Town's young guns triumph in cup thriller
STRATFORD Town went through to the second round of the Southern League Challenge Cup after a dramatic 4-3 victory against Redditch at the Valley Stadium on Tuesday night, writes Bryan Hale.
Town came back from two goals down to find a winner with only a minute of normal time to play.
As expected, manager Carl Adams opted for a youthful line-up and only Kieren Westwood and Edwin Ahenkorah of the side which started against Cambridge City on Saturday did so here, but a welcome inclusion was Dior Angus, whose on-field action this season had been limited by injury and suspension to those 34 fateful minutes at Dorchester more than three weeks ago.
Both sides began cautiously on the brand new 3G pitch, but neither keeper had been seriously tested until the 22nd minute when the Reds' David McDermott turned on the edge of the penalty area to hit a fierce right-footer which was spectacularly tipped over by James Cutts.
Four minutes later, Town took the lead. Ahenkorah and Westwood combined down the left for Ahenkorah to roll the ball across into the path of Warren Brooks, who hit a sumptuous effort past the helpless Reds keeper Bradley Catlow into the top corner.
The lead was only to last nine minutes as Cutts mis-hit a clearance straight to Reece Hales, who looked up and from all of 40 yards out lobbed the ball over the stranded keeper into the empty net.
Redditch then went ahead in the final minute of the half when skipper Max Loveridge crossed from the right. Town fatally allowed the ball to bounce and it was seized on by McDermott, who swivelled to rifle a low drive beyond Cutts into the bottom corner.
It looked all over for Town 45 seconds after the restart when Javia Roberts’ shot came back off the bar and Thompson reacted the quickest to head the rebound into the net.
But they were back in the game on 62 minutes when Rob Ormston’s lofted pass was neatly controlled by Brooks, who slipped it inside for Angus to thump it past Catlow from ten yards out.
And it was all square in the 77th minute when Ahenkorah swept the ball out to Westwood, who beat Catlow at his near post with a rasping left foot from the edge of the penalty area.
Then with the penalty shoot-out looming, Ahenkorah’s low cross from the right was turned in by substitute Ben Ellicote from close range to complete a memorable evening for Town’s youngsters.
TOWN: James Cutts, Charlie Faulkner, Kieren Westwood, Guy Clark (c), Rob Ormston, Jean Kalenda (Ben Ellicote 67), Warren Brooks, Yannick Gomes, Edwin Ahenkorah, Dior Angus, Donnell Benjamin (Callum Ingram 46).