Stratford Town exit FA Trophy after poor first half

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Ben Stephens looks for an option during Stratford Town's FA Trophy clash at Lancaster. Photos: Steve Wood

STRATFORD Town bowed out of the Buildbase FA Trophy following a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Lancaster City at the Giant Axe Stadium, writes Bryan Hale.

A lacklustre first-half performance saw Lancaster, unbeaten at home this season, go in at half-time 3-0 up.

It took them just eight minutes to take the lead when Hannu Tam latched onto a long ball down the inside left channel and his low cross was turned into his own net by the luckless Liam Francis.

Six minutes later, the Town defender almost redeemed himself as he met a Will Grocott corner with a bullet header, which was only held by keeper Josh Powell at the second attempt.

But the quaintly-nicknamed Dolly Blues were bossing the possession and doubled their lead on 23 minutes when Craig Carney was brought down by Loyiso Recci just outside the penalty area on the left.

Ryan Winder’s free-kick was headed out by Andy Gallinagh, but Winder seized on the clearance and worked the ball onto his right foot before returning it into the six-yard box where it totally deceived Town keeper Louis Connor and bounced beyond him into the far corner of the net.

Little had been seen of Town’s attack, but they almost pulled one back in the 41st minute when Eli Bako’s well-struck effort was pushed over by Powell, but bizarrely it led to the Dolly Blues going 3-0 up.

Grocott’s corner was cleared out to Tam on the halfway line, who promptly swept it out to Winder on the left and he ran on to steer it unerringly past the advancing Connor to effectively put the result beyond doubt.

Town at least looked a bit more lively after half-time, but Jazz Luckie missed a great chance on the hour mark when Paul Dugdale’s mis-header fell kindly to him eight yards out, only for his shot to be beaten away by Powell.

Lancaster though were always looking comfortable and saw the game out without any really serious alarms.

They went close to a fourth near the end when substitute Sam Bailey’s thunderbolt was spectacularly turned behind by Connor.

Stratford Town: Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield (Charlie Evans 72), Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Eli Bako (James Hancocks 72), James Fry (c), Jazz Luckie, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens.