Wilkes’ hat-trick helps FC Stratford to dazzling win

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FC Stratford's hat-trick hero Ashley Wilkes scoring his second goal in the 5-1 win over Hampton on Saturday. Photo: Mark Williamson

FOOTBALL
FC STRATFORD proved what a difference a week can make in football after sweeping aside Hampton 5-1 in one of their best performances of the season.
Stratford had surrendered a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at Hampton a week ago, but they exacted revenge in the Midland League Division Two with a scintillating display at the Arden Garages Stadium.
Ashley Wilkes led the way for Nick Ballinger’s side with a hat-trick, with Harry Hartin and Tyrike Richards-Burke.
FC Stratford raced into a 4-0 interval lead and it then became 5-1 before Hampton replied late on.
There was plenty of drama, too, at Alcester Town where the hosts threw away a 3-0 lead before edging past Coventrians on penalties in a roller-coaster Birmingham Vase tie.
It looked like game over when Luke Dugmore opened the scoring and then Callum Debar struck twice.
But Coventrians rallied only for Alcester to finally progress to round three 6-5 on penalties.
Earlswood Town’s county vase hopes were wrecked by a 3-2 home defeat to Coventry Alliance side AEI Rugby while Henley Forest of Arden also bowed to Coventry Colliery, losing 3-0.
In the Midland League Division Three, Central Ajax had hat-trick hero Alex Andrews to thank for a thrilling three points at Solihull side FC Shush.
Andrews had levelled a 25th-minute opener from Shush when he deflected home a chance two minutes before half-time but there was still time for the hosts to regain the lead with a penalty.
A Sam Smith free-kick levelled matters on 57 minutes before Andrews finished sharply for 3-2 six minutes later.
Shush were not finished and levelled on 67 minutes but Andrews settled the contest with a 80th-minute winner.
The win leaves Ajax in second place, one point leaders AFC Solihull but the latter have three games in hand.