Stratford Town 2
Grocott 49 (pen), Williams 70
Southern Premier Central
Report by Craig Gibbons
STRATFORD Town moved up to second in the Southern Premier Central table after bringing an end to Stourbridge’s unbeaten start to the new season on Tuesday night.
After a goalless first half, Town took the lead in the 49th minute through a Will Grocott penalty.
But ten minutes later the Glassboys were back on level terms when Darryl Knights’ superb curling effort from outside the area flew into the top corner of Ty Belford’s goal.
Stourbridge continued to pile on the pressure, but it would be Town who’d get the decisive goal 20 minutes from time when defender Jordan Williams calmly slotted home from inside the area after Callum Powell’s shot had deflected kindly into his path.
There was a real heart in mouths moment for Town fans with the very last play when Greg Mills’ cross was met by the head of second-half sub Andre Landell, but his effort hit the post and bounced away from danger.
The deserved victory for the Blues moved them up to second ahead of this Saturday’s trip to struggling Hednesford Town, who find themselves propping up the standings at this early stage of the campaign.
Town head coach Paul Davis made two changes to the team which suffered a 2-1 defeat to Nuneaton Borough in the FA Cup on Saturday, with James Fry and the returning Ken Feyi coming in for Joe Curtis and Sam Muggleton who both dropped to the bench.
And it was Town who started much the brighter of the two sides in front of the 345-strong crowd at the Arden Garages Stadium, enjoying plenty of possession and making hay down the wings.
Stour struggled to stem the flow of attacks in the first 20 minutes, with Feyi seeing a shot blocked from inside the are in the 14th minute before the Town striker was then put clean through on goal, but his angled effort was blocked by the boot of Charlie Price.
It took until the 21st minute for the Glassboys to register their first shot on target, with the ever-dangerous left-winger Greg Mills seeing a right-footed effort from the edge of the box comfortable saved by Ty Belford.
However, it was always going to be a case of when Mark Yates’ Stour would begin to turn the screw and as the half progressed there was a sense of urgency in their play.
And had it not been for some brilliant last-ditch tackles from Jordan Williams, Belford could well have been troubled by fierce efforts from Brad Birch and Mills respectively.
Despite this, Town had the best chance of the half just ten minutes before the break when Grocott’s left-wing cross was met by the head of Feyi, but his diving effort from close range sailed over the bar.
After the break Town were looking to get off to a flying start, and they did just that after they were given a penalty in the 49th minute when Powell’s low cross hit the hand of Martin Riley.
Grocott duly obliged from 12 yards out, sending the ball into the bottom right-hand corner to bag his fifth goal of the campaign.
Town’s lead last just ten minutes, though, as a superb curling effort from Knights from at least 20 yards out flew into the top corner.
And a minute later the woodwork came to the rescue of the Blues, as Birch’s drilled effort from inside the area deflected off Dan Vann and onto the crossbar and away from danger.
Town continued to ride the Stourbridge storm and with 20 minutes to go they managed to regain the lead.
Some neat play around the Glassboys penalty area led to a Powell shot deflecting kindly into the path of Jordan Williams who finished past Price with aplomb from 15 yards out.
Once again Mark Yates’s Glassboys came forward and only the post stopped them from rescuing a point with the very last kick of the game, with substitute Landell seeing his header from six yards out strike the woodwork in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
TOWN: Belford, Vann, Isaac, Fry, Heaven, Williams, Kaziboni, Sammons, Feyi (Andoh 81), Grocott (Curtis 90+3), Powell. Unused subs: Muggleton, Birch, McLean.
GLASSBOYS: Price, Green, O’Hanlon, Fletcher, Morris, Riley, Knights, Deeney, Peniket (K.Brown 83), Birch (Landell 78), Mills. Unused subs: Nicholls, Bustin, J.Brown.