Town battle the Bulls in close encounter of an entertaining kind!
The Blues put on a great performance but are edged out by title favourites Hereford in front of a packed MoodChimp Stadium
Match Report by Kevin Hands Photographs by Granty
Stratford Town v Hereford FC Tuesday 08 January 2018 7.45 pm Evo-Stik Southern Premier League at the Mood Chimp Stadium.
Stratford 1 Hereford 2 (half time 0-0)
Game sponsored by: Arden Garages Your local Ford dealers
*…and doth not Hereford live?
Delayed from before Christmas this fixture against the “Bulls’ of Hereford FC had been the most eagerly anticipated of the 2017/2018 Evo-Stik Southern Premier calendar for the home Town fans. And as an occasion and evening of football it did not disappoint. 707 packed the Mood Chimp and the many early arrivals meant a most congenial atmosphere prevailed before kick off. Praise here for the excellent organization of the club offering additional catering outlets, both turnstiles open and an army of efficient and good humoured stewards.
Hereford was on a run of 50+ league away fixtures without defeat stretching back to August 2015. This record was sorely tested at Slough this weekend when goals in the 92nd and 96th minutes for the Bulls preserved this record.
Town welcomed back Lee Thomas to the starting eleven and Edwin Ahenkorah started up front with Mike Taylor and Ben Stephens. A flat back four saw Francis and Recci at the heart of defence. The opening exchanges quickly revealed the strengths of this Hereford outfit; fast, athletic with good passing skills. Murphy and Green strong in defence, Keyon Refell silky smooth with a lovely touch on the right and the ever-present danger of John Mills.
Despite this Town matched them in every department. Fry, Recci and Francis were brilliant in defence and midfield and the attacking trio of Stephens, Taylor and Ahenkorah kept the Hereford defence busy. It was Town, arguably, who had the best opportunities in the goalless first half. On 30 minutes Grocott’s cross nearly saw Taylor in and neat passing between Taylor, Ahenkorah and Stephens saw Grocott shoot over. 41 minutes saw Stephens go close following good work by Fry. The half ended with Hancocks hobbling off following a contentious challenge and he was not to reappear for the second half.
Summerfield replaced Hancocks and opening second half exchanges saw Town continuing to match the Bulls. This all changed in the 57th and 58th minutes when Hereford struck twice. First Connor was adjudged to have brought down an Hereford attacker. It seemed soft but John Mills’s crashing penalty wasn’t! Immediately, from the kick Stratford lost possession and Mills again had the presence of mind to stride forward and smash home a second goal. Game over you might think but there were twists and turns yet.
On 63 minutes Dara O’Shea felled Mikey Taylor as he headed for the penalty area. Red for O’Shea and Stephens’s free kick crashed against the underside of the crossbar before bouncing to safety. Hereford’s instinct was to attack and this made for an exciting conclusion. Town was finally back in the game on 88 minutes when Grocott’s swirling cross was met emphatically by Taylor (1-2). Town pressed with Connor up for corners, Hereford broke and nearly added a third before referee, Richard Cattell, blew for full time. Time to breathe at last and reflect on a thoroughly absorbing and good-natured encounter. There was strong evidence of why Herford may progress this season but also of the quality of Carl Adams’s squad. It recent weeks the lads have played out of their skins!
Weymouth at home on Saturday (13th January) and the players, manager and club deserve another bumper crowd to show appreciation for some great football at the Mood Chimp and on our travels.
Man of the Match: Liam Francis
• and doth not Hereford live? Richard 11 Act 2 Scene 1 [Definitively, yes!]
Henry Bolingbroke, later Henry1V, was also known as the Duke of Hereford.