FC Stratford exit cup in penalty shoot-out

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Ashley Wilkes netted for FC Stratford. Photo: Mark Williamson

FOOTBALL

FC STRATFORD felt they had done enough to secure an upset in the Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Cup on Tuesday night, only to suffer a penalty shoot-out exit.
Stratford led three times against Dudley Sports at the Arden Garages Stadium, but Sport netted five minutes from time as the contest finished 4-4.
Then Stratford youngster Josh Aspinall-Smyth’s penalty hit the post and Harry Hartin’s penalty was saved by the Dudley keeper and they went through 4-2.
The Dudley keeper had kept his side in the contest after Nick Ballinger’s side had threatened to sweep them aside.
Despite including a raft of new signings, the hosts quickly settled and were 2-0 up after 15 minutes.
Captain Ashley Wilkes slotted the first and then Dean Poulson, back at the club after a spell at Earlswood Town, doubled the advantage.
But West Midlands Premier side Dudley’s acumen from set-pieces put Stratford under pressure and they turned the game around to lead 3-2.
Nick Cox, who had joined from Earlswood, got a debut goal to level matters and then Aspinall-Smyth put Stratford back in front with 12 minutes to play. However, it was not to be their night.
“We could and should have been four or five goals ahead at half-time,” said boss Ballinger.
“It was a great game for the neutral to watch. We played all the football but they were a threat from set-pieces and on the counter. They were certainly no mugs.”
Racing Club Warwick’s home tie with Chelmsley Town was postponed. The fixture has been rescheduled for next Tuesday.