Captain Courtney leads by example to sink Waders

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Stratford Town players celebrate Courtney Richards' winner at Biggleswade. Photo: Steve Wood.

FOOTBALL

Biggleswade Town 0
Stratford Town 1
Southern League Premier Division Central

CAPTAIN Courtney Richards bagged his first goal in a Stratford Town shirt to boost their push away from the danger zone in the Southern League Premier Division Central.
Richards struck nine minutes from time for the only goal at a blustery Carlsberg Stadium with nine minutes left to seal Town’s second away win of the season.
Town’s starting line-up showed three changes from the Hitchin game. Kynan Isaac switched to left back in place of Gedeon Okito, while new signing Michael Townsend, who played over 100 games for Cheltenham Town but who has more recently been at Coalville, replaced Dan Alessi at centre half and Leam Howards came in to take Isaac’s midfield slot.
With a heavy pitch and a brisk wind both teams understandably took time to adjust to the conditions.
Biggleswade, on the fringes of the play-off hunt, had the better of the play in the first half, with Stratford keeper Jame Pardington diving to gather Jonny Edwards’ header and Edwards firing a 25-yarder just over.
Oliver Swain also headed a Dylan Williams cross over but Stratford were largely composed.
Stratford’s best chance in the opening period came two minutes before the break, Howards firing at home keeper Richard Walton.
Biggleswade continued to look the more likely scorers in the second half and they were denied on 53 minutes when Pardington parried Matthew Ball’s effort and Edwards smashed home, only to find the offside flag was already raised.
Town sub Kyle Perry, who has joined from Alvechurch, went close as did Ball at the other end but it became clear one goal would settle the points.
And so it proved in the 81st minute.
Robbie Thompson-Brown, who had become Stratford’s 64th different player of the season after coming on as a sub, was flattened outside the area and when the Waders defence failed to clear Kynan Isaac’s free-kick Richards swept the loose ball past Walton for the winner.
The victory pushes Town six points clear of the bottom three, though third-bottom St Ives Town have two games in hand and second-bottom Alvechurch, a further two points adrift, have five games in hand.

STRATFORD: James Pardington, Dan Vann, Kynan Isaac, Courtney Richards (c), Michael Townsend, Kyle Rowley, Javia Roberts (Rob Thompson-Brown 72), Mo Sebbeh-Njie, Dan Sweeney (Dan Alessi 87), Reece Flanagan (Kyle Perry 46), Leam Howards. Unused Subs: David Pitt, Dominic Perkins.
BIGGLESWADE: Richard Walton, Devante Stanley, Corey Panter, Callum Donnelly, Oliver Swain, Drew Richardson (Kweku Lucan 86), Dylan Williams, Shane Bush, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Ball (c), Treymayne Charles (James Peters). Unused Subs: Reece Crowter, Taishan Griffith, Darryl Reid.
Referee: Alistair Wilson

See Bryan Hale’s full match report and reaction in this week’s Herald.