Town's FA Cup dreams are ended by Alvechurch
By Andy Chilton
A battling 10 man 2nd half performance by the the Blues comes up short as Alvechurch go through
Match Report by Kevin Hand, photos by Granty
Stratford Town v Alvechurch Saturday 08 September, 2018 3.00pm
1st qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup at the Arden Garages Stadium.
Stratford 0 Alvechurch 1 (0-0) HT
* Still you keep o’ th’ windy side of the law
This was to be another disappointing afternoon at the Arden Garages Stadium for the Town faithful. After last year’s heroics in the cup a win here could have got the club back on track. On an attritional afternoon of football Town were to lose out by 1 goal following the very harsh sending off of Cody Fisher on 36 minutes.
Nevertheless, it was a spirited performance and the fine margin between success and failure were evident again. Town in their striking new kit kicked off towards the golf course end into a surprisingly strong wind. For 15 minutes there was little to report and then it was for a wayward shot from ‘Churches Mitch Botfield. Alvechurch began to boss mid-field and there were a series of corners expertly delivered by Tom Turton.
On 17 minutes Ross Etherington in goal for Town claimed impressively from Turton but he was ‘beaten’ on 21 when Josh Marsh headed home. There was considerable confusion with the referee seeming to give the goal and then change his mind. Certainly, Lewis Wilson seemed to be on the end of a very heavy push sending him sprawling.
With both sides becoming fractious referee Grzegorz Kornasiewicz seemed to be upsetting both sets of fans through apparent indecision and inconsistency. His sending off of Fisher seemed harsh and although it was confirmed by his assistant the Alvechurch bench animated antics appeared to play an influential role in getting the 18 year old his marching orders. Alvechurch went on to dominate the rest of the half and Town were grateful to reach half time with the scores level.
The second half had barely started when an awkward back pass by Wilson nearly caught Etherington out but he recovered smartly to prevent a score. The defining moment of the second half came on 54 minutes when the outstanding Skendi broke from mid-field and played Mike Taylor in. ‘Church keeper, Matt Sargeant made an excellent save diving to his left and conceding a corner.
Stratford grew in confidence and using the full complement of substitutes pushed Alvechurch back. On 72 minutes Town pressed on the left and Hancocks’ first time cross was met by Jordan Williams with Sargeant perfectly positioned to snuff out the danger.
The game was killed off on 78 minutes when substitute Aaron Lloyd converted from close range after a goalmouth scramble. In truth this was probably the only shot on target in the second half for the visitors.
Manager, Steve Walker, described himself as, “devastated.” He was full of praise for the commitment of his players and felt it had been an outstanding second half performance.
Man of the Match: Albi Skendi
Next up: Saturday 15 September Bedworth (H) 3.00pm Evo-Stik Premier League Central
* Twelfth Night Act 3 Scene 4