Stratford Town 2 Rocester 0
TWO first half goals eased Town to a second successive Baker Joiner Midland Alliance victory at the DCS Stadium on Saturday.
Town, who had played only once at Highgate on Boxing Day, since December 10, showed no signs of rustiness and finished comfortable winners which consolidated their mid-table position at the halfway point of the season.
Michael Hayden broke the deadlock midway through the first half and Liam Reynolds wrapped up the points on the stroke of half time but the success was slightly soured when midfielder Stuart Herlihy was sent off in the closing stages for two bookable offences.
The tough-tackling visitors quickly made their mark with both Town strikers, Martin Thompson and Mykel Beckley, on the receiving end of crude challenges from Chris McComisky and Craig Holland.
Beckley required lengthy treatment but it was to no avail as he limped off and was replaced by Joe Wright.
Town were first to threaten through Reynolds who thumped a well struck 25-yard free kick inches over the bar.
Chances were at a premium until Chris Murphy delivered an astute through ball into the path of Hayden who, under pressure from McComisky, diverted it beyond keeper Luke Woodall into the net.
Town went close to increasing their lead in the 31st minute when Murphy set up Thompson whose powerful shot was well saved by Woodall.
It was another four minutes before Rocester conjured up their first effort of the game when Mensah Kinch swung over a cross from which Leon Pugh’s header was well saved by home keeper Richard Morris.
Town strengthened their grip in the closing stages of the first half when Danny Haynes’ cross found Liam Reynolds who beat Woodall with a well placed shot into the bottom corner.
The second half proved a scrappy affair with neither side threatening to add to the scoreline until Hayden’s low cross reached Thompson who fired wide when well placed.
Rocester enjoyed their fair share of possession but never seriously threatened to breach the solid home defence in which Andy Gregory and Dan Parker were outstanding.
Town suffered a blow in the closing stages when Herlihy picked up two yellow cards for late challenges in quick succession and saw red but the visitors were unable to make their numerical advantage tell despite some nine minutes of stoppage time being played.
Town, who are 13th in the table, visit eighth placed Loughborough University this Saturday (3pm) before entertaining tenth placed Tividale on Tuesday (7.45pm).
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