Stratford Town Youth 1 Stourbridge 1
(Stourbridge won 4-2 on penalties)
Birmingham County Joel Richards Memorial Cup, Second Round
Report by Bryan Hale
AN inspired performance from Stourbridge keeper Peter Hawk, which included saving two penalties in the deciding shoot-out before blasting in the winning spot kick himself, ended Stratford’s hopes in the Birmingham County Youth Cup.
The sides had been level at 1-1 after 90 minutes following a closely-fought second round tie at the Arden Garages Stadium on Thursday evening.
Sacha Everard’s own goal had given Stourbridge a half-time lead but it was cancelled out when Hawk was left helpless by an attempted clearance from team-mate Hayden Reeves with 15 minutes to go.
Town had made the brighter start with Callum Gallagher firing into the side netting inside five minutes and Hawk had to make his first serious save of the evening after a quarter of an hour, getting down well to push out a Caine Elliott free-kick at the foot of his right-hand post.
Tommy Harrington wasn’t far away with a decent effort from 20 yards out, but the Glassboys came more into the game from the half hour mark.
Both Rio McFarlane and Tyrese Bevan went close and Town keeper Ryan Woodward did well to turn away another Bevan attempt at point-blank range.
Hawk pulled off another smart save on 35 minutes, stretching to his right to deny Harrington and three minutes later Stourbridge took the lead.
McFarlane’s low drive was deflected behind and when the corner came across Everard was challenged by Reeves and the ball ricocheted off the luckless Town defender into the net.
Town had the chance of an immediate equaliser but Hawk was quickly off his line to block at Harrington’s feet to keep the Glassboys in front at the break.
Town boss Darren Timms sent on Bradley West and Tyrike Richards-Burke to provide additional firepower at the start of the second half but they couldn’t find a way past Hawk.
A run down the right by Richards-Burke ended with his whipped-in cross being cut out by Hawk before West could reach it, and soon after Richards-Burke beat the offside trap to be one-on-one with Hawk who kept out the shot with his outstretched right leg.
Soon after West had a fierce effort beaten away by the keeper and then had another effort cleared off the line by Reeves as Town continued to pile on the pressure.
By now Harry Hartin was on as well and on 75 minutes he drilled over a low cross from the left which Reeves could only divert past Hawk as he tried to clear.
Having at last drawn level Town went all out for the winner but Hawk made an unbelievable save as he pushed over a fiercely-struck effort from Jack Ballinger and followed that up with another brave block from West and a further smart save when Ballinger threatened again.
And so it went to penalties with the Glassboys taking an early advantage when Hawk beat out Hartin’s attempt. Town were back in it as Callum Phipps blazed over but when Town’s fourth penalty taken by West was pushed away by Hawk plunging to his left it meant that if Stourbridge were successful with their fifth they would be through.
Hawk then completed his incredible evening by stepping up to blast it past Woodward with the minimum of fuss before disappearing under a scrum of his ecstatic team-mates.