Adam Rooney hat-trick fires Stratford Town into next round of FA Cup
AN Adam Rooney hat-trick and Dan Lafferty thunderbolt helped Stratford Town to a 4-0 victory over Cleethorpes Town to book a place in the FA Cup second qualifying round, reports Steve Wood.
Rooney had opened the scoring for the Bards in the 42nd minute and added two more within 15 minutes of the restart to put the visitors in control at the Myenergi Stadium.
Lafferty then rounded off a fine second-half display ten minutes from time to secure safe passage into the next round, with Dean Holdsworth's men finding out who they will take on later this afternoon (Monday).
The game against step five Cleethorpes, of Northern Premier League Division One East, was a potential banana skin and the game had everything from a hat-trick to disallowed goals, balls kicked off the line, the woodwork being hit and a squabble.
Holdsworth was back on the touchline and made two changes to the team which beat Bromsgrove Sporting last time out, with Jack Storer and Lafferty coming in for Will Dawes – who had signed for Yeovil Town in the week – and the absent Ashley Sammons.
The Owls' line-up, included four players who were at Wembley in the FA Vase final in 2017 and the home side had to promote Leon Dawson from the bench as Jack McMenemy was injured in the warm-up.
There was goalmouth action at either end in the opening 30 minutes and Cleethorpes had the best of them with two heading opportunities that didn’t hit the target and a shot from Jon Oglesby which hit the post. However, the home side were struggling to cope with the long throws from James O’Neill and opportunities started to open up for the Bards.
And three minutes before the break they moved in front. Storer made the most of a misplaced pass and played an exquisite throughball to Rooney who finished clinically to silence the home crowd.
The opening exchanges of the second half were all the Owls and an early in-swinging corner deceived the Stratford defence and was almost squeezed over the line but for the intervention of an out-stretched leg from Liam O’Brien.
The Bards were shaken into action and five minutes later Rooney found himself with space inside the box and finished in some style with the home side and supporters screaming for offside.
Holdsworth's men now looked in control and the third goal arrived on the hour and again it was Rooney, this time with the simplest of tasks to tap home from close range following good work on the right from Lafferty.
The pick of the goals arrived with ten minutes remaining. Lafferty picked up a clearance on the edge of the box and he smashed the ball with dip and swerve past a frustrated 'keeper to secure the win for the Bards.