Royston Town come from behind to knock Stratford Town out of the FA Trophy... again
FOR the second successive year Stratford Town were knocked out of the FA Trophy third qualifying round by Royston Town.
The Crows had beaten the Bards 2-1 at Garden Walk last season and they won by a similar scoreline at the Arden Garages Stadium this time around.
Matthew Bateman was on target in the previous Trophy win over the Bards and on this occasion he got the decisive goal 15 minutes from the end, turning in Cole Dasilva’s cross from the right-hand side.
The visitors, though, had fallen behind in just the third minute when Dexter Walters’s whipped in delivery had been put into his own net by Joel Nakatani-Brown.
Nakatani-Brown atoned for his early error by getting the assist for Royston’s equaliser in the 35th minute, as his ball into the area came off Paul McCone and beat debutant Luke Bell at his near post.
The Bards had a string of chances midway through the second half to go back in front but they were punished for those misses as their hopes of a Trophy run were dashed at the first opportunity.
There were six changes to the team which lost 5-0 to Rushall Olympic on Saturday.
Young Coventry City goalkeeper Bell was handed his debut alongside left-back Taylor Morrison, formerly of Alvechurch and Tamworth.
Striker Jack Storer and central defender Paul McCone made welcome returns to the starting XI after recovering from their respective injuries, while winger Walters and midfielder Lafferty were also brought back into the line-up.
And within three minutes Walters had played his part in the opening goal. After a neat one-two with captain Will Grocott, Walters broke free down the left and his cross towards the back post was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Nakatani-Brown, who’d attempted to put the ball behind for a corner.
The Bards were making the most of the wings in the first quarter of an hour but it was a simple long ball from Storer that almost led to the second goal of the game, with Rooney seeing his diving header from point-blank range somehow going wide of the mark.
It took a while for the visitors to settle and it was the dangerous Bateman, getting their first meaningful chance of the contest, firing over from the edge of the area, before Dasilva missed in similar fashion moments later.
But ten minutes before the break the visitors had their equaliser.
Nakatani-Brown made amends for his own-goal when he surged down the left-hand side and his dangerous ball into the box came off McCone and squirmed underneath Bell at his near post.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Bards who struggled to string two passes together but they would have the last say of the half, with Grocott seeing a powerful left-footed drive saved by Dimitrios Kyriatzis.
Stratford came out with renewed vigour after the break and within three minutes of the restart Storer came within a whisker of making it 2-1 in emphatic fashion.
From a quick throw-in, Walters cut inside and whipped in a cross towards the back post where Storer came rushing in with an acrobatic volley that would have burst the net had it gone in.
Three minutes later Storer returned the favour to Walters who could only send his stooping header from six yards out over the bar.
From there on in the game was devoid of any real quality with both sides struggling to impose themselves on proceedings.
However, Kyriatzis had to be on his toes to keep the scores level with 23 minutes remaining.
He firstly got down low to his right-hand side to get a hand to Grocott’s low shot before getting up quickly to stop the rebound from Lafferty. A third attempt from Storer followed but he fired over
Those missed chances came back to haunt the home side as Dasilva found himself free on the right-hand side of the penalty area and his low cross was confidently stroked home by Bateman.
The Bards had a couple of late chances to send the tie to penalties, and even had a last-gasp 'goal' ruled out for offside, but it wasn't to be and the game finished 2-1 in Royston's favour.
STRATFORD TOWN: Luke Bell, Dan Vann, Taylor Morrison, Dan Lafferty, Paul McCone, James O’Neill, Jack Storer (Jamie Molyneux 69), Josh Hawker, Adam Rooney, Will Grocott, Dexter Walters (Ashley Sammons 79). Unused subs: Felix Miles, Callum Monaghan, Aksum White.
ROYSTON TOWN: Dimitrios Kyriatzis, Jay Rolfe, Joel Nakatani-Brown, Daniel Newton, Adam Murray, Ronnie Henry, Shaun Keane (Jarid Robson 59), Fernando Bell-Toxtle, Matthew Bateman (Max Bustamante-Hacare 84 (Kian Harness 90+3)), Nathan Tshikuna, Cole Dasilva. Unused subs: Oliver Williams, Lewis Williams, Joshua Darby, Lewis Endacott.
REFEREE: Keiran Forrest
MATCH RATING: 2/5