Stratford Town 4
Newcastle Town 0
FA Cup, First Qualifying Round
Report by Bryan Hale
STRATFORD eased past Northern Premier League Division One South side Newcastle to end a barren run in the FA Cup stretching back over the past five seasons.
Goals from Jazz Luckie, Will Grocott, and two from Edwin Ahenkorah sealed Town’s progress into Monday’s second qualifying round draw.
Both sides made a tentative start and it was 15 minutes before either goal was seriously threatened when Stratford skipper James Fry’s header from Edwin Ahenkorah’s corner dropped onto the roof of the net.
Five minutes later, a pinpoint cross from Will Grocott picked out Ahenkorah whose header was turned behind by Newcastle keeper Raajan Gill at the foot of his right hand post.
Newcastle hit back and went close on 25 minutes when Sam Bradbury’s free-kick from the left was met by James Askey with a bullet header which clipped the top of the bar on its way behind.
They then went even closer just after the half-hour mark when Jordan Cole’s fierce effort was beaten away by Stratford keeper Louis Connor with defender Liam Francis getting back to block Aaron Bott’s follow-up effort.
Although Stratford were having the better of the possession they were struggling to make it count but they eventually made the breakthrough three minutes before the interval.
A long clearance downfield was headed on by Mike Taylor headed allowing Jazz Luckie to race clear and slide the ball past the advancing Gill.
The lead was doubled nine minutes into the second half when Lee Thomas’ low cross from the left was not properly cleared and Grocott pounced on the loose ball to rifle it into the bottom corner.
And Stratford made the game safe on 65 minutes when Luckie surged into the penalty area where he was brought down by Luke Dennis and Ahenkorah blasted the spot kick past Gill with the minimum of fuss.
Newcastle never gave up, but they missed their best chance of the afternoon a quarter of an hour from the end when Jonny Kapend took advantage of some uncertainty in the Stratford backline to find himself with a clear run on goal. Choosing to shoot early his low drive arrowed past the advancing Connor only to cannon against the post and rebound straight into the grateful keeper’s gloves.
To complete an ultimately thoroughly satisfying afternoon for Carl Adams’ men, Ahenkorah wrapped it all up in the last minute when he ran on to Luckie’s pass to steer the ball past Gill for Stratford’s fourth.
STRATFORD: Connor, Summerfield, Thomas, Francis (Clark 81), Gallinagh, Fry (c) (Hancocks 67), Evans (Recci 64), Grocott, Ahenkorah, Taylor, Luckie.
NEWCASTLE: Gill, Bradbury, Davies, L Askey, J Askey (c), Dennis, Bott (Urwin 55), Wilson, Cole (Russo 85), Lee (Burgess 84), Kapend.