lengthy debrief says it all.

STRATFORD : Laurence Bilboe, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac (Kian Williams 68), James Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams,, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skemdi, Dan Creaney, Ross Oulton (Will Grocott 73), Nabil Shariff (Wilson Carvalho 57). Unused Subs – Tom Fishwick & Ross Etheridge (GK)

HITCHIN : Michael Johnson, Jack Green, Noah Chesmain, Josh Bickerstaff, Dan Webb (c), Lewis Ferrell, Michael Cain, Harry Draper, Morgan Penfold (Ezra Forde 64), Isaac Galliford, Alfie Cue (Jay Dowie 68). Unused Subs – Max Ryan, Edwin Mensah & Scott Belgrove

Referee    –      S Bates

Assistant Referees      –     M Mitchell & M Hopton

Attendance       –      467

Match Stats by Chris Simpson

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

Stratford Yellow Cards     –      Cox, Isaac, Oulton & Skendi
Hitchin Yellow Cards         –       Draper & Webb

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

19th FEBRUARY 2019  –  AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

THE DIAMONDS SPARKLE TOO BRIGHTLY FOR TOWN

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AFC Rushden & Diamonds    –    2    –   Dolman 59  Johnson  69
Stratford Town                          –    0

Town slipped to their second defeat in three games as the Diamonds turned in a sparkling second half performance at the Hayden Road Sports Centre on Tuesday evening.

The first half had ended goal-less but playing down the slope they know so well the Diamonds were a different proposition after the break and two well taken goals secured the win which moves them to within three points of Town in the race for the play off places.

Wilson Carvalho, Jimmy Fry and Lewis Wilson all returned to Town’s starting line-up for this one replacing the injured Cody Fisher and the suspended duo of Jamie McAteer and Jordan Williams.

Wilson and Albi Skendi had the unenviable task of taking over from McAteer and Williams in the centre of Town’s backline while Kynan Isaac moved to left back as he did when Fisher went off on Saturday.

So Town had the supposed advantage of kicking down the slope in the first half and made an encouraging start with Chris Cox having an early shot blocked but they had a let-off in the 15th minute when the Diamonds won their first corner.

Ross Etheridge came to collect it but failed to do so and after a bit of a scramble it was eventually cleared by Wilson.

Ross Oulton playing against his former club was then yellow carded for bringing down Sam Johnson 30 yards out but Declan Rogers could only slam the free kick straight into the well positioned Town wall.

The Diamonds were looking sharp going forward and their leading scorer Tom Lorraine had a header comfortably held by Etheridge while at the other end Nabil Shariff wasn’t far away with a glancing header from a Will Grocott cross.

And it was Shariff who went close to opening the scoring five minutes before half time when his shot on the turn in a congested penalty area was pushed away by Diamonds keeper Ben Heath getting down well to his left.

But with the Hayden Road slope now in their favour the Diamonds were soon on the attack after the restart.

A surging run from halfway by Johnson set up a chance for Lorraine but the danger was snuffed out by a perfectly timed Cox tackle followed soon after by Etheridge turning behind a fierce effort from Nathan Hicks at the foot of his right hand post.

And the Diamonds pressure told in the 59th minute when Etheridge pushed out a close range header from Ben Diamond only for Diamonds skipper Liam Dolman to pounce on the loose ball and blast it into the net.

With Diamonds now piling forward Etheridge needed two attempts to deal with a fierce right foot drive from Diamond and ten minutes later they doubled their lead when a long ball over the top of everyone sent Johnson racing clear to thump it past the advancing Town keeper.

Town tried hard to get back into the game with Thomas Baillie sending on Kian Williams in place of Fry but with Dan Creaney being well policed by the Diamonds defence there were few really clearcut chances. .

Shariff had a looping header land on the roof of the net and Williams went close with a decent effort, but the closest they came to pulling a goal back was a Carvalho free kick which was spectacularly palmed over by Heath with two minutes to go.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, James Fry (c) (Kian Williams 73), Ross Oulton, Leweis Wilson, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skemdi, Dan Creaney, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Tom Fishwick, Kai Williams, Mo Sebbeh-Njie & Rajan Shergill (GK)

RUSHDEN : Ben Heath, Zack Reynolds, Jack Ashton, Jack Westbrook, Liam Dolman (c), Alexander Collard, Sam Johnson (Ben Farrell 82), Declan Rogers (Jack bowen 86), Tom Lorraine, Ben Diamond, Nathan Hicks.. Unused Subs – John Dean, Benjamin Acquaye & Sam Brown

Referee       –       Olly Mackey

Assistant Referees      –      Karl Donaghey & David Jarrett

Attendance      –     399

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards     –       Oulton & Creraney
Rushden Yellow Cards      –       None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

16th FEBRUARY 2019  –  HALESOWEN TOWN  – HOME  –  LEAGUE

CREANEY’S IMPACT IS INSTANT

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Stratford Town       –   2    –     Creaney  18   Cox  77
Halesowen Town   –   1    –     Mendez-Jones  64

Described by Town boss Thomas Baillie as a player he has been chasing for months Dan Creaney showed exactly why with a Man of the Match performance as Town edged out a spirited Halesowen side to maintain their grip on third spot in the Premier Division table.

Joining Town on loan from play off rivals Coalville just 24 hours earlier Creaney’s debut could hardly have gone any better as he scored the first and made the second to become an immediate favourite with the Arden Garages Stadium faithful.

Apart from the inclusion of Creaney there were two other changes to Town’s starting line-up following the midweek disappointment against Coalville when Creaney wasn’t in their matchday squad at all.

Ross Oulton came in for Jimmy Fry and took over the captain’s armband as well while Cody Fisher slotted in at left back which allowed Kynan Isaac to move further forward on the left.

Joining Fry on the subs bench were Lewis Wilson and Wilson Carvalho.

The Halesowen team was almost totally changed from the reverse fixture back in December with Jack Kelly being the only survivor from their starting line-up then who also started here.

On their subs bench was the ex-West Brom and Coventry City striker Lee Hughes.

Both sides made a cautious start although Creaney was already looking lively up front for Town as was Halesowen’s Jack Till who has recently switched to the Yeltz from Lye town.

Halesowen had probably enjoyed the better of the early possession but it was Town who went ahead in the 18th minute. Ross Oulton began the move as he swept the ball out to Isaac on the left and his low cross was turned in by Creaney from six yards out.

Going behind seemed to deflate the Yeltz and Town created another decent opening ten minutes later when Albi Skendi and Will Grocott combined to set up a shooting chance for Oulton who miscued his effort well off target.

A Halesowen free kick on the half hour mark taken by Joe Fitzpatrick was confidently collected by Town keeper Ross Etheridge followed almost immediately at the other end by Yeltz keeper Dan Platt dealing similarly with a Grocott free kick

Another Fitzpatrick free kick from wide on the left reached Sam Griffiths at the far post but he headed straight Etheridge before Town finished the first half with a bit of a flourish.

On 38 minutes Isaac cut in from the left only to his shot to be turned away by the advancing Platt while right on half time Creaney was inches away with a volley from a Chris Cox cross.

But just before Creaney’s effort Town had suffered a blow when Fisher sustained a nasty ankle injury and had to be helped off which meant that Isaac had to revert to left back with Kian Williams coming on in midfield.

The Yeltz made a double substitution at the restart and looked to take the game to Town with Till not far away from distance, but Town should have gone two up in the 53rd minute when Grocott threaded the ball through to Kian Williams who under pressure from a couple of defenders could only shoot tamely straight at Platt.

And a minute later Town lost another player to injury when Oulton limped off to be replaced by Mo Sebbeh-Njie who was making his second Town appearance.

Then shortly after it was the Yeltz’s turn to have to reshuffle after injury when their skipper Jack Rea couldn’t continue and Tyler Weir took over instead.

Creaney was continuing to impress and in the 62nd minute he latched on to a pass from Skendi to let fly with a thunderous effort which Platt was just about able to beat away.

But on 64 minutes the Yeltz were right back in the game Kelly floated over a corner from the right which Etheridge came to collect but failed to do so allowing Callum Mendez-Jones to head into the empty net.

Soon after Callum Coyle had a fierce effort blocked by Etheridge followed by Till firing narrowly wide while at the other end an Isaac cross-shot was shovelled away by Platt before Town hit what proved to be the winner with a quarter of an hour to go.

Inevitably Creaney was involved but the original chance seemed to have gone when he was forced wide to the left of the goal only to turn and lift the ball back across to the far post where Cox had the simple task of heading in from a couple of yards out.

There was no way back for Halesowen after that and Town could have added a third but Nabil Shariff was crowded out as he worked his way in from the right and with the game heading towards added time Carvalho – who had come on for Grocott – had a well struck effort turned behind by Platt.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Ross Oulton (c) (Mo Sebbeh-Njie 54), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Dan Creaney, Albi Skendi, Nabil Shariff, Will Grocott,(Wilson Carvalho 75), Cody Fisher (Kian Williams 45). Unused Subs – Jimmy Fry & Lewis Wilson

HALESOWEN : Dan Platt, Matthias Curley (Aaron Gilpin 46), Jack Kelly, Callum Mendez-Jones, Kieran Morris, Sam Griffiths, Jack Rea (c) (Tyler Weir 60), Joe Fitzpatrick (Callum Coyle 46), Andre Wright, Jack Till, William Murphy. Unused Subs – Lee Hughes & Enock Ekongo

Referee     –     Bradley Hall

Assistant Referees      –     Kurt Bartlett & Joe Clarke

Attendance    –    353

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards           –     Skendi
Halesowen Yellow Cards      –      Mendez-Jones &Till

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

12th FEBRUARY 2019  –  COALVILLE TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TWO COALVILLE STRIKES PLUS TWO RED CARDS WEQUALS A MISERABLE NIGHT FOR TOWN

Stratford Town     –     0
Coalville Town       –    2      –      Towers  59    Wright  85

It was painful watching for home fans at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening as a well drilled Coalville side enhanced their own play off hopes while at the same time denting Town’s with two second half goals propelling them to an ultimately well deserved success.

And to add to Town’s woes their two central defenders Jamie McAteer and Jordan Williams who have been the backbone of their team all season were both sent off late on after each picked up two yellow cards.

After being the same for the last four matches Town’s starting line-up showed one change this time with Will Grocott coming in for Ross Oulton while there was a new face on the subs bench in Kai Williams who has latterly been at Coventry United.

The Coalville team included keeper Richard Walton who had made 13 appearances for Town earlier in the season.

Coalville were first to threaten with Tom McGlinchey cutting in from the left to make room for a shot which he then screwed well wide while at the other end a Grocott free kick from out wide on the left fizzed through a congested penalty area without anyone getting a touch as Walton watched on anxiously.

But it was only the woodwork which prevented the Ravens from taking the lead in the 10th minute when a fiercely hit right footer from Joe Doyle-Charles cannoned against Ross Etheridge’s left hand post before being cleared.

Town had another escape five minutes later when Kieren Fenton overlapped down the left to whip in a cross which flew just beyond Kairo Mitchell who finished up in the net as he tried desperately to reach it.

The game was being played at a generous pace and after Wilson Carvalho had been unceremoniously floored by Alex Dean the resulting free kick offered Town a chance only for Grocott to hit it harmlessly over.

Dean was the first player to be booked for another over zealous challenge soon after followed by McGlinchey a few minutes later as Town enjoyed a decent little spell around the half hour mark.

And it was only a stunning save from Walton which kept the scores level on 35 minutes when he took off to his right to turn a thunderous effort from Albi Skendi round the post.

McGlinchey was then not far away with a long range attempt but half time arrived with the game still goalless.

A surging run down the right from Chris  Cox set up the first chance after the break but Nabil Shariff volleyed over from inside the six yard box, and instead it was the Ravens who took the lead in the 59th minute.

McAteer’s lunge on Mitchell led to a booking for the defender and when Andrew Wright’s free kick into the Town penalty area wasn’t properly dealt with Steve Towers pounced on the loose ball to thump it past Etheridge.

Town now had a real job on their hands to get back into the game as Coalville looked ominously composed at the back while Town didn’t seem to possess the guile to break them down.

Jordan Williams collected a yellow card for a foul on Wright as Town became increasingly frustrated and realising that something different was needed Thomas Baillie sent on Kian Williams to replace Jimmy Fry.

And the change almost produced an immediate dividend with Williams’ cross from the right reaching Carvalho at the far post with his well struck shot only being kept out by Walton’s outstretched left leg.

But Town’s evening took a turn for the worse shortly after when McAteer brought down Mitchell as the Ravens striker attempted to go clear down the middle and a second yellow saw the Town defender trudge disconsolately off.

There was no way back for Town after that and the Ravens wrapped up the points with five minutes to go when Wright worked his way in from the left to fire past Etheridge into the far corner.

But still Town’s miseries weren’t over as Jordan Williams’ rash challenge on Kyle Perry saw him emulate McAteer with a second yellow followed by the inevitable red.

And it could have got even worse as deep into added time Curtis Burrows somehow failed to make the scoreline 3-0 as he shot wide when Wright’s pass found him unmarked virtually on the penalty spot with only Etheridge to beat.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c) (Kian Williams 72), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Nabil Shariff, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho (Kai Williams 86) Unused Subs – Ross Oulton, Mo Sebbeh-Njie & Cody Fisher

COALVILLE : Richard Walton, Alex Dean, Kieren Fenton, Steve Towers (c), Dean Freeman, Joe Doyle-Charles, Luke Shaw (Curtis Burrows 79), Andrew Wright, Kairo Mitchell (Tolani Omotola 86), Tom McGlinchey, Tim Berridge (Kyle Perry 61). Unused Sub – Matt Coton (GK)

Referee         –        Daniel Robinson

Assistant Referees      –      Scott Hamilton & Spencer McNaught

Attendance      –     221

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards       –     Cox, McAteer & J Williams     Red Cards   –    McAteer & J Williams
Coalville Yellow Cards        –      Dean & McGlinchey

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

2nd FEBRUARY 2019  –  ST IVES TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN AND THE SAINTS SLUG OUT AT STALEMATE

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Stratford Town     –     0
St Ives Town          –      0

This match only went ahead after two pitch inspections, and with Town and St Ives boasting two of the best defensive records in the Premier Division Central it was always likely to be a tight affair.

And it turned out to be exactly that with both sides cancelling each other out throughout an attritional 90 minutes. The Saints probably had the better chances and would have been the happier at the final whistle, but the reality was that neither team ever looked likely to score when one goal would surely have been enough to take the points.

Town’s starting line-up was unchanged for the fourth successive game while the subs bench was the same as at Redditch a week ago except for the absence of Kian Williams.

Taona Sundire had an early chance for the Saints but in a sign of what was to come could only head weakly at Ross Etheridge from Oliver Snaith’s cross.

Andrew Osei-Bonsu then volleyed wildly over in the tenth minute but did better shortly after when he worked his way in from the left to pull the ball back to George Bailey only for Jordan Williams to react quickly enough to snuff out the danger.

Town’s first serious attack didn’t arrive until the 15th minute when Kynan Isaac’s cross from the left wasn’t dealt with properly by the Saints defence with the intended clearance falling to Ross Oulton who fired wide from just outside the penalty area.

In an undistinguished first half it was the Saints who threatened next but Danny Kelly shot straight at Etheridge from ten yards out after Ben Toseland’s left wing cross found him unmarked at the far post.

Osei-Bonsu was at least looking lively with a couple of promising runs before being crowded out by the as always impressive combination of Williams and Jamie McAteer while four minutes before the break Bailey volleyed over from a Ben Baker cross before the half ended with Wilson Carvalho drilling a free kick inches wide.

Five minutes into the second half the Saints wasted the best chance of the afternoon so far when Snaith’s cross from the right reached Bailey eight yards out with the time and space to pick his spot but his tame finish was an easy save for Etheridge.

Jimmy Fry then intercepted a loose Saints clearance to thread the ball through to Nabil Shariff whose shot on the turn rebounded away off Charlie De’ath.

And it was Town who almost took the lead on 63 minutes when Oulton’s long range effort took a deflection and cannoned against the bar with Saints keeper Martin Conway well beaten.

But by now the crowd were growing restless as the play got more and more bogged down in midfield. Will Grocott came on for Oulton but disappointingly hit a free kick from a promising position well over while at the other end a foray down the left by Snaith was halted by a trademark perfectly timed tackle from McAteer.

With ten minutes to go the persistent Osei-Bonsu had a well struck right footer well held by Etheridge before Town had their best chance to win the game when Shariff found himself one-on-one with Conway only for the Saints keeper to beat way his shot at point blank range.

So at the end neither side could find a way through. Defences had been on top all afternoon and the eventual no-score draw had looked inevitable from some way out.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Nabil Shariff, Ross Oulton (Will Grocott 64), Wilson Carvalho (Dan Preston 82) Unused Subs – Cody Fisher & James Behan (GK)

ST IVES : Martin Conway, Mark Coulson, Ben Toseland, Taona Sundire, Charlie De’ath, Danny Kelly, George Bailey (Jake Newman 72), Robert Parker (c), Andrew Osei-Bonsu, Oliver Snaith, Ben Baker (Ben Seymour-Shove 72). Unused Subs – Owen Wallis, Jarvis Wilson & Jordan Patrick

Referee    –     Neil Pratt

Assistant Referees       –     James Clator & Thomas Palmer

Attendance      –    285

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards   –    Skendi
St Ives Yellow Cards        –     Coulson

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

26th JANUARY 2019  –  REDDITCH UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

WILSON STRIKES AS TOWN DOUBLE UP OVER THE REDS

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Redditch United      –         0
Stratford Town        –         1      –      Wilson  71

A moment of magic from Man of the Match Ross Oulton in the 71st minute of an otherwise drab encounter at a grey and wet Trico Stadium provided Lewis Wilson with the opportunity to fire in the only goal of the game as Town completed the seasonal double over the Reds and reinforced their grip on third spot in the Premier division Central table.

Town’s starting line-up was unchanged for the third successive game but Will Grocott was fit again after missing the Alvechurch game in midweek and replaced Felipe Barcelos on the subs bench.

Both teams made a cautious start, with the first serious goal attempt not arriving until the 12th minute when the Reds Will Davidson headed narrowly over from a Robbie Bunn corner followed soon after by Danico Johnson setting up a chance for Bunn whose shot took a deflection on its way through to Ross Etheridge.

But a couple of minutes later Town thought they had taken the lead when Nabil Shariff netted from a Kynan Isaac cross only for it to be ruled out for what must have been a marginal offside decision.

A moment of confusion in the Town backline then almost let in Johnson but the danger was snuffed out by a perfectly timed tackle from Jordan Williams before Thomas Baillie’s side had a real let-off on 22 minutes when Michael Nelson crashed the ball against the underside of the bar from 12 yards out.

Nelson had another go on the half hour mark when his fiercely struck long range effort was blocked by Williams as the Reds continued to look the more threatening of the two teams, but five minutes before the break Town had the best opportunity yet to open the scoring only for Albi Skendi to head wide from an Oulton cross.

Town were much more positive from the start of the second half and were offered a chance when referee Steve Durnall played “advantage” after Chris Cox had been fouled on the right touchline. Shariff was allowed to surge into the penalty area but his cross-cum-shot flashed across the face of the goal with no-one near enough to apply the finishing touch.

When play switched to the other end another Nelson thunderbolt from distance flew into the side netting before Town at last put a decent move together in the 62nd minute when Oulton exchanged passes with Skendi only to hit his shot straight at the Reds keeper Reece Francis.

And on 71 minutes Oulton produced that extra bit of quality that won the game.
Shariff picked up the ball on the right and slipped it to Cox whose cross was expertly controlled on his chest by Oulton who then took a couple of strides into the penalty area before laying it off to Wilson who drilled it past Francis from inside the six yard box..

With ten minutes to go there was a flashpoint when Lewis Wright launched into a rash challenge on Oulton which led to a scrimmage involving near enough everyone and when the referee had sorted it all out there was a red card for Wright and yellows for Isaac and Richard Batchelor.

When play restarted Bunn let fly with a decent attempt from the right which was well held by Etheridge but Town almost went two up with four minutes left when Skendi’s shot was beaten away by Francis and Wilson Carvalho blasted the loose ball well over.

A late header from Johnson was grabbed on the line by Etheridge but that was the Reds’ final chance as Town’s second half performance saw them through to their fourth win in their last five League games and their fifth clean sheet in the last eight.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Nabil Shariff, Ross Oulton (Dan Preston 80), Wilson Carvalho (Kian Williams 88) Unused Subs – Will Grocott, Cody Fisher & James Behan (GK)

REDDITCH : Reece Francis, Jamie Ashmore, Lewis Wright, Harry Franklin, Will Davidson, Rob Evans (c), Michael Nelson (Jack Downing 70), Robbie Bunn, Danico Johnson, George Washbourne (Shaquilla Leachman-Whittingham 63), Richard Batchelor Unused Subs – Sam Tye, David Reynolds & Leam Howards

Referee      –      Steve Durnall

Assistant Referees      –         James Clements & Alex Harris

Attendance   –     352

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards      –     Isaac
Redditch Yellow Cards      –     Batchelor                     Red Card     –     Wright

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

22nd  JANUARY 2019   –  ALVECHURCH  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN HONOURS EVEN WITH THE CHURCHMEN      

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Chris Cox celebrates whilst the Alvechurch defence hail a taxi.

                                                                                                                                                                                           Alvechurch    –           2         –       Nabi  41    Chilton  72
Stratford Town    –           2         –       Cox  67      Fry 82

With this being the 6th time these two sides have met this season, this was the game to see who had the bragging rights, but with the game ending in a draw, at Lye Meadow, it was honours shared, with both sides having two wins and two games drawn.

The point from this game puts Stratford in third place in the Southern League Premier Central Division, and since Thomas Baillie took charge, he has now secured 34 points from 48 in 16 League games.

Stratford’s starting line-up was the same as for the convincing win over Needham Market, and only one change on the bench with James Behan coming in, with Will Grocott, unavailable due to illness. However it was a game of two halves, with Alvechurch dominating the first half and Stratford the second.

The Churchmen were kicking down the slope, and they had their first chance in the 5th minute when a shot from Josh March, who scored both goals in the two 1-0 wins over Stratford, was deflected wide for a corner, which was cleared by the Town rear guard.

It was the home side going forward and creating the chances, March had a strike blocked, and in the 12th minute Stratford had a let off, when Mitch Botfield saw his effort take a deflection and hit the post and Ross Etheridge smothered the ball to safety for a corner.

The only response that Town had during the first period, came in the 29th minute when Wilson Carvalho took a free kick from just outside the area which was punched out by the Churchmen’s stopper Dan Crane, which hit Nabil Shariff and fortunately for the home side went just wide of the post.

It was the home side having all of the meaningful possession, but they failed to capitalise, as they were kept at bay by some stout Town defending. Alvechurch went close to opening the scoring in the 19th minute when Rahis Nabi curled a free kick in from the left and Botfield glanced a header just wide of the far post with the keeper beaten.

Alvechurch finally broke the deadlock in the 41st minute, when Town conceded a free kick some 30yds out and Rahis Nabi duly obliged and drilled the ball inside the post to beat the despairing dive of keeper Etheridge. The home side went in at the break 1 up but were probably thinking it should have been more.

Town got off to a quick start in the second half. Lewis Wilson blazed over from ten yards out from Wilson Carvalho cross when he should have hit the target, and his free kick in the 57th minute was saved by Crane at the foot of the post. and another effort from Wilson was deflected wide.

A weak effort from Shariff was an easy save for Crane, but in the 67th minute Town equalised, when Ross Oulton curled a free kick into the area and Chris Cox rose to glance a header into the roof of the net to restore parity.

However the Churchmen went back in front 5 minutes later with their only goal attempt of the half, when Lee Chilton had an easy tap in from Aaron Lloyd’s low cross.

Town pressed forward to get back on level terms, and were rewarded 8 minutes from time, when Kynan Isaac made a penetrating run down the inside right channel and slipped the ball through to skipper James Fry who drilled a low shot past Crane into the bottom corner from 15yds.

Town looked for a winning goal, but Isaac fired over from a good position with 6 minutes left. In the 4 minutes of stoppage time Cox was just too high with a header from a Fry free kick and with time running out Shariff had a good strike which was well saved by Crane.

