Fry rescues a point for Stratford Town

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FOOTBALL

Evo-Stik Southern Premier Central
Alvechurch 2-2 Stratford Town
Report by Rod Abrahams

STRATFORD Town moved up to third place in the Evo-Sitk Southern Premier Central table following a 2-2 draw at Alvechurch on Tuesday night.

With this being the sixth time these two sides have met this season, it was a game to see who had the bragging rights, but with the game ending in a stalemate at Lye Meadow, it was honours shared as both sides have won two and drawn two.

Stratford’s starting line-up was the same as for the convincing win over Needham Market and there was only one change on the bench, with James Behan coming in for Will Grocott who was unavailable due to illness.

However it was a game of two halves, with Alvechurch dominating the first half and Stratford the second.

The Churchmen were kicking down the slope and they had their first chance in the fifth minute when a shot from Josh March, who scored both goals in the two 1-0 wins over Stratford, was deflected wide for a corner which was cleared by the Town rear guard.

It was the home side going forward and creating the chances as March had a strike blocked and in the 12th minute Stratford had a let off when Mitch Botfield saw his effort take a deflection and hit the post before Ross Etheridge smothered the ball to safety for a corner.

The only response that Town had during the first period came in the 29th minute when Wilson Carvalho took a free-kick from just outside the area which was punched out by the Churchmen’s stopper Dan Crane, which then hit Nabil Shariff and fortunately for the home side went just wide of the post.

It was the home side having all of the meaningful possession, but they failed to capitalise as they were kept at bay by some stout Town defending.

Alvechurch finally broke the deadlock in the 41st minute when Town conceded a free-kick some 30 yards out and Rahis Nabi duly obliged and drilled the ball inside the post to beat the despairing dive of keeper Etheridge.

The home side went in at the break 1-0 up but were probably thinking it should have been more.

Town got off to a quick start in the second half, with Lewis Wilson blazing over from ten yards out from Carvalho’s cross when he should have hit the target before his free-kick in the 57th minute was saved by Crane at the foot of the post.

A weak effort from Shariff was an easy save for Crane, but in the 67th minute Town equalised when Ross Oulton curled a free-kick into the area and Chris Cox rose to glance a header into the roof of the net to restore parity.

However, the Churchmen went back in front five minutes later with their only goal attempt of the half when Lee Chilton had an easy tap in from Aaron Lloyd’s low cross.

Town pressed forward to get back on level terms and were rewarded eight minutes from time when Kynan Isaac made a penetrating run down the inside right channel and slipped the ball through to skipper James Fry who drilled a low shot past Crane into the bottom corner.

Town looked for a winning goal, but Isaac fired over from a good position with six minutes left.

Then in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Cox was just too high with a header from a Fry free kick and with time running out Shariff had a good strike which was well saved by Crane.

CHURCH: Crane, Ezewele, Foster, Turton, K.Morrison, Carter, Nabi, Cook, Lloyd (65), March, Botfield (Llewellyn 77), Chilton (Willets 90). Subs: Landell, T.Morrison.

TOWN: Etheridge, Cox, Isaac, Fry, J.Williams, McAteer, Wilson, Skendi, Shariff, Oulton (Fisher 79), Carvalho (Barcelos 72). Subs: Behan, K.Williams, Preston.