Will Grocott says Stratford Town must be more ruthless following narrow defeat at title-chasing Nuneaton Borough
Nuneaton Borough 1-0 Stratford Town
Southern Premier Central
CAPTAIN Will Grocott says Stratford Town must start being more ruthless in front of goal as several spurned chances allowed Nuneaton Borough to snatch all three points on Saturday, reports Stuart Morse.
In arguably one of their best performances of the season, the Bards had completely outplayed their third-placed hosts but were punished for their profligacy in front of goal right on the stroke of half-time when Kyle Storer headed in at the back post from Charlie Dowd’s right-wing cross.
Despite a spirited second-half showing, Gavin Hurren’s men failed to find the target and were left scratching their heads as to how they came away from Liberty Way without a point for their efforts.
Grocott said after the defeat: “At the end of the day it does not matter if you’re the better team on the day because we’ve come away with no points.
“You can play the best football in the world but if don’t stop conceding goals and don’t take chances then you’re not going to get three points.
“There were positives. I thought we dominated the first half and could have been 3-0 up.
“We looked more compact and we’re definitely harder to beat but at that moment we switched off it cost us.”
He added: “Our shape is really good. Everyone knows what they’re doing and everyone understands their roles and responsibilities but we now need to work on the attacking third and being more ruthless.”
There was just the one change to the team which drew with Ilkeston Town last time out with Dan Lafferty, returning from suspension, replacing Aksum White.
New signing from Hednesford Town, Lewis Ludford-Ison, replaced the departed Mikey Taylor on the bench, while Hamilton Bunga was omitted from the squad as Stratford had just four substitutes instead of the usual five.
The tight characteristics of the ground meant the match would be one where technical brilliance and being able to beat a player quickly would reap dividends.
This was shown in abundance with Jessie Akubuine’s fast feet enabling him to skip past opponents and put the Bards into attack.
The only real danger created by the home side until their goal was largely from outside the box which Liam O’Brien was easily able to handle.
Stratford’s defence held a very strong back line while going forward Andre Wright and Callum Ebanks were combining well but failed to trouble home goalkeeper Tony Breeden.
The best chance fell to Wright came in the 27th minute when his goal-bound shot was blocked out for a corner.
The Bards continued to dominate but on the cusp of the break they fell behind.
From a Bards free-kick, Boro countered down the right-hand side with Dowd’s superb ball into the box met by Storer whose back-post header gave O’Brien no chance.
The second half was much of the same for the Bards with a lot of huffing and puffing but no real shots on goal.
That was until Ludford-Ison was introduced in the 62nd minute for Jamie Molyneux.
He was inspired, spraying perfect balls around the pitch and playing with a clear passion of a winner.
He had the away side’s best effort in the 82nd minute when his dipping effort was tipped over by Breeden.
An injury-time corner summed up things for Stratford. With the six-yard box packed with numerous bodies, the in-swinging delivery from Grocott missed everyone, giving his team-mates no chance of a goalward header right at the death.
NUNEATON BOROUGH: Tony Breeden, Camron McWilliams, Kyle Storer, Joseph Magunda, Tyrell Waite (Revarnelle James 75), Luke Benbow (Ryan Beswick 64), Charlie Dowd (Jaden Charles 90), Kane Richards, Prince Mancinelli, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Isaiah Osbourne. Unused subs: Chris Cox, Daniel Edmonds.
STRATFORD TOWN: Liam O’Brien, Dan Lafferty, Taylor Morrison, Josh Hawker, Paul McCone, Jack Turner, Jamie Molyneux (Lewis Ludford-Ison 62), Jesse Akubuine (Jaylan Wildbore 68), Callum Ebanks, Will Grocott, Andre Wright. Unused subs: Louis Beresford, Aksum White.
REFEREE: Richard Eley