So overall, both sides could have won it, and both sides could have lost it, so I suppose a draw was a fair outcome, so we move on and it is another short trip on Saturday to the Valley Stadium to take on Redditch United.

Town   Etheridge, Cox, Isaac, Fry, Williams, McAteer, Wilson, Skendi, Shariff, Oulton,(79 Fisher) Carvalho,(72Barcelos)   Sub Not Used Behan, Williams K, Preston.

Alvechurch   Crane, Ezewele, Foster, Turton, Morrison k, Carter, Nabi, Cook,(65 Lloyd) Narch, Botfield,(77 Llewellyn) Chilton, (90 Williams)    Sub Not Used Landell, Morrison T.

Referee      –          S Tallis

Assistant Referees       –      J Clarke, and Fennelly

Attendance          –         160

Town Man of the Match   –     Kynan Isaac

Match Stats

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

Stratford Yellow Cards      –      Isaac

Alvechurch Yellow Cards   –     None

Match Report and  Stats by Rod Abrahams

 

 

 

19th JANUARY 2019  –  NEEDHAM MARKET  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOP CLASS TOWN ARE TOO GOOD FOR THE MARKETMEN

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Stratford Town          –     3    –    Shariff (2)  40 & 56   J Williams 45
Needham Market      –     1    –    Marsden  78 (pen)

Toown turned in arguably their most complete performance of the season at the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday running out thoroughly deserving winners over fellow play-off contenders Needham Market.

The Marketmen had been the first team to defeat Town under Thomas Baillie’s leadership back in November on an afternoon which the Town boss freely admits still gives him nightmares, but Town took their revenge in some style here going in at half time two up and adding a third goal to kill the game off soon after the restart.

Chris Cox was fully fit again and returned at right back in place of Dan Summerfield who dropped out of the squad altogether while in the other change from the midweek win over Hitchin Ross Oulton was preferred in midfield to Will Grocott.

And Town almost got off to the perfect start as they went close to taking the lead in only the second minute when Wilson Carvalho’s low drive was pushed out by Needham keeper Jake Jessup who then recovered quickly enough to block Lewis Wilson’s attempt from the follow up.

Albi Skendi was soon making his presence with his strength on the ball and his eye for a pass as was Cox which his trademark surges forward down the right touchline one of which released Wilson whose looping cross drifted behind.

But the Marketmen had a great chance to open scoring themselves in the 12th minute when Jamie Griffiths was allowed a free header from a corner which he wastefully put wide.

Their leading scorer Joe Marsden wasn’t far away from 20 yards out soon after but Town were having the better of the possession and on 20 minutes Oulton had a well struck right footer fizz inches the wrong side of Jessup’s right hand post after the Needham defence had struggled to clear a Cox cross.

Even so it was Town keeper Ross Etheridge who kept the scores level on the 25 minute mark when he got down well to his left to turn behind a fierce effort from Reece Dobson.

Town though continued to impress going forward with Jessup holding a low Carvalho cross under pressure from Shariff followed by Carvalho shooting narrowly over after being played in by Oulton.

But another chance came Needham’s way in the 32nd minute as Dobson’s sharp turn and pass sent Luke Ingram galloping clear pursued by Kynan Isaac.

Etheridge advanced to meet him and was able to smother the ball at his feet as Isaac seemed to give Ingram a push and somehow Town survived.

And five minutes before the break they went ahead. Callum Sturgess tried to roll the ball back to Jessup but the keeper totally miscued his attempted clearance and Skendi seized on the loose ball to thread it through to Nabil Shariff who fired home from ten yards out.

With the Marketmen reeling Town then doubled their lead in the final minute of the half when Jessup could only flap at Oulton’s right wing corner and the ball reached Jordan Williams at the far post who headed in from a couple of yards out.

Needham almost pulled one back three minutes into the second half but Etheridge went full length to keep out a Joe Marsden header and Town put the result beyond doubt on 56 minutes when Carvalho’s shot-cum-cross from the left was headed in by the unmarked Shariff.

That was the signal for both sides to start making substitutions with Thomas Baillie sending on Grocott for Oulton and then Felipe Barcelos for Cox with Wilson switching to the right back slot.

And it was Barcelos who was unlucky not to add a fourth for Town as his close range flick from another Carvalho cross was straight at Jessup who reacted instinctively to palm it away.

Then with twelve minutes to go the Marketmen gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Jordan Williams was adjudged to have tugged Dobson back as he tried to wriggle through and Marsden thumped the spot kick past Etheridge with the minimum of fuss.

But Town were unruffled and set about seeing the game out, and although James Baker hit the angle of post and bar from a Gareth Heath corner in added time they had done more than enough to secure the points.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox (Felipe Barcelos  67), Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Nabil Shariff, Ross Oulton (Will Grocott 62), Wilson Carvalho (Kian Williams 78) Unused Sub – Cody Fisher

NEEDHAM : Jake Jessup, Jake Dye (Regan Pellling 72), Callum Sturgess, Jeremiah Kamanzi, Keiran Morphew, James Baker, Luke Ingram, Gareth Heath (c), Jamie Griffiths, (Dan Morphew 69) Reece Dobson (Ethan Abrahams 87), Joe Marsden. Unused Subs – Conor McLaughin & Bradley Cook

Referee            –       Andrew  Ellis

Assistant Referees          –       Dan Pattison & Jake Allsop

Attendance       –         201

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards         –         Oulton & J Williams
Needham Yellow Cards         –         Kamanzi

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

15th JANUARY 2019  –  HITCHIN TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

WILSON AND WILSON FIRE TOWN INTO THE TOP FIVE

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Stratford Town    –    2    –    Carvalho 18   Wilson 24
Hitchin Town        –    0

Much as the form book suggested play-off chasing Town got the better of relegation fighting Hitchin at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening with first half goals from Wilson Carvalho and Lewis Wilson securing Thomas Baillie’s side another valuable three points.

Yet the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. Hitchin arrived on a six game losing run, but put in a spirited performance having plenty of possession with Rod Abrahams’ stats recording 21 goal attempts only for their wayward finishing combined with Town’s typical resolute defending to mean that they extended that wretched sequence to seven.

Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from the Tamworth game. Matija Sarkic’s loan spell from Aston Villa had ended allowing Ross Etheridge to return in goal, Albi Skendi was back from his travels after missing the last seven games replacing Kian Williams and Dan Summerfield came into the back four with Cody Fisher dropping to the subs bench.

And a new name among the substitutes was that of Brazilian striker Felipe Barcelos who has switched from Division One South side Moneyfields.

Hitchin made a lively start forcing a corner in only the second minute which led to mayhem in the Town penalty area before it was eventually cleared followed soon after by Ezra Forde heading narrowly wide from a Noah Chesmain cross.

With Town struggling to get going Hitchin went close again on 13 minutes when Josh Bickerstaff’s effort from an Isaac Galliford free kick was straight at Etheridge.

In Town’s first attack of note Nabil Shariff’s well struck shot from the right fizzed across goal, and it was against the run of play when they took the lead in the 18th minute with a stunning individual strike from Wilson Carvalho.

Finding himself in space 25 yards out on the left he let fly with a sumptuous curler which gave Hitchin keeper Michael Johnson no chance as it soared past him into the top corner.

Hitchin looked for an immediate response and Etheridge kept Town’s lead intact with a full length save from Dan Webb before they fell further behind in the 24th minute when they failed to deal properly with a long ball down the left.

Town were able to work the ball across to the right with Shariff sliding it into the path of Lewis Wilson who fired through Johnson’s legs from ten yards out.

Again Hitchin came back with both Jamie McAteer and Kynan Isaac making crucial blocks and Etheridge turning a sharp Galliford effort round the post, but Town were beginning to have more of the ball and only a smart Johnson save from Carvalho a minute before the break prevented them going in at half time three up.

Thomas Baillie made a tactical change for the restart bringing Kian Williams into midfield Wilson switching to right back in place of Summerfield.

Michael Cain had two early second half chances for Hitchin but blazed wildly over while Galliford was also off target with shot from wide on the left.

Isaac then overlapped down the left to force a corner which led to another couple in quick succession before Hitchin piled forward once more.

Alfie Cue shot wide as did Jay Dowie and in between Galliford had a free kick pushed behind by Etheridge, but Town had that bit of quality when it mattered as shown by Carvalho on 67 minutes when he twisted past Jack Green to hit a shot which ricocheted off a defender to Skendi who drilled a low right footer inches the wrong side of Johnson’s right hand post.

An ambitious Grocott attempt wasn’t far away soon after followed by Skendi surging down the inside left channel after exchanging passes with Isaac only to shoot against the advancing Johnson.

Barcelos was introduced with a quarter of an hour but had little opportunity to make an impact as Hitchin put in a last desperate effort to salvage something from the game.

The persistent Galliford had another decent attempt turned behind by Etheridge but Hitchin lacked the necessary cutting edge to give Town any really serious alarms as they slumped to another defeat while for Town it was their fourth clean sheet in their last five League games and a leap into fifth spot in the table.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Dan Summerfield (Kian Williams 46) , Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Nabil Shariff (Felipe Barcelos 76), Will Grocott (Dan Preston 80), Wilson Carvalho Unused Subs – Ross Oulton & Cody Fisher

HiTCHIN : Michael Johnson, Jack Green, Noah Chesmain, Jay Dowie (Matt Ryan 87), Dan Webb, Lewis Ferrell, Michael Cain (Scott Belgrove 76), Josh Bickerstaff, Ezra Forde, Isaac Galliford, Alfie Cue. Unused Subs – Kieran Barnes, Edwin Mensah & Craig Packham

Referee      –      Wayne Barratt

Assistant Referees        –        Georgios Markou Nikandrodu & Dan Stokes

Attendance        –        193

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford      Hitchin
             7 Goal Attempts             21
             4 On Target               6
            0 Blocked Shots               2
            0 Hit Woodwork               0
            4 Corners Won             10
           8 Crosses into Box              7
          12 Fouls Conceded              8
            1 Off Side              1
            3 Yellow Cards              1
           0 Red Cards             0

Stratford Yellow Cards       –       Fry, Isaac & Preston
Hitchin Yellow Cards           –       Chesmain

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

CARVALHO STRIKES TO SILENCE THE LAMBS

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Tamworth             –     0
Stratford Town    –    1     –     Carvalho  49

Town completed a quickfire double over struggling Tamworth as they followed up their pre-Christmas win at the Arden Garages Stadium with another professional performance here.

The first half was a turgid affair as Town started with both Kynan Isaac and Nabil Shariff up front which meant that they surrendered the midfield and consequently much of the possession to Tamworth, but once they had reverted to their more familiar 4-2-3-1 set-up after half time and Wilson Carvalho had fired them ahead with his tenth goal of the season Thomas Baillie’s side were always going to win.

Carvalho had returned in place of Ross Oulton in the only change to the starting line-up from the Alvechurch game with the likes of Jamie McAteer and Jordan Williams who sat out the midweek League Cup tie also coming straight back in.

The Tamworth line-up included the ex-Town fans favourite Mike Taylor who was so well marshalled by McAteer and Man of the Match Williams that he barely got a kick and certainly not a header, while Claudio Dias made his Lambs debut from the subs bench having switched from Town 24 hours earlier.

But despite their recent poor run of form it was Tamworth who made the brighter start with Kyle Hatden shooting narrowly wide in only the sixth minute followed a couple of minutes later by Jordan Clement going similarly close from Jack Concannon’s left wing cross.

Concannon continued to give Town plenty to think about in midfield with one of his crosses drifting just beyond the overlapping Jordan Gough in the 20th minute and soon after he launched a free kick into the penalty area which was headed wide by Gregg Smith.

Town didn’t really threaten until five minutes before half time when a fierce Kynan Isaac effort was cleared by Smith followed by Kian Williams whipping over a cross from the right which was just out of the reach of Carvalho as an uninspiring first half ended goal-less.

But Town were far more lively after the break as Thomas Baillie made his crucial change in formation. Off went Cody Fisher with Isaac moving to left back and Dan Preston coming into midfield with Shariff on his own up front.

Even so the change had barely had time to work before Town grabbed what turned out to be the winner as Will Grocott’s long ball down the left sent Carvalho on his way.

Reaching the edge of the penalty area he jinked past Smith to work the ball onto his right foot and then unerringly steered it beyond Tamworth keeper Luke Simpson’s left hand into the far corner of the net.

The Lambs were visibly deflated at going behind and from then on Town were in control’

Kian Williams went close to doubling their lead on the hour mark after Shariff had set up the opening with a blistering run down the right while Simpson did well to hold a whipped-in cross from Isaac shortly after and then even better to beat away a Shariff effort from point blank range with fifteen minutes to go.

By now Dias had been introduced and he wasted Tamworth’s best chance of an equaliser on 82 minutes when his weak header after being picked out by Concannon’s cross from the left allowed Matija Sarkic to make a comfortable save.

Tamworth did at least keep going to the end but with McAteer and Williams in their usual commanding form in the middle of the backline Town saw the game out without any other really serious alarms to reinforce their play-off ambitions.

STRATFORD : Matija Sarkic, Lewis Wilson\, Cody Fisher (Dan Preston 46), Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Kian Williams (Dan Summerfield 70), Kynan Isaac,, Nabil Shariff, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho (Curvin Ellis 86). Unused Subs – Ross Oulton & Ross Etheridge (GK)

TAMWORTH : Luke Simpson, Charlie Shaw (Junior Mpofu 84), Jordan Gough, Jordan Clement, Joe Magunda, Kristian Green, Jack Concannon, Aman Verma (c), Gregg Smith, Mike Taylor, Kyle Hayden (Claudio Dias 68). Unused Subs – Harrison James, Sam Walton & Aidan Jeynes (GK)

Referee         –        Samuel Kane

Assistant Referees        –       J McNee & R Pealing

Attendance       –      537

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Stratford Yellow Cards          –       Fisher, Fry & Isaac
Tamworth Yellow Cards        –      Smith

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

12th JANUARY 2019  –  TAMWORTH  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

 

8th JANUARY  –  KETTERING TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE CUP

TOWN BLOOM AS THE POPPIES WILT IN SHOOT-OUT

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Stratford Town      –     3    –   – Carvalho 26 (pen) Shariff 41 Isaac 80
Kettering Town      –     3    –      Hoeness  1  Graham (2) 59  & 81
(Stratford won 4-1 on penalties)

Town’s penalty shoot-out expertise propelled them into the semi finals of the CSS League Cup at the expense of boss Thomas Baillie’s old side Kettering Town at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening.

It was the fourth shoot-out in which Town have been involved this season and they have been successful in three of them.

Before all that the scheduled 90 minutes had ended 3-3 with the Poppies opening the scoring virtually straight from the kick off before Town responded to lead 2-1 at half time and then 3-2 with ten minutes to go only for Kettering to hit back to end a topsy turvy evening all square.

As is usual for this competition both teams made changes with Town only fielding six and Kettering five from their weekend starting line-ups.

Missing for Town were Cody Fisher, Will Grocott, Jamie McAteer, Ross Oulton and Jordan Williams to be replaced by Dan Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, Dan Preston and the fit again Wilson Carvalho while there was debut for midfielder Muhammed Sebbeh-Njie from Redditch United.

But before the reshuffled Town side could blink they were behind as the Poppies took the lead with a goal timed at just 40 seconds with their leading scorer Rhys Hoeness latching on to a long ball down the middle and running through the Town defence to jink round Matija Sarkic for a simple finish.

A couple of minutes later it was Hoeness again cutting in from the right to fire into the side netting, and with Town struggling to make any sort of impact the electric pace of Hoeness almost doubled the Poppies’ lead soon after as he made room for a firmly struck shot which was confidently dealt with by Sarkic.

Gradually though Town settled down and on 20 minutes Kynan Isaac had a decent effort held by Kettering keeper Paul White low to his left followed a minute later by White needing two attempts to grasp another Isaac shot and then Nabil Shariff bursting into the penalty down the inside left channel to see his rasping left footer beaten away by the advancing White.

And Town’s pressure told in the 26th minute when Isaac brushed past Lathaniel Rowe-Turner to be brought down by Luke Graham and Carvalho blasted the spot kick past White to level it all up with the minimum of fuss.

It was now an even game and Town went ahead four minutes before the break when Graham attempted to head a long ball down the left back to White but failed to get enough power behind it and Shariff nipped in to skip past the stranded keeper and walk the ball into the empty net.

Town had a free kick in a promising position immediately after the restart only for Isaac to hit it straight at White, but they went agonisingly close to extending their lead on 51 minutes when Carvalho’s trickery in the left of the penalty area took him to the byline before whipping in a low cross which Shariff flicked inches wide.

Sarkic then kept Town’s lead intact with a smart save from Hoeness before the Poppies hit back to equalise in the 59th minute and inevitably it was all down to Hoeness whose fierce cross-shot from the right was turned in by Graham at the far post.

To Town’s undoubted relief Hoeness was immediately substituted and that definitely changed the momentum of the game.

White saved again from Isaac who was put through by a neat Jimmy Fry pass and with twenty minutes to go he had to stretch to punch away a teasing Carbvalho free kick before Town introduced another debutant in striker Curvin Ellis who has arrived from Coventry United.

Almost immediately Ellis had a chance to make a dream start only to fire over after Sebbeh-Njie had made the opening with a surging run from halfway.

Then with ten minutes to go Town regained the lead when Sarkic’s huge punt downfield was collected by Isaac to fire past White, but within a minute the Poppies were back on terms when Ben Milnes swung in a corner from the left which was headed in by Graham.

As game headed into added time Town had a free kick but Grocott’s delivery into the penalty area was headed clear by Poppies skipper Brett Solkhon and right at the end Ellis tantalisingly prodded wide from close in, but it was another penalty shoot-out which was to decide it all.

Successful kicks from Grocott, Fry and Kian Williams fired Town into a 3-0 lead after Solkhon had blazed wildly over and Milnes hit the post. Dion Kelly-Evans kept the tie alive for the Poppies as he made it 3-1 but Lewis Wilson coolly settled it with Town’s fourth and the semi finals now await.

STRATFORD : Matija Sarkic, Dan Summerfield, Muhammed Sebbeh-Njie, Dan Preston, Lewis Wilson, Kian Williams, James Fry (c), Nabil Shariff (Curvin Ellis 74) , Kynan Isaac, Wilson Carvalho (Will Grocott 80). Unused Subs – Tom Fishwick, Jordan Williams & Ross Etheridge (GK)

KETTERING : Paul White, Jack O’Connor, Ben Toseland, Brett Solkhon (c), Gary Stohrer (Ben Bradshaw 61), Ben Milnes, Rhys Hoeness (Arjun Hundal 61), Marcus Kelly (Dion Kelly-Evans 46), Luke Graham, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Adam Cunnington. Unused Sub – Richard Lavery

Referee     –      Ollie Williams

Assistant Referees       –      James Cox & Ryan Price

Attendance         –      116

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford     Kettering
           12 Goal Attempts              12
             7 On Target                6
             0 Blocked Shots               0
             0 Hit Woodwork               0
             2 Corners Won               7
            8 Crosses into Box               5
         11 Fouls Conceded            18
            1 Off Side              4
            1 Yellow Cards              1
           0 Red Cards              0

Stratford Yellow Cards        –      Summerfield
Kettering Yellow Cards       –       Graham

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

5th JANUARY 2019  –  ALVECHURCH  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

MARCH’S LATE STRIKE SEES THE CHURCH TOPPLE TOWN AGAIN

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Stratford Town       –       0
Alvechurch               –        1         –         March  90+3

In a dour game which offered little entertainment to either set of supporters Alvechurch repeated their success at the Arden Garages Stadium in the F A Cup earlier in the season with substitute Josh March netting the decider in the third minute of added time to knock Town out of the ;play-off places and end the Church’s three game losing run.

Up to then Town’s third successive goal-less draw had seemed inevitable with Thomas Baillie’s side now having gone 294 minutes since Wilson Carvalho fired home the winner against Banbury on Boxing Day, while the Church had barely tested Town keeper Matija Sarkic with March’s goal being their only on-target effort of the afternoon.

Town’s starting line-up showed one change from New Year’s Day with flu victim Carvalho missing his first League match of the season and being replaced by debutant Kian Williams who has been in Leicester City’s Under 23 side and who had previously been on loan at Barwell.

The Church squad included Taylor Morrison who has returned to Lye Meadow after making a solitary Town appearance in the away game at Needham Market which he marked with Town’s only goal that afternoon.

Both teams started slowly but Town were the first to threaten in only the seventh minute when Nabil Shariff played in Lewis Wilson who saw his shot come back off the outstretched right leg of Church keeper Dan Crane, but it was the visitors who began to have more of the possession as the much travelled Lee Chilton made his presence felt in midfield.

And it was Chilton who displayed his class on 15 minutes with a first time volley as the ball came over his shoulder which fizzed narrowly over.

Town responded with Ross Oulton cleverly making space for a shot on the edge of the penalty area only to then fire wide, but the Church were inches from taking the lead on the half hour mark when Chilton’s whipped-in cross from the left was just beyond the late arriving Andre Landell.

Sarkic then cheekily showed his confidence five minutes before the break when Zach Foster tried to lob him with a free kick on the halfway line. Totally untroubled Sarkic took a couple of steps back before controlling the dropping ball on his chest in the manner of a top notch outfield player.

Town then had a final first half chance when Kynan Isaac threaded the ball through to Shariff but he fatally delayed his shot and was immediately crowded out.

In a bid to have more impact going forward Thomas Baillie switched Wilson and Isaac the change made little difference with Shariff being increasingly isolated up front and receiving very little service.

Oulton was putting in his usual wholehearted shift in midfield with a series of his trademark all-or-nothing tackles but Town couldn’t really create anything resembling a clearcut chance.

A couple of Chilton free kicks early in the second half offered the Church some hope but came to nothing while Sarkic again impressed with his impeccable handling whenever the Church attempted the aerial route into the penalty area.

Shariff wasn’t far away with a well struck shot on the turn with twenty minutes to go followed by Landell going similarly close for the Church ten minutes later while in the 88th minute Town substitute Claudio Dias had a fierce drive frustratingly deflected behind off another Stratford player.

But just when no-score draw number three looked a certainty Josh Ezewele escaped down the right to fire in a low cross and March lashed home the winner.

STRATFORD : Matija Sarkic, Kynan Isaac, Cody Fisher (Claudio Dias 67), Jimmy Fry (c) (Dan Preston 79), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Kian Williams, Ross Oulton, Nabil Shariff, Will Grocott, Lewis Wilson. Unused Subs – Kieren Westwood, Dan Summerfield & Ross Etheridge (GK)

ALVECHURCH : Dan Crane, Josh Ezewele, Zach Foster, Tom Turton, Kyle Morrison, Ash Carter (c), Dave Bellis, Mitch Botfield (Josh March 72), Aaron Lloyd, Andre Landell (Taylor Morrison 81), Lee Chilton (Rahis Nabi 90+4). Unused Subs – Kieran Cook & Paul Evans (GK)

Referee        –        Ruebyn Ricardo

Assistant Referees         –        Karl Donaghey & Gary Lord

Attendance       –      246

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Sttratford Yellow Cards          –       Fry & J Williams
Alvechurch Yellow Cards       –       Carter & Chilton

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

1st JANUARY 2019  –  BIGGLESWADE TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE 

ANOTHER STALEMATE AS TOWN STIFLE THE WADERS

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Biggleswade Town    –      0
Stratford Town           –      0

Town came away from the Carlsberg Stadium with a hard earned point against fellow play-off contenders Biggleswade after a scrappy encounter in which they had to dig deep to survive concerted second half pressure from the Waders before seeing the game out for their second successive goal-less draw.

A bobbly pitch meant that this was never going to be a game for the purist with the ball spending far too much time airborne, but the Waders were the more effective of the two sides as Town made little impact up front with only four goal attempts recorded all afternoon.

Nevertheless it was a positive result as the point gained propels them into the play-off places with two games in hand over the teams immediately above them.

Town boss Thomas Baillie made two changes to the starting line-up from Saturday bringing in Kynan Isaac following the completion of his suspension and the fit again Ross Oulton in place of Dan Preston and Shawn Richards respectively.

Both sides took time to settle but with just seven minutes gone Nabil Shariff had a header from a Will Grocott free kick deflected behind followed soon after by Grocott firing across goal from wide on the right.

