Rapid Stratford brace sees off Dorchester Town

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


DORCHESTER Town were disappointingly beaten 2-0 by Stratford Town in their Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division clash at the MoodChimp Stadium.

After an open start, Stratford took control midway through the first half and created a succession of chances before Edwin Ahenkorah opened the scoring on 44 minutes, finishing when clean through.

A minute later, Will Grocutt doubled the hosts’ advantage after Ahenkorah had rattled the bar.

Dorchester did improve after the break but were ultimately toothless, while Blues’ forward Mike Taylor was dismissed late on for two bookable offences.

The visitors named a starting XI that bore two changes from the side that drew 2-2 at Chesham last weekend.

Gary Bowles and Callum Rose missed out through unavailability and suspension, meaning Billy Lowes and Archie Collins, who extended his loan deal from Exeter to the season’s end in midweek, came back into the side.

The absences of Bowles and Rose left Dorchester with just three recognised defenders, while Ollie Griggs took a place on a three-man bench despite signing for Brockenhurst on a one-month loan on Thursday.

One of those three defenders, Kyle Egan, had the first chance of the game when he jinked inside and shot at Louis Connor in the home goal, but although accurate his effort was weak.

Stratford responded when Mike Taylor and Ben Stephens both spurned half-chances, before Dorchester’s Ashley Pope saw yellow for obstructing a Connor kick.

Continuing his good form in 2018, Tom Blair won several aerial duels and nodded down for Sam Lanahan, who was then robbed of possession, before the latter glanced a header just over with a quarter of the game gone.

From there, Stratford seized control as Ahenkorah made use of space in midfield to aim a timid shot at Weale.

Grocutt then produced a fine square ball to set up Stephens, but Weale was on hand to make an excellent intervention as Dorchester defended well to concede and clear a corner, from which Stratford blazed over.

Stratford were firmly on top and when Taylor won the ball in midfield and fed Eli Bako, Weale was forced into another flying stop to touch Bako’s 20-yarder over.

Grocutt’s crossing ability was causing the Magpies problems and Weale had to be alert to paw a dipping delivery over the woodwork, before Taylor produced a tame header from another Grocutt ball.

But the pressure told two minutes before half-time as Ahenkorah ran through on goal past the offside trap to steer his finish under Weale for 1-0.

Continuing their dominance, the hosts scored almost immediately from the restart, stripping Dorchester of possession. The home side worked the ball to goalscorer Ahenkorah, whose lashed shot against the bar was tucked home by the fortuitous Grocutt.

Dorchester nearly conjured an instant riposte, but Connor superbly saved from Collins as the hosts preserved their 2-0 lead into half-time.

Magpies’ boss Steve Thompson handed Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist his debut as he and Griggs replaced David Jerrard and Billy Lowes in a bid to stir the visitors.

And the changes did make Dorchester more competitive as Neil Martin delivered a pinpoint cross for Lanahan, who rifled a volley over from 15 yards.

Dorchester’s desire to get back into the game was typified by the workrate of Pope, who hounded centre-back Loyiso Recci before stealing possession and advancing on goal, but the Bournemouth loanee slashed his effort over the bar.

Stratford nearly added a third when Taylor barged his way through the Dorchester defence, but his shot was cleared off the line by the Magpies’ rearguard.

Griggs and Taylor were then booked for a minor altercation, before Grocutt showed another nice touch to rake a crossfield pass to substitute Charlie Evans, whose subsequent cross was pouched by Weale.

Home substitute Justin Marsden, who replaced Stephens, then wasted a clear opportunity to make it 3-0 having been sent clean through, but Weale made another block to deny the Town forward.

Taylor then broke through again, but once more found Weale in his way, and the frustration of not scoring seemed to boil over for the forward, who picked up his second yellow deep into added time as Stratford closed out the three points with 10 men.

Stratford: Connor, Gallinagh, Thomas, Hancocks, Recci, Francis, Bako (Evans 77), Ahenkorah (Dawson 90), Taylor, Grocutt, Stephens (Marsden 55). Sub not used: Luckie

Magpies: Weale, Egan, Martin, Winsper, Carmichael, Collins, Blair (Ayunga 81), Lowes (Griggs 46), Pope, Lanahan, Jerrard (Leigh-Gilchrist 46)

Referee: Steve Durnall

Attendance: 214