FOOTBALL - Stratford Town edged out by league leaders Needham - The Stratford Observer

FOOTBALL - Stratford Town edged out by league leaders Needham

Stratford Editorial 28th Feb, 2024   0

STRATFORD Town missed the chance to move into the play-off places after slipping to a narrow 1-0 defeat away at league leaders Needham Market.

The Bards pushed Needham all the way as Jamie McGrath’s first-half goal proved decisive at Bloomfields.

And the result means Stratford remain sixth in the Southern League Premier Central table, outside of the play-off places on goal difference.

Stratford hammered Needham 6-1 on the opening day of the season, one of just three defeats the Marketmen have suffered all season.

With kick-off delayed until 8.15pm, following a five-hour coach journey for Stratford, Needham dominated the opening exchanges.

And the home side eventually took the lead on 20 minutes when McGrath pounced on an error from Liam Daly to put Needham ahead from just inside the penalty area.

Soon after, Stratford goalkeeper Callum Smith pushed an effort onto the crossbar as the ball bizarrely rolled along the frame of the goal before dropping into the keeper’s arms.

The Bards struggled to seriously trouble the Needham goal as Callum Coyle, Dan Lafferty and Callum Ebanks all saw shots drift harmlessly wide of the post.

However, the visitors spurned a glorious chance to equalise after the break when Lafferty released Ebanks only for the striker to blaze the ball over the bar after racing in on goal.

Gavin Hurren’s side piled on the pressure at the death as Needham just held on to dent the Bards play-off hopes.

Stratford are next in action at home to Berkhamsted on Saturday, March 2 with kick-off at 3pm at the Arden Garages Stadium.


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