Stratford Town  v  Tamworth

Sat 22 Jan - 15:00 Southern League Premier Central

Stratford Town

Stratford Town

1-0

Tamworth

Tamworth

Match Report

After the encouraging display in the midweek Birmingham Senior Cup against higher league Leamington ended in defeat, The Lambs moved quickly back into Southern League action with a trip to Knight’s Lane to face a team with many links to The Lambs.

The most obvious one being Thomas Baillie and Scott Machin who enjoyed a successful season at the helm in 2018-19 and defeated Dennis Greene’s Lambs twice in the process.
No less than six of the current Lambs squad once turned out for The Bards, managed by goalkeeping legend Tim Flowers – Cox, Creaney, Forde, Morrison, Obeng and Whittingham - while two names in the Town squad - Taylor and Fry - were not unknown to Tamworth fans who we’re looking forward to some ‘fabulous footie football’ as described by the home announcer before kick off.

Re-signing Dan Bradley made his 66th start in a Lambs shirt , since his last appearance in December 2011, while new signing Ben Bailey, ex-Hednesford, took a place on the bench.
Joint boss Gary Smith was hopeful that there would be a repeat of the 3-1 victory from October 2019 when Beswick (2) and Waite netted in response to Wilson’s early penalty. Tamworth needed goals now though, being the 3rd lowest scorers in the league, with the 8th best defensive record before kick-off an early strike would hopefully settle the nerves a little ahead of tough games against top four opposition on the horizon.

There were four changes to the side that ran out against Coalville and with Creaney suspended Tamworth opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Bradley ahead of Hurst in the middle of the park, and Bell the target man. For the home side former league striker Lita started having signed from local rival Nuneaton recently.

Stratford got the game underway, with Tamworth attacking the road entrance end of the ground and after an early push by Tamworth both sides settled with half chances falling for Taylor and some teasing balls into the box from The Lambs wingmen in the early exchanges.
Walters had the first and best chance of the game though, cutting into the area from the left he lifted his shot over the covering defender and forced the man behind him to clear his lines with shouts of handball from the vociferous travelling faithful behind O’Brien’s goal.
Clements ball to Walters found the number 11 just off side on 14, but he timed his run onto Bradley’s longer cross field inch perfect ball to perfection and whipped the ball in. It drew more shouts of handball against the defender but Wilson was not penalised for it hitting his arms which were behind his back at the time.
Bell Concannon and Bradley combined to switch play across from the right to the left on 20 but the final ball to Walters was too long for the winger to chase down and Stratford defended the move effectively.
Another cross from Walters on 21 was taken by the keeper at his right hand upright and on 24 Concannon lifted his cross into the area and the keeper was happy to collect it at height.
A deflected Thomas cross a minute later forced a right sided corner though, which Stratford broke from and it could have been dangerous, but The Lambs were organised end repelled the threat.
Williams did break the Lambs back line on 25, and a defensive nudge in the back from Cox saw the Stratford man stumble but not go down.
Bradley was in the thick of it on 28, and was upended 25 yards out setting the dead ball for Walters to strike for goal but he could only find the wall.
On 30 Pendley was booked for bringing Taylor down as he turned to chase a loose ball after a short pass spelt danger a fair distance from goal and with defensive cover in place, and then on 33 Oulton unleashed a right footed dipping volley from 35 yards which Singh had to watch all the way and tip over the bar.
Sammons slapped a right footed shot from 25 yards out into the car park behind Singh’s goal on 40 after Bell’s defensive header from a deep freekick fell invitingly.
As the first half minutes ticked by it looked increasingly likely that the half would end goalless and a rising off target shot from Dawes on 44 only reinforced that.
Wilder made a challenging run into the area but was unable to get the ball across into the danger zone as one minute added time was shown.
​Grocutt was unable to get his shot on target in the final move of the half, and cleared the goal and stand with his off target effort before the whistle blew.

HT 0-0

Tamworth got the game back underway and went on the attack but Bell’s strike from Wilders left wing centre was straight at O’Brien on 47.
At the other end on 49 though, Grocott released Dawes down the left channel and his strike into the near post couldn’t be kept out by Singh and Stratford celebrated the lead (1-0, 49 mins)
Dawes turned in the area on 50 and rolled a low shot which Singh gathered, but on 53 Lita missed when it would have been easier to score, lifting Taylor’s angled centre from the right of the box over the cross bar from 8 yards with just Singh to beat, and the Lambs breathed a sigh of relief.
Walters got his foot around the ball in the right of the box on 53 but it was too quick for Bell or Concannon to latch onto and after Dawes picked up a booking, the same player forced a corner on the left and it eventually fell to Williams.
The centre half worked through to the edge of the box but curled his effort around the right hand post.
Clement lined up a freekick on the right on 58 but curled it over the bar and also the low stand behind the goal.
Williams made headway out of defence into midfield and to the edge of the area again on 59, slipped the pass through to Lita and his directed shot was put behind for a corner which caused problems in the box before Pendley booted it away as the home faithful, rather than their travelling counterparts, witnessed a close call.
Hurst tried a right footed attempt from the left channel on 65 but only made the fans duck on the terraces behind the goal, and The Lambs made two changes.
Hurst dropped back into the back four allowing Beswick to take his position, while Obeng swapped with Concannon and when Hurst tangled with Lita on the left, it allowed Stratford a dangerous deadball.
Grocutt drilled the ball around the wall, which Singh pushed away and then it made it’s way back to Dawes but he curled his shot around the defenders, goalkeeper and far post.
Lita found space to get a low drive away at Singh on 70 which seemed to spur The Lambs on and the work rate increased beyond what it already was pushing The Bards back into their own half.
Stratford countered though, and Singh parried a low drive from Dawes on 78 and at the other end on 81, Bell received the ball from Wilder but shot wide of the mark with a powerful strike from the edge of the area.
With the clock ticking down, Taylor suffered a with cramp and needed treatment on the field and had to be replaced with a couple of minutes remaining before a dipping ball into the Stratford box was dealt by O’Brien.
Tamworth forced the home side back as the seconds passed and Obeng nearly found the head of Bradley as five minutes added time was shown.
A whipped in Walters cross was cleared, but The Lambs pushed on again as Stratford defended in numbers, and Beswick hit a half volley from 20 yards which rose slowly and agonisingly over bar.
Tamworth continued to keep every Stratford play inside their own half and indeed in the final third, as a corner on the right was played into the box by Beswick and when it was cleared, it found Singh on the halfway line.
When Stratford did get the ball, they forced it into the corner, and won a flagkick which proved to be the final action of the game.

Singh, Thomas, Wilder, Hurst, Pendley (Beswick 65), Cox, Concannon (Obeng 65), Bradley, Bell, Clement, Walters
Subs: Bailey, Cockerill-Mollett, Lissimore

YC: Pendley 30
RC: (none)

O’Brien, Wilson, Bushaj, Sammons, Turner, Williams, Lita (James 77), Oulton (Lafferty 82), Taylor (Okoro 87), Grocutt, Dawes
Subs: Fry, O’Regan

YC: Dawes 55
RC: (none)

Referee: Jake Allsopp

Attendance: 461

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