Early goal blitz destroys Stratford’s hopes at Hereford

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Ben Stephens was on target against Hereford. Photo: Steve Wood

FOOTBALL

Hereford 5
Stratford Town 2
Southern Premier

Report by Bryan Hale

HEREFORD scored four times in 11 first-half minutes to send Stratford to back-to-back defeats at a wet and windy Edgar Street on Tuesday.
Town’s starting line-up showed one change from King’s Lynn on Saturday with Guy Clark coming in for Liam Francis, while a familiar face in the Bulls line-up was the combative midfielder Michael McGrath who was a regular in the Town side the season before last.
Both teams struggled to come to terms with the increasingly greasy surface early on, and neither goal was seriously threatened in the opening 20 minutes.
But that all changed in the 27th minute when Garyn Preen opened the scoring with a low drive from the edge of the penalty area which seemed to go straight through Town keeper Louis Connor.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 when McGrath cut in from the right to thump the ball past Connor from 20 yards out.
A stunning 25-yarder from Preen flew past the diving Connor into the bottom corner for the Bulls’ third on 34 minutes and five minutes later Gethyn Hill shrugged off a couple of ineffectual tackles to make it 4-0.
Town showed signs of recovery after the break and got their reward with two late goals.
Ben Stephens latched onto a pass from Will Grocott to steer the ball past keeper Martin Horsell on 79 minutes to make the scoreline a bit more respectable.
Three minutes later Horsell fumbled Justin Marsden’s shot and Jazz Luckie reacted the quickest to stab the loose ball over the line.
The Bulls supporters were suddenly looking anxiously at the clock but a misunderstanding between Connor and Andy Gallinagh allowed Pablo Haysham to nip in and set up Mike Symons for Hereford’s fifth five minutes from time.

HEREFORD: Horsell, Oates (c), Bowen, Dinsley, Green, O’Shea, Preen (Haysham 71), McGrath, Mills (Symons 71), Reffel, Hill (Purdie 86). Subs: Preston, Harris
STRATFORD: Connor, Summerfield, Thomas, Gallinagh, Recci, Clark (Hancocks 78), Grocott, Fry (c) (Marsden 62), Taylor (Stephens 62), Luckie, Edwin Ahenkorah, Subs: Evans, Francis

Full report in Thursday’s Herald