BetVictor Southern Premier Central
Stratford Town 1 (McFarlane 90+1)
Coalville Town 4 (McGurk 53 58 pen 67, McGlinchey 71)
Report by Craig Gibbons
A HAT-TRICK from Adam McGurk inspired Coalville Town to a 4-1 victory over a sub-standard Stratford Town outfit which is increasingly looking over its shoulders.
Having slumped to a 6-0 defeat away at Peterborough Sports the previous weekend, Town were brushed aside once again by a Coalville team that should have won by a much bigger margin.
The dominant Ravens would have been hugely disappointed not to have came away from the Arden Garages Stadium with all three points given their sheer dominance from the first whistle to the last, having had 23 shots on goal and 14 on target.
After a somehow goalless first half, three goals from McGurk in the space of 14 second-half minutes, including one from the penalty spot, put the visitors in command.
Thomas McGlinchey then added the fourth 19 minutes from time to condemn Town to their fourth consecutive league defeat.
Town fans did have something to cheer about, though, when York City loanee Kyle McFarlane scored on his debut in the first minute of stoppage time after finishing off a fine move started by Ravi Shamsi.
It looked to be a case of men against boys and the victory for the Ravens has cemented fourth spot in the table while defeat for Town leaves them languishing in 17th place, five points above the drop zone.
This year the bottom two teams from all Step Three divisions go down, along with two third-bottom clubs with the worst points-per-game ratio.
Caretaker boss Paul Davis made no less than five changes to the team which suffered an embarrassing 6-0 defeat away at Peterborough Sports last Saturday, with Jack Bennett, Kyle Rowley, McFarlane, Luke Rowe and Matthew Campbell-Mhlope all coming in for Elliott Taylor, Dan Vann, Nabil Shariff, Foday Nabay and Kyle Ambris respectively.
In the torrid conditions at the Arden Garages Stadium, the Ravens were the first team to register a shot on goal in the sixth minute, with Luke Shaw stealing possession off Ross Oulton before drilling agonisingly wide of the mark from 20 yards out before Bennett did well to block McGlinchey’s near post effort just moments later.
Bennett was called into action once again on the quarter-hour mark, this time flinging himself to his right-hand side to push away McGurk’s powerful 25-yard free-kick.
Another Town mistake almost led to the Ravens taking the lead just before the half-hour mark, with Matt Bower giving the ball away to McGurk, whose instant left-footed shot was superbly tipped behind by Bennett.
However, the Town shot-stopper almost went from hero to zero just moments later when his poor punched clearance gave Kian Taylor the chance to place the ball into an empty net, but his headed effort was cleared off the line by Bower.
Despite being second-best for the whole of the first period, Town should have taken the lead against the run of play eight minutes before the break.
The Ravens uncharacteristically gave the ball away when Scott McManus slipped over deep inside his own half and having pounced on the loose ball to race through on goal, Shamsi could only shoot straight at the onrushing Saul Deeney.
In truth, Town were lucky to go into the break level when four minutes later McManus’ cross was diverted onto the crossbar by Kai Woollard-Innocent before Taylor blazed over the rebound from a yard out when it seemed harder to miss.
Davis brought on Chris Wreh in place of the ineffective Campbell-Mhlope at half-time in a bid to give Town some extra bite in the final third.
But getting to the right end of the pitch to make use of Wreh’s pace and power was where the hosts struggled for large parts of the second period.
And in the 53rd minute the Ravens finally made their dominance pay when McGurk beautifully curled home from the edge of the area following some good wing play from Alexander Dean on the right-hand side.
Five minutes later the Ravens were awarded a penalty after Oulton brought down McGurk, with the Coaville No.10 duly obliging from 12 yards out with the minimum of fuss to bag his and the visitors’ second goal of the afternoon.
McGurk was then celebrating his hat-trick in the 67th minute after capitalising on Bennett’s poor clearance to slot home from inside the area.
And four minutes later Town’s afternoon went from bad to worse when McGlinchey danced his way into the penalty area before rifling past Bennett at his near post following a swift counter-attack from a Town corner.
By this point Town were in disarray and had it not been for Shaw missing an open goal after rounding Bennett, the Ravens would have been 5-0 up with 15 minutes still to play.
Town seldom threatened, but they did have a chance to bag a consolation five minutes from time when Wreh wriggled his way into the penalty area only to fire wide.
But six minutes later the Town faithful eventually had something to cheer about when Shamsi and Wreh combined to allow McFarlane to fire home from ten yards out.
TOWN: Jack Bennett, Lewis Wilson, Kai Woollard-Innocent, Courtney Richards, Kyle Rowley, Matthew Bower, Ravi Shamsi, Ross Oulton (Kairo Edwards_john 63), Kyle McFarlane, Luke Rowe, Matthew Campbell-Mhlope (Chris Wreh 46). Unused subs: Dan Vann, Foday Nabay, Thomas Fishwick.
RAVENS: Saul Deeney (GK), Stuart Pierpoint, Scott McManus, Stephen Towers, Michael Townsend, Joe Doyle-Charles, Alexander Dean (Kalern Thomas 79), Luke Shaw (Kairo Mitchell 79), Kian Taylor, Adam McGurk (Timothy Berridge 71), Thomas McGlinchey. Unused subs: Leandro Browne, Ellis Storey.