The Blues edged out by the Rebels in tight encounter at the MoodChimp Stadium
By Andy Chilton
Town go toe to toe against Slough but again come up short to a play off bound Slough
Match Report Kevin Hand, Photographs Granty
Stratford Town v Slough Town, Saturday 07 April 2018 3.00pm Evo-Stik Southern Premier League at the MoodChimp stadium.
Stratford 0 Slough 1 2 (0-1 HT)
Match sponsored by Ian Thomas
* A Daniel come to judgement.
Town must have feared the worst when high-flying Slough arrived fresh from a mid-week 4-0 victory at Frome. Town were weakened by the absence of Grocott, and with Stephens on the bench. In fact the Town boys gave a good account of them selves in a raw and uncultured contest and could easily have grabbed all 3 points.
With ‘Rebel’ fans in a restrained mood Stratford held their own in the opening exchanges and on 5 minutes Bako found Marsden whose fierce drive was safely held by keeper, Turner. Much of the game was being played in mid-field with defences well in control. Smart and Nisbet were impressive for Slough with Fry, Francis and Gallinagh matching them for Stratford.
Evans was lively on the right for Town and on 25 minutes his shot from the edge of the penalty area was blocked and as Luckie tried to force home the rebound he was adjudged ‘off side.’ Five minutes later and a curling cross from Evans again nearly found Bako as he closed in on goal. Next it was Slough’s turn with a clear-cut chance for Coles. With Town’s defence at sixes and sevens he shot on a barely guarded Town goal from 10 yards but somehow the shot was deflected for a corner.
The decisive moment of the game was on 35 minutes when Marsden missed a tackle in mid-field. The town defence was ripped apart and, this time, Coles made no mistake. There was a quick response from Town and Bako forced a save from Turner and just before the half ended he also dealt with a speculative lob from Ahenkorah.
At the beginning of the second half Town threatened twice. First Evans found Bako whose shot was scrambled for a corner and then Evans ‘skinned’ Wells on the outside. The obvious ball was a right footed cut back but favouring his trusty left boot Evans shot straight at the keeper at his near post.
Slough’s response was immediate and out of nothing they nearly doubled their advantage. Another ‘comedy of errors’ between Connor and Francis (reminiscent of the Hitchin fixture) saw an innocuous through ball not being dealt with by either player and Connor finally making a complete ‘air shot’ of his clearance and lucky only to concede a corner. There was still not much between the teams and Slough’s Matthew Lench was proving dangerous from set-piece deliveries. Equally magnificent was Andy Gallinagh at the heart of the Town defence in averting danger.
Substitutions were made and Taylor livened up Town’s attack and Stephens made a belated appearance on 77 minutes. It was this combination that nearly recovered the game for Stratford. On 87 minutes a neat chipped ball from Stephens found both Taylor and Evans close in on goal but neither could muster a shot worthy of the name. And just before the final whistle with the Slough defence for once unsure Taylor lifted a shot high wide as Turner scrambled back to cover his goal.
So this was another chastening but not disheartening loss for Town. It was a game played in good spirit that was well managed by the officials. It was 2 years ago that referee, Sarah Garratt, took charge of the FA Women’s Cup Final at Wembley. She was equally impressive here establishing a good rapport with the players, calm, decisive and undemonstrative.
Banbury next at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium Thursday 12 April 7.45 pm for this rearranged fixture.
Man of the Match: Andy Gallinagh
* A Daniel come to judgement! O wise young judge! The Merchant of Venice Act 4 Scene 1 – Shylock to Portia