Match Report by Kevin Hand, Photographs by Granty & Woody
Stratford Town 1 v 2 Hednesford (HT 1-1)
Tuesday 29 October 2019 7.45pm
Buildbase 1st Qualifying Round FA Trophy at the Arden Garages Stadium.
It was all change again with loanees Jack Bennett and Jai Woollard-Innocent replacing suspended Harvey White and Kyle Ambris. Recent signing from King’s Langley, Matthew Campbell, made his debut.
It was a perfect autumn night football with a good crowd boosted by a sizeable Hednesford contingent – noisy but fair. The game, by contrast, was flat lacking discernible shape but well managed by the officials. Hednesford fans seemed less enthusiastic, with the assistants in particular, as their boys racked up 14 offside decisions. Stratford didn’t manage a single corner. A night when the statistics offered more interest than the fare served up.
From the Town boys there was solid effort and individual skill but it still looked like a side waiting to become a team. The passing game was laboured and littered with mistakes displaying a lack knowledge in one another’s game. Evidently, over 40 different players already have donned the blue shirt.
The game opened brightly with captain, Ravi Shamsi testing the keeper straight from the kick off. We saw the potential of Matthew Campbell on 9 minutes when he cut in from the right but his shot comfortably saved by keeper Andrew Wycherley. It was while the two teams were testing one another out that the game took a dramatic twist on 16 minutes. A nicely waited pass saw Ravi Shamsi scamper forward from his own half in the inside left position. Spotting the keeper off his line his perfectly flighted cross shot from fully 40 yards found the top corner of the net.
This was the point to kick on but it was Hednesford who spotted the Shamsi danger and the threat of Kairo Edwards- John and organised accordingly. Their influenced waned and with Shariff have a quiet evening the Pitmen took charge.
The scores were level on 24 minutes. Expert dead-ball man, Tom Elliot, delivered the perfect cross from a right wing corner and Reece King was assured in his headed finish. There were brief flurries from Town with an Edwards–John shot and a Woollard-Innocent cross that eluded everyone but in general it was Hednesford’s tight passing game that caught the eye.
The second half saw Foday Nabay replace Campbell as the Town midfield was in danger of being over run. 50/50 balls always seemed to be Hednesfords! The Pitmen took the lead on 57 minutes following a terrible defensive howler. A long ball was allowed to bounce by the Town central defenders, Jack Bennett came to the edge of his area to punch clear and completely missed. Elliot waltzed around stranded defenders and it was, ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ – 2-1.
Strangely, Hednesford’s two goals were the only notable efforts that threatened Benett’s goal. The Town back line was battered but brave in repelling Hednesford with a number of outstanding blocks. Chris Wreh was a very late Town substitute and he added some fizz. Shamsi fired over from a good position and there were appeals for a late penalty as Shariiff fell in the area. The referee saw it differently and booked Shariff for diving.
Saturday sees a return to the BetVictor Leaguewith a tough away fixture at Peterborough Sports.
Marstons Man of the Match – Jai Woollard-Innocent
Next up: Peterborough Sports (A) Saturday 02 November 3pm