FC Stratford show their resolve in victory over high-flying Millers



Midland League, Division Two
FC Stratford 4 (Everard 3, Wilkes 19 pen, Gifford 67, Welsh 87 OG)
Feckenham 2 (Eminoglu 48, Garvey 49)
Report by Craig Gibbons

AN ENTERTAINING six-goal thriller at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday night saw FC Stratford get back to winning ways in Midland League Division Two with a 4-2 victory over Feckenham.

Dave Poulson’s Stratford side got off to a blistering start, taking the lead in just the third minute through Sacha Everard’s header before Ashley Wilkes’s penalty 16 minutes later made it 2-0.

Stern words must have been said to the visitors at half-time, as they scored two quick-fire goals early on in the second period to level things up,

Umit Eminoglu’s fabulous free-kick in the 48th minute made it 2-1 and then a minute later parity was restored when Billy Garvey made the most of Stratford’s nervous defence to slot home from eight yards out.

By now the hosts were on the back foot, but a slice of luck in the 67th minute put Stratford back in front.

Dean Poulson miscued his shot from the edge of the area, but James Gifford reacted quickest to latch onto the ball and pass it into the far corner.

The hosts then sealed the three points two minutes from time when James Parnaby’s cross was diverted into his own net by Ben Welsh.

Stratford were looking to bounce back to winning ways following their 2-1 defeat Coton Green on Saturday and they got off to the perfect start in the freezing conditions at the Arden Garages Stadium.

Having being handed a free-kick on the far side, Wilkes’s perfect in-swinging delivery put the ball on a plate for the unmarked Everard to glance a header home into the bottom corner from all of six yards out.

After a shaky start, the Millers eventually settled down and created some opportunities of their own, with Danny Murphy and Garvey seeing shots blocked while Eminoglu saw his 16th-minute free-kick from a tight angle easily saved by Luis Sone.

Three minutes later, though, Stratford were given a penalty after Gifford was tripped in the area by Connor Perry-Holmes and Wilkes made no mistake from 12 yards out, smashing the ball past the outstretched hand of Ryan Young and into the bottom corner to give his side a 2-0 lead.

Despite their two-goal advantage, Stratford had a few nervy moments at the back which the visitors failed to capitalise on and it need two bites of the cherry for Sone to hold Murphy’s fierce drive from the edge of the area in the 29th minute.

The Millers continued to force Stratford deeper into their own half, but some dogged defence ensured the hosts kept their 2-0 lead at the interval.

After the break the visitors came out all guns blazing and with barely five minutes of the second half played, they were back on level terms.

Eminoglu reduced the arrears in the 48th minute with a stunning left-footed free-kick from 20 yards out before Garvey bagged the equaliser a minute later when he capitalised on Stratford’s inability to clear Jack Cole’s cross and stroke the ball home from eight yards out.

The Millers continued to go for the jugular, but for all their second-half dominance, they fell behind once again with 23 minutes left to play.

Poulson’s tame shot from the edge of the area was skewed into the path of Gifford, who got in behind the Feckenham defence and slotted the ball past the onrushing Young with aplomb.

But Feckenham would not lie down and five minutes later Sone plunged to his right to parry Garvey’s fierce drive from just inside the penalty area.

Garvey then thought he had levelled things up with 13 minutes left to play when he got in behind and slotted into the far corner, but his joy wast short-lived after the ‘goal’ was chalked off for offside.

Tom Parnaby and Tom Daccus were brought on inside the final 15 minutes to add some extra pace on the counter and the move proved to be an inspired one when the former saw his low cross diverted into the back of the net by the unfortunate Welsh with just two minutes to go.

STRATFORD: Luis Sone, James Robbins, Ashley Wilkes, Danny Janes, Sacha Everard, Michael O’Regan (Courtney Sowe h/t), Nick Cox, Dean Poulson, James Gifford (Tom Daccus 78), Steve Roche (Tom Parnaby 73), Dan Atkins. Unused subs: Louis McDonald, Matt Bailey.

FECKENHAM: Ryan Young, Ben Welsh, Jake Donnelly (Max Tibbins 90+4), Jack Cole, Jamie Hatfield, Jordan Adams, Ben Cox, Umit Eminoglu, Billy Garvey, Danny Murphy, Connor Perry-Holmes (Ben Ellicott 75). Unused subs: Jak Albutt, Dan Williams, Declan Print

ATTENDANCE: 35 (head count)