THREE FIRST HALF STRIKES PROPEL TOWN TO A COMFORTABLE WIN AT ELLESMERE
Ellesmere Rangers - 1 - Butler 48 (pen)
Stratford Town - 4 - Beckley (2) 12 & 70 Travis 32 Lait 37
Town notched their seventh Baker Joiner MFA away win of the season at Beech Grove on Saturday when they effectively decided the match by powering their way to a three goal lead in a one-sided first half with the struggling Rangers not helping themselves by having central defender Craig Farr sent off just before the break.
There was one change to Town's starting line-up from Easter Monday with Joss Holford replacing the unavailable Liam Reynolds in midfield, and they almost went ahead in the opening minute when the Rangers keeper Dave Maguire spilled a looping cross from James Travis and Mykel Berckley's follow up effort was hooked off the line by the backpedalling Farr.
The firm pitch and a brisk crosswind made any attempt at a close passing game pretty difficult, but Town soon began to boss the meaningful possession and went ahead in the 12th minute when a well worked move down the left led to Dan Kerrigan threading the ball through to Beckley who coolly slotted it past the advancing Maguire.
The Rangers responded with a jinking run down the left from Dale Williams whose low cross reached the unmarked Ian Rowlands but Ricky Baker bravely blocked his shot at point blank range.
With Andy Gregory and Dan Parker once again in commanding form the Rangers found it hard to create anything to trouble Richard Morris in the Town goal, and it was no surprise when Town doubled their lead just after the half hour mark.
This time Beckley claimed the "assist" with a cross from the right which was turned in by Travis from eight yards out with Maguire getting his hands to it but being unable to keep it out.
Shortly after a mistake by Farr gave Beckley a clear run on goal but Maguire was smartly off his line to beat his shot away.
Town's third goal was however only delayed as Travis out on the right cleverly slipped the ball inside to Chris Lait who surged past a couple of defenders into the penalty area and drilled it past the helpless Maguire with the minimum of fuss.
And the afternoon got worse for the Rangers three minutes before the interval when Farr - who had been yellow carded earlier - hauled down Travis to earn a second yellow and trudged off leaving his side even more up against it.
Half Time - Ellesmere Rangers 0 Stratford Town 3
Town's composure though took a knock soon after the restart with a rare error from the usually reliable Parker. Looking to head a bouncing ball back to Morris he didn't make proper contact giving the alert Sean Butler the chance to intercept.
Realising the danger Morris was quickly out to challenge and clattered into the Rangers striker to concede a penalty. To the Rangers annoyance the Town keeper escaped without a card of either colour as Butler picked himself up to blast the spot kick into the net.
That however was Butler's final contribution as he was forced off soon after still feeling the effects of the collision to be replaced by Kieran Barry with Morton Titterton at the same time sending on Jamie Molyneux for Kerrigan.
Given a lift by the goal the Rangers now enjoyed their best spell of the match as they sought a second goal which might offer them the chance of an unlikely point. Only a perfectly timed tackle from Tom Dyke halted a promising run down the left by the Rangers second substitute Darren Beech, and Sean Jones was inches wide as he got on the end of a low cross from Ashley Wells.
But a piece of nimble footwork from Lait with twenty minutes to go ended any hopes the Rangers might have had as he turned to hit a sliderule pass down the inside right channel to send Beckley free.
Cutting inside Town's pacy striker neatly sidestepped both Jones and Rowlands before firing past Maguire for his 13th League goal of the campaign and his 18th overall which sees him overtake Chris Murphy as Town's leading scorer this time round.
Although that clinched the points for Town the Rangers went close to a second goal five minutes later when Morris rashly charged out of his area in an attempt to collect a long ball and was beaten to it by Barry whose tantalising first time lob drifted narrowly wide as Dyke raced back to cover.
But Town ended the game comfortably in control with only Maguire's outstretched leg denying Beckley a hat-trick and debutant Alex Jervis then having a useful effort palmed away by the under pressure keeper.
So with four games remaining Town continue to occupy 11th spot in the League table, but they will certainly be hoping to finish higher as three of those games are against teams already below them including when the Rangers visit the DCS for the return fixture - and Town's final home game - in ten days time.
TOWN : Morris, Dyke (Jervis 84), Baker, Holford, Gregory, Parker, Faulds, Lait, Travis (O'Callaghan 74), Beckley, Kerrigan (Molyneux 52). Unused Sub - Brady (GK)
ELLESMERE : Maguire, Wells, Fletcher, Towers, Farr, Jones, Griffiths, Rowlands, Butler (Barry 52), Price (Beech 61), Williams. Unused Sub - Lloyd
Attendance - 84
Town Man of the Match - Andy Gregory
The View From The Dug-Out - Morton Titterton is pleased with a convincing win
"On a tricky pitch I thought that we were emphatic winners. We got the job done with our first half efforts, and although we gave away a poor goal straight after the break we were never in any real trouble, and the second half was almost a non-event."
Match Stats by Rod Abrahams
Town - GA 18 OT 7 HW 0 CW 5 FC 12 OS 7 YC 1 RC 0
Ellesmere - GA 7 OT 3 HW 0 CW 2 FC 8 OS 3 YC 1 RC 1
Town Yellow Cards - Baker
Ellesmere Yellow Cards - Farr Red Card - Farr
Match Report by Bryan Hale