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Fourths end year with a confidence booster

Stratford 4ths 6

Old Silhillians 4ths 1

Midlands Men’s Division Eight South West

STRATFORD 4ths ended the year with a confidence-boosting win after goals from Matt Cooke, Harry Spicer, John Gibbons, Josh Battle and Mark Reynolds (2).

After two narrow defeats, a winning finish before Christmas featured highly on captain David Price’s Christmas present list and his team delivered.

“This has been a very pleasing first half of the season and one from which our whole team, and especially the six young players who have come into the side this year, should take much confidence,” said Price.

“The return games in the New Year represent a chance to push on from here and secure a finish well up in what was forecast could be a tough league for us.”

Missing several regulars, Stratford’s shaky start was punished when Old Silhillians pounced on a mistake to launch a breakaway that was calmly finished.

However, Stratford stuck to their game plan and a well-taken short corner by Matt Cooke restored parity while goalkeeper Josh Hall got in on the action with some fine saves.

As the game progressed, Stratford began to look more of a threat and Will Marriott showed fine judgment to lay the ball back to Gibbons whose piercing pass put Spicer through on goal to score.

A Gibbons penalty stroke gave Stratford a 3-1 lead at half-time but Old Silhillians remained threatening on the break.

The energetic and evergreen Neil Jones proved increasingly influential as the game wore on and alongside George Holloway’s calmness together with Gibbons Stratford’s midfield built significant pressure.

With the visitors stretched, left-back David Black was able to thread a superb ball through the tiring defence and Battle produced a cool and nicely-judged finish.

With the game safe, Black combined once more with Reynolds for a trademark short corner goal before Reynolds secured his brace and the team’s sixth with a sharply taken strike seeing the keeper off his line.

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