At the other end Joe White wasn’t far away as he swivelled to hit a left foot drive narrowly wide. Jack Bradshaw then floated over a speculative cross-cum-shot which was watched anxiously by Town keeper Matija Sarkic as it drifted wide but otherwise neither goal was really threatened in the first half hour.

Gradually though the Waders began to have more of the meaningful possession, and on 36 minutes the ball fell kindly to provide Matt Ball with a decent opportunity on the left only for his shot to loop off Jamie McAteer and make it a comfortable save for Sarkic.

And the Town keeper was tested more seriously two minutes before the break as he got down low to his right to hold a firmly struck drive from Lucas Kirkpatrick.

The Waders looked to up their tempo after the restart with White making a couple of promising runs and the speedy Jonny McNamara showing up well on the left as Town were struggled to get out of their own half.

Jordan Williams took a knock and had to go off shortly after the hour mark and at the same time Thomas Baillie withdrew Oulton and sent on Preston and Richards.

But the Waders pressure continued as Town were forced further and further back and they had a let-off with twenty minutes to go when McNamara nicked the ball off Isaac to surge down the inside left channel only to fire inches over.

Soon after Sarkic showed his class as he came out to claim a deep cross from Bradshaw as McNamara waited to pounce while the Waders frustrations grew as they found themselves unable to break through Town’s well organised and resilient defence.

And as the game headed into added time it was Sarkic who snuffed out the Waders last hope as he was smartly off his line to keep out a close range effort from McNamara who had latched onto a long ball down the middle.

It hadn’t been pretty but with the characteristic wholehearted performances from the likes of McAteer and skipper Jimmy Fry it had been effective, and if nothing else shows that Town are now a very difficult side to beat.

STRATFORD : Matija Sarkic, Kynan Isaac, Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams (Shawn Richards 64), Lewis Wilson, Ross Oulton (Dan Preston 64), Nabil Shariff, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho (Claudio Dias 87). Unused Subs – Jarrell Hylton & Ross Etheridge (GK)

BIGGLESWADE : Sam Donkin, Jack Bradshaw, Ben Walster, Kieron Forbes (c), Tom Smith, David Longe-King, Jonny McNamara, Donovan Makoma, Joe White, Matt Ball (Liam Brooks 82), Lucas Kirkpatrick (Bradley Bell 59). Unused Subs – Brett Donnelly, Jordan Gent & Luca Allinson

Referee       –         Andrew Humphries

Assistant Referees       –       Abdul Kadir & David Jarrott

Attendance       –       221

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards                –      Oulton
Biggleswade Yellow Cards        –      Longe-King

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

29th DECEMBER 2018  –  STOURBRIDGE  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN AND THE GLASSBOYS FIGHT OUT A STASLEMATE

Stratford Town      –       0
Stourbridge             –       0

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Town and Stourbridge kicked off as the two form teams in the Division with Town having won their last five League games while the Glassboys had won six and drawn the other of their last seven, one of but in front of the biggest attendance of the season at the Arden Garages Stadium it was the defences who dominated as they fought out a no-score draw.

In the reverse fixture back in August Stourbridge had cruised to an easy win after being three up within half an hour, but under Thomas Baillie Town are a vastly different proposition to the side which barely competed then and they fully deserved their point against the team which Basillie describes as “the best in the League.”

In three Town changes Dan Preston made his  debut as a holding midfielder becoming the 40th player to appear for Town this season while returning striker Nabil Shariff came in up front for Shame Benjamin and Shawn Richards took over from Ross Oulton.

And as part of the reshuffle Lewis Wilson switched from his usual midfield role to right back in place of Chris Cox who was forced out with the ankle injury sustained against Banbury on Boxing Day.

The Stourbridge squad included ex-town players Aaron Forde and Rob Thompson-Brown.

Both sides made a cautious start and the only alarm at either end in the opening fifteen minutes was when Will Grocott’s mistimed back header gave Luke Benbow the sniff of a chance but Town keeper Matija Sarkic reacted quickly enough to reach it first.

Sarkic was soon in the action again cutting out a long diagonal cross from Aris Christophorou intended for Benbow, and his instant throw out sent Wilson Carvalho racing away down the left touchline only for him to be crowded out as he tried to work his way into the penalty area.

But most of the action was in midfield until a run from halfway on the half hour mark by Forde set up a chance for Stourbridge’s leading scorer Greg Mills but it was a comfortable save for Sarkic while at the other end an ambitious Grocott effort from distance drifted wide

A free kick ten yards outside the penalty area five minutes before the break offered the Glassboys an opportunity to open the scoring but Benbow’s attempted curler fizzed over the bar.

Then right on half time Grocott floated over one of his trademark free kicks from the left which Jamie McAteer headed against the upright before it was booted clear as a tense first half ended goal-less.

The Glassboys looked to up the tempo after the restart and only a perfectly timed tackle by Jordan Williams snuffed out a flowing move involving Benbow, Forde and Kaiman Anderson.

Town responded with Shawn Richards threading the ball through to Carvalho who saw his shot blocked by Stourbridge keeper Niall Maher’s outstretched right leg and with the game now opening up Sarkic pulled off a fine low save to push away a rasping drive from Benbow.

But with twenty minutes to go it was already looking as if one goal would probably be enough to take the points and Town went close when Carvalho had a close range effort blocked followed soon after by Nabil Shariff firing over as the ball fell kindly to him 15 yards out..

As the minutes ticked away Sarkic again saved from Benbow who then shot narrowly over from 20 yards out while deep into added time Stuart Pierpoint went up for a Glassboys free kick but shot straight at the well positioned Sarkic and in the last action of the afternoon Sarkic beat away another Mills free kick to ensure that after a hard fought 90 minutes the points were deservedly shared.

STRATFORD : Matija Sarkic, Dan Preston (Claudio Dias 70), Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff, Lewis Wilson, Shawn Richards, Will Grocott (Shane Benjamin 82(, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Kieren Westwood, Dan Summerfield & Ross Etheridge (GK)

STOURBRIDGE : Niall Maher, Aaron Hayden, Aris Christophorou, Paul McCone (c), Stuart Pierpoint, Aaron Forde, Kaiman Anderson, Leon Broadhurst, Luke Benbow, Brad Birch (Rob Thompson-Brown 75), Greg Mills. Unused Subs – Darryl Westlake, Chekaine Steele, Jake Evans & Tom Tonks

Referee    –      Richie Watkins

Assistant Referees       –       Simon Kavanagh & Joseph Larkin

Attendance       –      620

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards             –          Preston, McAteer, Wilson & Williams      Stourbridge Yellow Cards       –          Pierpoint

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

26th DECEMBER 2018  –  BANBURY UNITED  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN DIG DEEP TO STUN THE PURITANS

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Stratford Town      –     2     –     Cox  3   Carvalho 66
Banbury United     –     1     –    Shamsi  50

Wilson Carvalho second goal in successive games and his eighth of the season in all propelled Town to a sixth successive home League win in a pulsating Boxing Day clash at the Arden Garages Stadium.

Thomas Baillie named an unchanged line-up from the St Neots game, while the Banbury squad included the prolific striker John Mills on loan from Hereford buy only on the subs bench here.

The Puritans arrived on an eight game unbeaten run, but went behind in only the third minute when Will Grocott floated over one of his trademark free kicks from the right and no-one from Banbury picked up Chris Cox who timed his run to perfection to power a free header past the startled keeper Emmanuel Agboola.

Banbury looked for an immediate response with Ricky Johnson not far away with a header from a Matt Taylor cross and Giorgio Rasulo fired in a drive from 25 yards out which was confidently held by Matija Sarkic getting down well to his right.

Sarkic was called into a more difficult save from the lively Rasulo on the quarter hour mark as he plunged to his right to turn behind another fiercely struck effort at the foot of his right hand post.

With Rasulo and Ravi Shamsi bossing midfield Banbury were enjoying most of the meaningful possession, but in the 25th minute Shane Benjamin got free down the left only to shoot into the side netting.

Banbury continued to press forward and on 32 minutes Sarkic had to stretch backwards to tip over a Shamsi free kick, but Town were always a threat on the break and soon after Cox overlapped down the right to whip in a cross which Agboola scrambled to collect as Jimmy Fry waited to pounce.

A free kick needlessly given way by Ross Oulton a couple of yards outside the penalty area a minute before the break offered Banbury the final chance of a first half equaliser but Rasulo blazed over much to the frustration of the contingent of Puritans supporters clustered behind the goal.

And it was another free kick five minutes into the second half that led to Banbury levelling it all up. This one was a few yards further out and it was entrusted to Shamsi who curled in an exquisite left footer which drifted away from Sarkic and dipped under the bar.

Cox hadn’t reappeared after half time having picked up a nasty ankle injury late in the first half and was replaced at right back by Lewis Wilson with Claudio Dias coming off the subs bench into midfield,

Town were soon missing Cox’s forays down the right as Banbury continued to have far more of the ball but a Johnson header was a routine save for Sarkic while at the other end Benjamin was crowded out when the ball broke to him in in the penalty area.

But on 66 minutes Town stunned the Puritans by regaining the lead when Agboola could only parry a well hit shot form Benjamin and Carvalho seized on the ;loose ball to smash it into the roof of the net.

Shamsi had the chance of a second equaliser five minutes later after an uncharacteristic mistake by Jordan Williams but his shot was deflected behind before Mills was introduced to give Banbury more firepower up front.

But it was Town who went close to adding a third with a quarter of an hour to go when Jimmy Fry surged forward to hit a low drive which was turned behind by Agboola at full stretch to his left.

Back came Banbury with Gregory Kaziboni going close followed by Kaziboni reaching the right byline to send in a low cross which Mills somehow scooped over the bar from six yards out.

Then as the game headed into added time the predatory Mills latched onto a long ball flicked on by Edmund Hotter but under pressure from Wilson he could only toe poke his shot straight at Sarkic as Town held on for three more precious points.

STRATFORD : Matija Sarkic, Chris Cox (Claudio Dias 46), Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Ross Oulton (Jarrell Hylton 89), Shane Benjamin (Shawn Richards 81), Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho (Shawn Richards 82)R. Unused Subs – Ross Etheridge (GK)

BANBURY : Emmanuel Agboola, Matt Taylor, George Nash, Charlie Wise, Ravi Shamsi (Edmund hotter 81), Ricky Johnson (c), Steve Duggin, Amer Awadh (Mark Bell 71), Eddie Odhniambo, Gregory Kaziboni, Giorgio Rasulo (John Mills 73) Unused Subs – Harry Whitehead & Matt Timms

Referee     –    Andy Genders

Assistant Referees       –       Charlie Dickens & Jamie Evans

Attendance    –     406

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford      Banbury
            5 Goal Attempts             14
           3 On Target               7
           0 Blocked Shots               0
           0 Hit Woodwork               0
           1 Corners Won              9
           8 Crosses into Box              4
        13 Fouls Conceded            12
          2 Off Side              2
         2 Yellow Cards              2
         0 Red Cards              0

Stratford Yellow Cards         –         Oulton &Williams
Banbury Yellow Cards          –          Odhiambo & Shamsi

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

22nd DECEMBER 2018  –  ST NEOTS TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN STRIKE IN THE SECOND HALF TO DOWN THE SAINTS

St Neots Town        –        1     –   – Parr 90
Stratford Town      –        2     –     Carvalho  69  Richards  84

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Town shrugged off the departure of leading scorer Mike Taylor to Tamworth 48 hours earlier to reinforce their play-off credentials with a battling performance in an attritional encounter on a quagmire of a pitch against struggling St Neots.

Will Grocott’s goal had given Town an opening day win over the Saints back in August, and here two second half strikes from Wilson Carvalho and substitute Shawn Richards propelled them to their first double of the season.

Following a busy week transfer wise Town’s starting line-up showed a number of changes from last weekend’s game at Fylde.

Aston Villa loanee Matija Sarkic made his debut as the fifth keeper used by Town this season replacing Ross Etheridge and there was also a debut for striker Shane Benjamin in place of Taylor.

Kieren Westwood and Albi Skendi were both unavailable with their spots taken by Cody Fisher and Ross Oulton respectively, while Jamie McAteer was fully recovered from his groin strain to return to the backline allowing Lewis Wilson to move into midfield at the expense of Claudio Dias.

The Saints team included Nabil Shariff who made four appearances for Town at the beginning of the campaign.

The Premier Plus Stadium pitch survived a referee’s inspection but it was desperately heavy and it was immediately obvious that the game was not going to be for the faint heated.

But smarting from their 6-1 hammering by Barwell in midweek the Saints were soon on the attack and in only the seventh minute their skipper Luke Knight hit a low drive from 20 yards out which was turned behind by Sarkic at the foot of his left hand post.

Soon after Tom Wood wasn’t far away with a thunderous effort as he ran on to a left wing cross from Jack Daldy, and when Town attempted to respond with a deep Chris Cox cross from the right touchline Grocott couldn’t make a clean enough connection to trouble the Saints keeper Finlay Iron.

St Neots appeared to be more at home in the testing conditions, but Sarkic was looking assured and on his way to a Man of the Match performance with his confident handling of a couple of testing crosses launched into the six yard box.

And Town at last tested the Saints defence on the half hour mark when Grocott floated one of his trademark free kicks into the penalty area. This time there was no Taylor on the end of it but instead it was Benjamin who rose the highest to meet it with a firm header which unfortunately was straight at Iron.

A promising Town move involving Cox, Grocott and Oulton then set up a shooting opportunity for Wilson who blazed wildly over while another Benjamin header was an equally comfortable save for Iron as the interval was reached with the afternoon still goal-less.

It was more of the same after the break and with the pitch becoming more and more churned up the game developed into a real slog with plenty of meaty challenges going in and the yellow card count inexorably mounting.

As ever Town were looking solid at the back with McAteer and Jordan Williams in commanding form in the middle well supported by Cox and Fisher on the flanks while skipper Jimmy Fry and Oulton were getting stuck in sometimes literally in the crucial midfield area.

But clearcut chances continued to be few and far between until Town took the lead in the 69th minute when for the second time in quick succession Carvalho was floored by Taylor Parr as he tried to work his way in from the left.

And it was Carvalho who exacted instant revenge for his rough treatment when Grocott’s free kick was only half cleared and the Town number 11 pounced on the loose ball to lash it into the top corner from some 25 yards out.

The Saints piled forward in search of an equaliser and with fifteen minutes to go Sarkic pulled another tremendous save low to his left to beat away a well struck left footer from Johnny Herd with Jamie McAteer clearing Wood’s attempt from the rebound off the line.

Another Sarkic save from Shariff kept the lead intact before Town doubled their advantage in the 84th minute when Richards latched onto a Grocott through ball to shake off the attentions of Russell Short and coolly fire past Iron just three minutes after coming on.

The Saints gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Parr pulled one back as the game headed into added time, but Thomas Baillie’s side confidently saw the game out to deservedly take the points.

STRATFORD : Matija Sarkic, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Ross Oulton, Shane Benjamin (Shawn Richards 81), Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Claudio Dias, Jarrell Hylton & Ross Etheridge (GK)

ST NEOTS : Finlay Iron, Ryan Hughes, Johnny Herd (Devante Stanley 85), Luke Knight (c) (Gary Wharton 90), Russell Short, Taylor Parr, Matt Miles (Jordan Norville-Williams 85), Tom Wood, Nabil Shariff, Dylan Williams, Jack Daldy.. Unused Subs – Andrea Borg & Jordinho Gomes

Referee         –       Jeffrey Aldous

Assistant Referees         –        Paul McVey & Laurentiu Hantea

Attendance       –       258

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford      St Neots
           7 Goal Attempts            11
           4 On Target              7
           0 Blocked Shots              0
           0 Hit Woodwork              0
           1 Corners Won              5
           8 Crosses into Box              5
         12 Fouls Conceded            13
           4 Off Side              0
           3 Yellow Cards              5
           0 Red Cards             0

Stratford Yellow Cards         –     Fry, Oulton & Richards
St Neots Yellow Cards          –      Knight, Parr, Short, Williams & Wright

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

15th DECEMBER 2018  –  AFC FYLDE  –  AWAY  –  F A TROPHY

TOWN BATTLE HARD BUT FYLDE’S CLASS IS DECISIVE

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AFC Fylde               –       5    –     Tasdemirr (2) 5 & 84  D Williams (2) 20 & 90 + 3  Rowe 45 + 2      Stratford Town   –       1    –     J Williams 90 + 1

Town’s best ever run in the Buildbase F A Trophy came to an end on Saturday as AFC Fylde showed their National League class to secure a pretty much trouble free passage into the next round.

Played in atrocious conditions with Fylde’s state-of-the-art Mill Farm Stadium battered by storm force winds and lashing rain the game was a credit to both teams, but after being gifted an early lead courtesy of a calamitous blunder by Town keeper Ross Etheridge Fylde were always in control.

Two further Town mistakes led to the Coasters going in at half time three up and it looked as if the score would stay that way until three further goals – including a Town strike from Jordan Williams – in the closing minutes completed a testing afternoon for players and spectators alike.

Town’s starting line-up showed four changes from Tuesday’s win against Tamworth. Jamie McAteer hadn’t fully recovered from the groin strain which had forced him off at half time in that game so Lewis Wilson continued to partner Williams in the centre of Town’s backline and Mike Taylor returned up front.

Influential midfielder Albi Skendi was back for this one and replaced Ross Oulton while elsewhere Kieren Westwood came in for Kynan Isaac and Claudio Dias for Shawn Richards.

Kicking off with the advantage of the wind and rain behind them  Fylde hardly needed the extra boost of an early Christmas present to edge ahead but Etheridge provided them with exactly that in only the fifth minute as he came out to collect an innocuous through ball but spilled it at the feet of Nick Haughton who slipped it across the penalty area for Serhat Tasdemir to fire into the empty net.

Haughton was soon giving the Town defence all sorts of problems with his skill on the ball and incisive passing and he went close to doubling Fylde’s lead ten minutes later with a swerving right footer from 20 yards out which Etheridge did well to push away taking off to his left.

In a rare Town foray into the Fylde half a Will Grocott right wing cross just eluded Taylor and had to be headed behind by Neill Byrne to prevent it reaching Wilson Carvalho at the far post.

But on 20 minutes the Coasters grabbed their second when Haughton was fouled on the edge of the penalty area. Their ace marksman Danny Rowe powered in a low free kick which was only parried by Etheridge and Danny Williams reacted quickest to blast the loose ball into the roof of the net.

Town tried hard to respond and Taylor worked a promising opportunity as he beat the offside trap down the inside right channel only to screw his shot disappointingly wide.

Another handling error by Etheridge almost gave Fylde a third as he failed to gather a shot from Rowe with the ball bobbling against the post before he was able to retrieve it again.

But just as it seemed that Town would reach the interval only two down Carvalho telegraphed a pass intended for Wilson. Inevitably it was Haughton who was alert enough to nip in as Wilson dithered to send Rowe clear down the middle and he ran on to shoot past the advancing Etheridge and surely take the tie already out of Town’s reach.

With the elements  in their favour after the break Town came more into the game with Fylde keeper Russell Griffiths at last being involved in the action to deal with a Skendi shot and a Williams header.

But Fylde were always comfortable and as the half progressed both Rowe and Haughton were withdrawn, but Tasdemir was still a threat and he added his second and the Coasters’ fourth with an assured finish from 15 yards out with six minutes to go.

Town though hadn’t given up and a Grocott free kick thudded int the Fylde wall on 88 minutes before Jordan Williams pulled one back for Town with a low drive as the game headed into added time which sparked unrestrained celebrations among the travelling Town faithful clustered in the Away end.

But their cheers had barely died away when the Coasters retaliated with Danny Williams drilling in their fifth.

So no shock result and class had told in the end, but against opposition of Fylde’s calibre Town had done as well as anyone could reasonably have expected, and as Thomas Baillie said afterwards “they were disappointed but not disgraced.”

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, Jimmy Fry (c), Lewis Wilson, Jordan Williams, Claudio Dias (Andre Olukanmi 76), Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Ross Oulton, Jamie McAteer, Tom Fishwick & James Behan (GK)

FYLDE : Russell Griffiths, Lewis Montrose (c), Ziane Francis-Angol, Neill Byrne, Ryan Croasdale (jim Kellerman 65), Danny Rowe (Arthur Gnahqua 58), Arlen Birch, Serhat Tasdemir, Tom Brewitt, Danny Williams, Nick Haughton (Andy Bond 76). Unused Subs – Jordan Tunnicliffe & Luke Burke

Referee        –      Steven Copeland

Assistant Referees          –         Darren Strain & Anthony Ball

Fourth Official       –       Ben Wyatt

Attendance         –        491

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford      Fylde
             9 Goal Attempts           24
             4 On Target           11
            0 Blocked Shots              0
            0 Hit Woodwork              2
           5 Corners Won              7
           8 Crosses into Box            11
           8 Fouls Conceded              9
           0 Off Side              1
          0 Yellow Cards              0
          0 Red Cards              0

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

th DECEMBER 2018  –  TAMWORTH  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TEN MAN TOWN SILENCE THE LAMBS

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Stratford Town      –     2      –     Richards 25   Cox  36
Tamworth               –      1      –     Lilly  36

Town climbed into the play off places with a stunning second half performance brimming with character and commitment after losing Kynan Isaac to a straight red card ten minutes before half time.

Town had been leading at the time through Shawn Richards first goal for the club but immediately conceded an equaliser and it looked as if the Lambs would be the favourites to go on and win, but Thomas Baillie’s side thought otherwise and in a pulsating second 45 minutes they overwhelmed Tamworth with a stellar display of passion and pride.

Town began with Mike Taylor on the subs bench in a move later described by Thomas Baillie as a “deliberate tactic” with Lewis Wilson taking over the number 9 shirt and Shawn Richards coming into midfield.

A familiar face on the Tamworth bench was Chris Lait who was an integral part of Town’s 2013 MFA title winning team .

The Lambs got off to a brisk start with Cameron Johnson hitting a decent long range effort in the opening minute which was comfortably held by Ross Etheridge, and soon after a slick Tamworth move was only ended by a perfectly timed interception from Chris Cox which denied Jordan Clement a promising shooting chance.

As Tamworth continued to be the sharper of the two sides Gregg Smith went close after Tyrell Waite had twisted and turned to make room for a cross from the right, and it was past the quarter hour mark when Town first threatened with Kynan Isaac overlapping down the left to fire in a low cross which was turned behind by Zak Lilly.

Tamworth’s next opportunity came on 20 minutes from a free kick a few yards outside the penalty area but Aman Verma could only hit it tamely straight at Etheridge, and five minutes later it was Town who took the lead.

The increasingly impressive Cox surged down the right to whip ion a low cross which was turned in by Richards from six yards out.

The Lambs responded by immediately forcing a corner which led to a bit of a scramble ion the Town six yard box until the pressure was relieved when referee Richard Walker blew for a foul on Etheridge.

A minute or so later another Cox cross flashed just beyond Wilson, but the game changed in the 35th minute when Isaac was sent off after clattering into Waite.

And as Town failed to deal properly with the resulting free kick Clement seized on the loose ball to slip it across to Lilly who lashed it past Etheridge from virtually on the penalty spot.

Thomas Baillie’s reaction was to send on Kiren Westwood to take over Isaac’s left back slot with goalscorer Richards being the unfortunate player to be sacrificed.

Town soon had a great chance to regain their lead when Will Grocott’s low drive was only parried by keeper Jas Singh but to the dismay of the Town supporters Wilson skied the rebound over both the bar and the stand behind the goal.

And a couple of minutes before the break only a reaction save from Etheridge kept the cores level when Johnson wriggled through to hit a fierce effort which the Town keeper pushed away stretching to his left.

Taylor was brought into the action for the restart with the versatile Wilson moving into the backline in place of Jamie McAteer who had picked up a muscle strain and within 90 seconds he made his presence felt as he chased after a long ball down the middle. Singh had to leave his area to challenge and only succeeded in flattening the Town striker but as the home supporters pleaded for a red card the keeper escaped with only a yellow.

Westwood then made a promising run from hallway before shooting over and as Town continued to push forward Taylor let fly with a thunderous right footer which Singh could only to beat away with Taylor then being floored as he went for the rebound leading to more frustration for the crowd as their frantic penalty appeals were waved away.

In spite of having an extra man Tamworth were having to defend in depth and in numbers as Town piled forward and they deservedly went back ion front in the 65th ,minute when Grocott floated over one of his pinpoint free kicks from the left touchline for Cox to apply the finishing touch with a close range header at the far post.

Not content with being ahead again Town continued to keep Tamworth under pressure and they were within inches of adding a third when Wilson Carvalho popped up on the right to whip in a vicious cross which flashed across the face of Singh’s goal and just beyond Taylor outstretched leg.

With skipper Jimmy Fry his usual tower of strength in midfield well supported by Ross Oulton and Taylor running the Tamworth defence ragged Town were now very much in control, and Tamworth didn’t really threaten an equaliser until the 85th minute when Lait headed over after being ;picked out by Kristian Green’s right wing cross

But Town were in no mood to let his one slip and efficiently and effectively saw the game out with their spirit typified by the sight of right back Cox harrying the Tamworth right back Green into the giving the ball away by the corner flag with only a few seconds left to play.
And their dispaly will surely have warned the watching AFC Fylde manager Dave Challoner that his side will have to be up for a battle if they want to avoid a potential F A Trophy shock result on Saturday.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer (Mike Taylor 46), Jordan Williams, Shawn Richards (Kieren Westwood 37), Ross Oulton, Lewis Wilson, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Claudio Dias, Tom Fishwick & Andre Olukanmi

TAMWORTH : Jas Singh, Kristian Green, Jordan Gough (Rhys Sharpe 53), Fortune Maphosa (David Parkhouse 79), Zak Lilly, Charlie Jemson, Tyrtell Waite, Aman Verma, Gregg Smith (Chris Lait 60), Cameron Johnson, Jordan clement.. Unused Subs – Joel Kettle & Reon Potts

Referee      –      Richard Walker

Assistant  Referees       –     Ryan McIlravery & Dan Pattison

Attendance     –        243

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford    Tamworth
           12 Goal Attempts              9
             5 On Target              6
            0 Blocked Shots              1
            0 Hit Woodwork              0
            8 Corners Won              4
            9 Crosses into Box              6
          14 Fouls Conceded             17
            1 Off Side               3
            1 Yellow Cards               2
            1 Red Cards               0

Stratford Yellow Cards            –        Oulton                  Red Card      –      Isaac
Tamworth Yellow Cards         –         Singh & Smith

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

8th DECEMBER  –  BARWELL  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

IT’S ANOTHER LATE LATE SHOW FROM TOWN

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Stratford Town      –    2    –      Taylor  67   McAteer  90 + 1
Barwell                      –    1    –      Tomkinson  15

Town are developing a habit of finding winners after 90 minutes as they followed their 94th minute decider against South Shields a fortnight ago with a 91st minute strike here to snatch the points from Barwell who were facing up to life without their long serving manager Jimmy Ginnelly after his move to Nuneaton Borough 48 hours earlier.

Add on an 88th minute winner at Mickleover and the trend is clear.

Both Shields and Barwell had led at half time but like the current Arsenal team Thomas Baillie’s side invariably come good in the second half and after a below par start to the afternoon they ended up as worthy winners.

After the wholesale changes for the midweek cup tie at Didcot it was back to what has become the regular Town starting line-up with the only change from last weekend at Halesowen being the introduction of Ross Oulton in place of the unavailable Albi Skendi.

Barwell started brightly with skipper Brady Hickey having a third minute free kick pushed behind by Town keeper Ross Etheridge with Town responding as Chris Cox made a promising break down the right and Jean-Ruben Desrosiers doing well to turn his whipped-in low cross behind.

But Barwell were much the sharper of the two sides and they took the lead in the 15th minute when Rob Morgan surged down the inside right channel to slip the ball inside to Hickey and he helped it on to Alex Tomkinson who shot past Etheridge from eight yards out.

Town were strangely lethargic and their first serious goal attempt didn’t arrive until the 23rd minute when Lewis Wilson’s header from a Wilson Carvalho drifted tantalisingly wide.

But Barwell seemed to be in control and wasted a great chance to double their lead on the half hour mark when Elliot Putman’s cross reached the unmarked Hickey who blazed over from the edge of the penalty area.

Morgan then shot against Etheridge from close range with Hickey heading the rebound wide before Town at last showed signs of a revival in the closing minutes of the half.

Firstly Mike Taylor used his strength to bustle down the middle before being crowded out and then Kynan Isaac drilled over a low cross from the left which led to mayhem in the Barwell six yard box until it was eventually cleared.

Town needed to improve after the interval and they duly did so. Hickey and Tomkinson were still threatening early on but Town gradually took over in midfield and on 62 minutes Taylor seized on a mistake by Desrosiers to hit a cross which looked certain to reach Will Grocott until Lee Hildreth made a vital interception.

A few minutes later Taylor chased after a bouncing ball down the middle to skip past the advancing Barwell keeper Liam Castle but his shot was cleared off the line by Desrosiers.

But Taylor wasn’t to be denied and on 67 minutes he levelled it all up as he notched his 14th goal of the season with a far post header from Grocott’s left wing corner.

From then on Town grew stronger and as the game headed into the final ten minutes it was a struggle for Barwell to hang on.

Carvalho hit the post with a fiercely struck shot from a narrow angle followed by Castle saving superbly from substitute Shawn Richards, but it looked as if it was going to be a point apiece until Town forced another corner on the left.

Again Grocott’s floated delivery to the far post was exemplary and this time it was Jamie McAteer who climbed the highest to connect for his first Town goal with the linesman ruling that his header had crossed the line before being hooked away.

Barwell were clearly frustrated at the manner of this late setback and in the kerfuffle that followed Hildreth was red carded as Town’s happy knack of battling right to the final whistle came up trumps yet again.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Ross Oulton (Shawn Richards 71), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott (Ross Oulton 88), Wilson Carvalho (Claudio Dias 90+5). Unused Subs – Jarrell Hylton, Taylor Morrison & Kieren Westwood

BARWELL : Liam Castle, Elliot Percival, Elliot Putman, Jean-Robert Desrosiers, Brad-Lee Gascoigne,. Lee Hildreth, Nigel Julien (Jamie Towers 76), Rob Morgan (Liam Canavan 68), Massiah McDonald, Brady Hickey (c), Alex Tomlinson (Jahvan Davidson-Miller 83). Unused Subs – Sylvan Ebanks-Blake & Jai Rowe

Referee     –        Ryan Williams

Assistant Referees        –         Adam Clenaghan & Josh Hackett

Attendance      –       212

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Stratford Yellow Cards       –          Fry & Oulton
Barwell Yellow Cards           –         McDonald, Morgan & Percival         Red Card   –   Hildreth

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

4th DECEMBER 2018  –  DIDCOT TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE CUP

ETHERIDGE’S SHOOT-OUT HEROICS PROPEL TOWN INTO LEAGUE CUP QUARTER FINALS

thumbnail_5F3A2244Didcot Town              –      1      –       Learoyd  33
Stratford Town        –      1       –      Williams  37
(Stratford won 4-2 on penalties)

Keeper Ross Etheridge was the matchwinner with two stunning saves in the deciding penalty shoot-out as Town progressed into the quarter finals of the CSS League Cup at a cold and wet Loop Meadow Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Earlier the scheduled 90 minutes had ended all square after two first half goals in four minutes, but thanks to Etheridge’s heroics and four clinical spot kicks of their own Town went through with the second shoot-out success of the season.

As expected Thomas Baillie fielded a much changed side. Of the eleven who started at Halesowen only Etheridge, Chris Cox, Jimmy Fry, Jordan Williams and Wilson Carvalho did so here while in came Kieren Westwood, Andre Olunkanmi, Ross Oulton. Josh Cooke and Claudio Dias and there was a debut appearance for central defender Tom Fishwick signed last week from Redditch united.

But the new look line-up made a bright start with Dias letting fly with a 25 yard drive in only the eighth minute which was turned behind by Didcot keeper Leigh Bedwell getting down well at the foot of his right hand post.

Soon after Cooke fired into the side netting from a tight angle on the right and Town went even closer on the quarter hour mark when Oulton’s long range free kick thudded against the opposite post with Bedwell well beaten and ricocheted away to safety.

With Oulton making his presence in midfield and both Dias and Olunkanmi looking lively Town were having most of the play and Fry was next to threaten as he headed narrowly over from a Westwood cross.

But having been comfortably on top Town fell behind on 33 minutes from Didcot’s first serious goal attempt. Etheridge could only fumble Aaron Woodley’s shot from the edge of the penalty area round the post and from the resulting corner Adam Learoyd climbed highest to head into the net.

Didcot’s lead was however only to be shortlived. Four minutes after their number 6 had headed them in front from a set piece it was the turn of Town’s number 6 to level it all up with a pretty much identical strike as he headed in from another Oulton free kick.

Both sides had chances early in the second half with the busy Cooke having a fierce effort well held by Bedwell while at the other end some neat control from Morgan Williams made room for a sharp left footer which flashed narrowly wide.

Westwood wasn’t far away after a slick Town passing move on 66 minutes followed by Williams hitting a free kick straight at Etheridge before Thomas Baillie sent on Mike Taylor who bizarrely received a yellow card from referee Andrew Ballard as soon as he stepped onto the pitch apparently for a disagreement with the linesman while he was waiting to come on.

Substitute Greg Hackett added a bit of pace up front for Didcot and from one of his crosses Brett Gardner went close with a header, and in the last ten minutes both teams tried frantically to create what would surely have been the winning goal.

A Jarrell Hylton shot was blocked at point blank range by Bedwell and both Fry and Cox fired tantalisingly wide as the game headed into four minutes added time but a decider just wouldn’t come.

So it was all down to the lottery of the penalty shoot-out and Etheridge got Town off to the perfect start by brilliantly beating away Didcot’s opening kick taken by Callum McNish.

Fry promptly netted Town’s first to give them the lead followed by successful kicks from Sam Barder and Woodley for Didcot and Dias and Taylor for Town, but when Etheridge pulled another stunning save from Dave Murphy it meant that Town only needed to score from one of their next two to go through.

And as it happened one was enough with Hylton nervelessly drilling his effort into the bottom corner to send Town into the last eight.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kieren Wesatwood, Jimmy Fry (c), Tom Fishwick, Jordan Williams, Andre Olunkanmi (Cody Fisher 83), Ross Oulton, Josh Cooke (Mike Taylor 72), Claudio Dias, Wilson Carvalho (Jarrell Hylton 60). Unused Subs – Will Grocott & Kynan Isaac

DIDCOT : Leigh Bedwell, Sam Barder, Cameron McNeill (Greg Hackett 60), Michael Alexis (Callum McNish 46), Luke Carnell, Adam Learoyd, Brett Gardner (Caelan Isaac 85), Oliver Thomas, Aaron Woodley, Dave Murphy, Morgan Williams.. Unused Subs – Lance Williams & Lewis Hayden

Referee      –       Andrew Ballard

Assistant Referees       –       Dan Simpson & David Pilling

Attendance     –      98

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards      –       Cox, Fisher & Taylor
Didcot Yellow Cards           –       None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

1st DECEMBER 2018  –  HALESOWEN TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN CRUISE PAST THE YELTZ AFTER A NEAR FIFTY YEAR WAIT

Halesowen Town       –        0
Stratford Town           –        2        –      Carvalho 58 (pen)   Grocott 71

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In the first League meeting between the two clubs since their West Midland League encounters in the 1969/70 season Town’s two second half goals propelled them to a success which was considerably more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

Thomas Baillie’s side had the better of the first half hitting the woodwork twice, and once Wilson Carvalho had fired them ahead from the penalty spot just before the hour mark there was only going to be one winner with Will Grocott’s close range finish on 71 minutes putting the result beyond doubt.

Town’s starting line-up showed one change from the South Shields game with Ross Etherington returning in goal in place of Richard Walton who is apparently on his way to Coalville Town following the end of his loan spell at the Arden Garages Stadium.

Halesowen were under the new management team of Rob Smith and Larry Chambers and had two players making their debuts in Callum Coyle and Liam Truslove on loan from Solihull Moors and Kidderminster Harriers respectively.

Both sides had chances to take the lead in the opening five minutes. Firstly a Kynan Isaac cross was deflected behind for a corner from which Jamie McAteer had a shot blocked at point blank range, while at the other end a Lewis Reilly effort was similarly charged down.

And on seven minutes Town had a real let-off when Coyle’s delicate cross from the left byline set up a straightforward heading chance for Reilly which he put wastefully over.

Soon after the veteran Lee Hughes – who numbers West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City among his former clubs – sent Tobias Hayles-Docherty away down the left but as he cut in he could only drill his shot into the side netting.

Town responded with Albi Sknedi having a low drive deflected narrowly wide, and as the half reached its midway point it was Skendi who went the closest yet to opening the scoring with a beautifully struck right footer from 25 yards out which was spectacularly turned behind via the top of the bar by Yeltz keeper Kieran Boucher.

Town again tested the woodwork on the half hour mark when McAteer’s glancing header from a Grocott corner came back off the post.

With Town now piling on the pressure Grocott wasn’t far away with a dipping free kick from 30 yards out five minutes before the interval, and as Town finished the half on the attack Carvalhp cleverly made room for a fiercely struck effort which rebounded away off Boucher’s legs.

The Yeltz were first to threaten after the restart with Etheridge making a comfortable save from Hayles-Docherty, but on 58 minutes it was Town who made the breakthrough.

Lewis Wilson slid the ball across the penalty area to Mike Taylor who was tripped as he tried to wriggle past Joab Wheatley and Carvalho repeated his penalty success against South Shields last week by slamming the resulting spot kick past Boucher with the minimum of fuss.

Halesowen were never going to come back from that and Town wrapped up the points in the 71st minute when Boucher couldn’t hold Isaac’s low drive from wide out on the left and Grocott reacted the quickest to lash in the rebound.

As the Yeltz frantically tried to salvage something from the game Etheridge made a smart save from Coyle at the foot of his left hand post, but Town had matters firmly under control and saw the rest of the game out without any serious alarms.

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott (Ross Oulton 88), Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Andre Olunkanmi, Claudio Dias, Josh Cooke & Taylor Morrison

HALESOWEN : Kieran Boucher, Joab Wheatley, Jack Kelly, Ivor Lawton, Danny Bragoli (c), Asa Charlton, Lewis Reilly, Callum Coyle, Lee Hughes (Roland Agbor 68), Liam Truslove (Dean Hawkshaw 81), Tobias Hayles-Docherty.. Unused Subs – Jack Rea. Sam Tonks & Dominic Hill

Referee        –         Neil Pratt

Assistant Referees         –       James Whittington & Paul Sparrow

Attendance       –        412

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards         –      None
Halesowen Yellow Cards    –      Agbor

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

24th NOVEMBER 2018     –     SOUTH  SHIELDS  –  HOME  –   F A TROPHY

TAYLOR STRIKES LATE TO SINK THE MARINERS

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Stratford Town       –       2        –    – Carvalho 58 (pen) Taylor 90 + 4
South Shields          –       1        –       Finnigan 18

Mike Taylor’s close range finish in the fourth minute of added time propelled Town into the first round proper of the Buildbase F A Trophy for the first time ever and at the same time ended South Shields six game winning run.

Carl Finnigan’s opportunism had given the Mariners a half time lead but the game changed completely in the 58th minute when Nathan Lowe handled on the line to be promptly sent off and Wilson Carvalho levelled it all up from the penalty spot.

From then on Town had the better of the possession as South Shields defended in depth and in numbers in the hope of taking the tie to a replay back in the North East on Tuesday evening.

And that tactic looked to have worked until Taylor swooped for his last gasp winner.

With Chris Cox having recovered from the injury which kept him out for the last two games Town’s starting line-up was pretty much as expected except that Kynan Isaac got the nod over Kieren Westwood for the left back slot.

It was the Mariners who were the more threatening of the two sides early on with Blair Adams and Gavin Cogdon combining down the left to set up an opening for David Foley which needed a perfectly timed interception from Jamie McAteer to snuff out the danger.

Another Adams run ended with Jordan Williams being in the right place to clear his cross before Town at last threatened with a Taylor shot being turned behind by the Mariners keeper Liam Connell.

But South Shields had certainly settled better and they took the lead in the 18th minute.

Lowe seized on a loose ball to hit a low drive from 25 yards out which was pushed out by Town keeper Richard Walton plunging to his left only for Finnigan to react the quickest and fire the rebound into the empty net.

With the Mariners looking ominously comfortable Jimmy Fry did well to clear a goalbound header from Rob Briggs and on the half hour mark Finnigan cut in from the right to drill the ball across the six yard box with a Town deflection helping it behind at the far post.

With Cogdon and Foley catching the eye with their close control slick passing Town were having to hang on and Lowe again went close on 40 minutes with a fiercely hit volley which was straight at Walton.

In a rare Town foray forward Albi Skendi tested Connell with a vicious shot on the turn which the keeper only held at the second attempt, but the first half ended with another probing Mariners attack as Cogdon surged down the left to whip in a cross which was cut out by Williams as Finnigan waited to pounce.

But Town were far more lively after the break with a typical surging run by Skendi being halted on the edge of the penalty area followed by Will Grocott playing in Isaac down the left with his cross fizzing across the face of the goal with no Town player close enough to apply the finishing touch.

Then on 58 minutes came the turning point of the game. Grocott floated over a corner from the right which was headed towards goal by McAteer. Taylor flicked it on and the linesman immediately flagged that it had been handled on the line by Lowe.

After a brief consultation referee Andy Genders pointed to the spot and issued the mandatory red card to Lowe before Carvalho blasted the kick past Connell with the minimum of fuss.

It was a different game now with the Mariners making their intentions plain by immediately making a double substitution with Cogdon and Foley being replaced by Josh Gillies and Ben Harmison.

Town were now inevitably having more of the possession than before but with the Mariners funnelling back at the first sign of danger they found it difficult to create any really clearcut chances.

Instead Adams wasn’t far away with a decent effort from distance, and in the 82nd minute it needed a smart save by Walton at the foot of his left hand post to keep out a Briggs free kick.

But that long midweek trip for a replay seemed a certainty until Carvalho’s 94th minute cross was seized on by Taylor who swivelled to lash it into the roof of the net and spark wild celebrations both on and off the pitch.

Having received a trophy to mark his 100 Town appearances before kick off it was the perfect ending to a perfect afternoon for the hugely popular number 9.

“First and foremost it was a great day for the club” beamed an ecstatic Thomas Baillie afterwards. “we are all enjoying our journey in this competition and it hasn’t ended yet.

But in the first half this afternoon we simply weren’t good enough. We stood off them and showed them far too much respect. Yes they are a good team but so are we and showed that we took the game to them after half time.

It was a stonewall penalty but after they went down to ten men they made it very difficult for us as they concentrated on sitting back and soaking up our pressure.

A few weeks ago we might not have had the character to keep going but we have now and it was tremendous for the big man to snatch that late winner for us.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Jimmy Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott (Andre Olunkanmi 82), Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Kieren Westwood, Claudio Dias, Josh Cooke & Shawn Richards

S/SHIELDS : Liam Connell, Craig Baxter, Blair Adams, Jon Shaw (c), Dillon Morse, Philip Turnbull, Gavin Cogdon (Ben Harmison 59), Robert Briggs, Carl Finnigan, Nathan Lowe, Davisd Foley (Josh Gillies 59). Unused Subs – Gary Brown, Darren Lough & Joachim Ursene Mouanda

Referee        –        Andy Genders

Assistant Referees          –         Matthew Paul & Daniel Stokes

Attendance       –         378

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford     S/Shields
           9 Goal Attempts               8
           6 On Target               5
          0 Blocked Shots               0
          0 Hit Woodwork               0
          3 Corners Won              5
          5 Crosses into Box              6
       10 Fouls Conceded             8
          0 Off Side             5
          1 Yellow Cards             1
         0 Red Cards             1

 Stratford Yellow Cards          –       Skendi
S/Shields Yellow Cards        –         Baxter              Red Card      –       Lowe

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

20th NOVEMBER 2018  –  ASTON VILLA  –  HOME  –  B’HAM SNR CUP

PENALTY SHOOT-OUT ANGUISH FOR TOWN

Stratford Town    –      0
Aston Villa              –      0
(Aston Villa won 5-4 on penalties)

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Recent history didn’t repeat itself for Town at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening.

In the first round of the Birmingham Senior Cup they had edged past Coventry City via the penalty shoot-out route after the scheduled 90 minutes had ended goal-less, but when their second round encounter with Aston Villa also finished with the same scoreline it was Town’s turn to be on the wrong side of the shoot-out lottery.

Thomas Baillie had selected a strong enough side including seven of those who were in the starting line-up at Needham Market on Saturday, and captain for the evening was fans favourite Mike Taylor who was making his 100th Town appearance, while Villa’s side was a mixture of their Under 18 and 23 teams.

And it was Taylor who was soon in the action muscling Dominic Bevan off a through ball before turning to hit a shot which Bevan was able to block as he recovered quickly enough to get back into position.

A couple of surging runs from Albi Skendi then alerted the Villa youngsters to what he could do as Town were the more threatening of the two sides in the opening quarter of an hour.

Another Taylor drive through the middle took him into the penalty area before being halted by a combination of Bevan and Jacob Bedeau. and on 27 minutes Town created their best chance yet when Kynan Isaac worked the ball into Claudio Dias but from eight yards out he could only prod it tamely straight at the Villa keeper Matija Sarkik.

In a tare Villa foray into the Town half Jordan Cox had a shot charged down but Town were soon pressing again and a Dias free kick from the left fizzed across the penalty area before being deflected behind.

Villa at last showed their potential five minutes before half time when a slick passing ,move ended with Cox seeing his shot held by Richard Walton followed by Harry McKirdy taking off with a blistering turn of speed down the right to reach the byline before being crowded out.

Villa noticeably upped their tempo after the break with Rushian Hepburn-Murphy charging down the right to whip in a low cross from the right and then having a 20 yard effort easily dealt with by Walton.

Walker then tested Walton with a dipping effort from distance as Town came under pressure for the first time in the game.

Centurion Taylor went off to a deserved ovation on the hour mark to be replaced by Jimmy Fry with Lewis Wilson taking over Taylor’s striking role.

Jordan Williams did well to block a close range effort from MvKirdy on 64 minutes and did even better five minutes later with a perfectly timed tackle to snuff out a promising run down the inside right channel by Hepburn-Murphy.

With fifteen minutes to go the game was still goal-less but Skendi came the closest yet with a stinging drive that rattled the bar as the Villa defence failed to clear a corner.

And on 83 minutes Sarkik kept the scores level as he plunged to his right to turn a well struck right footer from Fry round the post.

At the other end Harvey Knibbs wasn’t far away with a looping header from a Cox cross and substitute Colin Odutayo wasted a great opportunity on the break when Town were caught upfield following a corner.

A fierce Skendi attempt flashed narrowly wide as the game headed into added time, but as in the previous round against Coventry City the 90 minutes had ended 0-0 and it all down to the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

Fry, Wilson, Skendi and Cooke all netted for Town matched by Prosser, Cox, Knibbs and Bedeau for Villa, but Town’s fifth penalty taken by Westwood was kept out by SDarkik hurling himself to his left which meant that Odutayo could settle the tie by converting Villa’s next.

And he duly did so with the minimum of fuss to send Villa through to round three.

“I’m not too disappointed” admitted Thomas Baillie afterwards. “The priority is Saturday’s F A Trophy tie against South Shields and we tried a few different formations and tactics tonight in preparation for that game.

We expected it to be a tough match as they are all full time players and on occasions like this they are out to impress.

But we gave several players some valuable game time and over the 90 minutes I felt that we shaded it and had we done better with a couple of chances we might have gone through.

But we didn’t and we now have to concentrate on getting the right result on Saturday.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton, Kynan Isaac, Kieran Westwood, Claudio Dias (Jarrell Hylton 78), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Shawn Richards (Josh Cooke 69), Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (c) (James Fry 60), Lewis Wilson. Cody Fisher. Unused Subs – Will Grocott & Owen James

A/VILLA : Matija Sarkic, Jake Walker, Callum Rowe, Alex Prosser (c), Dominic Bevan, Jacob Bedeau, Jordan Cox, Lewis Brunt, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Luke Ige 77), Harry McKirdy (Colin Odutayo 66), Harvey Knibbs. Unused Subs – Viljami Sinisalo, Charlie McConnachie & Ben Guy

Referee          –        Ryan Williams

Assistant Referees               –          Josh Hackett & Niall Nestor

Attendance           –       338

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

    Stratford        A/Villa
            9 Goal Attempts             11
            3 On Target               4
            0 Blocked Shots              0
           1 Hit Woodwork              0
         10 Corners Won              5
            7 Crosses into Box              5
           9 Fouls Conceded            15
           2 Off Side              1
           1 Yellow Cards              2
           0 Red Cards              0

Stratford Yellow Cards      –        Richards
A/Villa Yellow Cards           –         Walker & Ige

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

17th NOVEMBER 2018  –  NEEDHAM MARKET  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN’S UNBEATEN RUN GOES WEST IN THE EAST

5F3A0153.jpegNeedham Market    –    2      –    Heath 22 Ingram 40
Stratford Town       –     1      –    Morrison 84

Town’s 13 match unbeaten run was ended by a hardworking  and well organised Needham side who were deserving winners on the day with their two first half strikes proving decisive.

