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Ten-man Stratford Town bow out of FA Cup

Albi Skendi in action during Stratford Town's FA Cup clash with Alvechurch on Saturday. Photo: Mark Williamson
Albi Skendi in action during Stratford Town's FA Cup clash with Alvechurch on Saturday. Photo: Mark Williamson

IN-FORM Alvechurch made it five successive wins and piled more misery on Stratford Town, who ended a traumatic week which had seen the departure of manager Darren Byfield with an early exit from the FA Cup, writes Bryan Hale.

With Edwin Ahenkorah and Nabil Shariff also having moved on and Will Grocott only named on the substitutes' bench, there were call-ups to the starting line-up for Cody Fisher, Kevin Monteiro and Jordan Williams plus the inclusion of on-loan keeper Ross Etheridge in place of the injured Nathan Vaughan.

Both sides made a cautious start, but the Church thought they had gone ahead in the 21st minute when Tom Turton’s corner from the right was missed by everyone except Josh March, who turned it in from close range only for it to be ruled out for a foul on Etheridge.

March then had a fierce left footer well held by Etheridge, before Town’s afternoon took a turn for the worse in the 35th minute when Cody Fisher was shown a straight red card after clattering into Josh Ezewele.

It seemed a harsh decision and joint caretaker boss Steve Walker thought that it was the turning point of the match as it left Town with over half the game to play with only ten men.

Dan O’Callaghan wasted a great chance for the Church five minutes into the second half as he fired over from six yards out, but Town should have taken the lead soon after when Mike Taylor ran onto Albi Skendi’s through ball, only to shoot against the advancing Church keeper Matt Sargeant.

Sargeant then kept the scores level with a point-blank save from Jordan Williams, but the Church hit the decider with 12 minutes to go when a cross from the right was seized on by substitute Aaron Lloyd, who drilled it past Etheridge with virtually his first touch.

“Devastated,” was Walker’s reaction afterwards. “I thought that we were the better side for long periods of the game and then they score the winner with their only shot on target.

"The sending off was decisive as it changed the game and made it even more difficult for us.

"But I couldn’t have asked more of our lads. Everyone of them gave 100 per cent plus and I’m extremely proud of all of them.

"After our last couple of results we badly needed a pick-me-up. It wasn’t to be, but we’ll be ready for Bedworth next Saturday which will be another huge game for us.”

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