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Late Loyiso Recci header hits wasteful Dorchester Town

BY: Neil Walton – Dorset Echo Sport (@EchosportNeil)

DORCHESTER were punished by a late Loyiso Recci header as Stratford Town took a 2-1 win at the Avenue Stadium in an entertaining Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division clash.

Stratford keeper Louis Connor was in remarkable form, making five vital first-half saves and denying Phil Ormrod from the spot after Billy Lowes had opened the scoring, only to see Ben Stephens capitalise on a poor mistake from Gary Bowles.

It was then left to Recci to land a sucker punch in a game that Dorchester should have won.

Dorchester boss Steve Thompson made two changes to the starting XI that kicked off the 3-1 defeat to Royston Town on Saturday.

Sam Lanahan and Ormrod made their returns from hamstring injuries, replacing Ed Bastick and David Jerrard, who was absent from the squad completely.

Winger Mo Baghdadi also recovered from sickness to make the matchday squad and captain Bowles was selected in the starting XI before he begins a three-game suspension for his red card at Royston.

Stratford started brightly at the Avenue and forced home goalkeeper Chris Weale into early action when Lee Thomas ran on to William Grocutt’s pass, only to have the ball pawed away by Weale.

Justin Marsden then registered the first shot on goal but dragged his effort well wide of Weale’s right-hand post from 18 yards.

That chance seemed to stir Dorchester from their slow start, and they should have gone a goal up were it not for a fine double save from Stratford stopper Louis Connor.

Tom Blair and Ormrod combined on the left and Blair was lucky to see his heavy touch roll to Dom Panesar-Dower. The diminutive midfielder then slipped in Lanahan, whose shot was parried straight to Ormrod by Connor before the keeper swiftly blocked Ormrod’s follow-up from point-blank range.

Three minutes later, Connor was on hand to deny Antonio Diaz with a magnificent double block, again from point-blank distance.

Ormrod hooked a cross into the box from deep on the left byline and found Diaz, who steered a header straight at Connor before the keeper stooped low to keep out his follow-up.

Connor kept the Magpies out for a fifth time when a ball into the area fell to Ormrod. Although he was tackled, the ball rolled to Lanahan to strike a fierce shot that Connor beat away.

Dorchester constructed another incisive move soon afterwards when a Lowes ball over the top released Blair, with the winger’s ball directed behind the defence to Lanahan, allowing the midfielder to turn and shoot centimetres wide of the far post with Connor motionless.

Bowles then struck a dipping volley from 25 yards in Dorchester’s final chance of the half, before Stratford’s Marsden hit a low shot that was sliced behind by Callum Rose.

Marsden was then able to set Ben Stephens free but as he advanced on goal, Dorchester got back to dispossess him as the sides entered the break level.

Stratford began the second half as they did the first and when the pacey Stephens was set free on goal his square ball to Dan Sommerfield fell invitingly, but the right-back could only sky his shot well over.

Lanahan was unlucky to hit the bar with a header from a Bowles cross but Dorchester finally broke the deadlock on 61 minutes through Lowes.

After Blair had drilled a shot goalwards, the Stratford defence could only repel the ball as far as Lowes, who crisply fired home from 15 yards past Connor.

But the Magpies’ lead was to last little more than a minute after a glaring error from skipper Bowles.

Marsden sent in a low ball towards Stephens but Bowles completely missed his attempted clearance, freeing Stephens to easily slot past Weale for an immediate equaliser.

Substitute Baghdadi then weaved his way past the defence and shot at Connor, before Lee Thomas slid in on another Magpies’ sub, Bastick, to give away a penalty in the 83rd minute.

But Ormrod’s dismal effort was easily gathered by Connor, who surely cemented a man-of-the-match performance with his seventh crucial stop of the game.

However, after Weale superbly kept out a Marsden shot with a flying one-handed dive, Recci jumped highest to head home from Grocutt’s resultant corner and inflict a third defeat in four games on the Magpies.

Magpies: Weale, Bowles, Martin, Rose, Carmichael, Lanahan (Baghdadi 69), Diaz, Lowes, Ormrod (Ayunga 90), Panesar-Dower, Blair (Bastick 69). Subs not used: Davies, Brookes

Stratford: Connor, Sommerfield, Thomas (Paulson 89), Gallinagh, Recci, Fry, Marsden, Hancocks, Taylor (Bako 87), Grocott, Stephens. Subs not used: Dawson, Purvin

Referee: Scott Robertson (Barnstaple)

Attendance: 276