Strikers on target in Bards’ opening friendlies
STRIKE pair Callum Ebanks and Riley O’Sullivan were among the goals as Stratford Town started their pre-season campaign with a win and a defeat.
Saturday’s opener saw them beaten 3-2 by Northern Premier League Midland Division side Coventry Sphinx but the Bards bounced back on Tuesday with a 2-0 victory over Midland Football League outfit Studley.
In both games, boss Gavin Hurren made multiple changes at half-time, taking the chance to try various combinations and look at a number of trialists.
The starting XI against Sphinx consisted largely of the side that saw out last season in such fine form but it was the visitors who controlled proceedings, opening up a 3-0 lead at the interval thanks to three goals in eight minutes.
Jack Downes netted the first two, showing great strength to hold off defender Lee Vaughan for the first on 29 minutes and then glancing in a left-wing cross. Kyle Carey made it 3-0 while Stratford’s best chance of a disappointing half came from Charlie Williams but visiting keeper Keelan Fallows denied him.
The second half team put out by Hurren were ruthless from the start with new signing O’Sullivan forcing the Sphinx keeper into a fingertip save within moments of the restart.
Another new arrival Charlie Dowd pulled a goal back on 54 minutes with a 20-yard drive before O’Sullivan grabbed his deserved goal in added time.
Tuesday’s game followed a similar format for the Bards but this time they began strongly against a young Bees side that included trialists from the Solihull Moors academy.
Dowd and O’Sullivan combined to send Ebanks in on goal on 20 minutes and when he was upended by the keeper, the striker duly fired in the penalty.
Ebanks doubled his tally on 38 minutes, coolly rounding keeper Bren Bunn after collecting a sweet threaded pass from Vaughan.