CALLUM Ebanks’ first-half red card proved costly as Stratford Town slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Alvechurch in a fiery encounter.
Kobe Chong’s spot kick just past the hour mark settled the game although Church defender Abel Alabi saw red late on after Ebanks was dismissed for Stratford in the first half at Lye Meadow.
The result means Stratford sit ninth in the Southern League Premier Central table after four matches.
Church looked to have taken the lead just before the half-hour mark when Kai Adan George raced in on goal and squared for Jaanai Gordon to tap home only for the assistant’s flag to cut short the celebrations.
However, on 27 minutes Stratford striker Ebanks saw red after a clash with Alabi who received a yellow card shortly after as the teams went into the break all square.
The teams traded chances at the start of the second half as Ben Cassidy saw two goalbound efforts deflected behind before Dale Eve made a save from Dan Lafferty at the other end.
Church eventually broke the deadlock on 64 minutes when George won a penalty after he drew a foul from Bards goalkeeper Liam O’Brien.
And Chong duly dispatched the resulting spot kick into the top-right corner to give the home side the lead.
Substitute Ross Evans sent a shot narrowly over the bar from distance soon after before Gordon had a goal disallowed after the ball went out of play from Ammar Dyer’s initial cross.
The home side had defender Alabi sent off on 77 minutes for a second yellow card which set up a nervy finish and only a last gasp goalline clearance from Jack Concannon prevented the Bards from drawing level.
Stratford are next in action at home to Leiston on Saturday, August 26 with kick-off at 3pm at the Arden Garages Stadium.
The Bards then travel to Leamington on Monday, August 28 with kick-off at 3pm at the Your Co-Op Community Stadium.