STRIKER Mike TAYLOR was the hat-trick hero for Stratford Town as they put good distance between themselves and the Southern League Premier Division strugglers with a 4-2 home win over Cinderford Town on Monday.
Anything less than maximum points would have been seen as a disappointment for Carl Adams’ side against the rock-bottom Foresters, who arrived at the DCS with just one away point to their name from 14 matches.
However, nothing can be taken for granted in football and it was fitting that Taylor should prove to be the match-winner having been denied the honour in Boxing Day’s 1-1 draw at leaders Leamington, for whom keeper Tony Breeden made a series of fine saves to deny Taylor.
The hosts threatened to run riot in the early stages but a series of chances came and went before Taylor opened the scoring in the 27th minute by capitalising on a defensive mistake before slotting home.
Guy Clark fired a 25-yard effort against the bar before the break as Stratford looked to double their lead, which they did on 54 minutes when teenage substitute Charlie Faulkner picked out Taylor who evaded the offside trap before rounding Cinderford keeper Cameron Clarke and rolling the ball into an empty net.
However, five minutes later Karnell Chambers made it 2-1 when he surged into the Stratford box before firing past Niall Cooper, only for the home side to restore their two-goal cushion 20 minutes from time through Edwin Ahenkorah’s stunning 30-yard left-foot free kick into the top corner.
Still Cinderford refused to lie down though and two minutes later Callum McOnie drilled a fine long range strike into the bottom corner to make it 3-2.
Stratford finally wrapped up the points in the 88th minute when Taylor used his strength to surge towards goal and arrow a fine strike into the roof of the net.
Afterwards Town boss Adams told stratfordtownisa.com: “It was hard work. We put them under pressure early without scoring and that then put us under pressure, but in the end it turned out right and once again Mike Taylor put in a terrific shift for us.
“We are now in a better position in the table, having an 11-point gap to the bottom four, but I’m well aware that our next three league fixtures at Hitchin, Weymouth and Chesham are all extremely tough.
“We’ve done well against some of the top teams, coming away with points from Merthyr, Redditch, Slough and Leamington, and we will need more of the same over the coming weeks.”
Town head to second placed Hitchin Town on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Liam O’Neill has stepped down from his position as Town’s first team coach to take up a full-time role at the Nuneaton Town academy.