Thomas Baillie’s side tried hard to get back into the game in the second half, but Needham looked in control until debutant Taylor Morrison – who joined Town during the week from Alvechurch – pulled one back from a free kick with six minutes to go.

But it was too late to affect the result as Needham held on to take the points and become the first team to get the better of Town since Baillie’s arrival back in September.

Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from the win at Mickleover in midweek. With Chris Cox and Ross Oulton ruled out through injury there were recalls for Jimmy Fry and Mike Taylor while new boy Morrison replaced Kieren Westwood.

And as part of the overall shake-up Town’s Mr Versatile Lewis Wilson switched from striker to right back.

Tn the first ever meeting between the two clubs Town got off to a bright start with Albi Skendi playing in Kynan Isaac down the right but Isaac’s attempted cross was easily collected by Needham keeper Jake Jessup.

Soon after Morrison overlapped down the left to force a corner from which Wilson Carvalho’s shot was kept out by Jessup’s legs.

Then in the 10th minute Town really should have taken the lead when Will Grocott’s cross from the left presented Mike Taylor with a free header which he directed uncharacteristically wide.

Another chance came Taylor’s way soon after when Skendi’s low drive was only parried by Jessup but the Town striker was again off target from the follow-up.

Needham responded with a neat move which ended with Joe Marsden shooting wildly over before Town had another opportunity when Carvalho’s persistence enabled him to nick the ball off Keiran Morphew and slide it across to Fry whose shot lacked the power to trouble Jessup.

But having had the better of the possession Town fell behind on 22 minutes when they didn’t deal properly with Adam Mills’ cross from the left and Needham skipper Gareth Heath seized on the loose ball to fire home from the edge of the penalty area.

Town tried to hit back with Isaac having a fiercely struck effort tipped over by Jessup followed by Carvalho not being far away from distance before Needham doubled their lead five minutes before the break.

Again Mills was the provider as the tricky wide man caught Wilson dithering on the ball and quickly dispossessed him to run on and shoot against keeper Richard Walton with Luke Ingram pouncing on the rebound to thump it into the empty net.

Needham went close to going further ahead seven minutes into the second half when Callum Sturgess surged into the penalty area but Walton was smartly off his line to block.

Another Sturgess run took him to the byline to whip in a cross which was cut out by Jamie McAteer while Mills again threatened on the hour mark with a shot which was deflected behind off Jordan Williams.

Realising that changes were needed Thomas Baillie soon made two substitutions sending on the week’s second newcomer Shawn Richards from Rushden and Diamonds in place of Fry followed by Claudio Dias for Isaac.

But Needham appeared to be ominously comfortable although the two Town substitutes almost combined to make a breakthrough on 78 minutes with Dias threading the ball through to Richards whose shot ricocheted away off a defender.

At the other end Ingram had a decent effort pushed out by Walton with Mills’ attempt from the loose ball again being deflected behind.

Then in the 84th minute Town were handed a glimmer of hope when Needham conceded a free kick a couple of yards outside the penalty area in a central position and Morrison stepped up to drill it into the bottom corner.

As the game headed into added time a Grocott shot resulted in a scramble in the six yard box until Jessup was able to grab the ball as it spun towards him, but time was very much on Needham’s side and they saw the game out without any further alarms.

“We got what we deserved” was Thomas Baillie’s honest assessment afterwards. “We simply weren’t good enough in the first half and although we did better in the second we never really looked like getting back into it.

Having said that we could have been two up before they scored, but once they got in front they made it very difficult for us.

Maybe this result is what was needed as a reality check to stop us believing all the hype about our unbeaten sequence, but we now have to pick ourselves up and start again with two important cup games to come next week.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton, Lewis Wilson, Taylor Morrison, Jimmy Fry (c) (Shawn Richards 65), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Kynan Isaac (Claudio Dias 68), Albi Skendi, Mike Tayor, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Kieren Westwood, Cody Fisher & James Behan (GK)

NEEDHAM : Jake Jessup, Jake Dye, Callum Sturgess, Sam Squire, Keiran Morphew, Dan Morphew, Joe Marsden (Jamie Griffiths 88), Gareth Heath (c), James Baker (Reece Dobson 77), Luke Ingram, Adam Mills. Unused Subs – Jeremiah Kamanzi, Tariq Issa & Finlay Shorten (GK)

Referee     –       Jonathan Burridge

Assistant Referees –    –   James Beal & Chris Williams

Attendance       –      288

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford     Needham
           14 Goal Attempts             11
             7 On Target                7
             1 Blocked Shots               1
             0 Hit Woodwork               0
            9 Corners Won               4
            7 Crosses into Box               9
          11 Fouls Conceded               9
            0 Off Side              2
            0 Yellow Cards              2
            0 Red Cards              0

Stratford Yellow Cards         –      None
Needham Yellow Cards        –       Baker & Sturgess

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

13th NOVEMBER 2018  –  MICKLEOVER SPORTS  –  AWAY  –  F A TROPHY

TAYLOR STUNS SPORTS WITH DRAMATIC LATE WINNER

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Mickleover Sports       –       0
Stratford Town             –       1     –     Taylor  88

In the 88th minute of this fiercely contested but still goal-less encounter at the Don Arnott Arena on Tuesday evening Mike Taylor met Chris Cox’s deep cross from the right with one of his trademark far post headers to propel Town into the Third Qualifying Round of the Buildbase F A Trophy for the first time ever.

It was the popular Taylor’s 12th goal of the season and by far the most significant, yet it had been a frustrating start to the evening for the big striker as he found himself on the subs bench with Thomas Baillie handing the number 9 shirt to Lewis Wilson in one of two changes made from Saturday.

The other change was similarly eyebrow raising as Ross Oulton came in for usual skipper Jimmy Fry, but as it happened Fry was called into the action before half time followed by Taylor soon afterwards.

The Sports starting line-up showed four changes with Jake Scott, Mason Warren, Jimmy Phillips and Kyle Clamp making way for Reece Ford, Jack Walsh, Nathan Jarman and the Nottingham Forest loanee Victor Soleinde.

The pace was fast and furious from the kick off and in the early skirmishes Wilson went close for Town while at the other end Evan Garnett latched on to a misplaced pass from Kynan Isaac only to have his run halted by a dubious offside decision.

Soleinde then wasted a great opportunity in the 15th minute by blazing over from a pinpoint Ted Cribley cross and as the play switched backwards and forwards Isaac had a well struck effort blocked at point blank range by Pablo Mills.

Albi Skendi was next to threaten with a jinking run down the left on 28 minutes with his shot from an increasingly narrow angle beating keeper Correy Addai but being hooked off the line by Ricky Ravenhill.

Soon after Oulton was forced off having taken a knock allowing Fry to come on instead.

Ten minutes before the break Kieren Westwood strode forward to hit a thunderous left footer which was well held by Addai stretching to his left, but half time was reached with neither side yet being able to come up with the bit of quality needed to make the breakthrough.

It was more of the same after the interval, and in an effort to give the Sports defence more to think about Thomas Baillie introduced Taylor on the hour mark in place of Westwood with Isaac switching to left back and Wilson dropping into midfield.

Town had a couple of free kicks in promising positions only for Grocott’s flighted deliveries into the penalty area to be confidently claimed by Addai and by now it was looking as if one goal would be enough if either side could manage it.

The Sports supporters thought that the decisive moment had arrived with a quarter of an hour to go when the tricky Garnett worked an opening for himself but Town survived as from 12 yards out he somehow lifted the ball over the bar with only Richard Walton to beat.

Taylor though was now making his presence felt forcing Addai into a smart save down to his left with five minutes to go.

And then Town at last produced that match winning moment as Taylor did what he does best to despatch Cox’s inviting cross past Addai to set off unrestrained celebrations among the travelling Town faithful who quickly forgot the desperate traffic problems they had dealt with just to be there.

So £4000 in prize money and a visit from South Shields in the next round to look forward to in ten days time.

And ironically in a quirk of the fixture list Mickleover face South Shields before then in a Northern Premier League match this coming weekend. Town will no doubt look out for that result with more than the usual interest.

“We got there in the end” beamed an ecstatic Thomas Baillie afterwards. “I felt that we were the better side in the first half, but they had a good spell half way through the second before we finished the stronger and secured the result we wanted.

That’s 13 unbeaten achieved on the 13th of the month.”

Commenting on the decision to start with Lewis Wilson rather than Mike Taylor the Town boss added “I thought their backline had it too comfortable on Saturday and I wanted to challenge them with something different.

Lewis provides us with exactly that. He is a hugely versatile player who can perform well in any number of positions, and I felt that the change really worked for us in the first half.

Mike was naturally disappointed to only be on the bench and when he went on he obviously wanted to prove a point which is great for the team and was key to us winning right at the end.

But these have been two physically demanding games played at a high tempo and there’s some tired bodies in the dressing room right now. One or two may well be doubtful for the weekend but we’ll know more on that score nearer the time.

Meantime we can enjoy this result and look forward to South Shields who will undoubtedly provide us with another incredibly tough challenge.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood (Mike Taylor 60),Ross Oulton (Jimmy Fry 39), Jamie McAteer (c), Jordan Williams, Kynan Isaac, Albi Skendi, Lewis Wilson, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Cody Fisher & James Behan (GK)

MICKLEOVER : Correy Addai, Reece Ford, Ben Turner, Ricky Ravenhill, Pablo,Mills, Tom Burgin (c), Jack Walsh (Jimmy Phillips 22), Ted Cribley (Mason Wareen 80), Nathan Jarman, Evan Garnett, Victor Soleinde. Unused Subs – Will Norcross, Kyle Clamp & Harley Kozluk

Referee       –        K Saunby

Assistant Referees       –         S Davies & T Hales

Attendance      –       183

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Stratford Yellow Cards            –          Oulton & Skendi
Mickleover Yellow Cards         –       Jarman

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

10th NOVEMBER 2018  –  MICKLEOVER SPORTS  –  HOME  –  F A TROPHY

TOWN’S TROPHY HOPES DERAILED BY LATE LEVELLER

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Stratford Town         –    1     –    Williams  26
Mickleover Sports   –    1    –     Norcross  85

Town stretched their unbeaten run to twelve at the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday but now face the prospect of a challenging midweek replay in Derbyshire after Mickleover Sports struck with a late equaliser in this Buildbase F A Trophy Second Qualifying Round tie.

For most of the game Town seemed to be in control, but crucially they couldn’t add to the first half lead given them by Jordan Williams and paid the price when substitute Will Norcross pounced for the equaliser with only five minutes to go.

Jamie McAteer and Kieren Westwood were back in the starting line-up for this one with Cody Fisher and Lewis Wilson dropping to the subs bench where they were joined by Ross Oulton and Jazz Luckie meaning that there was no place in the squad for Amos Kabeya while Claudio Dias was ruled out through injury.

The Mickleover side included keeper Correy Addai who has joined on loan from Coventry City and who played against Town in the Birmingham Senior Cup both earlier this season and also two years ago.

Encouragingly Town made a bright start and only the woodwork prevented them taking the lead in just the second minute when Will Grocott’s free kick rattled the bar with Addai rooted to the spot.

Soon after Grocott blasted another free kick into the Sports wall followed by Jimmy Fry threading a pass through to Kyan Isaac whose shot was deflected behind.

The Sports responded with a Ted Cribley effort from wide on the left drifting wide well watched by Richard Walton, but Town were much the sharper of the two sides and Addai did well to push away a thunderbolt from Wilson Carvalho on 24 minutes.

However the Sports reprieve was only temporary as two minutes later Albi Skendi floated over a cross from the right which was headed in by Williams at the far post.

That gave Town an added boost and as they pushed forward for a second Addai saved decent efforts from Grocott and Carvalho while Skendi’s header from a Grocott corner fizzed narrowly over.

Little was being seen of the Sports attack with Williams and McAteer in commanding form in the centre of Town’s backline, and in the final move of the first half a slick passing move ended with Grocott’s low cross from the right being tantalisingly inches out of Mike Taylor’s reach.

Town continued on top after the break with Carvalho seizing on a stray Mickleover pass to slip the ball to Grocott who was quickly crowded out while Chris Cox twice overlapped down the right to whip in dangerous crosses the first of which was headed behind by the giant Pablo Mills and the second was hacked away..

Isaac then worked an opening for himself only to shoot straight at Addai followed by Taylor almost nicking the ball off Addai as the keeper dithered after receiving a throw-in from Ben Turner.

But in spite of bossing the possession Town were still only one up, and in the last twenty minutes the Sports began to pose more and more of a threat.

The busy Evan Garnett wasn’t far away from 20 yards out and shortly after Mills header from a corner had to be tipped over by Walton.

Suddenly Town were having to work harder and harder to keep their lead intact as Garnett began to take over in midfield and all the warning signs were there.

And in the 85th minute Town were hit by a sucker punch when Garnett reached the byline down the left and his pinpoint cross was headed in by the unmarked Norcross from eight yards out.

Now the momentum was with the Sports and a couple of minutes later they almost nicked a winner when Turner’s shot was superbly beaten away by Walton before the final whistle signalled that Town will have it all to do at Mickleover on Tuesdasy evening.

“It was disappointing and an opportunity missed” reflected Assistant Manager Scott Machin afterwards. “We dominated the first half but didn’t seem to get going again in the second.

The longer the game went on you could sense the tide turning and but for Richard’s late save we could well have lost.

I don’t believe that they were fitter than us but they certainly finished stronger, but at least we know a lot more about them now.

And maybe this will act as a wake up call for us as in the last few games we have only been doing just enough to win and today we couldn’t do that and were caught out right at the end.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Kynan Isaac (Lewis Wilson 73). Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Cody Fisher, Ross Oulton, Jazz Luckie & James Behan (GK)

MICKLEOVER : Correy Addai, Jake Scott (Will Norcross 74), Ben Turner, Ricky Ravenhill, Pablo Mills, Tom Burgin (c), Mason Warren (Jack Walsh 55), Jimmy Phillips, Kyle Clamp, Evan Garnett, Ted Cribley (Nathan Jarman 46). Unused Subs – Harley Kozluk & Victor Sodeinde

Referee       –         Ollie Williams

Assistant Referees       –       Ryan Price & Rohan Anand

Attendance    –      183

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford     Mickleover
          16 Goal Attempts               6
            6 On Target               3
           1 Blocked Shots               0
           1 Hit Woodwork               0
           7 Corners Won              6
          7 Crosses into Box              7
        11 Fouls Conceded            16
          0 Off Side              1
         1 Yellow Cards              1
          0 Red Cards              0

Stratford Yellow Cards             –       Isaac
Mickleover Yellow Cards         –       Burgin

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

6th NOVEMBER 1018  –  REDDITCH UNITED  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE CUP

TOWN DELIVER LEAGUE CUP KO TO THE REDS

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Stratford Town          –     2     –    Wilson  18  Isaac  45 + 2
Redditch United        –     1     –    Ali 82

It’s now eleven games unbeaten as Town progressed into the Third Round of the CSS League Challenge Cup on Tuesday evening following up their earlier League win over near neighbours Redditch United with another dominant display with the margin of victory being far more clearcut than the final scoreline suggests.

First half goals from Lewis Wilson and Kynan Isaac gave Thomas Baillie’s side an advantage which never looked in danger until Ahmed Ali pulled one back for the Reds late on which meant an anxious few minutes until the final whistle.

In spite of Baillie previously suggesting a number of changes to the starting line-up there were only two in the end with Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry and Isaac coming in for Kieren Westwood, Jamie McAteer and Ross Oulton.

Town were soon on the attack with Isaac shooting narrowly wide after working his way in from the right while Mike Taylor was already proving a handful for the Reds backline.

And it was Taylor who played a crucial role when Town took the lead on 18 minutes as he was brought down by Nyeko Sinclair a few yards outside the penalty area on the right.

Will Grocott floated across another of his peerless deliveries to the far post where Taylor as always climbed highest to head the ball back across goal where it was turned in by Lewis Wilson from close range.

Town were close to going two up soon after when Isaac had a shot blocked followed immediately by Grocott seizing on a loose ball 10 yards and letting fly with a thunderous effort which was kept out by a combination of Reds keeper Reece Francis and a defender.

Another Grocott free kick from out by the left touchline was driven straight at Francis before Town had a scare in the 35th minute when in a rare Redditch attack Dave Reynolds swivelled to blast the ball against Richard Walton’s right hand post.

That gave the Reds a bit of momentum, and a neat move on 41 minutes ended with Leam Howards scooping the ball over the bar from eight yards out.

But Town hit back to double their advantage in the second added minute of the first half when Francis could only parry Fry’s well struck low drive and Isaac pounced to slot the rebound into the net.

With Saturday’s F A Trophy tie in mind Taylor made way for Amos Kabeya who instantly showed plenty of speed although without Taylor’s physical presence he struggled to make much of an impact.

But Town were still the more threatening of the two sides with Albi Skendi powering forward on the hour mark to fire inches over followed five minutes later with a another decent effort which was pushed behind by Francis plunging to his right.

In what had to be their last throw of the dice the Reds made a triple substitution on 67 minutes and promptly had more about them with Walton saving well from Reynolds and Mike Nelson seeing his left wing cross somehow deflected over his own bar by Chris Cox.

And on 82 minutes the Reds pulled one back when Sinclair’s free kick from out on the right was met by Ahmed Ali with a firm header which gave Walton little chance.

Suddenly the game wasn’t all over. Sinclair had a rasping effort blocked and Nelson’s pace wide on the right was becoming an issue for the Town defence.

But Town were never going to let this one slip away and Grocott had a chance to add a third Town goal on 87 minutes only for his shot to be turned away by Francis at point blank range.

“It was a game that we didn’t need at the moment” admitted Thomas Baillie afterwards. “With a number of niggles and bugs about some of our players could have done with a week’s rest before the F A Trophy tie against Mickleover, but after much deliberation I made a late decision to field the strongest side possible as we want to stay in this competition and also keep our unbeaten run going.

Although this wasn’t our best performance of the season I felt that we were always in control even when they scores towards the end, and as on Saturday at St Ives it was a game where we did enough to secure the result.

Looking ahead to the Mickleover game we should be at full strength. Jamie McAteer, Ross Oulton and Kieren Westwood should all be back, and I have an added incentive to want to win this one since when I was at Kettering the last F A Trophy game in which I was involved was at Mickleover who came from behind to win.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher, James Fry (c), Lewis Wilson., Jordan Williams, Kynan Isaac (Kieren Westwood 81), Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (Amos Kabeya 46), Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Claudio Dias, Jazz Luckie & James Behan (GK)

REDDITCH : Reece Francis, Sam Tye, Nyeko Sinclair, Harry Franklin, Andrew Parsons (c), Rob Evans, Ahmed Ali, Mason Birch (Max Loveridge 67), Leam Howards (Shaquille Leacxhman-Whittingham 67), David Reynolds, Montel Gibson (Mike Nelson 67). Unused Subs – Jamie Ashmore & Robbie Bunn

Referee     –       Steve Durnall

Assistant Referees       –       Kurt Bartlett & Aaron Ford

Attendance      –     163

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards       –      Isaac  &  Kabeya
Redditch Yellow Cards       –      None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

3rd NOVEMBER 2018  –  ST IVES TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TENUP FOR TOWN

St Ives Town           –        0
Stratford Town     –        2      –      Cox  1   Taylor  22

With Town arriving at the Pro-Edge Stadium on Saturday on the back of an unbeaten nine game run and St Ives on a losing sequence of six the form book pointed to another successful afternoon for Tom Baillie’s side.

And so it proved with the result virtually beyond doubt with only 22 minutes on the clock when Town were already two up through Chris Cox’s first goal for the club followed by Mike Taylor’s 11th of an increasingly prolific campaign.

Town’s starting line-up was unchanged from the midweek win over Alvechurch while the returning Jimmy Fry replaced Cody Fisher on the subs bench.

On an uneven pitch where the ball bobbled about all afternoon Town made a dream start as they went ahead after only 52 seconds when Will Grocorr floated over a free kick from the left touchline into the Saints penalty area where Cox climbed highest to glance a header beyond keeper Sam Wilson.

With their confidence already low after their recent setbacks the Saints struggled to make any sort of response and they barely created a chance until the 20th minute when Ben Seymour-Shove whipped in a low cross from the left only for Charlie De’ath to blast wastefully over.

And two minutes later it was Grocott’s impeccable skill from set pieces which led to Town doubling their lead and even at this early stage taking the game out of the Saints’ reach.

Another of his free kicks was headed behind by Mark Coulson and Town’s playmaker was equally deadly from the resulting corner with his precision delivery being exactly what Taylor wanted as he headed in at the far post.

Owen Wallis headed over and Ross Oulton made a crucial block when a corner fell kindly to Sam Catrwright as the Saints briefly threatened a comeback, but another Grocott free kick caused more problems for their defence until it was eventually cleared, and in the closing minutes of the half Town came close to adding a third.

First Taylor was narrowly wide from a Grocott cross under pressure from Cartwright and Wilson and then Ross Oulton wasn’t far away with a dipping volley from distance as Town went in at the break in total control.

There was little change to the pattern of play after the interval with Town clearly intent on keeping their lead intact and the Saints lacking the imagination or invention to take Town out of their comfort zone.

Instead Town were still a threat going forward with a Kieren Westwood cross being inches too high for Taylor and Wilson Carvalho bursting through to have a shot ricochet away off Cartwright.

With ten minutes to go only a fine save by Wilson plunging to his right prevented Grocott getting on the scoresheet with a fiercely struck 25 yard free kick but by then Town’s first  League away win of the season after four successive draws had long since been secured.

“It was a hard slog on a difficult pitch” was Tom Baillie’s reaction afterwards. “we got the job done and that was exactly what we set out to do.

We had a number of players who weren’t 100% with injuries and illness and that is why we couldn’t play with as much flair as usual and concentrated on just seeing it out in the second half.

So I will be making changes for the Redditch game on Tuesday to give some of the lads a rest, but we will still be looking to win the game and keep our run going.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, Ross Oulton, Jordan Williams, Jamie McAteer (c) (Jimmy Fry 51), Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (Amos Kabeya 82, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho (Kynan Isaac 72). 0Unused Subs – Claudio Dias & James Behan (GK)

ST IVES : Sam Wilson, Joe Hood, Mark Coulson (Jarvis Wilson 28), Owen Wallis, Sam Cartwright, Charlie De’ath, Ben Baker (Danny Kelly 46), Robbie Parker (c), George Bailey, Munashe Sundire, Ben Seymour-Shove (Ollie Snaith 80). Unused Subs – Dylan Wilson & Jordan Patrick

Referee        –            Andrew Humphries

Assistant Referees        –        Luke Scott & David Jarrett

Attendance       –      181

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards         –       Isaac, Skendi & Williams
St Ives Yellow Cards               –       None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

30th OCTOBER 2018  –  ALVECHURCH  –  HOME  –  F A TROPHY

CHURCH ARE SWEPT AWAY AS TOWN TURN ON THE STYLE

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Stratford Town     –       3      –      Carvalho  7 (pen)   Taylor  (20  37 & 42
Alvechurch             –        0

Town cruised past Alvechurch in this Buildbase F A Trophy First Qualifying Round replay as they put in a scintillating first half display which saw them go in at half time three up and the tie effectively already all over.

It was the third time the clubs had met in Cup competitions in the past fortnight and the fourth time in all this season, but whereas the previous games had all been closely fought – particularly the attritional stalemate at Lye Meadow on Saturday – this was a completely one-sided encounter with Tom Baillie’s side firmly in control from the first minute to the last.

