McFarlane double completes Town fightback

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Kyle McFarlane slots home for Town at St Ives Town. Photo: Stratford Town ISA.

BetVictor Southern League, Premier Central
St Ives Town 2-2 Stratford Town

Report by Bryan Hale

TWO opportunist finishes from substitute Kyle McFarlane earned Stratford a valuable point at the Pro Edge Stadium on Saturday but their wait for that elusive first away win of the season still goes on.
Even a draw looked beyond them as St Ives went 2-0 ahead shortly after half-time, but McFarlane’s introduction provided Town with the cutting edge that had previously been lacking and it was Paul Davis’ side which finished the stronger before time ran out.
Town had won once in seven games while the Saints’ previous seven games had yielded just a solitary point so both sides would probably have settled for a point apiece before kick-off but at the final whistle they undoubtedly also both felt that they had missed the opportunity to take all three.
Chris Wreh and Matt Campbell-Mhlope returned to Town’s starting line-up here replacing McFarlane and Jordan Clement.
On an inevitably heavy pitch both sides started cautiously, but the Saints went ahead in the ninth minute when Dylan Wilson’s low drive flew beyond Town keeper Harvey White into the far corner of the net.
Town had a real let-off on the quarter-hour mark when a fiercely hit shot from Jarvis Wilson ricocheted off a Town defender and went behind off the top of the bar.
But having survived that testing spell Town tried to hit back with Lewis Wilson and Ravi Shamsi having decent efforts blocked.
Town thought they had levelled in the 25th minute when Saints keeper Finlay Iron lost the ball before Wreh’s close-range shot was hacked clear despite frantic Town appeals that it had crossed the line.
The Saints were soon into their stride in the second half and should have been two up in the 50th minute when Matt Foy surged through a yawning gap between Matt Bower and Kyle Rowley but with only White to beat he pulled his shot wide.
Two minutes later though Foy made amends with a pinpoint finish from the edge of the penalty area.
That prompted a double Town substitution with Nabay and Campbell-Mhlope making way for McFarlane and Clement.
It gave Town some extra momentum and they pulled a goal back in the 67th minute when Iron spilled Shamsi’s floated a cross from the right and McFarlane bundled in the loose ball.
Almost immediately White prevented the Saints from restoring their two-goal advantage with a brilliant save from substitute Ollie Snaith but Town started to threaten, with Shamsi increasingly influential and both Wreh and McFarlane giving the Saints backline plenty of problems.
Town’s pressure told two minutes of from time when Wreh’s cross from the right was deflected against the bar and McFarlane in typical goalpoacher’s style reacted the quickest to stab in the rebound.
With referee George Laflin playing nearly seven minutes of added time Town could then have gone on to win but Iron safely held a thunderbolt from Shamsi and an effort from Wreh but over a hard-fought 90 minutes a draw was probably the right result.

Town are back in action on Tuesday night when they face Barwell at the Arden Garages Stadium (7.45pm).

STRATFORD: Harvey White, Dan Vann, Kai Woolard-Innocent, Courtney Richards, Kyle Rowley, Matthew Bower, Lewis Wilson (c), Foday Nabay (Kyle McFarlane 55), Ravi Shamsi, Chris Wreh, Matthew Campbell-Mhlope (Jordan Clement 55). Subs: Kyle Ambris, Jarrell Hylton, Jack Bennett (gk).
ST IVES: Finlay Iron, Ben Jackson, Ben Toseland (Ty Ward 62), Dan Clifton (Ben Seymour-Shove 90), Alfie Powell, Jarvis Wilson, George Bailey, Robbie Parker (c), Matt Foy, Joe Curtis, Dylan Wilson (Ollie Snaith 61). Sub: Charlie Johnson.
Referee: George Laflin.