Battling Town denied point as leaders bag late winner

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Mike Taylor is urging his Stratford Town team-mates to be positive in today's FA Cup contest. Picture: Mark Williamson

Stratford Town 0

Chippenham Town 1

Evo-Stik Southern League, Premier Division

Report by Bryan Hale

TABLE-TOPPERS Chippenham completed the seasonal double over Stratford, thanks to a late penalty in a closely-fought game which for long periods seemed certain to end with the points being shared.

Stratford almost took the lead inside the opening minute when Mike Taylor’s header from a Will Grocott free-kick was clawed away by the Bluebirds keeper Darren Chitty.

But as the game settled down there were few clearcut chances at either end with the Bluebirds twin strikers Andy Sandell and David Pratt being kept relatively quiet by the Stratford defence until the half hour mark when Sandell cleverly made room for a shot 15 yards out on the right which curled narrowly wide of the far post.

And it was Sandell who again went close a minute before the break when his 25-yard free-kick looked destined for the top corner until it was spectacularly tipped over by keeper Niall Cooper.

Another Sandell free-kick early in the second half was deflected behind before, at the other end, the busy Taylor had a fierce drive beaten away by Chitty on 58 minutes and then the striker’s header from a Simeon Tulloch cross drifted tantalisingly wide.

But with six minutes to go Pratt surged into the penalty area where he was brought down by Liam Francis to leave the referee pointing to the penalty spot. Sandell  stepped up and blasted the spot-kick past Cooper to give the Bluebirds another vital win.

Full report and reaction in this week’s Herald.