STRATFORD Town top scorer Ben Stephens will get a second opportunity to earn a professional contract with Championship side Ipswich Town.
The 18-goal front-runner has been invited to play a second game for the Tractor Boys Under-23s after impressing in training.
Having already played against Colchester, Stephens will line up for Ipswich in their U23s Premier League Cup tie at Aston Villa on Thursday after this week’s scheduled match was postponed because of snow at Hednesford Town.
Stratford boss Carl Adams believes it is a real chance for the 20-year-old to stake a claim for a full-time deal.
“By all accounts, they have been happy with Ben from what he’s done in training, but they want another look at him in a high-tempo game situation,” said Adams.
“He deserves his chance and he is hungry for it. In the last few months, he has come on in leaps and bounds.”
Stephens was absent from Town’s ranks on Saturday as they recorded their first win of 2018, winning 3-2 at Dunstable Town in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier, but he will be back this Saturday when Dorchester Town visit the MoodChimp Stadium.
After ending a six-game run without a win, dating back to Boxing Day, Adams has urged his side to regain the momentum they had at the end of the year.
“We made hard work of it at Dunstable but the important thing was that we came away with the three points,” said Adams.
“Despite the results, I think we’ve played alright in the last few weeks. The exception was against Kings Langley when we got what we deserved but I’ve felt we’ve been unlucky in some of the other games.
“We need to build again from last weekend and start to show again that we can push for the top ten.”
Town’s dip in form has nudged them down to 14th in the table, eight points behind tenth-placed Frome Town, but there are still a dozen games to play.
Mike Taylor led the way with two goals as Stratford chalked up victory at second from bottom Dunstable last weekend, with Liam Francis also on target.
Taylor met a left-wing cross from Will Grocott with a thumping header to give Town a ninth-minute lead but Dunstable twice hit the woodwork before Taylor added a second goal five minutes into the second period.
Dan Summerfield was the provider with an inviting cross and Taylor thumped home an unstoppable volley for his 11th goal of the season.
Dunstable never stopped battling and Kieran Ogden collected a partially cleared corner to smack home a 30-yarder on 61 minutes.
Stratford responded with a third goal 15 minutes from time when Francis slotted home after Loyiso Recci’s header from a Grocott corner had been blocked.
The game looked done and dusted until Dunstable ensured a nervy few moments when Arel Amu slotted home the hosts’ second in stoppage time.
Town will hold their monthly fun quiz night tonight (Friday) at the clubhouse. Entry is £1 per person, with six players in a team. It starts at 8pm.