Stratford Town 2-2 Farnborough
Evo-Stik Southern Premier
AN EQUALISER in the third minute of stoppage time denied Stratford the chance to record a fourth successive win in the Southern Premier for the first time in their history.
Carl Adams’ men deserved to be ahead through goals from Mike Taylor and Ben Stephens, sandwiching a Nick Cardini effort, and in all reality should have the points done and dusted.
But in the third of four minues of injury time veteran striker Jamie Cureton lashed home the deflected equaliser.
Town could not have wished for a better start to take the lead after one minute 27 seconds. Will Grocott and Stephens provided the initial incursion and Taylor took Grocott’s pass and swivelled past his marker to ram home.
Stephens lined up a free-kick from 25 yards fired straight into the hands of a well-positioned Jordan Beeney as Stratford showed plenty of positive intent, though they were grateful when Cureton burst free but his chip was gathered by Louis Connor.
But it was a free-kick at the other end which resulted in the Farnborough equaliser on 20 minutes. Justin Marsden brought down Cardini a couple of feet outside the area but the visitors midfielder had his revenge with a low right-footer which dismantled the wall and flew through keeper Louis Connor.
It signalled even more of an end to end contest. Both teams looked equally threatening and vulnerable.
Taylor headed Dan Summerfield’s superb cross just wide and the bustling striker was denied by a well-timed challenge from Matt Jones and Stephens’s effort lacked the power to trouble the keeper.
Beeney was also in the right place to collect Stephens’ hook shot before another Taylor header from Summerfield’s cross bounced into the keeper’s hands. Beeney was again in action to gather Stephens’ effort following a Lee Thomas centre.
But Farnborough had lively moments too. Bobby Dormer’s header from Connor’s initial punch flew into the keeper’s hands and the Stratford No 1 had to dive to his right to parry a stinging drive from Keith Emmerson after the defender skipped through a couple of challenges.
The best chance fell to veteran striker Jamie Cureton, who scoped over from six yards after connecting with Cardini’s right-wing cross.
Town looked to step up a gear in the second half and Boro were pushed back.
Beeney raced from his goal to stop Taylor, who slid into the advertising hoarding, and Marsden’s well-struck 20-yarder whizzed over the goal before Stephens couldn’t get a firm contact to Taylor’s cross.
But Stratford were not to be denied and they took the lead on 66 minutes. Grocutt sent a corner into the six-yard box from the left and Stephens bundled home among a pack of players for his 12th goal of the season.
Farnborough rallied as Connor managed to parry a dipping cross-shot from Cardini and then flew through the air to block a swerving long-range strike from Josh Huggins moments after Cureton’s shot bounced against the outside of the post.
But Stratford seemed to have done enough until heartache in the third minute of stoppage time. Huggins’s ram-rod drive smashed against h upright but came back to Cureton and he fired home to leave Town disconsolate.
Stratford: Connor, Summerfield, Thomas, Gallinagh, Recci, Fry (c), Marsden, Hancocks, Taylor (Luckie 75), Grocott, Stephen (Bako 87). Subs: Ahenkorah, Evans, Tudorache.
Farnborough: Beeney; Huggins(c), Jones, Fearn, Emmerson, Dormer, Brace (Anyan 82), Cureton, Ellington (Roberts 84), Cardini. Subs: Cunningham, Roberts.
Referee: Simon Brown.
Man of the match: James Hancocks.