Bromsgrove Sporting 1
Stratford Town 2
Grocott 58, 87
FA Cup, First Qualifying Round
Report by Craig Gibbons
WILL GROCOTT scored twice as Stratford Town came from behind to beat Bromsgrove Sporting and book their place in the next round of the FA Cup.
Just like on Saturday against Kings Langley in the Southern Premier Central opener, Paul Davis’s men had to battle back from a goal down on Tuesday night after former Town man Courtney Richards gave the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Town were back on level terms just before the hour mark when Grocott neatly finished from Greg Kaziboni’s cutback across goal.
And an in-form Grocott bagged his and Town’s second in the 87th minute with a fine finish from inside the penalty area to send the healthy cohort of travelling Blues fans into hysteria.
The Blues will now find out who they face in the second qualifying round when the draw is released at 1pm on Friday.
Town boss Davis made just one change to the team which beat Kings Langley in the season opener on Saturday, with Leam Howards replacing the injured Ken Feyi, who dropped to the bench.
And it was Town who enjoyed more of the ball in the opening ten minutes, with Ashley Sammons seeing a curling effort go just over the bar in the second minute while Enoch Andoh saw his close-range shot desperately blocked five minutes later.
That was pretty much as good as it got for the visitors in the first half, as the Rouslers slowly began to turn the screw and take a stranglehold on proceedings in front of a 472-strong crowd at the Victoria Ground.
Charlie Dowd and Aram Soleman were looking lively down the wings and it was the former who almost opened the scoring in the 39th minute when his thunderous effort from 20 yards out flashed past Town goalkeeper Ty Belford and smashed off the crossbar.
Sporting continued to press and three minutes later Nathan Hayward was next to try his luck, but his effort from the edge of the box was straight at Belford.
However, the hosts were not to be denied and on the stroke of half-time they took a deserved lead.
After Grocott’s corner was clasped by Dan Platt, the Sporting goalkeeper launched the ball upfield and a swift counter-attack ended with Richards neatly curling the ball beyond Belford and into the far corner from 18 yards out.
After the interval, the match turned into a real end-to-end affair, and it was Town who had the first big chance of the second half, with Sammons seeing his fierce shot from inside the area expertly parried away by Platt.
Platt again had to be at his best to parry Leam Howards fierce shot three minters later, but there was nothing he could do about Town’s equaliser in the 58th minute.
Second-half substitute Alex Henshall looked very lively and his deep cross was knocked back across goal by Kaziboni, and the loose ball made its way to Will Grocott who finished with aplomb from ten yards out to bring Town level.
And six minutes later Town came close to nosing themselves ahead when Sam Muggleton’s huge throw into the box was met by Howards, but he could only blaze over from six yards out.
The fast-paced second half continued and another former Town man in Mike Taylor had a glorious chance to put the Rouslers back in front with ten minutes remaining.
A deft throughball from Chris Lait saw Taylor break clear of the Town defence, but Belford rushed out, closed the angle and made a superb save to keep the scores level.
And that stopped proved even more crucial just seven minutes later when Town scored the decisive goal of the game.
After working the ball deep into the Sporting half, Grocott’s clever back-heel set Henshall free down the left-hand side of the penalty area.
His cross was blocked, but the ball bounced kindly into the path of Grocott who cut inside and beautifully curled the ball beyond the outstretched arm of Platt to send Town into the second qualifying round.
SPORTING: Platt, Ezewele, Wilson, Hayward, Higginson, Broadhurst, Mussa, Quaynor (Pais 77), Richards (Taylor 58), Soleman, Dowd (Lait 58). Unused subs: Spink, Beardmore, Shorrock.
TOWN: Belford, Fry, Muggleton, Curtis, Heaven, Williams, Kaziboni, Sammons, Howards (Vann 90+2), Grocott, Andoh (Henshall h/t). Unused subs: Isaac, Braimbridge, Flanagan, Feyi, Birch.