Town’s starting line-up showed one change from Saturday with Ross Oulton coming in for the unavailable Jimmy Fry while new signing Amos Kabeya, who lists Torquay United, Braintree Town and Bishops Stortford among his former clubs, was on the subs bench.

In contrast Alvechurch made three changes. Keeper Paul Evans made way for Charlie Price while Danny Callaghan who was a second half substitute on Saturday replaced Mitch Botfield and Andre Landell took over from Aaron Lloyd.

Town set the tone for the evening immediately as they put the Church defence under pressure straight from the kick off. Mike Taylor could have opened the scoring after just four minutes but his disappointing first touch allowed Price to smother the ball at his feet.

But Church’s reprieve was only temporary as three minutes later Lewis Wilson worked his way into the right of the penalty area where he was brought down by the Church skipper Jamie Willetts.

Referee Richard Eley immediately pointed to the spot and Wilson Carvalho thumped the kick past Price with the minimum of fuss.

With Albi Skendi and Will Grocott bossing the midfield possession it was all Town. Taylor had a close range shot blocked by Price before they created an even better opening in the 18th minute when Carvalho skipped down the left to pull the ball back to Kieren Westwood whose fiercely struck left footer was unfortunately hit straight at Price.

Little was being seen of the Church attack with dangerman Yusifu Ceesay hardly having a kick, and Price again kept his side in the game on the half hour mark when he pushed another Taylor effort behind after Church had failed to deal properly with a Grocott free kick.

But the Church keeper had no chance when Town deservedly doubled their lead on 37 minutes as Westwood’s pinpoint cross from the left was met by Taylor with a sublime header into the far corner.

It was a classic old fashioned centre forward;s strike from the fans favourite which left Alvechurch visibly stunned.

And five minutes later Town made it 3-0 and surely took the tie out of Alvechurch’s reach as Skendi surged down the left to whip in a low cross which was turned in by who else but Taylor for his tenth goal of the campaign.

Alvechurch made a double substitution at half time in a desperate to get back into the game but Town were in no mood to let up and almost added a fourth ten minutes into the second half when Chris Cox’s header from a Grocott free kick was cleared off the line by Josh March.

The Church’s first shot on target at last arrived in the 66th minute when substitute Kieran Cook’s free kick was easily held by Richard Walton followed soon after by March having a low drive deflected behind, but Town were well within their comfort zone.

Kabeya was introduced with just over a quarter of an hour to go, and Town ended a hugely satisfying evening on the attack with Price saving well from Claudio Dias as they saw the game out for a comfortable passage into the next round where they will take on Northern Premier League side Mickleover Sports at the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday November 10th.

“I’m obviously very pleased with the result” beamed Tom Baillie afterwards. “Our first half performance was exceptional, and we could easily have scored more that the three we did get.

It was a totally different game to Saturday’s. The pitch made a big difference tonight as it suits our style of play and we were able to get the ball down and play our quick moving and passing game which we found it difficult to do over there.

We had worked them out from how they played on Saturday, and in the second half we concentrated on managing the game and not letting them have any opportunity to get back into it, and I felt that we did that very well.

We looked strong throughout, and we were worthy winners.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton,, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, Ross Oulton (Claudio Dias 61), Jordan Williams, Jamie McAteer (c), Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (Kynan Isaac 71), Will Grocott (Amos Kabeya 71), Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Cody Fisher & James Behan (GK)

ALVECHURCH : Charlie Prtice, Josh Ezewele, Zack Foster (Taylor Morrison 75),, Tom Turton (Theo Llewellyn 46), Kyle Morrison, Jamie Willetts ( c), Dave Bellis, Danny O’Callaghan (Kieran Cook 46), Josh March, Yusifo Ceesay, Andre Landell Unused Subs – Mark Smith & Paul Evans (GK)

Referee       –         Richard Eley

Assistant Referees         –        Philip Carey & Dominic Chambers

Attendance         –       152

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards                –        None
Alvechurch Yellow Cards           –        Llewellyn

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

27th OCTOBER 2018  –  ALVECHURCH  –  AWAY  –  F A TROPHY

TOWN AND THE CHURCH MUST MEET AGAIN AFTER LYE MEADOW STALEMATE

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Alvechurch               –      1      –       March  26
Stratford  Town      –      1      –       Taylor  49

Town and Alvechurch will have to meet for a fourth time in Cup competitions this season after they cancelled each other out with a goal apiece from corners in this Buildbase F A Trophy First Qualifying Round tie at a wintry Lye Meadow on Saturday, and the sides will have to fight it out again in a replay at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Tom Baillie selected both an unchanged starting line-up and an unchanged subs bench from the Leiston game last weekend but a significant name of the Alvechurch teamsheet was that of Yusifu Ceesay who was back on loan from Blackpool after securing a move from Church to the Seasiders in the summer.

Kicking off down the tricky slope that they know so well Alvechurch started brightly winning a couple of early corners with Town keeper Richard Walton doing well to push out a header from the already influential Ceesay.

Town responded with Will Grocott hitting a free kick from a promising position 20 yards out straight into the Alvechurch wall and then shooting narrowly over on the quarter hour mark.

And with Town now settling down they almost took the lead in the 17th minute when Albi Skendi and Kieren Westwood combined to set up an opening on the left for Lewis Wilson whose shot came back off Church keeper Paul Evans.

But Ceesay was proving a handful for the Town defence and on 26 minutes he surged down the left touchline with his cross being deflected behind.

Tom Turton delivered the resulting flag kick into the heart of the penalty area where Josh March climbed the highest to power his header past Walton.

That provided Alvechurch with a bit of momentum and they continued to look dangerous from set pieces with Mitch Botfield firing narrowly over on 35 minutes after Town had only half cleared yet another corner.

But the change of ends at the interval worked wonders for Town as they equalised four minutes into the second half. Again the goal came from a corner which was floated over by Will Grocott and typically headed in by Mike Taylor for his eighth of the season in all competitions.

From then on both sides battled hard without creating any really clearcut chances and it was set pieces which offered the best hope of a decider.

Botfield had a great chance in the 65th minute when a Turton free kick reached him at the far post but he could only direct his header straight at Walton while Wilson Carvalho saw a decent attempt blocked, but in spite of plenty of effort neither side could make the breakthrough and they have to do it all over again in three days time.

“A hard game on a difficult pitch” was Tom Baillie’s assessment afterwards.

It was disappointing to go one down in the manner we did as it’s never good to concede from a set piece, but we’ve got plenty of confidence after our recent unbeaten run and after we equalised we could have gone on and won while a few weeks ago we might not have had the belief to do so.

But Alvechurch are a good team with plenty of talented players and they know how to play on this pitch which they do very effectively so I’m under no illusions that it will be anything other than another challenging game for us on Tuesday evening.

One factor in our favour is fitness as I thought that we looked stronger than them towards the end, and I must pay tribute to Steve Walker who has done a tremendous job for us in this respect.

Additionally we have just completed the signing of a new striker, and he is eligible for the replay if I decide to select him.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton,, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, Jimmy Fry (c) Jordan Williams, Jamie McAteer, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (Kynan Isaac 84), Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Claudio Dias, Ross Oulton, Cody Fisher & James Behan (GK)

ALVECHURCH : Paul Evans, Josh Ezewele, Zack Foster,, Tom Turton, Kyle Morrison, Jamie Willetts ( c), Dave Bellis, Mitch Botfield (Kieran cook 84),, Aaron Lloyd (Dan O’Callaghan 71), Yusifo Ceesay, Josh March. Unused Subs – Luke Yates, Taylor Morrison & Matt Sargeant (GK)

Referee        –          Robert Hathaway

Assistant Referees           –         Ashley Clarke & Daniel Pattison

Attendance        –         199

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards              –         Fry
Alvechurch Yellow Cards          –         O’Callaghan

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

20th OCTOBER 2018  –  LEISTON  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN ADD TO LEISTON’S WOES IN A THRILLER

Stratford Town     –    3      –    Carvalho (20 7 & 68    Skendi 23
Leiston                     –     2      –    Finch 1  Reed 36

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Behind after just 22 seconds at the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday Town battled back to extend their unbeaten run to seven in all competitions with a thrilling win over Leiston in the first ever match between the two clubs.

The Suffolk side had endured a traumatic week losing 5-1 at home to Kings Lynn followed by the departure of manager Glen Driver, and although they took the lead virtually straight from the kick off they eventually caved in to Town’s pressure with two sharp finishes from Wilson Carvalho either side of a similar strike from Albi Skendi propelling Tom Baillie’s side to a fully deserved three points.

The returns to the starting line-up of Carvalho and Skendi in place of Kynan Isaac and Ross Oulton were the only changes from the midweek game at Alvechurch with Town now looking a far more settled team than earlier in the season.

But they were caught totally cold as Leiston put all their recent troubles behind them with Byron Lawrence floating over a deep cross from the right and Christy Finch heading it firmly past the startled Richard Walton.

Town though soon shrugged off that shock opening, and responded with an equaliser on seven minutes when Kieren Westwood’s surging run down the left set up Wilson Carvalho who saw his first two shots charged down before blasting in the third past Leiston keeper Marcus Garnham.

Already being played at a breathless pace it was a far more an open game than usual with chances at both ends, and it was Town who struck again on 23 minutes to edge ahead.

A Will Grocott shot ricocheted behind off Joe Jefford and when he launched the resulting corner into the Leiston penalty area it was not cleared properly and Skendi pounced to drill the loose ball into the bottom corner from 15 yards out.

Soon after Skendi had sight of goal again but this time his effort fizzed narrowly wide, while at the other end a speculative long range lob from out on the right touchline by Patrick Brothers drifted beyond the far post watched all the way by the anxious Walton.

Another Grocott attempt from 20 yards didn’t miss by much before Leiston levelled it all up again in the 36th minute when Jake Reed’s shot from the edge of the penalty area deflected off a Town defender and looped over the stranded Walton.

There was no let up in the intensity of the game after the interval and with Garnham pulling off a stunning save to keep out a 25 yard piledriver from Skendi on the hour mark.

Town were now definitely looking the more threatening of the two sides but Lewis Wilson blazed disappointingly over after a flowing Town crossfield move and Mike Taylor couldn’t put the finishing touch to a Chris Cox cross which found him surprisingly onside with only Garnham to beat.

But their momentum paid off when they scored what proved to be the winner in the 68th minute. Carvalho received the ball on the left of the penalty before twisting and turning to work it onto his right foot and firing it past Garnham.

Leiston seemed to be deflated after that and didn’t really trouble Town from then on. Cox had a low drive held by Garnham following a charge down the right with ten minutes to go and a Westwood cross was almost turned into his own net by Jefford as he tried to prevent it reaching Taylor.

A perfectly timed tackle from Jordan Williams on Reed snuffed out Leiston’s final meaningful attack and in added time only a brave block by Garnham stopped Isaac from adding a fourth as Town confidently saw the game out.

“An excellent result after a bad start” was Tom Baillie’s reaction afterwards. “After all the upheaval at Leiston this week I knew that they would come out all fired up and I warned our lads to be switched on right from the kick off.

But we weren’t and I don’t think any of our players had touched the ball when they scored.

However our response was terrific. There’s a lot of confidence in the squad after our recent run of results and the difference compared to a few weeks ago is staggering.

our togetherness has also improved markedly along with our fitness, and players now know the shape in which I want the team to play.

Obviously Wilson (Carvalho) will steal the headlines from this game. He is a real talent who is now showing what he can do and I believe that there is more to come from him.

We are however looking to bring in another striker to work alongside Mike Taylor, and it is very much our aim to be competing in the top half of this league. Today’s result shows that we are capable of doing that we want to keep the season alive into February and March.

Overall then it has been another positive outcome for us.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton,, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, Jimmy Fry (c), Jordan Williams, Jamie McAteer, Lewis Wilson (Kynan Isaac 82), Abi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott (Claudio Dias 82), Wilson Carvalho. Unused Subs – Ross Oulton, Cody Fisher & James Behan (GK)

LEISTON : Marcus Garnham, Kyle Hammond, Sebastian Dunbar, Harry Knights (Cemal Ramadan 71), Joe Jefford, Tom Bullard (c) , Byron Lawrence, Dominic Docherty (Josh Moore 76), Jake Reed, Christy Finch, Patrick Brothers (Noel Atkkins 81) . Unused Sub – Charlkie Beckwith

Referee          –        Scott Tallis

Assistant Referees        –        Michael Karia & Gary Lord

Attendance         –     227

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford     Leiston
          17 Goal Attempts            5
          10 On Target            2
            2 Blocked Shots            0
           0 Hit Woodwork            0
         10 Corners Won            5
            9 Crosses into Box            8
          13 Fouls Conceded         10
            1 Off Side           1
            1 Yellow Cards          3
            0 Red Cards          0

Stratford Yellow Cards        –       Taylor
Leiston Yellow Cards            –       Bullard, Dunbar & Hammond

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

16th OCTOBER 2018  –  ALVECHURCH  –  AWAY  –  CSS LEAGUE CUP

GROCOTT STRIKES FROM HALFWAY AS TOWN DEMOLISH PAST THE CHURCH

Alvechurch            –     2    –  – Cassidy 23 Botfield 32
Stratford Town   –     4   ––    Wilson 10 Taylor 41 Grocott 42 Carvalho 74

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Town enjoyed at least a modicum of revenge over Alvechurch for their Emirates F A Cup defeat last month with an ultimately emphatic success in this CSS League Challenge Cup First Round tie on Tuesday evening.

Not having lost in five outings since Town went into the game with plenty of confidence and took an early lead through Lewis Wilson before falling behind shortly after the half hour mark.

But Mike Tay;or grabbed an equaliser four minutes before the break and a minute later Will Grocott put them in front again with a wonder goal which even Messi would have been proud of as he lobbed the Church keeper from virtually on the halfway line.

Wilson Carvalho’s added a fourth as Town dominated the second half to run out thoroughly deserved winners..

Town’s starting line-up showed three changed from the weekend with Jimmy Fry, Will Grocott and Kynan Isaac coming in for Wilson Carvalho, Albi Skendi and Guillaume Taty.

Kicking down the tricky Lye Meadow slope the Church were first to threaten when Ross Oulton gave away a free kick in the 7th minute a couple of yards outside the penalty area to pick up the evening’s only yellow card.

It was hit firmly enough by Mark Smith but was straight at Town keeper Richard Walton who held it at the second attempt as Aaron Lloyd closed in on the rebound.

But three minutes later Town opened the scoring when Taylor’s persistence in the penalty area led to the ball falling kindly to Wilson fifteen yards out and he drilled it beyond Church keeper Paul Evans into the far corner.

Town were looking sharp, but were caught out when the Church equalised on 23 minutes. Right back Josh Ezewele was allowed to reach the byline and pull the ball back to Ben Cassidy who turned it past Walton from close in.

Soon after Walton pulled off a brilliant reflex save from a Kieran Cook header while at the other end Evans was equally impressive as he went full length to his left to push away a, fierce effort from Isaac.

Church though were beginning to cause the Town backline a few problems, and took the lead in the 32nd minute when Mitch Botfield dribbled across the Town penalty area from the left before swivelling to steer the ball past Walton.

But in a typically topsy turvy cup tie Town were back level on 41 minutes when the Church failed to deal properly with a Grocott corner and Taylor stabbed home the loose ball from a couple of yards out.

And it got even better for Town almost immediately with the spectacular strike from Grocott. From over by the dug-outs he spotted Evans off his line and his exquisite lob sailed over the stranded keeper and dropped behind him into the net.

Town almost went further ahead in the early minutes of the second half with Evans stretching backwards to grab a Jordan Williams header from another Grocott corner followed by Grtocott – who maybe had a point to prove after only being on the subs bench at Kings Lynn – surging through the middle to slip the ball to Taylor who fired disappointingly wide.

Fry shot narrowly over on the hour mark after more Grocott trickery and with Town now bossing the meaningful possession Taylor wasn’t far away from a deep Kieren Westwood cross and Evans did well to beat away a rasping effort fr.om Chris Cox.

The Church skipper Tom Turton tried to emulate Grocott’s earlier masterpiece with twenty minutes left but his attempt lacked the necessary quality and was easily held by Walton.

And on 74 minutes town’s place in the next round was effectively secured when a flowing Town move ended with a simple tap-in Carvalho.

There was still time for Evans to twice beat away decent efforts from Isaac while in between Walton plunged to his left to turn behind a Aiden Vaughan free kick, and with one cup win each it’s all set up nicely for when the two sides meet again in the F A Buildbase Trophy on Saturday week.

“An excellent performance and result” beamed Coach Scott Machin afterwards. “We deliberately kept the same 16 man squad from the weekend for this game to increase the togetherness and understanding as it’s still a very new team.

In particular we kept the same back four as it was only Richard Walton’s third game for us and understanding between keeper and the defenders in front of him is vital.

Will’s goal was of course the highlight and as he was right in front of us when he hit it it was clear that he meant it.

But this was an overall team effort. We feel that the squad is now developing nicely, and in the end we have been convincing winners tonight.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton,, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, Jimmy Fry (c) (Albi Skendi 68), Jordan Williams, Jamie McAteer, Lewis Wilson (Wilson Carvalho 68), Ross Oulton (Claudio Dias 63), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Kynan Isaac.. Unused Subs – Guillaume Taty & James Behan (GK)

ALVECHURCH : Paul Evans, Josh Ezewele (Paul Henley 64), Taylor Morrison, Tom Turton (c), Kyle Morrison, Mark Smith, Ben Stokes, Mitch Botfield (Ayden Vaughan 64), Aaron Lloyd (Ben Tilbury 79), Ben Cassidy, Kieran Cook. Unused Subs – Dan O’Callaghan & Matt Sargeant (GK)

Referee          –       Neil Pratt

Assistant Referees         –      James Clayton & Paul Sparrow

Attendance        –       108

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford    Alvechurch
         20 Goal Attempts            11
         14 On Target              7
           0 Blocked Shots              0
           1 Hit Woodwork              0
          7 Corners Won              3
        14 Crosses into Box              7
        11 Fouls Conceded             6
          1 Off Side             1
          1 Yellow Cards             0
          0 Red Cards             0

 Stratford Yellow Cards             –        Oulton
Alvechurch Yellow Cards          –       None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

13th OCTOBER 2018  –  KINGS LYNN TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

BATTLING TOWN EARN A POINT IN WALKS STALEMATE

Kings Lynn Town     –      0
Stratford Town        –       0

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Thou shall not pass- Town captain and man of the match Jamie McAteer snubs out another King Lynn attack.

Having lost on each of their three previous league visits there Town broke their Walks Stadium duck in Tom Baillie’s first game in charge at the fourth attempt on Saturday as a determined and dogged performance saw them come away with a hard earned point from what was otherwise a generally undistinguished affair with the fact that neither keeper had a serious save to make throughout really saying it all.

The Town starting line-up included Richard Walton \in goal after his Birmingham Senior Cup penalty shoot-out heroics against Coventry City plus Guillaume Taty and Ross Oulton which meant that the stalwart duo of Jimmy Fry and Will Grocott could only make the subs bench with Jamie McAteer taking over the captain’s armband..

On an unseasonably warm and sunny afternoon the Linnets started brightly with Adam Marriott soon whipping in a low cross from the left which was deflected behind for a corner.

Town responded with Mike Taylor springing the offside trap down the left to reach the byline before being crowded out while a wayward backpass from Frazer Blake-Tracy gifted Town a corner which came to nothing.

But the most significant action of the first quarter of an hour was an early yellow card for Guillaume Taty following a heavy challenge on Ryan Hawkins.

The Frenchman then committed a further couple of fouls in quick succession the second of which was right on the edge of the Town penalty area leading Tom Baillie to make the instant decision that enough was enough.

Taty’s number flashed up in the 25th minute and Fry came on instead although ironically he was to be the only other Town player to be booked when he was yellow carded late on.

But both sides were already finding it hard to create a cleacut opening as although the Linnets skipper Mike Clunan should have done better on the half hour mark as he latched onto a long pass from Rory McAuley only for his lob over Walton to drift well wide.

At the other end Taylor and Wilson Carvalho both went close from distance but with defences very much on top the interval was reached with the afternoon still goal-less.

Town had a narrow escape in the opening minutes of the second half when Jordan Williams sliced a clearance from Aaron Jones’ cross over his own bar followed soon after by the tricky Chris Henderson firing narrowly over after running from halfway and Adam Marriott also not being far away from 20 yards out.

But all too often the Linnets were let down by their final pass as Williams and McAteer mopped up anything that remotely looked like threatening the Town goal while Chris Cox and Kieren Westwood were in equally commanding form out wide.

Taylor had put in his usual 100% plus shift and was replaced by Claudio Dias halfway through the second half but by now a no-score draw seemed a certainty much to the frustration of the vocal Linnets supporters.

Soon after Carvalho went close with a decent effort before Grocott made a belated appearance in place of Oulton  as Town looked to run down the clock.

Michael Gash had a well struck drive rebound away off McAteer, but the Linnets  the best chance of the entire game fell to Marriott with six minutes to go.

Unmarked and with time and space to pick his spot he summed the afternoon up by blazing wastefully wide from 12 yards out.

That miss all but secured Town’s point and they resolutely saw out the rest of the game much to Tom Baillie’s satisfaction.

“A fantastic point away from home” was the Town boss’s reaction afterwards. “Kings Lynn are a big club in this League with big players and big ambitions, and it is testament to our tremendous workrate this afternoon that we were able to compete with them as we did.

It was not the greatest of games with barely a shot on target and only half chances to either side throughout, but we had a gameplan and stuck to it to achieve the result we wanted, and that’s now two wins and two draws in the last four League games.

Regarding Guillaume Taty I made the decision to bring him off as I felt that he was only one foul away from a second yellow card, and I did not want to risk the possibility of us going down to ten men with less than half an hour gone.

It was disappointing for him on his debut at this level but the good of the team had to come first.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton,, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, Guillaume Taty (Jimmy Fry 25), Jordan Williams, Jamie McAteer (c), Abi Skendi, Ross Oulton (Will Grocott 75), Mike Taylor (Claudio Dias 67), Lewis Wilson, Wilson Carvalho. Unussed Subs – Kynan Isaac & James Behan (GK)

K/LYNN : Alex Street, Aaron Jones, Frazer Blake-Tracy, Ryan Jarvis, Ryan Fryatt, Rory McAuley, Michael Clunan (c), Chris Henderson, Michael Gash, Adam Marriott, Ryan Hawkins (Craig Parker 80) Unused Subs – Jordan Richards, Kalern Thomas & Harry LimbReferee        –         J. Crofts

Assistant Referees       –        S. Gregory & L. Hartley

Attendance    –        681

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards        –       Fry & Taty
K/Lynn Yellow Cards            –       McAuley

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

SHOOT-OUT SUCCESS FOR TOWN

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Stratford Town     –     0
Coventry City        –     0
(Stratford won 3-1 on penalties)

Last season Town exited the Birmingham Senior Cup after coming out second best in a penalty shoot-out to Solihull Moors, but they had better luck in another spot kick showdown at the Arden Garages Stadium on Wednesday evening to progress to the second round against Coventry City’s Under 23 side.

The scheduled ninety minutes had been played at a generous pace throughout but neither side had really threatened to score and a goal-less draw had seemed a certainty from some way out, but in the shoot-out Town were emphatic winners.

As usual for this competition Town fielded an experimental starting line-up with only Chris Cox and Jordan Williams retained from the team that kicked off against Rushall at the weekend.

Keeper Richard Walton, who was to be the hero in the shoot-out, defensive midfielder Guillaume Taty and striker Jordan Patrick all made their debuts followed in the second half by Ty-Rhys Paul-Jones and Josh Cooke from the subs bench as the number of players used by Town this season reached 32 compared with 24 used in the whole of the last campaign.

There was little to enthuse the crowd in the opening quarter of an hour as both teams found it difficult to create a decent opening with Town understandably taking time to gel, but Taty – who spent time at PSG’s Academy – was soon catching the eye with his willingness to get involved as the youthful Sky Blues showed some nice touches but with little end product.

But there was almost a bizarre goal on the half hour mark when Patrick’s persistence led to Coventry keeper Corey Addai fluffing his clearance which was picked up by Ross Oulton some 30 yards out only for his attempted shot at the empty net to drift way off target.

