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Tim Flowers begins Stratford Town tenure with 4-2 victory over Nuneaton Borough

STRATFORD Town survived a second-half Nuneaton Borough onslaught to record a 4-2 victory on Tuesday night in a game where goalkeeper Liam O’Brien picked up a serious injury late on.

Will Dawes celebrates putting Stratford 4-2 up. Photo: Steve Wood & Paul Grant / STFC
Will Dawes celebrates putting Stratford 4-2 up. Photo: Steve Wood & Paul Grant / STFC

Tim Flowers’ tenure could not have gotten off to a better start as the Bards raced into a 3-0 half-time lead through Jack Storer’s close-range effort, Ahmed Obeng’s 20-yard pile-driver and Will Grocott’s penalty, with all those goals coming in the space of eight minutes.

However, Borough threw caution to the wind after the restart and on the hour mark Anthony Dwyer pulled one back before Damien McCrory’s flicked header made it 3-2.

The visitors smelt an equaliser and continued to pepper the Bards defence, but in the 84th minute the game was brought to a halt following a coming together between O’Brien and substitute Luke Benbow.

O’Brien’s screams could be heard around the ground and after a lengthy delay, the former Coventry City and Portsmouth shot-stopper was stretchered off, meaning Louis Beresford would come on for the remaining minutes.

Borough would once again go all-out attack but their cause was not aided when Ryan Edmunds was shown a red card for a challenge on the lively Will Dawes in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Dawes would have the final say in the 103rd minute when he chased down a clearance before firing in from a tight angle to ensure Flowers’ men came away with a huge three points that moved them up to 11th in the table.

Flowers made just one change to team which beat Tamworth last time out, with Obeng coming in for the injured Mike Taylor.

Nuneaton shaded the possession in the first 25 minutes, but the Bards were always looking lively with the pace and trickery of Obeng and Dawes causing problems on the wings.

Indeed, it was down the wings where the Bards were most dangerous and when Lewis Wilson managed to slip free on the right-hand side of the area, it seemed like Dawes was going to be on hand for a simple tap-in. However, Nuneaton goalkeeper Bradley Foster managed to smother the ball to thwart the threat.

The Bards continued to grow into the game and in the 33rd minute they bagged the opening goal. Obeng chased down an under-hit pass which forced ‘keeper Foster into a mistake, with the loose ball picked up by Dawes whose shot towards an empty net was deflected behind for a corner.

From the ensuing Grocott set-piece, Borough failed to clear and amongst the melee, Storer had the simple task of prodding in from close range.

And three minutes later it was 2-0. Obeng had been a threat all half and he deservedly got on the scoresheet with a 20-yard thunderbolt that gave Foster no chance.

The Bards continued to press and four minutes before the break they were awarded a penalty for a high boot on Obeng, who was forced to leave the field and replaced by Enoch Andoh.

Grocott stepped up and coolly slotted home from 12 yards out, sending Foster the wrong way to put the Bards into an unassailable half-time lead.

After the break Borough understandably went all guns blazing in a bid to try and get back into this match, but some fine defending as well as some excellent tracking back from the midfielders and forwards denied the visitors from posing much of a threat.

However, on the hour mark the visitors managed to reduce the deficit when a wind-assisted clearance by Foster allowed Dwyer to race through and lob the on-rushing O’Brien to make it 3-1.

And four minutes later just one goal separated the two sides when Edmunds’ cross was glanced towards goal by McCrory, whose header floated over O’Brien and into the far corner.

Borough’s second goal came just moments after O’Brien pulled off a stunning save to prevent Edmunds’ 35-yard pile-driver from finding the top right-hand corner.

The visitors had the wind in their sails and they continued to pepper the Stratford defence, with O’Brien needed once again in the 72nd minute to prevent a Wilson own goal.

In the 84th minute O’Brien picked up a serious injury. An in-swinging cross from Edmunds almost caught O’Brien out and as the Bards goalkeeper pushed the ball over the bar, Benbow landed awkwardly on him.

O’Brien was visibly in trouble and the match was stopped so he could receive treatment and be stretchered off the pitch.

Beresford – who had not played since the penalty shoot-out defeat to Burton Albion in the Birmingham Senior Cup – was brought on and the youngster was well protected by a well-drilled Bards defence.

Borough then found themselves down to ten men when Edmunds – who had already been booked earlier in the game – was red-carded for a late challenge on Dawes, who would go on to score Stratford’s fourth in the 13th minute of stoppage time.

Having blocked a clearance deep in the Borough half, Dawes took control of the situation from substitute Harry Wakefield and finished with aplomb to secure the win for Stratford.

STRATFORD: O’Brien (Beresford 90), Magunda, Williams, Vann, Wilson, Lafferty, Sammons, Grocott, Dawes, Storer (Wakefield 68), Obeng (Andoh 41). Unused subs: O’Regan, James.

NUNEATON: Foster, Pryce (Benbow 80), Edmunds, McCrory Daly, McManus, Kaziboni, Noble (Chingoka 90+8), Dwyer, Midgley, Lita (King 77). Unused subs: Breeden, Mussa.


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