Reed hat-trick helps steer FC Stratford to cup victory
A SIZZLING first half performance that included a hat-trick from Matty Reed guided FC Stratford to a 5-0 victory over Wednesfield in the final of the Midweek Floodlit Challenge Cup at Walsall’s Bescot Stadium.
Their opponents had no answer to the speed and passing of Jon Hill’s side who scored at will in the opening 45 minutes while solid defending and a couple of smart saves kept the Midland Football League Division One outfit at bay.
The opening goal came on nine minutes with two more following in qiuick succession. Robbie Sone out-paced his marker down the left flank before picking out Reed in the middle who swept the ball past keeper Craig Pain for the opener.
Two minutes later it was Johnny Johnston on the scoresheet as he breezed through the Wednesfield defence before slotting home and on 14 minutes, the excellent Dan Atkins planted a shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the area following another sweet passing move.
As the half wore on, central defensive pair Kian Hamer and Sacha Everard were called on to make some vital blocks and when the defence was breached, keeper Callum Monaghan was in fine form as he kept out efforts from both Brandon Herkes and Craig Tuckley.
Indeed, Herkes proved Wednesfield’s star turn as he was also denied by the woodwork as was skipper Ash Bellingham as FC came under pressure for the first time from the reigning cup holders.
But Stratford survived and two more goals before the break ensured there was to be no way back for the West Midlands side. Atkins set up Reed for his second, an angled shot on 40 minutes, and the former Bristol Rovers youngster completed his hat-trick in added time with another calm finish.
Wednesfield shuffled their pack at the start of the second half with three changes but for all their possession, Monaghan was rarely troubled with chances few and far between for the remainder of the final.
Reed was denied a fourth goal midway through the half by a fine stop from Pain with the FC keeper finally called into action at the other end five minutes from the end when he pushed a powerful Shaquille Lee over the bar.
Wednesfield: Pain, Parker, Griffiths (Yates 46), Paddock (Lee 46), Bellingham, Sullivan (Sharman 46), Walker, Herkes, Tuckley (Handley 78), Bennett, Dunkley (Dew 62).
FC Stratford: Monaghan, Hodson, B Cook, Atkins, Everard, Hamer, Poulson, Sone (Chaundry 65), Reed, Johnston (Machisa 75), Collins. Subs (not used): Beresford, Osbourne, H Cook.
FC Stratford Star Man: Matty Reed