Stratford Town 1-5 Barwell
BetVictor Southern Premier Central
Report by Bryan Hale
STRATFORD Town have turned in some abject displays recently but few have been as dispiriting as Tuesday night. Mid-table Barwell ran in five goals and but for some defiant saves from Sam Lomax the margin of defeat would have been even greater.
Fortunate to be level at half-time Town were brushed aside in the second half and in the nine league games since the dismissal of Tommy Wright they have only managed four points.
A relegation struggle was unthinkable back in August after reaching the play-offs last season, but that is seeming more and more likely.
The Town starting line-up showed two changes from Saturday. After his point-saving heroics at St Ives Kyle McFarlane came in for Matt Campbell-Mhliope while Lomax replaced the unavailable Harvey White in goal.
The Barwell team included Jamie McAteer who was am mainstay of Town’s defence last term and Kai Williams who made a handful of appearances.
In front of the lowest Arden Garages Stadium crowd of the season, Town could have been behind inside a minute when Zayn Hakeem shot against the advancing Lomax, and soon after McAteer flicked an Eliot Putnam free-kick inches wide,
As Barwell continued to boss the possession Matt Bower blocked a thunderous effort from Brady Hickey and a Tristan Dunkley strike was deflected behind before Lomax got down well to his left to push Hakeem’s shot away.
Chris Wreh looked lively when Town were able to push forward and he fired narrowly wide in the
20th minute after he cut in from the right before Lewis Wilson whipped in a low cross from the right which fizzed across the six-yard box.
But Barwell deservedly went ahead in the 26th minute when Hakeem released Williams down the left and his low centre set up a simple tap-in for Omotolani Omotola.
Town could easily have been two down shortly after with Dunkley and Hakeem both going close and Lomax pulling off another fine save to keep out a fiercely-struck drive from Hickey.
Then some close control from Omotola on the right set up a shooting chance for Hakeem but Kyle Rowley made a crucial block.
But having been second best Town levelled in the 45th minute. Ravi Shamsi swept the ball out to the overlapping Kai Woollard-Innocent on the left and then seized on Wollard-Innocent’s return cross to fire past Barwell keeper Max Bramley from the edge of the penalty area.
There was still time before the interval for Lomax to again come out on top in a one-on-one with Dunkley to ensure that Town reached half-time somehow still in the
game when really Barwell should have been out of sight.
To the dismay of the Town faithful it was more of the same after the restart as Barwell resumed where they had left off and regained the lead in the 59th minute.
Once more it was only a hopeful long ball which proved Town’s undoing as Dunkley outmuscled both Bower and Rowley to skip round Lomax and slot into the empty net.
And on 66 minutes they added a third when Hickey’s deep cross from the right reached Omotula at the far post and unchallenged he volleyed past the helpless Lomax.
Five minutes later, they went further ahead when Williams took advantage of yet more hesitancy in the Town defence to fire past Lomax.
And it got even worse for Town in the 75th minute when a mistake by Rowley let in Omotula who completed his hat-trick with ease.
Only more Lomax heroics prevented more embarrassment and when Town did manage to break forward McFarlane could only spoon over from a few yards out from a Wreh cross.
Barwell substitute Joe Evans then saw his late header come back off the bar before the mercy of the final whistle ended a truly desperate Town performance.
STRATFORD: Lomax, Vann, Woolard-Innocent, Richards, Rowley (Ambris 79), Bower (Campbelll-Mhliope 79),
Wilson (c), Nabay (Clement 71), Wreh, Shamsi, McFarlane. Subs: Hylton, Bennett (gk).
BARWELL: Bramley, Percival (Whitmore 76), Putnam,
McAteer, Cotterill, Edwards (Brown-Hill 79), Dunkley, Hakeem (Evans 54), Omotola, Hickey, Williams. Sub: Hollis.
Referee: Richard Blake.