Midland Floodlit Youth League
League Cup, Third Round
Coventry Sphinx 0
Stratford Town 3
Report by Bryan Hale
STRATFORD Town booked their place in the fourth round of the MFYL League Cup with a thoroughly gutsy and disciplined performance last Thursday night.
The game was unfortunately marred, though, by a serious injury to Town’s Joe Waterfield after only 15 minutes.
The tie was postponed the previous week, as Sphinx’s pitch at Sphinx Drive was waterlogged and as it was still unfit, the tie was switched to Rugby Borough’s Kilsby Lane ground.
With Sphinx flying high in the Northern Premier Division, it was always going to be a testing evening for Town, who went into the game missing several regulars through injury or illness which meant a debut at centre-half for 16-year-old Jacob Williams.
Town, though, were sharp right from the kick-off with Jack Ballinger not far away with a dipping volley followed by Rob Singer firing wide after being played in by a perfectly weighted throughball from Ballinger.
Town were already taking control with Waterfield and Harry Miles bossing midfield and the back four well marshalled by Sammy Mould to make sure goalkeeper Callum Monaghan was untroubled, but with only a quarter of an hour gone, a Sphinx defender launched into a rash challenger on Waterfield and was promptly given his marching orders.
After a lengthy stoppage during which he received excellent attention from the Rugby Borough club doctor, Waterfield was taken to hospital by ambulance, but fortunately the news on Friday morning confirmed there was no break.
When play restarted Town continued to dominate and went ahead when the lively Ballinger’s mazy run was halted as he was brought down in the penalty area and Rob Sone blasted in the spot-kick with the minimum of fuss.
With Ben Cook and Jack Beer raiding down the flanks and Adam Pomeroy working hard in midfield, Town were well on top and any hopeful Sphinx breakaways were immediately snuffed out by Mould and Williams as half-time was reached with Town deservedly ahead.
And there was no let-up from Town in the second half, with Singer doubling their lead with a crisp low drive on the hour mark and then having another decent effort come back off the post five minutes later.
Soon after Town had another penalty when Singer was fouled, with the Town striker getting up to take it himself only for the Sphinx keeper to pull off a fine save.
But Town’s third was only delayed and ten minutes later another precision pass from Ballinger sent Sone clear to round the advancing keeper to slide the ball home and propel Nick Ballinger’s progressive side safely through to the next round.