STRATFORD Town’s final action before lockdown two was a disappointing 3-1 home defeat to an impressive Kidsgrove Athletic in the FA Trophy third qualifying round.
Ash Sammons’ 76th-minute strike was a mere consolation as the Staffordshire side marched into the first round proper.
Disappointingly, Town were denied the chance to bounce back immediately when Tuesday’s Southern Premier Central fixture at Tamworth was postponed in line with the latest Government rules and they will be waiting at least a month before any return to action.
The in-form visitors, who play a tier below Town in the Northern League, had a clear tactic of a high press to prevent Town playing out from the back and it worked a treat.
Kingsley Adu-Gyamfi’s stunning 30-yard strike – albeit with the aid of the wind – opened the scoring on four minutes and from then on in the tone was set as the visitors’ combative style completely unsettled Stratford.
With just ten minutes on the clock it became a mountain for Stratford to climb when Jordan Williams’ foul on the right resulted in a free kick which Kyle Diskin centred and Lewis Bergin headed home emphatically.
Stratford tried to create openings out wide but were contained by excellent defending and the closest they came to reducing their arrears was in the 37th minute when Kynan Isaac was fouled just left of the visitors’ area and Rhys Sharpe’s free kick was tipped over at full stretch by Kieran Harrison.
The home side were much-improved in the early stages of the second half but Harry White was denied a penalty when he went down under a heavy challenge before Callum Powell’s volley was well saved by Harrison.
However, the outcome was put beyond doubt midway through the period when George Heaven upended Jake Lovatt in the box and Diskin slammed home the resultant penalty for Kidsgrove.
Sammons’ consolation effort was a typically superbly struck shot following Will Grocott’s corner but Town’s Trophy hopes were already ended in reality.
TOWN had former Derby County, Bournemouth and Barnsley defender Miles Addison on the bench at the weekend.
The vastly experienced 31-year-old, who has played in the Premier League and Championship, was Bournemouth captain at the start of the 2012/13 season when the Cherries won promotion to the Championship.
Addison has also had spells at Rotherham United, Scunthorpe United, Blackpool and Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock.