STRATFORD Town extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to nine matches as they booked their place in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy thanks to a dominant 3-0 victory over Southern Premier Central rivals Alvechurch on Tuesday.
The outcome of the replay – following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Lye Meadow – was never in doubt once the hosts had powered into a 3-0 lead inside 42 minutes against a Church side simply not at the races.
Town’s progress in the Trophy means they have won this season’s mini cup battle 2-1 against Alvechurch, having also defeated the Worcestershire side in the League Challenge Cup after an FA Cup defeat earlier in the campaign.
A week on Saturday Thomas Baillie’s side will now host Derbyshire outfit Mickleover Sports – Saturday’s conquerors of Redditch United and who play at the same level as Stratford – in the next round with £3,250 safely in the coffers.
Stratford went ahead in the opening stages when Wilson Carvalho was upended by Jamie Willets and picked himself up to fire the resulting spot-kick low into the corner of the net.
Church were on the back foot as Town pressed with high intensity and the home side’s free-flowing football was almost further rewarded on 12 minutes, only for Charlie Price to save smartly at his near post from Mike Taylor.
It was 2-0 on 37 minutes though when Kieren Westwood swung in an inviting cross from the left and Taylor thumped home an angled header which flew into the far corner and left Price helpless.
The match was as good as over three minutes before half-time when Albi Skendi drove through Church’s midfield and defensive lines before feeding Taylor at the far post and the Stratford striker had the simplest of chances to tap into an unguarded goal.
Chances were at a premium in the second half as Church finally showed some resistance and Stratford were happy to protect what they had but, from a Town perspective, the job had already been done.
In Saturday’s original tie, Town had fallen behind in the 26th minute when Josh March headed home from Tom Turton’s corner, but parity was restored on 49 minutes when Taylor was left unmarked to nod home from Will Grocott’s excellent corner.
Town, 11th in the table, resume their league campaign on Saturday with a visit to Cambridgeshire to face St Ives Town before hosting league rivals Redditch United in the League Challenge Cup on Tuesday.