Town fade as Paulton hit back for vital victory

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Both sides struggled to adapt to the gluepot conditions, and it was 15 minutes before either goal was threatened when a Paulton corner was headed on by Josh Ford and lifted over the bar by Solomon Wheatley from no more than a couple of yards out.

Stratford responded with Mark Magee floating over an inviting cross from the right but Aaron Moses-Garvey was disappointingly unable to make the most of it at the far post.

Stratford then had a let-off on the half-hour mark when Anthony Charles tried to clear a Steve Williams cross from the right behind and was a relieved man as the ball looped over James Cutts and clipped the top of the bar on its way behind.

Stratford’s best chance arrived soon after when Simeon Tulloch released Mark Magee down the inside right channel but his fiercely struck shot was parried by Paulton keeper Ben John, who then recovered quickly enough to smother the loose ball as Tulloch attempted to follow up.

With the rain at last easing up, Stratford went ahead on 59 minutes.

Liam Francis surged forward from the halfway line to find Michael McGrath, who threaded it through to Magee and he coolly slid it past the advancing John for his first Town goal.

The lead only lasted five minutes as Jordan Ricketts used his strength to plough through the mud from the right to drill a crisp left footer beyond Cutts into the bottom corner.

In spite of McGrath’s best efforts, Paulton were now looking the stronger side and scored the decider with a quarter of an hour to go.

Substitute Jamie Mawford, who had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes, picked up the ball on the right-hand edge of the penalty area and curled an exquisite shot over Cutts and into the net at the far post.

A Stratford equaliser never looked likely as Paulton saw the game out for three more precious points.

Full match report in next week’s Herald