Stratford Town lose their grip on Southern League Challenge Cup after defeat to Cirencester Town
Cirencester Town 5
Irving 18 36 48, Whitehead 58, Gabriel 64
Stratford Town 3
Andoh 33 50 78
Southern League Challenge Cup
STRATFORD Town, winners of the Southern League Challenge Cup when last completed in 2019, made an early exit this year at the hands of a very determined and focused Cirencester Town side, reports Kevin Hand.
Despite the hat-trick heroics of Enoch Andoh, it was the Centurions who exploited the conditions at the Corinium Stadium on Tuesday night.
Levi Irving helped himself to his own hat-trick while Benjamin Whitehead and Ross Gabriel also scored for the hosts, who won the match with a degree of comfort.
A fair sprinkling of Stratford fans saw the Bards open brightly with some neat passing in midfield.
This was a Stratford team with Will Dawes rested and James Fry, Ashley Sammons and Jaanai Gordon on the bench.
Lewis Wilson returned to the club featuring at right wing-back, Kynan Isaac returned at left wing-back while Daniel Lafferty and Owen James were in the starting XI.
The bright opening proved to be a false dawn as Cirencester took control of the game, dominating midfield and slicing through the Stratford back line, it seemed, at will.
Cirencester’s opening brace of goals from Irving both resulted from poor defending following needlessly given away corners. The Bards responded when Wilson’s superb cross was expertly volleyed home by Andoh.
On 48, 58 and 65 minutes the Centurions sped away down the flanks and with the Bards’ defence in disarray a third, fourth and fifth were added.
The Bards responded with two more from Andoh, but it was not enough.
The visitors played out the dying minutes with ten on the field following a nasty looking injury to Jack Turner.
All in all it was a disappointing evening for the Bards and not even Andoh’s hat-trick or Liam O’Brien’s efforts between the sticks could hide that fact.