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Thursday 14 February 2013 Updated: 14/02 16:09
Ellesmere Rangers 0 Stratford Town 7
MIDFIELDER Joe Halsall hit a hat-trick as free-scoring Town pulled further away at the top of the Baker Joiner Midland Alliance table by romping to an impressive victory at rock-bottom Ellesmere on Saturday.
Halsall returned from a two-game suspension to lead the way as Stratford moved a sizeable 16 points clear of second placed Stourport Swifts whose weekend clash at Kirby Muxloe was postponed.
Town’s position strengthened even more on Tuesday as Stourport crashed to a 4-1 home defeat against Boldmere St Michaels and slipped to third place behind Loughborough University, who drew 1-1 at home to Dunkirk, on goal difference. The pair now only have one game in hand on the table-toppers.
Town took 12 minutes to open the scoring when Halsall climbed well to head home Simoen Tulloch’s cross and from then on the outcome was never in doubt.
The visitors doubled their advantage in the 27th minute when Tony Robinson flicked on a long clearance from keeper Chris Jay into the path of Lei Brown whose shot was blocked by keeper Dave Maguire but the alert Halsall was on hand to fire home the rebound.
It was one-way traffic and Halsall almost completed a first half hat-trick but fired narrowly after combining with Robinson who then had a header saved by Maguire.
Town did get the ball in the net again on the stroke of half time when Tyrone Fagan headed home Josh O’Grady’s cross but the effort was disallowed for a foul on the keeper.
Rangers responded well at the start of the second half and it required a fine save from Jay to prevent Connor Courtney reducing the arrears with a well struck 20-yard shot.
Fagan went close at the other end before Town increased their advantage 20 minutes after the break through Brown who continued his rich vein of form by powerfully heading home O’Grady’s corner.
Shortly after substitute Jamie Bailey released Fagan who burst into the area where he was brought down by Maguire and Halsall stepped up to fire home the resulting penalty.
Town continued to run the dispirited basement-boys ragged and Robinson was on hand in the 75th minute to force the ball home from close range following a dangerous cross from Bailey.
The roles were reversed nine minutes from time when Robinson neatly set up Bailey who clinically finished and the rout was completed two minutes later with Robinson again the provider for Brown to unleash a thunderous shot into the back of the net.
Town continue their relentless charge to the title by entertaining lowly Causeway United at the DCS Stadium this Saturday (3pm).
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