BEN STEPHENS will return to Stratford Town duty on Saturday after getting the chance to impress Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy.
Town top scorer Stephens featured for Ipswich’s Under-23s Development side on Monday to follow a training stint with the Championship club.
The 20-year-old had two days training with the Tractor Boys the previous week and then lined up for U23s, watched by first team boss McCarthy, as they lost 5-2 to Colchester United in the Professional Development League Two South fixture.
“It was a tremendous experience,” said Stephens.
Stephens has scored 18 goals for Town this season after being converted from a central midfielder to a striker.
His latest goal, however, failed to prevent a 2-1 defeat at home to Frome Town in last weekend’s Evo-Stik Southern Premier contest but Carl Adams’ side will look to bounce back and end a six-match winless run when they travel to Dunstable Town.
Boss Adams admitted he had no complaints about the result last Saturday and he is keen not to let the dip in form overshadow their season overall.
“Frome were a good side,” he said. “I was particularly impressed with their two central defenders and they fully deserved their win.
“But we have to put results like last Saturday’s into perspective. We have now lost 12 league games this season, but all except one were to teams which at the time we played them were in the top ten.
“The only exception was Kings Langley the previous week and under a new manager they have been showing much-improved form recently so we probably played them at a bad time.
“Coming up short against the top teams in this division is nothing to be ashamed of and I’m certain that our upcoming fixtures against teams below us in the table will offer us the chance to get back to winning ways.”
Stratford lie 15th in the table and travel to second from bottom Dunstable Town on Saturday before entertaining 18th-placed Dorchester next Saturday and then travelling to 13th-placed Basingstone a week on Tuesday.
Last weekend’s result at the MoodChimp Stadium was perhaps no surprise. Town went into the game without a win since Boxing Day and Frome had been victorious in three of their last four and the visitors quickly grabbed a hold on the game with a goal after four minutes.
It came from a mistake by Town defender Andy Gallinagh as Joe Raynes pounced and slotted home past keeper Louis Connor.
Frome shot-stopper Kyle Phillips preserved the advantage with a sharp save from Stephens and then a point-blank block from Mike Taylor.
The Somerset side, however, were only denied a second by the woodwork straight after half time as Darren Jeffries hit the post and Raynes thumped a 25-yarder against the bar.
Stratford sensed an opportunity when Frome were reduced to ten men on 54 minutes when Mitchell Page was dismissed after a fracas.
But 12 minutes later the visitors had a second goal as Marcus Mapstone headed in a Davies free kick.
Another Frome effort struck the woodwork as substitute Kriss Miller’s effort rattled the angle of post and bar, but Stratford grabbed a consolation goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Stephens converted a Taylor knock-down. Information courtesy of STISA.