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Harvey Billing double inspires Stratford Town Reserves to convincing win over Hampton in Birmingham FA Saturday Vase

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STRATFORD Town Reserves travelled to the leafy suburbs of Solihull to take on Hampton in the Birmingham Vase second round and ran out convincing 5-2 winners, reports Richard Price.

After an impeccably observed sixth-minute tribute to tragic little Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, the game kicked in at a frantic pace.

Stratford opened the scoring when Jake Williams nodded in a parried Jake Collins shot, but Hampton hit back almost immediately when a swift incursion down the right flank resulted in an equalising tap-in.

After the Hampton ‘keeper flapped away a Cian Hodson header, Harvey Billing floated in the resulting corner for skipper Kian Hamer to rise above the melee and power home a bullet header for 2-1.

The second half saw a young Stratford side really begin to impose themselves on their experienced hosts.

Collins struck to make it 3-1, while Max Thomas hit a shot agonisingly close but high and Zidan Sutherland saw an effort cleared off the line.

Billing scored the best goal of the game with a beautifully curled shot from the left edge of the box into the top corner and with the newly-introduced Harry Baines and James Kiley running their markers ragged on the flanks, it was a surging run from the latter that led to the ball finding its way via Collins to Billing who stroked home his second and Stratford’s fifth.

After Joe Sykes had seen a shot whistle over the bar, some late pressure from Hampton saw them notch up a consolation penalty for 5-2 but the honours lay with Stratford, who move on to a third round meeting away at Jet Blades in a fortnight.

Stratford return to Midland League Reserve Division action on Saturday with a home game against unbeaten leaders Leamington (3pm kick-off).

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