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Stratford Town's FA Youth Cup hopes ended by five-star Sutton

STRATFORD Town Youth’s hopes of progressing further in the FA Youth Cup were ruthlessly dashed at the Arden Garages Stadium on Thursday evening, writes Bryan Hale.

Sutton Coldfield Town Juniors turned in a power-packed performance to win 5-2 and they effectively had this second qualifying round tie won at half-time when they were already 3-0 up.

Sutton’s blitz started more or less straight from the kick off as they piled forward giving Town’s injury hit line-up no time to settle.

Sam Yankson was to prove a handful for the Town defence all evening with his speed and strength, and in only the fifth minute he crashed a low drive against the foot of keeper Ryan Woodward’s left hand post followed soon after by the equally impressive Louis Monaghan having a fierce effort deflected behind off Josh Aspinall-Smyth.

There was no respite for Town and only a spectacular save from Woodward kept the scores level in the 15th minute when he took off to his left to palm away a Monaghan shot which looked destined for the top corner.

A goal had to come, and two minutes later it duly did as Town failed to deal with a cross from the left allowing Yankson to seize on the loose ball and slip it inside to Monaghan who blasted it past Woodward from 12 yards out.

As the Sutton pressure continued Woodward kept Town in the game by stretching out his right hand to push another Yankson attempt behind and then he produced an even better save on 23 minutes when Yankson’s surging run down the right touchline set up a shooting chance for Kye Hemans only for the Town keeper to beat it away at point blank range.

So far Town had barely had a sight of Sutton’s goal but on the half hour mark Tommy Harrington cut in from the right to fire narrowly over and Harry Hartin went similarly close a minute or so later.

But Sutton soon returned to the attack and doubled their lead on 38 minutes when Joe Maguire launched a free kick into the Town penalty area and Monaghan pounced to fire home from a few yards out.

And five minutes later the tie was taken out of Town’s reach as Sutton made it 3-0 with a moment of magic from Yankston.

Receiving a pass on the edge of the penalty area with his back to goal his ball control was instant as he turned in one movement to hit a left foot drive into the bottom corner giving Woodward no time to even move let alone get anywhere near it.

Town’s only hope was a positive start to the second half but instead Sutton immediately added a fourth through Hemans precision finish before Darren Timms’ side at last began to show that were better than the scoreline suggested.

Sacha Everard saw his shot safely held by Sutton keeper Nat Lawrence, and on 64 minutes Town pulled one back when a flowing move down the middle ended with Hartin threading the ball through to Harrington who equalled the quality of Yankston’s earlier strike by hitting a sumptuous right footer beyond Lawrence into the far corner of the net.

But as if stung by conceding Sutton promptly went down the other end to make it 5-1 with more trickery from Yankston taking him through the Town backline before lashing the ball past the helpless Woodward.

To their credit Town kept going even after Harrington limped off and Rob Sone added their second as the game headed into added time, but Sutton had been the better side throughout and deservedly went through to the next round.

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