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First-half blitz sees Stratford succumb to Stourbridge

Mike Taylor on the attack during Stratford's game at Stourbridge. Photo: stratfordtownfc.co.uk
Mike Taylor on the attack during Stratford's game at Stourbridge. Photo: stratfordtownfc.co.uk

AFTER their opening day win over St Neots, it was all so different for Stratford Town at Amblecote on Monday evening, writes Bryan Hale.

A classy and powerful Stourbridge stormed to a three-goal lead in just 32 minutes as they totally dominated the first half before controlling the rest of the game to run out comfortable 3-0 winners.

Stratford’s starting line-up showed two changes from Saturday. Nathan Vaughan was unavailable due to work commitments and was replaced by James Behan, while Kynan Isaac came in for Lewis Wilson.

The match also marked skipper James Fry’s 100th Stratford appearance.

The Stourbridge team include two ex-Town players in Aaron Forde and Rob Thompson-Brown.

Stratford were first to threaten with Will Grocott’s seventh minute dipping right footer from 25 yards out being turned over by Stourbridge James Wren, but three minutes later Stourbridge went ahead.

Greg Mills’ driven-in cross from the left was cleared for a corner by Kieren Westwood, and when the flag kick was delivered into the penalty area, Aaron Hayden climbed the highest to power a firm header past Behan.

Stourbridge continued to press and eight minutes later they went two up. Another Mills cross picked out Leon Broadhurst, whose first shot was brilliantly beaten out by Behan only for the Glassboys striker to seize on the loose ball and fire it into the net.

And it got worse for Darren Byfield’s side on 32 minutes when Mills was allowed the time and space on the edge of the penalty area to hit an exquisite curler beyond Behan into the far corner and effectively take the game out of Stratford’s reach.

Stourbridge inevitably eased off in the second half as they were content to sit on their lead, but Stratford seldom looked like getting back into the match.

Callum Powell made a couple of promising runs down the right which eventually came to nothing, and the nearest Stratford came to a goal was substitute Jordan Williams’ header from a Grocott corner on the hour mark which was acrobatically palmed over by Wren.

And Stourbridge almost made it four with three minutes to go when Luke Benbow’s fiercely-hit drive was well held by Behan getting down well low to his left.

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