STRATFORD and Alvechurch will have to meet for a fourth time in cup competitions this season after a 1-1 stalemate at a wintry Lye Meadow means the sides will have to fight it out again in a replay at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening, writes Bryan Hale.
Kicking off down the slope, Alvechurch started brightly winning a couple of early corners with Town keeper Richard Walton doing well to push out a header from Yusifo Ceesay, but Town gradually settled down and almost took the lead in the 17th minute when Albi Skendi and Kieren Westwood combined to set up an opening on the left for Lewis Wilson whose shot came back off Church keeper Paul Evans.
Ceesay, who is back on loan from Blackpool after securing a move there from Alvechurch in the summer, was proving a tricky customer for the Town defence, and on 26 minutes he surged down the left touchline with his cross being deflected behind.
Tom Turton delivered the resulting flag kick into the heart of the penalty area where Josh March climbed the highest to power his header past Walton.
Town tried to respond, but Alvechurch continued to look dangerous from set pieces, and Mitch Botfield fired narrowly on 35 minutes after Town only half cleared yet another corner.
But the change of ends at the interval worked wonders for Town as they equalised four minutes into the second half. Again, the goal came from a corner which was floated over by Will Grocott and typically headed in by Mike Taylor for his eighth of the season in all competitions.
From then on both sides battled hard without creating any really clearcut chances and it was set pieces which offered the best hope of a decider, but neither side could make the breakthrough and they have to do it all over again in three days’ time.