CARL Adams’ 300th match as Stratford Town boss was on course to end in fairytale fashion at Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday, writes Bryan Hale.
With Town hanging on to a 1-0 lead through Ben Stephens’ first-half strike, Town were denied all three points when Bishop’s substitute Joe Robinson struck deep into added time to spoil the party.
Stratford were first to threaten in only the fourth minute when Mike Taylor outmuscled Marcus Crowther down the inside left channel to force a decent save from the Bishop’s keeper Calum Kitscha.
The Bishop’s responded with a 25-yard effort from skipper Mark Hughes fizzing inches on 12 minutes, followed shortly after by the wily veteran striker Jamie Cureton meeting a cross from George Casey with a fiercely-struck volley which was beaten away by Louis Connor moving smartly to his right.
But it was Stratford who took the lead in the 26th minute. Taylor again escaped down the left to shoot against the bar, and as the Bishops struggled to complete the clearance, Will Grocott seized on the loose ball to float it across from the right and it was turned in by Stephens at the far post for his 25th goal of the season.
The Bishop’s leading scorer Daren Foxley went close to an equaliser two minutes before the break with a left foot curler from the edge of the penalty area, which drifted tantalisingly wide.
Only the woodwork prevented Stratford going two up on 54 minutes when Liam Francis’ header from a Grocott corner came back off the bar, but they had a lucky escape ten minutes later when Foxley’s free-kick picked out substitute Jack Thomas who put a free header wastefully over.
The Bishop’s continued to press for a leveller, but with Francis and Loyiso Recci in commanding form, Stratford seemed to be heading for their ninth away of the season until the heartbreak of Robinson’s late, late leveller.
The result ensured Town finished 15th in the Evo-Stik League South Premier, one place below and one point short of last season’s effort.
Stratford Town: Louis Connor, Andy Gallinagh, James Fry (c), James Hancocks, Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Charlie Evans 84), Edwin Ahenkorah (Jazz Luckie 75), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (Eli Bako 78).
Bishop’s Stortford: Calum Kitscha, George Casey, Tom Clifford, Mark Hughes (c), Marvel Ekpiteta, Max Brassington (Jack Thomas 55), Marcus Crowther (Joe Robinson 55), Jordan Westcott, Alfie Mason, Jamie Cureton, Darren Foxley..