IN-FORM Stratford Town booked their place in the second round of the Red Insure League Cup as two second half goals secured a 2-0 first round victory over fellow Southern League Division One South & West outfit Evesham United at a windy DCS Stadium on Tuesday.
The visitors fielded a makeshift side as they rested key players ahead of Saturday’s big FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie at home to Conference South high-flyers Bromley, handing first team debuts to reserve team players Josh Goddard and Samuel Comfort.
The first half ended goaless, despite United having most of the play. Aaron Drake forced home keeper Andy Kemp to make early saves and then Robins striker Kevin Slack had an effort hacked off the line by Town defender Aaron Stringfellow.
Kemp then kept out a Jack Watts header as United continued to impress but in a rare Stratford raid former Evesham player Simeon Tulloch had a goal chalked off for offside.
Due to an injury to one of the refereeing assistants, the half time break was extended by 13 minutes before Stratford’s reserve goalkeeper Dominico Roggero took over the flag for the second half.
Tulloch continued to look threatening and, after his shot had been blocked, Richard Gregory pounced to give Town a 69th minute lead.
It became 2-0 and game over for United seven minutes from time when a challenge by substitute Nathan Jackson on Chris Sterling in the box resulted in Tyrone Fagan slotting home from the penalty spot past youngster Goddard to send the hosts through to the second round.
The victory was Stratford’s second cup success in the space of four days, with Carl Adams’ side having prevailed 1-0 at St Ives Town in the FA Trophy preliminary round on Saturday.
Prolific marksman Gregory proved to be the 90th minute match-winner as his strike gave Adams his first win in a cup competition since his arrival at the DCS in June 2012.
Sterling threaded the ball down the inside left channel into the penalty area and Gregory showed all his natural finishing instincts as he took it in his stride and expertly slotted it past advancing St Ives keeper Tim Trebes.
Stratford now face a first qualifying round home tie against Northern Premier League Division One South’s Stafford Rangers on November 1.
Before that, the league leaders host Cinderford Town on Saturday.