Soon after Jarrell Hylton sprung to life as he hit decent effort straight at Addai, but there was no real Town pressure until the closing minute of the first half when they forced two corners in succession both taken by Claudio Dias with the second being confidently claimed by Addai in spite of a challenge from Patrick.

Jack Burroughs had an early chance for Coventry after the break only to delay his shot and be crowded out, but the Sky Blues went the closest yet to opening the scoring in the 51st minute.

Town conceded a free kick 20 yards out and Chris Camwell’s fiercely struck effort was spectacularly beaten away by Walton taking off full length to his right.

The game was at last opening up and a couple of minutes later James Hancocks wasn’t far away for Town with a low drive which flew narrowly wide.

With Hancocks starting to boss the midfield Town were having more and more of the meaningful possession and Paul-Jones had a useful attempt deflected behind with twenty minutes to go.

Into the last ten minutes and a stray pass from Ross Oulton was seized on by Jak Hickman who whipped in a tempting cross which had to be turned behind by Dias and from the resulting corner David Bremang’s header landed on the roof of the net.

Addai then held a low cross from Hancocks and Bremang had a shot charged down, but hard though they tried neither side could find that elusive strike which would surely have been the winner and it was all down to the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

Dias and Jazz Luckie fired Town into an early 2-0 lead after Hickman had blazed over and Josh Eccles saw his shot superbly pushed away by Walton plunging to his left.

Oulton followed Hickman’s example by shooting over which allowed Camwell to reduce the Sky blues deficit to 2-1, but Josh Cooke calmly made it 3-1 for Town and when Walton kept out Lewis Green’s effort it was all over and Town were through.

“It’s good to get the win even though it was via a penalty shoot-out” observed Head of Football Tom Baillie afterwards. “It had been a hectic afternoon with three players being signed on to play in the game and we also used the evening to look at players who had been training with us.

So we changed a lot of things round and it worked well giving us a number of selection headaches which is what we were looking for.

I felt that the game was played at a decent tempo and we had to work hard against a good Coventry team, but neither side was able to break the other down which is why it had to be decided in the way it was.

Overall though I’m happy with .our performance and it provided useful game time for all the ;players involved.”

STRATFORD : Richard Walton, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher (Ty-Rhys Paul-Jones 46), Ross Oulton, Jordan Williams (c), Guillaume Taty, Kynan Isaac, Claudio Dias, Jarrell Hylton (Jazz Luckie 69), Jordan Patrick (Josh Cooke 61), James Hancocks. Unused Subs – Kieren Westwood & Lewis Wilson.

COVENTRY : Corey Addai, Jak Hickman (c), Sam McCallum, Chris Camwell, Morgan Williams, Reece Ford, Jack Burroughs, Lewis Green, David Bremang, Jodi Jones (Billy Stedman 46), Josh Eccles. Unused Subs – Dexter Walters, Tom Bilson, Jonathan Ngandu & Costelus Lautaru

Referee       –       Scott Tallis

Assistant Referees        –       Callum Fisk & Simon Kavanagh

Attendance     –     126

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

29th SEPTEMBER 2018  –  RUSHALL OLYMPIC  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

ERRORS COST TOWN THE POINTS

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Rushall Olympic     –   2     –    Waldron  8   Sammons  71                                                Stratford Town        –   2     –    Taylor  2   Wilson  47

On a sunny afternoon in Rushall  Stratford Town went to Dales Lane hoping to stretch their winning run to three games, but could only manage a draw against the Pics, to remain unbeaten in their last three games.

On the balance of play it should have been another win for Town, as they twice went in front, with goals from Mikey Taylor, his fourth in the last four games, and now joint top scorer in the Central Division with six, and Lewis Wilson, but two basic goalkeeping errors allowed Rushall a share of the points.

The starting line-up for Stratford was the same for the third game running, the only change was on the bench with Kynan Isaac replacing Eli Bako.

With Town kicking down the slope in the first half they took an early lead. Kieren Westwood found Will Grocott  whose first time pass speared the Pics back line and Mikey Taylor skipped through to fire a shot into the bottom corner for his sixth goal of the season  beating the on rushing keeper Joseph Slinn.

In the early stages Town were starting to control the game with Albi Skendi and Will Grocott running the middle of the park and having a lot of possession, but the lead only lasted six minutes as Town conceded a sloppy goal.

A Rushall shot was deflected for a corner, Ashley Sammons routine flag kick was misjudged by Town keeper Ross Etheridge allowing Dan Waldron to nod in from 2  yards out.

Town were now bossing the midfield but they failed to capitalise on their possession and get back in front.  Will Grocott fired a free kick over the bar on 25 minutes, but his free kick 3 minutes later found Jordan Williams at the far post his header looked goal bound but an acrobatic goal line clearance by Joseph Hull kept the scores level.

Rushall created a chance in the 38th minute when a flick by Ashley Sammons from a Dan Waldron header was well saved by Etheridge, and the loose ball was cleared.

Mikey Taylor collected a poor clearance from a Pics defender and was in on goal but shot wide with just the keeper to beat. The final action of the half was a shot from a shot by Richard Brodie that Etheridge saved at the foot of the post.

Again it was a quick fire start to the 2nd half by Town, as they took the lead in the 47th minute. A Will Grocott free kick was headed back across the Pics goal by Jordan Williams and Lewis Wilson headed in from a yard out.

Chances were rare as most of the action was in midfield, but the home side equalised, with their first shot of the half in the 71st minute, when Sammons speculative effort from 20 yards looked like a routine save for Etheridge, but somehow it slipped through his hands and trickled over the line for a fortunate equaliser.

Kynan Isaac and Ross Oulton replaced Grocott and Taylor as both sides looked for a winning goal, but neither side looked like scoring.  Brodie and Sammons had efforts easily saved and sub Isaac had a chance but lost control of the ball and the chance went begging.

Stratford were disappointed at only getting a point, when it should have been three and affter the game, it was a somewhat deflated Caretaker Manager Steve Walker who said, “It was disappointing not to get 3 points, we dominated the game for long periods and it was pleasing to see the effort the players put in and they deserved to get more from the game. We had a good shout for a penalty waved away in the last 5 minutes, but unfortunately two errors by our keeper cost us the 3 points.”

Stratford Town

Etheridge, Cox, Westwood, Fry, Williams, McAteer, Skendi, Grocott,(74 Isaac) Taylor,(82 Oulton) Wilson, Carvalho,

Sub Not Used Hylton, Hancocks, Dias.

Rushall Olympic.

Slinn, Smikle, Adelekan,(67 Ahenkorah), Whithall, Pendley, Hull, Waldron, Atkinson,(57 Lyttle),  Brodie, Sammons, Singh,(54 Lund)

Subs not Used, Hawker, and Truslove.

Referee        –      B Hall

Assistant Referees     –     J Hackett and D Hinton

Attendance     –       182

Town Man of the Match    –     Willl Grocott

Match Stats

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

 Stratford Town Yellow Cards       –     Cox

Rushall Olympic Yellow Cards     –         Atkinson &  Brodie 

Match Report and Stats by Rod Abrahams

 

 

 

22nd SEPTEMBER 2018  –  REDDITCH UNITED  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TWO OUT OF TWO FOR TOWN AS THE REDS WOES CONTINUE

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Stratford Town          –      2      –      Taylor 33  Williams  38
Redditch United        –      0

Town made it back to back wins for the first time this season as they followed up last weekend’s victory over Bedworth with another comfortable success while struggling Redditch slumped to their seventh defeat in eight League games.

It may have been the only Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central fixture of the day due to both Town and Redditch having already exited the Emirates F A Cup but it was certainly not lacking in interest or intrigue as both clubs had been making the headlines off the pitch during the week.

Town had announced the appointment of ex-Kettering boss Tom Baillie in the new role as Head of Football while the Reds had replaced manager Paul Davis with Paul Smith following his departure from Highgate.

But on the field it was Town who ran out deserving winners with two first half goals in five minutes after which the Reds seldom really threatened to get back into the game.

Town’s starting line-up was unchanged from the Bedworth game but the fit again Claudio Dias replaced Harry Draper on the subs bench.

The Reds team included Louis Connor and Dan Summerfield who were both Town regulars last season.

And another familiar face among the spectators was that of Ben Stephens. Last season’s Player of the Year picked up an injury in pre-season at Macclesfield, but he hopes to be fully recovered in the next week or two and ready to challenge for a first team spot at the League Two side.

Yet it was the Reds who fashioned the first goal attempt with Mohammed Sebben-Njie seeing his fourth minute strike well held by Town keeper Ross Etheridge.

Town responded with Albi Skendi slipping the ball inside to Lewis Wilson who shot over followed the Reds centre back Marshall Wilock twice making vital tackles to halt promising runs by first Wilson and then Grocott.

Chris Cox then got in the action with a couple of overlapping sorties down the right, but with most of the action in midfield there was little to excite the crowd until the 25th minute when Connor miskicked as he tried to clear a backpass.

The ball looped into the air and dropped to Mike Taylor whose header landed on the roof of the net, and the game was then held up for a few minutes as the net itself had come away from the crossbar.

But on 33 minutes it was Taylor who gave Town the lead  with his fifth goal of the season when Grocott floated a free kick from the right over to the far post. Town’s powerful striker seldom misses those sort of opportunities and his perfectly directed header gave Connor little chance.

Soon after Taylor and Connor collided as they challenged for a pass down the middle which had been threaded through by Albi Skendi but both recovered after treatment.

And with Town now very much on top they doubled their lead in the 38th minute later when Grocott’s right wing corner was headed in by Jordan Williams in spite of a Reds defender’s desperate effort to prevent it crossing the line..

Connor kept Redditch in the game in the early minutes of the second half with smart saves from Lewis Wilson and Wilson Carvalho as Town pressed for a third goal which would surely clinch the points, but the Reds responded with Nyeko Sinclair not far away from 25 yards out and a fiercely struck shot from Montel Gibson only being held by Etheridge at the second attempt.

Town though continued to have the better of the possession with Taylor heading over from a Carvalho cross and were agonisingly close to adding a third with a quarter of an hour to go when substitute  Eli Bako  –  making his first appearance of the season  –   saw his curler from the edge of the penalty area come back off Connor’s left hand post with the keeper well beaten.

But from then on with the Reds unable to really trouble Town the game gradually petered out leaving Tom Baillie to begin his time at the Arden Garages Stadium in the best way possible.

“It was good to get the win” he observed afterwards “but we need to show a bit more togetherness and confidence, and that will come as our results improve. We were better in the first half but for whatever reason we didn’t really get going in the second.

Nevertheless we are progressing and I’m sure we’ll soon be moving up the table.”

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c) (Ross Oulton 72), Jordan Williams, Jamie McAteer, Will, Grocott (Eli Bako 66), Albi Skendi (Claudio Dias 87), Lewis Wilson, Mike Taylor, Wilson Carvalho. Unussed Subs – James Hancocks & Jarrell Hylton

REDDTICH : Louis Connor, Jamie Ashmore, Sam Tye, Dan Summerfield, Edward Wagner (c), Marshall Wilock (Nyeko Sinclair 48), Mohammed Sebben-Njie (Joe Adams 64), Robbie Bunn, Shaquille Leachman-Whittingham, Montel Gibson, Leam Howards (Luke Keen 72) . Unused Subs – Jordan Mills & Matt Baker

Referee      –        Richard Cattell

Assistant Referees          –        Ben Watkiss & Peter Woodfield

Attendance        –     225

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards          –       Fry & Skendi
Redditch Yellow Cards          –       None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

15th SEPTEMBER 2018  –  BEDWORTH UNITED  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

ON SONG TOWN OVERWHELM THE GREENBACKS

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Stratford  Town        –   3   –   Taylor (2) 16 & 79  Wilson 55                                                                   Bedworth United    –   1   –    Tonge 49    

Town put their recent woes behind them at the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday as they were far too strong for basement side Bedworth with the scoreline in no way reflecting the gulf between the two teams.

Mike Taylor headed Town into an early lead but they then gifted Bedworth an equaliser shortly after half time before emphasising their superiority with a first Town goal from Lewis Wilson and then a second of the afternoon for Taylor.

The starting line-up showed three changes from the Alvechurch cup tie last weekend.  There were welcome recalls for Chris Cox,  Will Grocott  and Kieren Westwood in place of Claudio Dias and Kevin Monteiro and the suspended Cody Fisher.

The Bedworth team included the legendary ex-Town favourite Barry Fitzharris.

The subs bench included two new signings in Ross Oulton from Rushden and Diamonds and Harry Draper who has joined on  work experience from Stevenage.

Looking for their first win since the season’s opening day Town pushed forward straight from the kick off with Westwood being involved in a couple of threatening runs down the left as Bedwoth found themselves immediately under pressure.

And it came as no surprise when Town took the lead after just 26 minutes when Cox’s cross from the right was met by Taylor with a perfectly directed header which flew past keeper Dan Crane.

Soon after Taylor’s run into the left of the penalty area was only halted by a well timed tackle from Delroy Gordon, before Town really should have gone two up on 20 minutes when Wilson Carvalho took advantage of confusion in the Bedworth defence to surge clear with only Crane to beat.

Neatly evading the advancing keeper’s desperate lunge Cavalho had an open goal to aim at but as the Town faithful prepared to celebrate he could only fire against the post.

Another chance came Taylor’s way on the half hour mark when Albi Skendi threaded the ball through to him but from 12 yards out he pulled his shot narrowly wide.

Skendi then had the next opportunity when Westwood and Grocott combined to slip the ball inside but his attempted lob over Crane cleared the bar as well while a minute before the break Taylor again went close with a header from a Grocott free kick.

Virtually nothing had been seen of Bedworth’s attack but in the last action of the first half Ryan Baldwin had a decent effort pushed away by Ross Etheridge at the foot of his right hand post.

And having been second best throughout Bedworth then snatched a surprise equaliser four minutes into the second half when Carvalho lost possession in midfield and Kai Tonge raced away to slot past the helpless Etheridge.

But Town soon regained their composure and regained the lead six minutes later when Grocott;s free kick from the right wasn’t properly dealt with by the Bedworth defenders and the ball fell to Wilson who thumped it past Crane.

From then on there was only going to be one winner and that was Town.  Grocott shot inches over followed by Wilson whipping over a cross from the right which was just beyond the reach of the stretching Taylor and then a Grocott thunderbolt cannoned against the bar after Taylor had flicked the ball over Crane’s head.

A third goal was surely on its way and it arrived on 79 minutes when Grocott went clear down the inside left channel and skipped past Crane to reach the byline before pulling the ball back to provide Taylor with a straightforward finish.

The result was now beyond doubt but in the time remaining Town had several more chances to boost their “goals for” column.  Taylor was played in by Grocott but with his hat-trick beckoning he shot against Crane who then had to plunge full length to his nleft to push away a fiercely struck drive from Wilson, and as the game headed into added time the keeper again kept the score down as he came out on top when Draper was through with virtually his first touch after coming on seconds earlier.

“It could easily have been five or six” was the understandable verdict of the beaming  joint caretaker bosses Steve Walker and Nathan Marsh afterwards. “We had been working with the strikers in training this week and and it certainly paid off.

We missed some chances as well, but you have to be in the right position first and if you are then the goals will come.

Having got this result we need to repeat this afternoon’s performance next week against Redditch when we will again play high up the pitch with the same intensity and hopefully pick up another three points.”

STRATFORD :  Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kieren Wesrtwood, James Fry (c), Jordan Williams, Jamie McAteer, Will Grocott (Ross Oulton 87), Albi Skendi, Lewis Wilson, Mike Taylor (Harry Draper 87), Wilson Carvalho (James Hancocks 84)   Unused Subs  –  Eli Bako & Jarrell Hylton.

BEDWORTH :  Dan Crane, Jake Whitmore, Luke Rowe, Elliott Parrott (Kai tonge 31), Delroy Gordon, Tom Sharpe, Ryan Baldwin (Kieron Brehon 82), Reece Blackmore, Danny Dubidat (Iyseden Christie 61), Alex Troke (c), Barry Fitzharris.  Unused Subs  –  Mark Albrighton & Jack Jeys

Referee    –   Ollie Williams

Assistant Referees  –  David constable & Oliver Torrance

Attendance    –   255

Match Stats

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

Stratford Yellow Cards       –     None                                                                                                    Bedworth Yellow Cards     –     Rowe & Whitmore

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

8th SEPTEMBER 2018  –  ALVECHURCH  –  HOME  –  F A CUP

EARLY EXIT FOR TOWN AS CHURCH STRIKE LATE

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Stratford Town      –       0
Alvechurch              –       1        –      Lloyd  78

Form side Alvechurch extended their winning run to five and piled more misery on Town who ended a traumatic week which had seen the departure of manager Darren Byfield after only six games in charge with an early exit from the F A Cup.

Church substitute Aaron Lloyd fired in the decisive goal in the 78th minute with virtually his first touch after coming on barely two minutes earlier, but equally significant to the eventual result was the 35th minute sending off of Cody Fisher which left Town having to see out the rest of the game a player short.

With Edwin Ahenkorah and Nabil Shariff also having moved on during the week and almost uniquely Will Grocott only being named on the subs bench there were call-ups to the starting line-up for Fisher, Kevin Monteiro and Jordan Williams plus the inclusion of on-loan keeper Ross Etheridge in place of the injured Nathan Vaughan.

Both sides made a cautious start and the only goal attempts in the opening quarter of an hour were long range efforts from Church’s Dan O’Callaghan and Mitch Botfield which both flew harmlessly over.

But the Church thought they had gone ahead in the 21st minute when Tom Turton’s corner from the right was missed by everyone except Josh March who turned it in from close range only for it to be ruled out for a foul on Etheridge.

March then had a fierce left footer well held by Etheridge before Town’s afternoon took a turn for the worse ten minutes before half time when Fisher was shown a straight red card after clattering into Josh Ezewele.

It seemed a harsh decision and it was hard to disagree with caretaker boss Steve Walker’s view that it was the turning point of the match.

So far there had been few clearcut chances, but that changed after the break with O’Callaghan wasted a great opportunity for the Church five minutes into the second half as he fired over from six yards out.

Almost immediately Claudio Dias went down injured and couldn’t continue, but although the Town supporters were expecting the introduction of Grocott it was Chris Cox who came on instead.

And soon after Town spurned what turned out to be their best chance of the match when the influential Albi Skendi threaded the ball thorough to Mike Taylor.

The offside flag stayed down as Taylor galloped clear only to shoot against the advancing Church keeper Matt Sargeant.

Botfield had another effort deflected wide and then hit a free kick some 20 yards out straight into the Town wall while at the other end a deep cross from Lewis Wilson had to be headed behind by Kyle Morrison.

By now James Hancocks had replaced Taylor for his first appearance of the season, and on 74 minutes he whipped in a cross from the left which was met on the volley by Jordan Williams only for Sargeant to keep the scores level with a smart save at [point blank range.

But the Church then won the game with twelve minutes to go when Town failed to deal properly with a cross from the right and Lloyd pounced to sweep the ball past Etheridge into the bottom corner.

Town pressed for an equaliser in the time remaining but the Church held on without too much difficulty and could have added a second goal from a couple of breakaways had their finishing been sharper.

So there are no F A Cup heroics for Town this time round and more to the point no prize money either, leaving the Town faithful with plenty to reflect on after the upheaval of the past few days.

“Devastated” was Steve Walker’s reaction afterwards. “I thought that we were the better side for long periods of the game and then they score the winner with their only shot on target.

The sending off was decisive as it changed the game and made it even more difficult for us.

But I couldn’t have asked more of our lads. Everyone of them gave 100% plus and I’m extremely proud of all of them.

After our last couple of results we badly needed a pick-me-up. It wasn’t to be, but we’ll be ready for Bedworth next Saturday which will be another huge game for us.”

STRATFORD : Ross Etheridge, Lewis Wilson, Cody Fisher, James Fry (c), Jordan Williams (Jarrell Hylton 86), Jamie McAteer, Kevin Monteiro, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (James Hancocks 68), Wilson Carvalho, Claudio Dias (Chris Cox 52). Unused Subs – Will Grocott, Bradley Maslen-Jones, Eli Bako & James Behan (GK)

ALVECHURCH : Matt Sargeant, Josh Ezewele, Taylor Morrison, Tom Turton, Kyle Morrison, Jamie Willets (c), Aaron Birch (Kieron Cook 68), Mitch Botfield (Theo Llewellyn 860, Dan O’Callaghan, Luke Yates (Aaron Lloyd 76), Josh March. Unused Subs – Andy Parsons & Paul Evans (GK)

Referee       –        Grzegorz  Kornasiewicz

Assistant Referees          –          John Okale & Edward Turner

Attendance        –       238

Match Stats by Chris Simpson

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

Stratford Yellow Cards                     –       McAteer & Taylor               Red Card – Fisher
Alvechurch Yellow Cards                –         None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

1st SEPTEMBER 2018  –  KETTERING TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

TOWN BATTLE HARD BUT THE POPPIES MAKE IT SIX OUT OF SIX

Stratford Town         –        1       Taylor  18
Kettering Town        –        3       Milnes  16  Stohrer  45  Kelly-Evans  54

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Kettering maintained their 100% record in an entertaining clash at the Arden Garages Stadium but Town put in a spirited performance and made them fight all the way especially after the Poppies went down to ten men with twenty minutes to go.

Darren Byfield once again shuffled his starting line-up and reverted to the formation which began the game against Lowestoft last weekend except for the inclusion of Edwin Ahenkorah in place of Jordan Williams.

On a sunlit afternoon encouragingly it was Town who threatened first with Mike Taylor heading narrowly over from a Will Grocott free kick in the tenth minute followed at the other end by Mike Richens firing over from distance for the Poppies.

And it was the Poppies who went ahead in the 16th minute when Ben Milnes let fly with a thunderous right footer from 25 yards out which rocketed into the net past Town keeper Nathan Vaughan.

But the lead was to be shortlived as two minutes later Kettering keeper Paul White came out to collect the ball but failed to do so and Taylor nipped in to roll it into the empty net.

The game was being played at a generous pace with Town standing up well to Kettering’s neat passing and slick movement, and it was Town who had the next big chance on the half hour mark when Ahenkorah’s sliderule pass down the left played in ex-Poppy Wilson Carvalho who blazed over with only White to beat.

In the next Kettering attack Rhys Hoenes went down in the penalty area under a Carvalho challenge but his appeals for a spot kick were quickly waved away.

Kettering though were gradually getting on top and only Vaughan’s brilliance kept the scores level in the 38th minute when Milnes whipped in a cross from the left which was met by Hoenes on the volley only for the Town keeper to react instinctively and somehow turn it away at point blank range.

But just as it seemed as if Town would reach the break all square the Poppies regained the lead in the final minute of the half when Gary Stohrer turned past a couple of defenders on the left edge of the penalty area and curled the ball past Vaughan into the bottom corner.

The Poppies then upped their tempo after the break with both Milnes and Andrea Borg going close with well struck efforts before they went 3-1 up on 54 minutes when Hoenes’ deep cross from the left was headed back by half time substitute Brett Solkhon to Dion Kelly-Evans who hit a spectacular volley beyond Vaughan into the far corner.

Vaughan had been struggling for some time and soon limped off to be replaced by James Behan with Ahenkorah and Taylor also making way for debutants Kevin Monteiro and Cody Fisher as Darren Byfield looked to get Town back into the game.

But Kettering seemed comfortable with their two goal cushion until the game took another twist on 70 minutes when Kelly-Evans spoilt his afternoon by clattering into Grocott with his studs showing and receiving a straight red card from referee Scott Chalkley.

Town tried hard to make the extra man count in the time remaining with James Fry and Nabil Shariff both not far away with decent attempts, but the Poppies held on without too many serious alarms to reinforce their title push with six wins out of six.

Darren Byfield though was far from downbeat. “We can take a lot of ;positives from today.” he reasoned afterwards. “Kettering are top of the league and we matched them for long periods of the game. They scored their second goal at exactly the right time for them and that killed us, but in the end we made them fight all the way.”

