Bards fab four deliver defensive masterclass
Stratford Town 2, Stourbridge 0
STRATFORD delivered a defensive masterclass as they saw off a Stourbridge side who had opened the season with back-to-back wins.
Both goals came in the final 11 minutes through Lewis Ison and substitute Charlie Williams but it was the backfour of Lee Vaughan, Liam Daly, Paul McCone and Alex Worley who were the stars of the show, putting in a series of blocks and vital challenges in front of goal.
Chances proved elusive at both ends in the opening period with the first real chance falling to Stratford’s Dan Lafferty who fired wide on 36 minutes with visiting striker Luke Benbow putting a free-kick over the bar moments later.
On 45 minutes, Daly thought he had headed his side into the lead with a looping header from a corner but young Stourbridge full-back Joel Shambrook headed off the line. Then, in added time, Alex Prosser had a chance for the Glassboys but Lafferty diverted it past the post.
The game came to life in the second period with Riley O’Sullivan whipping the ball across the face of goal, Ison firing too high and Lafferty powering an effort at the Stourbridge keeper as the Bards looked for the breakthrough.
The visitors struggled to find a way through Stratford’s rock-solid defence and their efforts were epitomised by Daly who brilliantly blocked Benbow’s shot after a corner had been headed down by Niall Flint.
Callum Ebanks thought he had scored midway through the second half when he turned the ball home after a shot from substitute Jonny Ngandu had been parried by Price but he was denied by the offside flag and the Bards also had a penalty appeal waved away when O’Sullivan was barged over by Jack Wilson in front of goal.
Stratford’s second half pressure finally told on 79 minutes when a corner from Ngandu picked out Ison who towered over his defender to power a downward header past keeper Price.
Stourbridge rallied and had two good chances to level soon after. First O’Brien did well to push a telling Wilson cross away from danger and then, with two minutes remaining, Wilson picked out Reece King six yards out but the Glassboys skipper managed to direct his header over the bar.
Any hopes the visitors had of salvaging a point were totally forgotten when, with 91 minutes on the clock, the ball broke to Williams who thundered a shot beyond Price from just inside the area.
Stourbridge: O’Brien 6, Vaughan 7, Worley 8, Daly 8, McCone 7, Solanke 6 (Ngandu 66, 6), Dowd 5 (Molyneux 66, 6), Ison 6 (Williams 84), Ebanks 6, Lafferty 7, O’Sullivan 7. Subs (not used): Beresford, Vann
Stourbridge: Price, Shambrook, Wilson, Prosser, Bavanganga, Kettle, Flint, King, Benbow, Daniels, Walters. Subs (not used):
Referee: Thomas Staten
Goals: Stratford - Ison (79), Williams (90+1)
Bards Star Man: Liam Daly
Opposition Star Man: Brendon Daniels