Midland Floodlit Youth League, Premier South
Stratford Town 4-1 Gloucester City
Report by Bryan Hale
DARREN Timms said he has ‘enjoyed every minute’ of managing Stratford Town Youth after confirming he was stepping down from his position.
Timms announced he was leaving after the club brought the curtain down on their title-winning Midland Floodlit Youth League Premier South campaign last Thursday evening with a 4-1 victory over Gloucester City at the Arden Garages Stadium.
Tyricke Richards-Burke, Sacha Everard, Tommy Harrington and Bradley West were on target to give Timms the perfect send off.
“It’s a nice way to finish and I’ve enjoyed every minute,” said Timms.
“The lads have bee a pleasure to work with throughout the season and they thoroughly deserve their success.
“Their team spirit has been tremendous as you can see from the way they all celebrate the goals, whoever scores them, and I’m so proud of them all.
“They’ve been a talented and special group, having won the League Cup last year and followed that up by winning the league by a wide margin this time around.
“I’ve always emphasised to the lads that it’s players who win titles, not managers, and they have done it where it matters on the field.”
Although it was the closing match of the entire league season, it still had plenty riding on it as a Gloucester win would have seen them claim the runners-up spot, but that never looked likely as Town turned on the style, particularly in the second half, with the result meaning that Worcester City hung on to second spot in the final table as Timms’ side finished a whopping 13 points clear.
Both sides had an early chance, with Toby Scott bringing the first of several smart saves out of Gloucester keeper Alex Sukoed while at the other end Theo Maye blasted a free-kick from a promising position harmlessly over.
But with the impressive Caine Elliott in a class of his own in midfield, Town were bossing possession, and soon Richards-Burke was causing the Gloucester defence plenty of problems with his pace down the right.
In the 17th minute he cut in to hit a fierce effort which was beaten away by Sukoed and a couple of minutes later he fired Town ahead with a stunning strike from all of 30 yards out which soared over Sukoed and dipped under the bar into the top corner of the net.
Town continued to press, but Gloucester grabbed a fortunate equaliser just after the half-hour mark when an attempted Town clearance rebounded kindly to Finley Blythe, who found himself with only Ryan Woodward to beat and duly slotted the ball past the advancing keeper.
Town, though, regained the lead five minutes later when Elliott launched a free-kick from out by the left touchline over to the far post where Sacha Everard – who was one of several in the Town squad playing their last game at youth team level – rose majestically to power a header past the helpless Sukoed.
But Gloucester went close to levelling it all up again two minutes before the break when Maye hit a low drive which was turned behind by Woodward plunging to his left and from the subsequent corner James Stubbs’ header cannoned against the bar before being cleared.
Town stalwarts Dan Atkins, Harrington and Harry Hartin all came on after the break, and ten minutes into the second half a flowing Town move involving Atkins and Elliott ended with West scooting down the left to whip in a cross which was expertly turned in by leading scorer Harrington for his 18th goal of the season.
It was all Town from then on and they went agonisingly close to extending their lead in the 67th minute when Harrington’s lob over Sukoed was somehow hooked away from under the bar by Stubbs, followed by Richards-Burke seeing his header blocked on the line by Spencer Martin.
But Gloucester’s reprieve was only temporary as with 15 minutes to go Elliott delivered a pin-point cross from the right which was met by an emphatic finish from West for Town’s 90th and final goal of an epic season.