STRATFORD : Nathan Vaughan (James Behan 57), Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, James Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Will Grocott, Wilson Crvalho, Claudio Dias, Mike Taylor (Kevin Monteiro 60), Edwin Ahenkorah (Cody Fisher 54), Nabil Shariff.. Unused Subs – Eli Bako & Jordan Williams

KETTERING : Paul White, Durell Berry, Gary Stohrer, Mike Richens, Ben Milnes (Ben Toseland 72), Rhys Hoenes, Dion Kelly-Evans, Marcus Kelly, Declan Towers (Brett Solkhon 46), Andrea Borg (Matt Foy 64), Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.. Unused Subs – Richard Lavery & Jahvan Davidson-Miller

Referee          –         Scott Chalkley

Assistant Referees         –         Ashley Devonport & Jamie Evans

Attendance         –           396

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards         –          Wilson
Kettering Yellow Cards        –           Borg & Stohrer

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

 

27th AUGUST 2018  –  BANBURY UNITED  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

SHARIFF SAVES A POINT FROM THE SPOT

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Banbury United     –      1     –      Kaziboni  16
Stratford Town       –      1     –      Shariff 75 (pen)

Banbury took an early lead in this generally undistinguished Bank Holiday Monday encounter at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium, but Town turned in a much improved second half performance and deservedly hit back to claim a point through Nabil Shariff’s 75th minute penalty.

Darren Byfield again made three changes to Stratford’s starting line-up after Saturday’s setback against Lowestoft with Wilson Carvalho, Claudio Dias and Jordan Williams making way for Edwin Ahenkorah, Chris Cox and Brad Maslen-Jones.

Both teams took time to settle and the only incident to stir the crowd in the opening quarter of an hour was a lobbed backpass from Banbury’s Lee Henderson which caught keeper James Goff off his line and he had to frantically backpedal before being able to control the ball on his chest.

But when Banbury went ahead after 16 otherwise forgettable minutes it was from a goal out of nothing as Town carelessly lost possession some 25 yards out with the ball being picked up by Greg Kaziboni who tried his luck with a low drive which beat Nathan Vaughan’s despairing dive to his left and nestled in the bottom corner of the net.

As Town struggled to make an impact Banbury went close to going two up five minutes later when Ravi Shamsi’s free kick ricocheted off the Town wall for a corner from which Charlie Hawtin fired narrowly wide.

And the Puritans went even closer on the half hour mark when skipper Charlie Wise’s header from Shamsi’s right wing corner was tipped onto the bar by Vaughan with the ball deflecting behind for another corner which was eventually cleared away.

Town were then gifted a promising opportunity thanks to a mistake by Jordy Ngathe but when Mike Taylor netted from Cox’s cross his celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.

But the first half ended with Banbury still on top as Shamsi hit a well struck effort straight at Vaughan from the edge of the penalty area.

With Town needing to get back into the game pretty quickly Darren Byfield made a double substitution ten minutes into the second half bringing on Carvalho and Dias for Cox and Maslen-Jones and changing the previous 4-3-1-2 formation which had featured Ahenkorah operating behind Shariff and Taylor to a more conventional 3-5-2 with Albi Skendi switching into the back three.

Almost immediately though it was Banbury who again nearly doubled their lead with Vaughan spectacularly tipping over a header from Lewis Gabbidon.

But with the changes having a positive effect Town at last began to offer more of a threat. Ahenkorah saw his shot comfortably held by Goff followed by Taylor heading wide from a Will Grocott corner and Carvalho not being far away with a decent attempt from the edge of the penalty area.

In between Henderson had headed wide from a corner after a Gabbidon shot had been deflected behind, but it was now a much more even game and Town levelled it all up on 76 minutes when Shariff was tripped in the penalty area as he tried to wriggle past his marker.

Picking himself up he thumped the spot kick past Goff with the minimum of fuss, and suddenly the previously comfortable Banbury supporters became a trifle anxious as both sides went after the winner.

The tricky Kaziboni was unable to control a deep right cross from Hawtin at the far post but then laid on a chance for substitute Amer Awadh whose shot was grabbed by Vaughan at the foot of his left hand post while at the other end a James Fry cross flew tantalisingly just beyond Taylor while the final chance fell to another Banbury substitute Ricky Johnson who headed harmlessly wide.

“We were poor in the first half” admitted Darren Byfield afterwards, “but we did far better after we changed our formation early in the second half.

From then on I felt that we edged it as we were more comfortable, fluid and secure.  It was also important that we didn’t suffer back-to-back defeats and we have come away with a good point against a strong Banbury side.

As I’ve said before we are still learning as a team and I want to see us progress into a side that scores goals and wins matches.

It will take time, but we will get there.”

STRATFORD  :  Nathan Vaughan,, Chris Cox (Claudio Dias 56), Brad Maslen-Jones (Wilson Carvalho 56), James Fry (c), Jamie McAteer, Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi, Will Grocott, Nabil Shariff, Edwin Ahenkorah, Mike Taylor.. Unused Subs – Eli Bako, Jordan Williams & James Behan (GK)

BANBURY  :  James Goff, Charlie Hawtin, Jordy Ngathe, Lewis Gabbidon (Amer Awadh 79), Charlie Wise (c), Lee Henderson, Jack Finch (Mark Bell 81), Jack Self, Steve Diggin, Ravvi Shamsi, Greg Kaziboni (Ricky Johnson 87). Unused Subs – Ben Baker & Ryan Macdonald

Referee        –          Scott Tallis

Assistant Referees        –          Will Ottaway & Joe Larkin

Attendance        –        630

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

 Stratford Yellow Cards          –         Dias & McAteer
Banbury Yellow Cards            –         Self

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

25th AUGUST 2018  –  LOWESTOFT TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

THE TRAWLER BOYS STRIKE LATE TO SINK TOWN

Stratford Town         –       1      –       Dias 40
Lowestoft Town       –       3       –      Bammant  4  Fowkes  83  Zielonka  89

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The Trawler Boys netted all three points in the first ever meeting between the two clubs thanks to goals in the 83rd and 89th minutes from substitute Ben Fowkes and the impressive Jacek Zielonka.

Earlier Shaun Bammant had given Lowestoft a 4th minute lead which was cancelled out by Claudio Dias five minutes before the break, and a draw had seemed to be the likely result until those two late strikes changed everything.

Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from the Royston game as in came Lewis Wilson, Albi Skendi and Mike Taylor in place of Chris Cox, Brad Maslen-Jones and Kieren Westwood.

The afternoon got off to an explosive start with Taylor having a shot cleared off the line by Ross Jarvis after seizing on as mistake by Kieran Higgs to skip round advancing keeper Elvijs Putnins in only the third minute, and when play switched to the other end Shaun Bammant cleverly turned past his marker on the edge of the area to thump a fiercely struck left footer beyond Nathan Vaughan into the top corner.

With Town stunned at going behind so early a Zielonka free kick floated just out of Jarvis’ reach at the far post followed by a low cross from Higgs having to be turned behind by Jordan Williams.

When Town did manage to get forward they too often let promising positions slip due to poor ball control or mishit passes. In contrast Lowestoft were playing some neat football with the tricky Zielonka always a threat and Higgs causing plenty of problems with his marauding runs down the left.

Town forced their first corner on the half hour mark when Albi Skendi’s shot was deflected behind with Will Grocott’s delivery into the six yard box being confidently claimed by Putnins, and as Lowestoft counter attacked another rasping Bammant effort flew narrowly wide much to Vaughan’s relief.

By now Skendi was getting more and more into the game, and he showed his quality in the 37th minute as he won the ball a few yards inside the Lowestoft half and strode forward brushing through two or three tackles to hit a shot which unfortunately lacked the power to trouble Putnins.

Soon after Putnins had to be alert to push a decent effort from Dias behind at the foot of his left hand post but a couple of minutes later Dias was celebrating as his long range attempt sailed past the keeper to make it all square.

The Trawler Boys had to change their keeper at half time with Assistant Manager Andrew Reynolds who had made 404 appearances for Lowestoft in his playing days coming on for Putnins who had not recovered from an early knock.

And he was soon in action holding a low drive from Dias, but he was well beaten in the 51st minute when Taylor’s header from Wilson’s deep right cross fizzed agonisingly just inches over.

Five minutes later the busy Taylor burst through the middle only to be pulled back by Connor Deeks. It was only a yellow card for the Lowestoft defender with the Town supporters hoping that it might be of a different colour, and to add to their sense of injustice Grocott rolled the free kick to Wilson Carvalho and then hit the return straight at Reynolds.

Lowestoft then missed a great chance to regain the lead on 64 minutes when the ball fell kindly to the dangerous Bammant after a free kick only for him to screw his shot wide from six yards out with only Vaughan to beat.

Another Lowestoft chance arrived with twenty minutes to go when Josh Curry’s long cross from the right was headed back across by Bammant but Jamie McAteer reacted instantly to take the ball off Zielonka’s toe as he ;prepared to shoot.

Town then had the next opportunity when Cox whipped in a low cross which Nabil Shariff – who was having an uncharacteristically quiet afternoon – could only direct the wrong side of the post.

But just as it was looking as if the points would be shared Lowestoft pounced to grab all three.

On 83 minutes Fowkes firing home from the edge of the penalty area, and six minutes later Zielonka cut in from the left to slot the ball past the helpless Vaughan.

Town tried hard to salvage something in added time with Carvalho’s thunderbolt being parried at full stretch by the admirable Reynolds and the loose ball bouncing tantalisingly wide of Edwin Ahenkorah.

“Their finishing was far more clinical than ours” was Darren Byfield’s reaction afterwards. “We showed a worrying lack of quality in the final third all afternoon and we made too many wrong decisions.

If we are to win football matches we have to turn our chances into goals and we didn’t do that today. I believe that the players we have are good enough to do that and I hope the today was just a one-off in that respect.

Otherwise I felt happy with our performance, but with two tough games coming up against Banbury and Kettering I was hoping for a win today. Disappointingly it was not to be.

One real positive though was the contribution from Albi Skendi. He is a top player and will be a real asset to us going forward.”

STRATFORD  :  Nathan Vaughan,, Lewis Wilson, Jordan Williams, Will Grocott (Edwin Ahenkorah 84), Jamie McAteer, James Fry (c), Wilson Carvalho, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Nabil Shariff, Claudio Dias (Chris Cox 73). Unused Subs – Eli Bako, Brad Maslen-Jones & James Behan (GK)

LOWESTOFT  :  Elvijs Putnins (Andrew Reynolds 46), Josh Curry, Kieran Higgs, Adam Smith (c), Ross Jarvis, Connor Deeks, Jacek Zielonka, Henry Pollock (Reiss Awuah 84), Shaun Bammant, Andrew Fisk (Ben Fowkes 74), Armani Schaar. Unused Subs – Adam Tann & Cion Wren

Referee         –         Simon Brown

Assistant Referees       –         Simon Lane & Thomas Durno

Attendance      –       201

Town Man of the Match       – Albi Skendi

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards           –       Fry
Lowestoft Yellow Cards        –        Deeks, Higgs & Zielonka

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

18th AUGUST 2018  –  ROYSTON TOWN  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TAYLOR COMES OFF THE BENCH TO RESCUE A POINT

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Royston Town       –       2      –       Potton 50  Assombalonga 56
Stratford Town     –       2      –       Maslen-Jones 39  Taylor 82

Substitute Mike Taylor’s bullet header in the 82nd minute at the Garden Walk Stadium on Saturday made sure that Town came away with a point after an absorbing encounter which ultimately could have gone either way.

Earlier Darren Byfield’s side had led at half time through a stunning strike from Bradley Maslen-Jones before Royston hit back with two goals in six minutes shortly after the break, and they were on course for their first win of the season until Taylor’s late leveller.

Town’s starting line-up showed four changes from the Stourbridge game. Nathan Vaughan returned in goal while elsewhere Callum Powell, Edwin Ahenkorah and Kynan Isaac were replaced by Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff and Claudio Dias.

After their chastening experiences in midweek when Town suffered at Stourbridge and Royston had been on the wrong end of a 5-2 scoreline at home to Leiston both sides made an understandably cautious start.

Williams though was soon catching the eye with his composure in the centre of Town’s backline with Maslen-Jones moved into midfield, while Shariff on his debut after impressing in the pre-season friendlies before picking up an injury was also looking sharp.

And it was Shariff who was first to threaten in the 16th minute with a low drive which flew narrowly wide.

Four minutes later Town were even closer to opening the scoring as Wilson Carvalho’s cross from the left was headed behind by Dan Brathwaite and when Will Grocott floated the ball into the penalty area Williams’ header was nervously grabbed right on the line by keeper Will Appleyard.

Royston responded with Rohdell Gordon shooting over after cutting in from the left, but Town were having most of the meaningful possession with Carvalho firing wide from a promising position and Shariff being crowded out after his persistence had almost created an opportunity on the half hour mark.

But when Town took a thoroughly deserved lead on 39 minutes it was down to a piece of individual brilliance from Maslen-Jones. Seizing on a loose ball some 25 yards out he curled an exquisite right foot effort beyond Appleyard’s left hand into the top corner.

Chris Cox had taken a knock late in the first half and made way for the Albanian Albi Skendi after half time.
But it was a different Royston after the break as they noticeably upped their tempo and after Gordon had again fired wastefully over they equalised in the 50th minute.

Vance Bola was the provider as he skipped past Kieren Westwood down the right touchline to whip in a low cross which was turned in at close range by James Potton.

Soon after Town could have regained the lead but Shariff’s shot was cleared off the line by Braithwaite and Grocott uncharacteristically hit the rebound well over.

And instead it was Royston’s turn to edge ahead on 56 minutes when Martel Powell threaded the ball through to Chris Assombalonga down the inside left channel and he ran on to slot it in unerringly past the advancing Vaughan.

Royston now had their tails well and truly up and Vaughan had to produce a smart save to keep out a crisp effort from Bola before Town settled down to get back into the game.

Taylor replaced Westwood followed by Ahenkorah coming on for skipper Jimmy Fry as Darren Byfield went after the equaliser, and his tactics paid off with eight minutes to go when Grocott crossed from the right and Taylor climbed above everyone to power a header past Appleyard.

And in the three added minutes at the end Town could have nicked a winner but a Grocott free kick was deflected tantalisingly wide and Appleyard came out of his area to clear a through ball just before Taylor could reach it.

“In the end I’m have to be satisfied with a point” reflected Darren Byfield afterwards “I was pleased with the way we played and I felt that we could have won the game in the first half when we totally dominated them.

Then we again had to show tremendous character and spirit after we went behind, but just as in the second half at Stourbridge we stuck at it and deservedly got our reward.

And all credit to Mike Taylor who had every reason to be upset at not starting but who has come on and got a typical goal with his strength and determination.

But I can’t emphasise enough that we are a developing team, and with the positive attitude that we’ve got in the dressing room we can only get better as we learn to play together.”

STRATFORD : Nathan Vaughan,, Chris Cox (Albi Skendi 46), Kieren Westwood (Mike Taylor 69), Bradley Maslen-Jones, Jamie McAteer, Jordan Williams, Wilson Carvalho, James Fry (c) (Edwin Ahenkorah 79), Nabil Shariff, Will Grocott, Claudio Dias. Unused Subs – Lewis Wilson & James Behan (GK)

ROYSTON: Will Appleyard, Callum Ellesley (Gus Scott-Morriss 46), Jhai Dhillon, Scott Thomas, Adam Murray, Dan Braithwaite (c), Vance Bola, Martel Powell, Chris Assombalonga (Josh Castiglione 69), James Potton, Rohdell Gordon.. Unused Subs – Bradley Bell, Ben Martin & Harry Smart (GK)

Referee          –           Stephen Bates

Assistant Referees         –         Russell Jones & Panos Fellas

Attendance      –        201

Town Man of the Match           –          Jordan Williams

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards           –          Maslen-Jones
Royston Yellow Cards             –          Murray

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

13th AUGUST 2018  –  STOURBRIDGE  –  AWAY  –  LEAGUE

TOWN SWEPT AWAY BY THE GLASSBOYS FIRST HALF BLITZ

Stourbridge              –       3       –        Hayden 10  Broadhurst 18  Mills 32
Stratford Town       –       0

After their opening day win over St Neots it was all so different for Town at Amblecote on Monday evening when a classy and powerful Stourbridge side stormed to a three goal lead in just 32 minutes as they totally dominated the first half before controlling the rest of the game to run out comfortable winners.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from Saturday. Nathan Vaughan was unavailable due to work commitments and was replaced in goal by James Behan while Kynan Isaac came in for Lewis Wilson.

The match also marked skipper James Fry’s 100th Town appearance, but apart from that commendable personal landmark it will surely be an evening to be forgotten as quickly as possible.

The Stourbridge team included two ex-Town players in Aaron Forde and Rob Thompson-Brown.

Stourbridge were soon pushing forward but it was Town who were first to threaten with Will Grocott’s seventh minute dipping right footer from 25 yards out being turned over by the Glassboys keeper James Wren.

But three minutes later Stourbridge went ahead. Greg Mills was to cause problems for Town all evening with his pace and persistence down the left, and he whipped in a low cross which was cleared for a corner by Kieren Westwood as Luke Benbow waited to pounce.

Thompson-Brown floated the flag kick into the Town penalty area and Aaron Hayden climbed the highest to power a firm header past Behan.

Stourbridge were now really getting into their stride as Town struggled to cope with their speed and strength and eight minutes later they doubled their lead. Another Mills cross picked out Leon Broadhurst whose first shot was superbly beaten out by Behan only for the Glassboys striker to seize on the loose ball and fire it into the net.

As the pressure intensified Broadhurst twice went close and Behan did well to hold a teasing cross from Thompson-Brown before it got worse for Darren Byfield’s side on 32 minutes when Stourbridge went three up.

This time the tricky Mills was allowed the time and space on the edge of the penalty area to hit an exquisite curler beyond Behan into the far corner and effectively take the game out of Town’s reach.

They were offered a glimmer of hope in the final minute of the half when Stourbridge conceded a free kick some five yards outside their penalty area but although Grocott’s attempt was bang on target Wren was again able to tip it over and the subsequent corner came to nothing.

Town looked to be more positive in the second half and Isaac wasn’t far away with a decent try soon after the restart, but the Glassboys were now in their comfort zone and concentrated on keeping their three goal cushion intact.

Grocott tried hard to work his magic in midfield as Town saw more of the ball, but Stourbridge always seemed to be in control. Callum Powell made a couple of promising runs down the right which eventually petered out, and the nearest Town came to a goal was from half time substitute Jordan Williams whose header from a Grocott corner on the hour mark produced another acrobatic tip over from Wren .

Mills was still lively on the Stourbridge left and a couple of centres flashed across the Town penalty area with no Stourbridge player able to apply the finishing touch, but they almost made it four in the closing minutes to go with Behan twice pulling off smart saves to keep out fiercely struck efforts from Benbow and Broadhurst.

“That was an absolute reality check for us after winning on Saturday” was Darren Byfield’s honest assessment afterwards. “We knew it was going to be tough as Stourbridge are a good side who I’m sure will be challenging at the top of the table throughout the season, and they totally bullied us in that opening half hour to go three up.

But at least we now know where the bar is and the level that we need to be at if we are to be competitive with the top teams in this league.

On the positive side I was pleased that we came out for the second half and showed a lot more character to cause them one or two problems. It would have been nice to have got on the scoresheet but it was not to be.

We have learnt plenty of lessons from tonight and we will work together to take them on board and improve as a unit. Stourbridge are an experienced side who have been together for some time whereas we are a new team which is still developing, but we will get there and we will look to get back on track at Royston at the weekend.”

STRATFORD : James Behan, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c), Bradley Maslen-Jones (Claudio Dias 63), Jamie McAteer, Callum Powell, Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah, Wilson Carvalho (Jordan Williams 46), Kynan Isaac (Mike Taylor 57). Unused Subs – Jazz Luckie & Lewis Wilson

STOURBRIDGE: James Wren, Aaron Hayden (Stuart Pierpoint 63), Jordan Brown, Paul McCone (c), Jack Duggan, Aaron Forde, Brad Birch (Kaiman Anderson 72), Leon Broadhurst, Luke Benbow, Rob Thompson-Brown (Tom Edmond-Hill 78), Greg Mills. Unused Sub – Jake Evans & Niall Maher

Referee         –          Simon Barrow

Assistant Referees         –        Adam Clenaghan & Josh Hackett

Attendance       –      733

Town Man of the Match     –    Wil Grocott

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

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

Stratford Yellow Cards                –       Isaac, Westwood & Williams
Stourbridge Yellow Cards          –      None

Match Report by Bryan Hale

 

11th AUGUST 2018  –  ST NEOTS TOWN  –  HOME  –  LEAGUE

GROCOTT STRIKES TO GIVE BYFIELD A WINNING START

Stratford Town       –      1      –     Grocott    50
St Neots                    ––     0

New Town Stratford manager Darren Byfield made the perfect start at the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday as his team edged out a battling St Neots side with Will Grocott hitting the only goal of the afternoon early in the second half.

The Town starting line-up included only three players from last season’s squad, – Grocott, skipper James Fry and Edwin Ahenkorah – but they were first to threaten with Ahenkorah having a third minute effort deflected wide.

The Saints responded with Dylan Williams having a fierce right footer blocked by Fry before Callum Powell began to make his presence felt from wide on the right.

First he whipped in a cross which reached Lewis Wilson at the far post only for him to miss his kick with only keeper Finlay Iron to beat, and soon after it was Powell again as he cut inside to hit a shot which fizzed narrowly wide.

But there were few clearcut chances until the half hour mark when the Saints had what turned out to be their best opportunity of the match when Johnny Herd’s long throw was allowed to bounce in the Town penalty area and James Peters nipped in to head against the bar and then somehow scoop the rebound wide.

Town responded with Chris Cox working his way in from the right only to hit his cross too close to Iron, and the first half ended with Jamie McAteer heading over from a Grocott left wing corner.

But it only took Town five minutes after the break to score what proved to be the winner. Wilson cut in from the right to reach the byline and pull the ball back across to Grocott who drilled it into the bottom corner from virtually on the penalty spot.

Barely a minute later Powell popped up on the left to hit a low drive which was spilled by Iron before being cleared, and as Town continued to press McAteer’s volley from another Grocott corner was blocked by Taylor Parr at point blank range.

By now Powell was causing the Saints defence ;plenty of problems with his pace and he almost doubled Town’s lead on 71 minutes when he escaped down the left only for his shot to drift tantalisingly wide.

A couple of minutes later another Powell effort led to a corner which was only cleared as far as Town substitute Kynan Isaac who blazed the loose ball inches over.

With McAteer and Bradley Maslen-Jones looking reassuringly solid in the centre of Town’s defence backed up by the confident handling of Nathan Vaughan the Saints seldom looked likely to get back into the game and instead only a fingertip save from Iron with five minutes to go kept out a stinging long range from Grocott while in the final minute a quick Town break down the left ended with the ball reaching Fry whose first time drive flashed the wrong side of Iron’s right hand post.

“Naturally I’m delighted to win my first match in charge” beamed Darren /Byfield afterwards. “Everyone wants to win their opening game of the season, and I’m particularly pleased to do so with a clean sheet as we had been conceding too many goals in our pre-season friendlies.

This is a new team which will only get better and stronger as the season progresses, and it’s up to me and my staff to make sure that this happens.

It will be a stern test for us at Stourbridge on Monday but one that we are all looking forward to.”

STRATFORD : Nathan Vaughan, Chris Cox, Kieren Westwood, James Fry (c), Bradley Maslen-Jones, Jamie McAteer, Callum Powell (Claudio Dias 90), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah (Jazz Luckie 80), Wilson Carvalho, Lewis Wilson (Kynan Isaac 66). Unused Subs – Mike Taylor & Jordan Williams

ST NEOTS: Finlay Iron, Matty Miles, Johnny Herd (Tom Wood 80), Luke Knight (c), Dan Olaniran (Harry O’Malley 80), Taylor Parr, Claudio Ofosu, James Peters, Lewis Irwin, Dion Sembie-Ferris, Dylan Williams (Devante Stanley 48) Unused Sub – Jack Keeble

Referee          –         Ollie Williams

Assistant Referees        –          Jake Allsopp & Jonathan Price

Attendance      –        292

Town Man of the Match        –      Bradley Maslen-Jones

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

     Stratford       St Neots
          17 Goal Attempts               8
            5 On Target               2
            2 Blocked Shots               1
            0 Hit Woodwork              1
          10 Corners Won              6
          11 Crosses into Box              7
             8 Fouls Conceded              9
            5 Off Side              0
             1 Yellow Cards              0
            0 Red Cards              0

Stratford Yellow Cards           –         McAteer
St Neots Yellow Cards            –          None

Match Report by Bryan Hale