13th Dec, 2019

FC Stratford on cup duty once more to face high-flyers

Editorial Correspondent 28th Nov, 2019 Updated: 28th Nov, 2019

FC STRATFORD will turn their attention to a third different cup competition in ten days when they welcome Knowle to the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday (1.45pm).

Having knocked holders Malvern Town out of the Smedley Crooke Memorial Charity Cup last week, then chalked up a 2-0 league win against Fairfield Villa on Saturday, Dave Poulson’s side bowed out of the Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Cup on Tuesday with a 2-0 defeat at Darlaston Town.

It will be a tough test against Knowle in the Presidents Cup, with the Robins sitting second in the Midland Division Two table but Stratford, who occupy sixth place, were just pipped 4-3 when the sides met on the opening day of the season at Hampton Road.

Poulson suggests they will learn from their midweek defeat at Darlaston, having dominated the second half of the second round tie but without managing to break through.

They had left themselves with a mountain to climb after the hosts punished two mistakes in the first half with goals.

The opener came after just five minutes when the Stratford defence failed to deal with a long kick by keeper Connor Hopkins and Ezekiel Agyemang pounced on the loose ball to easily slot home beyond keeper Louis Sone.

With the visitors clearly rattled, Romano Graham doubled the lead for the West Midlands Premier hosts on 21 minutes after he collected an excellent through ball from Lucas Hough.

Stratford, though, were unrecognisable after the break as they pressed Darlaston back. Jamie Gifford cracked an effort against the post and forced Hopkins into a good save before Courtney Sowe was denied by a last-ditch challenge.

On Saturday, goals from Dan Atkins and Ash Wilkes either side of half-time earned Stratford the points.

With midfielder Matt Compton having to pull on the goalkeeper’s gloves, FC Stratford found themselves under early pressure with Fairfield hitting the woodwork and having an effort cleared off the line.

The hosts gradually grew into the contest and took the lead on 34 minutes when Nathan Stoute crossed and a poor clearance fell for Atkins to fire home via the underside of the bar.

A neat move led to the second goal just before the hour mark when right-back Luke Williams played in Jarrell Hylton and Wilkes timed his run to the back post to slot home the subsequent cross.

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