Stratford Town come from behind to take shine off AFC Rushden & Diamonds' fine Southern Premier Central run
STRATFORD Town came from behind to claim a 3-1 victory over an in-form AFC Rushden & Diamonds side that had won five of their last six league outings prior to Saturday’s clash, reports Steve Wood.
In what was Tim Flowers’ third game in charge, the Bards boss reiterated to fans before the game he knew it was going to take time to bed his ideas in, but what was clear by the end of 90 minutes was the team was already looking more assured and difficult to beat.
His managerial experience was further evidenced by a tactical tweak at half-time that completely changed the game in favour of the Bards, who completely dominated the second period and were good value for the three points.
The opening 45 minutes was something of stalemate, with defences dominating both ends.
The return of Kynan Isaac to the back line for Stratford brought a more solid and accomplished feel, and rarely did the defence look in trouble, so much so that debutant goalkeeper Murphy Mahoney hardly had a save to make.
With most supporters in the ground accepting that 0-0 at half-time was about right, the Bards conceded a goal right before the break, as Nathan Tshikuna’s 25-yard free-kick was bent over the wall and into the bottom corner.
The second half was all Stratford. Will Grocott and Ashley Sammons controlled the midfield with Will Dawes, Jack Storer and Lewis Wilson causing havoc behind Harry Wakefield who made his first start, working tirelessly upfront against experienced defenders, before being replaced by Mike Taylor late on.
The highlight of the second period was a brace by Storer.
The first goal was made by an impressive driving run from Isaac on 56 minutes, who strolled beyond three players before laying the ball to Storer who hit a screamer from 30 yards past the despairing Diamonds ‘keeper.
Storer’s second came on 69 minutes and was was equally as impressive as his first, but this time from just 20 yards with the same outcome.
Not to be outdone, Sammons concluded the scoring for Stratford on 87 minutes as he bent one into the top corner after a great save from a Dawes shot from just inside the box.
DIAMONDS: Snedker, Casey, Warburton, Toxtle, Dolman, Collard, Tshikuna, Diamond, Deacon, Shamsi, George (Jones 73). Unused subs: Slinn, Garwood, Akubuine, Nixon.
STRATFORD: Mahoney, Vann, Williams, Wilson, Isaac (O’Regan 90), Magunda, Dawes, Grocott, Sammons, Storer (Lafferty 79), Wakefield (Taylor 78). Unused subs: James, Obeng.