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Jordan Nicholson hat-trick fires Southern Premier Central leaders Peterborough Sports to 5-2 victory over Stratford Town

Stratford Town 2

Sammons 5, Gordon 47

Peterborough Sports 5

Nicholson 32 41 84, Gash 72, Sembie-Ferris 80

A JORDAN Nicholson hat-trick inspired Peterborough Sports to a 5-2 victory over a Stratford Town side that showed, in long periods of play, they could compete with the Southern Premier Central leaders whose quality eventually shone through in the end.

The Bards opened the scoring against the run of play after just five minutes when Ashley Sammons’s strike from the edge of the area found the bottom corner.

Boasting the meanest attack of the league, it was no surprise when Sports drew level just past the half-hour mark, with Nicholson getting the first of his three goals with a confident left-footed finish from inside the area.

Nicholson then got his and Sports’s second four minutes before the break when he ghosted in behind the Stratford defence, rounded Liam O’Brien and fired into an unguarded net.

Two minutes into the second period it was all-square. Jaanai Gordon brought down Will Grocott’s over-the-top pass with ease before shrugging of his marker and firing home.

A late flurry of goals from Michael Gash, Dion Sembie-Ferris and hat-trick hero Nicholson, added to the sending off of Lewis Wilson, made it a harsh end for the Bards who had competed so well up until that point.

The Turbines certainly showed why they are top of the table and their ruthlessness both on and off the ball will take some stopping, and had it not been for some superb saves by O’Brien, they could have had more than just the four goals.

Bards head coach Paul Davis made just one change to the team which beat Long Eaton United in the FA Cup third qualifying round last Saturday, with Will Dawes coming in for Enoch Andoh who dropped to the bench.

There was also a place on the bench for new recruit Harry Wakefield, a striker who has arrived from fellow Southern Premier Central rivals Nuneaton Borough. The 22-year-old has formerly played for Loughborough Dynamo, Oadby Town and Harborough Town.

Despite their slow start, the Bards took the lead after just five minutes. Having been guilty of giving possession away in the early stages, the hosts opened the scoring from their first real attack when Grocott found Sammons centre of goal, he jinked the ball onto his right foot and beautifully placed his shot beyond the outstretched arm of Lewis Moat and into the back of the net.

The goal seemed to spark the Bards into life and the hosts had a good spell of pressure for the next ten minutes, but it yielded little reward, with Dawes seeing one shot blocked and the other comfortably saved by Moat, while Wilson blazed wide from the edge of the area.

The Turbines certainly had some wind knocked out of their sails since going a goal behind, but they showed they could still cause problems and eventually drew level in the 32nd minute. A sweet passing move resulted in dangerman Sembie-Ferris playing in the lively Nicholson and with only O’Brien to beat, he confidently stroked home to restore parity.

Nicholson had been a nuisance for the Bards defence all game and he almost had his second eight minutes before the break when he got on the wrong side of Wilson in the penalty area, but he could only drag the effort wide.

Nicholson would not be denied, though, and with four minutes of the first half remaining he completed the Turbines comeback. A long free-kick was allowed to reach Nicholson and the lively forward brought the ball down brilliantly before rounding the onrushing O’Brien and firing into an unguarded net to give the visitors a 2-1 lead at half-time.

Within two minutes of the restart the Bards were back on level terms. Grocott lofted the ball over the top and the pass was beautifully brought down by Gordon, who turned his marker with equal skill before firing in from a relatively tight angle.

In a similar story to the first half, the goal from Stratford had seemingly knocked some of the confidence out of Peterborough’s play, allowing the hosts to once again enjoy a good spell of pressure.

And as the game approached the hour, Gordon missed a gilt-edged chance to grab his second and Stratford’s third goal of the game in this entertaining affair. Although nothing came from the initial corner, Sammons picked the ball up on the opposite side and played it back to Grocott. The skipper looked up and lifted the ball into the box where an unmarked Gordon had the goal at his mercy, but could only head over.

The Turbines always had that quality to create something out of nothing and in the 63rd minute it needed a fine save from O’Brien to keep the scores level. Isiah Bazeley floated a cross towards the back post and it seemed as though Gash was going to head home from close range, but O’Brien’s strong palms kept the effort out.

There was nothing O’Brien could do nine minutes later, though, as Gash got his goal. A long throw on the near side was flicked on twice and the former King’s Lynn Town and Cambridge United striker was on hand to prod home from close range.

Sports continued to put the Bards under the cosh and had it not been for O’Brien, 3-2 could have quickly became 4-2 with 15 minutes to go. Sembie-Ferris saw a header tipped over by the Bards shot-stopper, who then did equally as well to get a hand on Ryan Fryatt’s headed effort from the resulting corner.

Sembie-Ferris has been a nemesis for the Bards in previous seasons, having scored against them whilst on the books at St Neots Town and his current club Sports. And he would once again score past Stratford with ten minutes to go when he collected Gash’s flick on and rifled past O’Brien and into the opposite corner.

Things went from bad to worse a couple of minutes later when Wilson was given his marching orders after picking up his second yellow card of the afternoon. And with the man advantage, the Turbines got their fifth and final goal with six minutes to go when Nicholson completed his hat-trick after meeting Sembie-Ferris’s cross and thumping in a stunning volley past O’Brien.

BARDS: O’Brien, Wilson, Isaac, Fry (Wakefield 81), Magunda, Williams, Obeng (James 77), Dawes (Andoh 81), Grocott, Sammons. Subs: Lafferty, Turner.

TURBINES: Moat, Bazeley, Warner-Eley, Fryatt, R.Jones, Lawlor, Sembie-Ferris, McCammon, Gash, Jarvis (Miles 77), Nicholson. Subs: M.Jones, McGowan, Moreman, Herd.

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