Stratford Town blow Alvechurch away in first-half blitz

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Mike Taylor netted Town's winner at Mickleover Sports. Photo: Steve Wood

STRATFORD Town cruised past Alvechurch in their Buildbase FA Trophy first qualifying round replay, wrapping it all up in a scintillating first-half display which saw them go in at half time already 3-0 up, writes Bryan Hale.

Tom Baillie’s side made the best possible start by going ahead in only the seventh minute when 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 keeper Charlie Price with the minimum of fuss.

With Stratford bossing the possession Mike Taylor had a useful effort blocked by Price before creating 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 hit straight at Price.

Little was being seen of the Church attack with dangerman Yusifu Ceesay hardly being in the game, and Stratford deservedly doubled their lead on 37 minutes when Westwood’s pinpoint cross from the left was met by Taylor with a sublime header which gave Price no chance.

Albi Skendi’s low cross is turned in by Mike Taylor to make it 3-0. Photo: Steve Wood

And five minutes later, Stratford made it 3-0 and surely took the tie out of Alvechurch’s reach as Albi Skendi surged down the left with his low cross being turned in by Taylor for his tenth goal of the campaign.

Stratford were in no mood to let up after the break and almost added a fourth ten minutes into the second half when Chris Cox’s header from a Will Grocott free-kick was cleared off the line by Josh March.

Alvechurch’s first shot on target didn’t arrive until the 66th minute when substitute Kieran Cook’s free-kick was confidently gathered by Richard Walton, but Stratford were well within their comfort zone.

New striker Amos Kabeya was introduced with a quarter of an hour to go and Stratford ended on the attack with Price saving well from Claudio Dias as they saw the game out for a comfortable passage into the next round.