Blues through to the semi finals after penalty shoot out success over the Poppies
A goal filled, pulsating quarter final ends in dramatic penalty shoot out win for Stratford
Match Report by KEVIN HAND, Stats by ROD ABRAHAMS, Photographs by GRANTY
Stratford Town v Kettering Town Tuesday 8 January, 2019 7.45 pm
CSS Quarter Final League Cup
Stratford 3 Kettering 3 1 HT (2-1)
Stratford win 4-1 on penalties
In front of a small but appreciative crowd Saturday’s woes were turned around in a thoroughly entertaining contest decided in Stratford’s favour and by penalties. Both title-chasing Kettering and Stratford made significant changes from the weekend’s starting elevens with a number of players rested. Town had a wholesale reshuffle that included the return of Dan Summerfield and Kieron Westwood and also the debut of Mohammed Sebbeh-Njie (Mo Sebbeh). The Poppies included the classy Rhys Hoeness and the towering Adam Cunnington.
The game was less than a minute old when Kettering took the lead. A routine long ball caught Lewis Wilson out and the lightning-quick Hoeness was firing home in a blink of an eye. The next minutes or so were torrid for Town with the home crowd expecting a thrashing. Hoeness’s speed and the expert lines ran saw Town defenders gasping for breath. On one occasion he gave the nippy Westwood a yard and beat him to the ball.
But the game slowly changed as the back line gradually got a grip and mid-field began to exert influence. Kynan Isaac was playing up front with Nabil Shariff and this was to prove a potent combination. There were to create a number of goal scoring opportunities that had been missing in recent games. Between the fifteenth and twenty-fifth minute both webnt close to scoring with passages of neat football. The breakthrough came on 26 minutes when Isaac was through on the goal and brought down Carvalho coolly slotted home the equalizer. There was a yellow for the errant defender.
In the rest of the half the Poppies was restricted to a long-range effort from Cunnington and a Markus Kelly attempt that was dragged wide. But on 41 minutes Town took the lead. Westwood played in Shariff who sidestepped keeper, Paul White, and fired into an empty net.
Stratford made an impressive start to the second half with Kian Williams, Mo Sebbeh and Wilson Carvalho combining well. This good work was undone on 59 minutes when a poorly executed quick free kick from Town led to an equalizer for Kettering. Jimmy Fry was ‘robbed’ in mid-field and the ball eventually found its way out to the right. A firm cross was turned in at the far post by Luke Graham.
The game became ragged but open and entertaining with Town shading the chances. Jimmy Fry was nearly in following good play from Isaac and a Mo Sebbeh shot was spilled by White only for substitute debutant Curvin Ellis to fire over from close range. Stratford regained the lead on 80 minutes when a Sarkic kick from hand sailed through to Isaac who scored with a minimum of fuss. Kettering was back on terms (3-3) in the simplest of manners 3 minutes later. A Ben Milnes corner was headed home resoundingly by Luke Graham. There was still time for Curvin Ellis to fire narrowly wide from a Summerfield cross.
Penalties were taken at the Knights Lane end and Grocott, Fry and Kian Williams fired home expertly. While Solkhorn fired over for the visitors and Ben Milnes struck a post. Lewis Wilson converted with a minimum of fuss to complete a 4-1 penalty victory.
There must have been many positives for Head of Football, Thomas Baillie, to ponder ahead of Town’s visit to Tamworth. Both Westwood and Summerfield impressed in defence, Mo Sebbeh excelled in mid-field and the Isaac/Shariff combination showed much promise. It was an impressive team effort.
Man of the Match: Kynan Isaac
Match Stats by ROD ABRAHAMS
| Stratford|| Kettering|
| 12||Goal Attempts|| 12|
| 7||On Target|| 6|
| 0||Blocked Shots|| 0|
| 0||Hit Woodwork|| 0|
| 2||Corners Won|| 7|
| 8||Crosses into Box|| 5|
| 11||Fouls Conceded|| 18|
| 1||Off Side|| 4|
| 1||Yellow Cards|| 1|
| 0||Red Cards|| 0|
Saturday 12 January 3.00 pm Tamworth (Away) EvoStik PDC
Tuesday 15 January 7.45 pm Hitchin (Home) EvoStik PDC