Missed opportunities mean Bards slip to defeat
MISSED chances and some below-par performances proved costly as Stratford Town slipped to a 2-1 defeat at AFC Telford United, reports Stephen Wood.
Bards boss Gavin Hurren made one change to the side that beat Basford United in the FA Trophy seven days earlier with keeper Louis Beresford replacing the unavailable Liam O’Brien for his first game of the season.
A crowd of more than 900 had to endure heavy showers before the game before the game kicked off in sunshine.
The Bards started brightly with Charlie Williams finding space down the left and an early Chris Hussey free-kick found Callum Ebanks on the far post but the keeper was grateful to collect his weak header.
It was Telford who broke the deadlock somewhat against the run of play on 17 minutes. An innocent looking back pass from Lewis Ison wasn’t convincingly cleared by a nervous Beresford and it fell to Byron Moore whose scuffed shot slipped under the keeper’s body.
There was a long delay midway through the half when Bucks captain Fraser Kerr picked up a knock which resulted in him being replaced and they duly went close again just before the half hour when an in-swinging free-kick caught out the Bards defence and Beresford had two attempts at punching clear before the ball was deflected onto the crossbar for a corner.
Two minutes later and Telford doubled their advantage when debutant Reece Styche created space on the edge of the area before firing home.
Stratford rallied and on 36 minutes a Chris Hussey free-kick found Ison and Dan Vann at the far post but neither could get a clean head on the ball.
But then, a minute later, Dan Lafferty picked the ball up 25 yards from goal at sent a screamer into the top corner.
Five minutes into the second half a cross from Riley O’Sullivan deceived the home defence and Lafferty headed what looked to be the equaliser only for keeper Brandon Hall to throw himself across the goal for an excellent save.
Jack Storer replaced Tom Solanke on the hour and immediately started to switch play with some effortless cross-field balls and his link-up with Vann and O’Sullivan presented a chance for Ebanks who somehow managed to hit the bar from close range before the offside flag saved his blushes.
There was one final chance for the Bards when Williams had an effort pushed away for a corner by the home keeper but it was not to be for Hurren’s side who will be looking to bounce back at home to Southern League Premier Central strugglers St Ives Town on Saturday.