Plenty of positives for Stratford Town in defeat to young West Bromwich Albion outfit
STRATFORD Town suffered a tough 3-1 loss to a talented West Bromwich Albion side on Saturday, yet there were many positives for the Bards as they move forward in their pre-season plans, writes Will Rogers.
West Brom, led by development coach Richard Beale, came flying out of the blocks and scored two early goals against a somewhat shell-shocked Stratford side.
The first goal came after a beautiful turn from Jovan Malcolm, putting two Stratford defenders on the ground, before slotting neatly past the home side's triallist goalkeeper.
The Baggies' team was full of the talent from their academy side that were Premier League Cup champions last season, meaning the Bards were up against it from the start.
The lead was soon doubled by Jamie Andrews as he finished from close range following some fine team play.
As the home side began to grow into the match, they put their younger opponents under pressure, yet struggled to garner any clear-cut chances against the Baggies’ solid defence.
With so many matches in a short spell, the injuries to some star players, including Will Dawes, will worry managers Dean Holdsworth and Gavin Hurren.
However, with a few weeks before the season kicks off there is a chance for the coaches to work their squad into a strong position.
The second half began as the sun shone onto the Arden Garages Stadium, with a Stratford triallist scoring an early goal to give the lively crowd hope.
However, this hope was short-lived as West Brom substitute Reyes Cleary smashed a stunning 30-yard rocket into the bottom corner.
As the game began to open up there were chances for both sides, with Stratford smashing the bar from a corner in the dying minutes.
Yet there were to be no more chances with the visitors emerging 3-1 victors, with both sides taking many positives from the game.
Speaking to the Herald after the game, Stratford manager Holdsworth said: “In spells we did some very good things, yet that’s not the defining moment of our pre-season.
“I’m pleased with the lads, they worked their socks off and all of the triallists played really well in the second half.”
When asked about the fixture congestion, Holdsworth understood the balance between training and matches, adding: "It’s difficult to get tactics done when we’re playing a lot of games. I would honestly prefer to have more training sessions but we want clubs to come here.”
Stratford’s busy week continues as they host Cheltenham Town on Tuesday (7:30pm kick-off), before welcoming Leicester City on Friday and Oxford City on Saturday.