PAUL McCone scored the only goal as Stratford Town secured an impressive win away at Bromsgrove Sporting on a night when both clubs paid tribute to former player Cody Fisher.
McCone headed in the winner early in the second period at the Victoria Ground as former Sporting boss and now Stratford manager Gavin Hurren came back to haunt his former club on his first visit back to his old stomping ground.
Sporting wore a special all-white kit in memory of Fisher who was tragically stabbed to death at a Digbeth nightclub on Boxing Day last year.
The kit was inspired by Premier League leaders Arsenal’s ‘No More Red’ initiative, to help keep young people safe from knife crime and youth violence.
And the shirt featured a ‘Cody 23’ tribute on the front with the match-worn jerseys to be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Fisher’s family and a charity of their choice.
The original fixture was due to be played on January 2 earlier this year, however, the two clubs agreed to postpone the match as a mark of respect to Fisher’s family friends and teammates.
And a minute’s silence was impeccably observed prior to kick-off in Fisher’s memory as Sporting lined up in the aforementioned one-off all-white kit in tribute to their former player.
There was a distinct lack of goalmouth action in the opening quarter-hour with Ollie Taylor’s punch clear from a set-piece the most notable moment.
The first chance of the game fell to Sporting as Brandon Smalley’s free-kick from 25-yards out was tipped over the bar by Stratford goalkeeper Liam O’Brien.
And Sporting spurned a golden chance soon after when Joe Curtis saw his effort parried to safety by O’Brien after Mo Njie produced a great piece of skill to set up the shot.
The referee stopped the game on 23 minutes as players and supporters joined together in a minute’s applause in memory of Fisher.
Stratford’s first real opening came well into the first period as former Sporting man Jamie Molyneux exchanged passes with Kyle Bennett and curled an effort wide of the target from a difficult angle.
The Rouslers responded with a chance of their own as Miro Pais collected a loose ball before he drove towards goal and fired a shot inches over the crossbar from distance.
A loose pass presented Stratford with another chance on the stoke of half time as Bennett slipped the ball through to Andre Wright only for the striker to shoot straight at Taylor from inside the box.
The Bards made a blistering start to the second half as Bennett rolled his man before shooting goalwards and struck the post as the ball ricocheted off of Taylor and behind for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Stratford’s McCone headed in on 47 minutes to give the visitors the lead as the Bards dominance was rewarded with a goal.
And Town had a chance to double their lead when Bennett received the ball 25-yards from goal and Taylor pushed the midfielder’s effort around the post diving to his right.
The visitors were well on top as Wright was just unable to turn home a low cross at full stretch before Molyneux shot wide.
Hurren’s side spurned a glorious chance to seal the points when Bennett saw his effort from 15-yards out acrobatically pushed away by Taylor.
Stratford easily saw out the remaining minutes with O’Brien’s goal rarely troubled all half in a confident performance from the Bards.