Jimmy Fry wonder strike seals victory over play off rivals Rushden
By Andy Chilton
The Skipper and Skendi inspire the Blues to a thrilling and crucial win over the Diamonds
Match Report by KEVIN HAND, Match Stats by ROD ABRAHAMS, Photographs by GRANTY
Stratford 1 AFC Rushden and Diamonds 0-T (0-0)
Saturday 09 March, 2019 3.00pm EvoStik Premier Division Central• Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
The classy Rushden and Diamonds outfit came in numbers to contest this crucial match for the play off places. During the week Coalville’s late winner at Kettering had sent Town into 6th place and just outside the play off zone. Today’s win saw Town rise to 4th place and the home fans buoyant on their way home.
For Stratford Mikey Taylor was restored to the starting line up together with play-maker, Will Grocott whilst Albi Skendi moved into mid-field allowing Jamie McAteer to return to the centre of the defence. Cody Fisher came in at left wing back to replace the suspended Kynan Isaac. Jimmy Fry was rested and took his place on the bench. R&D won the toss and elected to kick towards the Knights Lane End leaving Town facing a stiff breeze.
The opening exchanges saw Stratford take the game to the Diamonds as they played in a quick and direct style. Early on Mikey Taylor disturbed the visitors’ back line and won a corner. Will Grocott’s corner was well defended but when the ball was returned into the area keeper, Ben Heath, had to be alert to catch the ball as Jordan Williams hovered.
Town continued to dominate as they won a corner on the right on 7 minutes. Grocott’s low cross was nearly turned in by Lewis Wilson leading to another corner. On 12 Skendi played in Carvalho whose shot was turned aside by Heath. Skendi was dominating mid-field and the only reply from the Diamonds was a Zac Reynolds free kick that was headed on by Sam Johnson into the welcoming arms of Town keeper, Laurence Bilboe on 25 minutes.
On 35 minutes Oulton won a wonderful ball in mid-field before finding Lewis Wilson. His pass in turn reached Taylor in the Diamonds’ area. Taylor switched the ball to his favourite right foot before smashing in a thunderous strike only to be denied by Heath’s flying leap. As the action progressed it was clear Oulton had been badly injured in the play and he was to be replaced by Jimmy Fry. The half ended with a yellow for Jack Westbrook as he impeded Lewis Wilson as he strode forward. This was not before Grocott burst forward and was one on one with the Titan that is Liam Dolan. Dolan’s strength and experience prevailed.
The second half was to be equally competitive as both sides strived for a ‘winner.’ It was Town who nearly broke the deadlock on 53 minutes. Cox progressed down the right before switching the ball to his left foot. His cross come shot nearly eluded Heath who desperately pawed the ball against the bar before it was hacked away for a corner. From Grocott’s corner McAteer headed over. The play ebbed and flowed and it was Jimmy Fry who was to be today’s hero. Collecting a loose ball 25 yards out he fired home a crisp drive through a crowd of players.
!0 minutes later and the advantage should have been doubled. Taylor and Carvalho combined to play in Grocott who fired straight at the keeper from16 yards. Apart from a raucous last minute penalty appeal for the Diamonds the latter part of the game was well managed by Town so earning a precious 3 points in the chase for promotion.
After the game Head of Football, Thomas Baillie, declared himself delighted with the result against a team who were previously unbeaten in 10!
Match Stats by ROD ABRAHAMS
| Stratford|| Rushden|
| 13||Goal Attempts|| 6|
| 8||On Target|| 3|
| 0||Blocked Shots|| 0|
| 1||Hit Woodwork|| 0|
| 9||Corners Won|| 1|
| 9||Crosses into Box|| 5|
| 13||Fouls Conceded|| 12|
| 0||Off Side|| 0|
| 0||Yellow Cards|| 1|
| 0||Red Cards|| 0|
Match Stats by Rod Abrahams
13 Goal Attempts 6
8 On Target 3
0 Blocked Shots 0
1 Hit Woodwork 0
9 Corners Won 1
9 Crosses into Box 5
13 Fouls Conceded 12
0 Off Side 0
0 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
Stratford Yellow Cards – None
Rushden Yellow Cards – Westbrook
Match Sponsored by: Stratford Town Patrons
Man of the Match: Albi Skendi An awesome display by The Blues midfield powerhouse
• Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May. (Sonnet 18 – reference the weather and a ‘slight nod’ to Rushden novelist H.E.Bates)
Saturday 16 March Coalville (Away) 3.00pm EvoStik PDC