19.11.2019

BetVictor Southern Premier League Central

Stratford Town

Shamsi (7), (62), Morris (12) (OG), McFarlane (83)

Hednesford Town

Bailey (45)

(2) 4

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

171

Danny Glover

W W L L W W D W W L

 

Coalville Town (H) 23.11.19

The Pitmen are handed another four-goal beating away from home for the third time in four league games this evening, as struggling Stratford Town claim all three points at Knights Lane to avenge the Pitmen's recent F.A. Trophy win over them on the same ground three weeks earlier

Gary Hayward's side arrived in Warwickshire off the back of a regulation win over basement side Leiston last Tuesday night to maintain their potential title challenge. Saturday had left the Pitmen and their supporters left frustrated at the postponement of their away game at another struggling side, St. Ives Town, with the game now pencilled in for a Tuesday night in December. Hayward made two changes to the side that had returned from Leiston with all three points, with Tom Elliott and Osebi Abadaki replacing Jack Hallahan and Andre Brown in an attack-minded swap

Stratford's season had been one of struggle so far, as they had failed to follow-up on their fantastic 2018-2019 with an inconsistent campaign to date that had left them sitting just above the relegation zone. Caretaker manager Paul Davis had continued to make a number of changes to his squad over the last couple of weeks, with over forty players having already turned out for the Blues this term. Skipper Ross Oulton returned to the side in the only change to the side that had lost at Nuneaton Borough on Saturday, leaving Stratford sitting in eighteenth place in the league table ahead of the game

Winter was starting to take it's hold on the country, with temperatures dropping at dusk to leave the small crowd at the game shivering under the Knights Lane floodlights. There was plenty for the Hednesford supporters to shudder at on the pitch too, as they endured a nightmare opening spell to the game that left them with a mountain to climb. After an assertive opening couple of minutes that saw them force a coupe of set-pieces, the Pitmen were undone in the seventh minute as Stratford struck with their first effort of the game; Chris Wreh's run down the right-wing saw him get the better of Kieran Morris before sending over a low cross to Ravi Shamsi, who had the simple task of side-footing home from close range to add to his spectacular goal against the Pitmen three weeks ago in the F.A. Trophy tie

The Pitmen rallied through the ever-willing Tom Elliott two minutes later, making enough room for himself to stab a shot goalwards from just inside the Stratford penalty area, only for a deflection off Courtney Richards to take the ball just wide of goal for a Hednesford corner kick. From the resultant corner, both Ben Bailey and Recce King had a swing at the bobbling ball, but could not get any purchase on their shots and the ball was cleared to Hodge, whose wild shot drifted wide

Stratford went route one for their second goal on twelve minutes, as a long kick forward from Sam Lomax drifted over the heads of the Hednesford defenders and was pounced upon by Wreh. His swift one-two with skipper Oulton saw Wreh in behind the Hednesford defence, with Morris bundling Wreh's cut-back over his own goal line to hand Stratford a two-goal lead

King was guilty of wasting a great chance to get the Pitmen back into the game on fifteen minutes, as he tamely stabbed Abadaki's left-wing cross straight into the arms of the lanky Lomax from six yards out

The Pitmen started to build pressure on the Stratford defence, with a throw-in from Bailey on twenty-one minutes finding Hodge, whose cross was headed over by James Hurst at the far post

Glover did well to win a free-kick for the visitors on twenty-four minutes after being fouled on the edge of the penalty area, with Ben O'Hanlon's low drive from the resultant free-kick taking a deflection off the Stratford wall as it dipped wide of the far post

Hurst was wasteful with the Pitmen's best chance of the game so far four minutes later, as a lovely through ball from Elliott played Hurst in behind the Stratford defence, only for the midfielder to take a hasty touch and slash his effort wide of goal from a glorious position

Another long-range effort from Hurst on thirty-two minutes saw his effort deflected away from goal by Richards, before a free-kick from Elliott a minute later was tamely headed into the arms of Lomax by Morris

The chances continued to stack up for the Pitmen as half-time approached, with Elliott, Hurst and Hodge all having chances to reduce the deficit before the away side finally found a way through with the last action of the half; Hodge's deep corner was headed goalwards by Hurst, who was denied by a goal-line clearance. Bailey pounced on the bouncing ball and turned it home from close range to make it two goals in three games for the Hednesford skipper

Stratford were forced into a half-time change, as skipper Oulton was replaced by Kyle McFarlane in a change that saw Stratford make a couple of positional amendments to fit their team

The Pitmen came out with intent at the start of the second period, as Hodge felt he was deserving of a penalty with the first attack of the half after being nudged off the ball by Ki Wollard-Innocent at the far post. The referee was unimpressed with the appeals and carried on with the game

King was again guilty of fluffing his lines in front of goal on fifty-five minutes, as Elliott's quick thinking from a corner kick found the midfielder unmarked at the near post. King, however, appeared to close his eyes as he reached for the ball and somehow missed the ball as he missed his free header from six yards out

Just after the hour mark, Hednesford made a double change as they gambled on grabbing a leveller with the introduction of Brown for the disappointing Hodge and Izak Reid for the match-rusty O'Hanlon

The Pitmen were made to pay for missing so many chances, as Stratford hit the Pitmen on the break a minute later to further extend their lead; Lewis Wilson found himself in acres of room in behind the Hednesford backline after a long, raking ball forwards from Richards, playing in Shamsi for another simple finish past the horribly exposed Andy Wycherley in the Hednesford goal, who had received little to no protection all evening from his dreadful defence in front of him

Still, the Pitmen pressed, with Morris forcing Lomax into a smothering see low down at his far post on sixty-five minutes after flicking a Bailey throw-in towards goal

Substitute Brown had two attempts to test Stratford's resistance on seventy minutes but found Richards in his way the first time before shooting high and wide with his second effort from fifteen yards out

With the Pitmen still chasing an unlikely point by pushing up the field, Stratford caught the visitors on the break once more with a killer fourth goal on eighty-two minutes Bailey's terrible clearance fell straight at the feet of Richards, whose first-time ball over the top found McFarlane in space with more than a hint of offside about it. The substitute kept his composure to finish well past Wycherley, despite Morris's best efforts to keep pace with the striker

Lomax was called upon late on to make a fine save from an Elliott free-kick, palming the ball away from the centre of his goal after the midfielder had struck a firm effort at goal from twenty yards out

In added time, Lomax made another good stop, this time to deny Brown after the substitute had turned well on the edge of the penalty area before getting his shot away

A poor night's work for the Pitmen, then, who lose further ground on league leaders Tamworth and are starting to fall back towards the chasing pack as they continue to haemorrhage sloppy goals on their travels. It's a welcome return home for the Pitmen on Saturday, when they play their first home game in a month by hosting league rivals Coalville Town in the third qualifying round of the F.A. Trophy

Stratford Town: Lomax, Vann, Wollard-Innocent , Richards , Bower, Rowley, Wilson, Oulton © (McFarlane 45), Wreh (Ambris 81), Shamsi (Hylton 89) Nabay     Subs Unused: Edwards-John, Bennett

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Curley, O'Hanlon (Reid 61), Bailey ©, Morris, Hurst, Hodge (Brown 61), King, Glover, Elliott, Abadaki    Subs Unused: Gatter, Fry, Hallahan

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