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Will Dawes ends the goal drought as Stratford Town edge out Tamworth





STRATFORD Town ended their run of five games without a win in the Southern Premier Central with a battling 1-0 victory over Tamworth.

A goalless first half had stretched the Bards’ goal drought to seven hours and 30 minutes, but just four minutes after the restart that dry period finally came to an end.

Will Grocott’s fine pass found Will Dawes on the left and he arrowed a powerful shot into the top corner beyond Jasbir Singh at his near post.

Stratford had further chances to stretch their lead, while the Lambs had their opportunities to salvage a point, but in the end Tim Flowers’ men held on to claim all three points.

Victory for the Bards moved them back up to 12th place and opened the gap up to the relegation places to seven points going into tomorrow’s, Tuesday, home game against Coalville Town.

Bards boss Flowers made four changes to the team which crumbled to a 3-0 defeat at Redditch United on Saturday.

Liam O’Brien made a welcome return between the sticks after recovering from a leg injury, no-nonsense midfielder Ross Oulton was back in the team after signing from Barwell while playmaker Ashley Sammons and fan-favourite Mike Taylor also made the starting XI.

And it certainly wasn’t too long until the returning O’Brien was forced into an early save. The pacey Dexter Walters cut inside his man and unleashed a fierce drive that looked destined for the bottom corner, but O’Brien did well to save down low and push the ball away from danger.

Stratford struggled to really pose much of a threat up top, but the much-travelled Leroy Lita, making his home debut, could have been in with a shout of a penalty in the 26th minute when he was nudged in the area. However, the honest 37-year-old decided to stay on his feet and the ball drifted out for a goal kick.

Three minutes later the Lambs were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, but the lively Walters could only smash his effort into the Stratford wall. Immediately up the other end the Bards had a free-kick of their own, but Sammons’ speculative drive from distance was well off target.

Jasbir Singh had quite a quiet first half, but he needed to be alert in the 33rd minute to tip a wildly dipping Oulton volley over the bar. That was as good as it got for the Bards as they went into break level, stretching their run without a goal to seven hours and 30 minutes.

However, the Bards would only have to go another four minutes before that goal drought would come to an end, with Dawes seeing a stinging left-footed shot from a tight angle fly into the top corner. Singh perhaps should have done better having got a strong hand to the effort.

Four minutes later the Bards had a huge chance to make it 2-0 when the hard-working Taylor squared the ball to Lita who had an unguarded net to aim at, but he could only blaze horribly over from six yards out. Luckily for Lita, the offside flag had been raised.

The good spell of pressure for the hosts continued as Jordan Williams sliced wide from the edge of the area while an angled drive from Lita moments later deflected wide of the mark. Grocott and Lita then saw efforts saved by Singh as Stratford continued to find that decisive second goal.

The Lambs always looked a threat, in particular Walters was causing plenty of problems, and with ten minutes remaining they missed a glorious chance to restore parity. Substitute Nyal Bell went on a run alongside the edge of the area before firing a curling shot towards the far corner, but the ball drifted agonisingly wide with O’Brien rooted.

As time wore on Stratford were pushed deeper and deeper into their own half as the Lambs went all out in their search for the equaliser. The Bards did well to defend a series of Tamworth corners in stoppage time before second-half substitute Ryan Beswick blazed over with the final kick of the game.

STRATFORD: O’Brien, Wilson, Bushaj, Sammons, Turner, Williams, Lita (James 76), Oulton (Lafferty 83), Grocott, Taylor (Okoro 87), Dawes. Unused subs: Fry, Lafferty, O’Regan.

TAMWORTH: Singh, Thomas, Wilder, Hurst, Pendley (Beswick 65), Cox, Concannon (Obeng 65), Bradley, Bell, Clement, Walters. Unused subs: Bailey, Cockerill-Mollett, Lissimore.

ATTENDANCE: 461



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