Stratford in control

By NIC BURROUGHS

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Last week McDonald Stratford were given the challenge of learning from their game against Kaponga and learn they did as they played a consistent, controlled game to beat TSB Realty FC Western on Saturday.

It was a determined team that took the field knowing they had the ability to play good winning football.

From the kick off Stratford were on the attack, showing good pace, control and flair.

The addition of Mathew Hawkless in the midfield, playing his first game of the season, brought a measure of stability and his ability to stay calm and in control of the ball under pressure flowed onto the rest of the team.

A lot more communication was evident with players covering each other fluidly and maintaining good shape no matter what the direction of play was.

With Mathew Hawkless in the centre mid position, this allowed Avi Ram to play an attacking role as striker. And after 30 minutes he was rewarded for his efforts, putting away a cross from Hawkless who had brought the ball up the right wing in an 80m breakaway run, beating several Western players on the way.

Western was a formidable opponent and their attacks were as intense and co-ordinated as any but a strong defensive back line had it under control and were not only able to hold them off but take control of the ball.

Keeper Ryan King had a fantastic game, showing a strength that just seems to keep growing. When the ball beat the defenders King was always a sure pair of gloves, producing some excellent reactive saves that looked to be a certainty for scoring.

At the halftime break coach Stu Hawkless was pleased with the effort so far but the crucial thing was to not drop the level they were playing at.

The second half saw Western kick off but Stratford soon took control of the ball and it wasn't long before Mathew Hawkless scored their second.

Now things were starting to fall into place and a third goal came from Stu Hawkless, striking the ball from 10m out from the penalty box after being put in the clear by Isaac Burroughs. The Western keeper received it in his arms down low but couldn't hold it and the ball went through the arms, through the legs and in. It was almost a shame as the Western keeper had been instrumental in keeping Stratford's scoring down, producing some outstanding saves.

Western were able to bring the score back after a shot on goal was deflected off Stratford's Josh Hawkless leaving Ryan flatfooted.

Two more goals were added to Stratford tally, one from Josh Hawkless, making up for his deflection, and one from Jordon Savage striking a solid ball after being put in the clear, again by Burroughs.

Final score in the battle of the realty companies, 5-1 to McDonald Stratford.

Next week Stratford have a bye but are then at home playing NP Rangers on April 29.

- Stratford Press

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