GALLERY: Derby day delight for Town
Stratford Town 2Powell 26, Sammons 37
Redditch United 1Copp 62Southern Premier Central
STRATFORD Town moved up to third in the table with a 2-1 victory over local rivals Redditch United on Tuesday night in front of a socially distanced bumper crowd at the Arden Garages Stadium.
The Reds were no longer the whipping boys from last season and came into the game having lost just once and already picking up the same amount of points than they did throughout the whole of the 2019-20 campaign before it was scrapped (12).
But it was Town who got the better of proceedings in the first half and they deservedly took the lead in the 26th minute when Callum Powell headed in from Will Dawes' cross.
And it got better for the hosts 11 minutes later when a clever free-kick from Will Grocott allowed Ashley Sammons to slam in for 2-0.
In the second half Town looked to have taken their foot off the gas and the Reds took full advantage by pulling a goal back just past the hour mark.
After Town failed to clear from the edge of their own box, the ball was worked out to Kyle Copp who had one touch before taking aim and firing low and hard into the bottom corner.
Boosted by the goal the Reds pushed for the equaliser, but Town stood firm to come away with their fifth win of the season in front of a 530-strong crowd.
Head coach Paul Davis made just one change to the team which secured a last-gasp 3-2 victory over Lowestoft Town on Saturday, with centre-back George Heaven coming in for Ben Birch who dropped to the bench.
Town started the brighter of the two teams and it didn't take long for them to register their first shot on goal, with Joe Curtis seeing an effort blocked after just 25 seconds.
Davis's men continued to enjoy plenty of the possession, but they were given a scare in the 14th minute when Copp's free-kick from the edge of the area hit the side-netting.
However, 12 minutes later Town deservedly took the lead when the lively Dawes broke free down the left and his chipped cross into the box found an unmarked Powell, with the smallest man on the pitch having all the time in the world to head home into the bottom corner.
Powell came close to doubling Town's lead eight minutes late after going on a surging run into the box before unleashing a powerful drive that Kieran Boucher had to save with his feet at the near post.
Town were not to be denied, though, and in the 37th minute they extended their advantage.
After Powell had been fouled close to the corner flag, Grocott showed a moment of class by pulling the free-kick back to Sammons who ran onto the loose ball and lashed home with aplomb to make it 2-0.
Almost instantly, though, the Reds came close to pulling a goal back when Thomas Hillman got in behind the Town defence, but Ty Belford did well to parry the fiercely-struck drive behind.
Neither team made changes at the interval and three minutes into the second half Harry White came close to registering his first goal in a Town shirt, but his right-footed effort curled just wide of Boucher's left-hand post.
Town were not as energetic as they were in the first and sloppy play at the back allowed the visitors to reduce the arrears in the 62nd minute.
After Dawes failed to clear from the edge of the box, Tiago Nassuncolo moved the ball onto Copp, who need just one touch to set himself up before firing an arrowed shot beyond Ty Belford and into the bottom corner.
In a bid to get Town back in control of the game, Davis brought on Enoch Andoh and Leam Howards, and the former came close to making it 3-1 in the 78th minute, but his shot on the turn went just wide of the mark.
Andoh then went on a mazy run six minutes later which ended with his shot hitting the post before Powell had an effort deflect behind with two minutes to go.
The Reds continued to battle for the equalising goal, but Town's defence withstood the attacks in the dying embers to ensure it was the hosts tasting victory on derby day.
TOWN: Belford, Vann, Isaac, Curtis, Heaven, Williams, Powell (Feyi 90), Sammons, White (Howards 76), Grocott, Dawes (Andoh 66). Unused subs: Muggleton, Birch.
REDS: Boucher, Rankin, Horton, Day, Davies, Charlton, Nassuncolo, Copp, Johnston, Clement, Hillman (Cameron 54). Unused subs: Richards, Buchanan, Bosio, Mullarkey.