Stephens on target but Town settle for point

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Ben Stephens netted an exquisite finish for Stratford. Photo: Mark Williamson

FOOTBALL

Stratford Town 1-1 Royston Town

Evo-Stik Southern League, Premier Division

BEN Stephens fired Stratford into an early lead, only for Royston to bag a second-half equaliser at a windswept MoodChimp Stadium.

For Stratford, the first half began in perfect fashion  with Stephens’ third goal in two mathes and they could have had two more goal by half-time, Jazz Luckie wasting two great chance.

But Royston, who had won their previous four matches, were a threat and Sam Corcoran levelled on 62 minutes.

Carl Adams’ men, though, showed real battling spirit to earn a point.

Within one minute 30 seconds, Town had the lead with a wonderfully-taken effort from Stephens.

Will Grocott played a short corner to Edwin Ahenkorah and Stephens controlled his right-wing cross athletically before picking out the top corner from 14 yards with a delightful curling effort beyond keeper Joe Welch.

Striker Luckie, the midweek four-goal hero, could, and should, have extended their advantage. On ten minutes, the striker sprinted clear to collect Stephens’ through-ball but keeper Welch clawed the ball away.

Then another incisive Stephens pass again split the rearguard on 36 minutes and Luckie raced away down the inside right channel, but then wastefully lashed over.

Royston, however, played the better football and looked the more dangerous.

Three times, Stratford keeper Louis Connor came to the rescue, clawing away a John Frendo effort, blocking an Adam Marriott drive and then flipping over an overhead kick from James Potton. In between, Marriott thought he had equalised after tapping in but his celebrations were cut short by a linesman’s flag for offside.

The early stages second half were all hustle and bustle, but Royston had their equaliser on 62 minutes. John Frendo proved a handful on the edge of the Town box, and provided a neat flick for Corcoran to drill home into the bottom corner.

Both sides might have grabbed a winner. Frendo fired over  and Ryan Ingrey’s fierce effort was blocked while  Potton had a last-minute effort ruled out for offside against Frendo.

At the other end, Mike Taylor failed to get a head to Will Grocott’s free-kick and fellow sub Eli Bako’s shot was straight at the keeper. But a point apiece in tough conditions was a fair result.

Town:  Connor; Summerfield, Gallinagh, Francis; Evans (Recci, 69), Fry, Grocott, Thomas; Stephens; Luckie  (Bako, 69), Ahenkorah (Taylor, 59). Subs: Hancocks, Marsden.

Royston: Welch; Scott-Morriss (Ingrey, 76), Murray, Asufu- Adjaye, Chappell;  Castliglione (Oyinsan, 76), Bridges, Corcoran, Potton; Frendo, Marriott (Thomas, 76). Subs: Powell, Alomenu.