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STOURBRIDGE 2 BIGGLESWADE TOWN 0
The Glassboys got back to winning ways with an important home victory over fellow promotion hopefuls Biggleswade Town, which secured a league double over the Bedfordshire outfit with Stourbridge having already won at the Langford Road Stadium back in November.
It wasn’t pretty. In fact the outcome of the contest largely came down to three free-kicks with both the Stourbridge goals coming in this way while Biggleswade almost scored from one in the second period, but Aaron Hayden completed a remarkable clearance off his own line.
The visitors will have been disappointed to have gone away empty-handed as they had some good passages of play without finding a way through, particularly in the latter stages.
Stourbridge boss Gary Hackett made four changes to the starting eleven that had been defeated at Lowestoft a week earlier. Jordaan Brown and Aris Christophorou came into the back four with Darryl Westlake and Stuart Pierpoint dropping to the bench. This meant Aaron Hayden partnered Paul McCone in the centre. Kaiman Anderson got the nod ahead of Callum Powell, while Rob Thompson-Brown returned in place of Bilal Yafai.
The Glassboys needed a confidence boost after three successive defeats and got off to an encouraging start by grabbing the lead with just six minutes played. Thompson-Brown delivered in a free-kick from wide on the left and Leon Broadhurst got in a strong downward header that visiting keeper Sam Donkin was unable to hold and in the ensuing scramble inside the six-yard box Donovan Makoma failed to clear initially and Hayden stabbed the ball forward and it deflected in and over the line off Broadhurst.
The home side didn’t really build on that early goal though and the remainder of the first period was attritional viewing.
In the 15th minute Stourbridge survived a scare when Jonny McNamara worked a pass into Lucas Perry inside the box. He was tackled by Hayden with the ball rolling into the path of Aaron Forde, but he got it caught between his feet and then Hayden’s attempted clearance was charged down by Peter Clark and as the ball looped up, home keeper James Wren had to take a step back to gather it on his line.
Stourbridge threatened again with 18 minutes gone. Thompson-Brown advanced before being tackled by Soloman Nwaboukei, however the loose ball ran the way of Kaiman Anderson on the edge of the box and he hit an early low shot that was saved by Donkin down to his right.
In the 29th minute Kieran Forbes fed a pass into Makoma and he struck a rising shot that Wren had to tip over and then eleven minutes later McNamara picked up the ball on the right and his cross fell invitingly towards Matt Ball at the back post, but he blazed his shot over the bar.
McNamara and Makoma earned bookings for the visitors as half-time approached and in stoppage time Thompson-Brown rolled a free-kick forward into the feet of Benbow. He turned past his marker Jordan Gent before trying a curling low shot that Donkin clutched away to his left.
Half-time: Stourbridge 1 Biggleswade Town 0
Stourbridge began the second-half on the front foot with Greg Mills working his way into the left-hand side of the box before providing a low centre that almost reached Anderson, who was denied by a timely challenge from Perry.
Biggleswade almost got back on level terms though after 58 minutes. A dangerous inswinging free-kick from the right by Ben Walster into the edge of the six-yard box saw Hayden stretch with his foot to try and cut it out. The ball bounced up off the surface towards his own goal, but somehow Hayden recovered to hook it over the crossbar while under pressure from Gent immediately behind him.
The resulting right-wing flag-kick was played in low by Walster towards the near post area and Joe White managed to turn by Paul McCone before drilling the ball across the face of the six-yard box where Clark couldn’t adjust his feet in time to turn it goal-wards when handily placed in the middle.
The danger still wasn’t over as Forde tried to lead a counter-attack but he was closed down quickly. He lost possession to Matt Ball before Nwaboukei slid a fine through pass into the run of Clark. He took on McCone before rolling the ball back towards Ball, but his shot was well blocked by Aris Christophorou.
With the visitors enjoying a better spell, the Glassboys began to make changes. Brad Birch took over from Thompson-Brown on 62 minutes and three minutes later Callum Powell was sent on with Anderson making way.
Twenty minutes from time though Stourbridge earned some breathing space as they added a second goal. Mills was fouled by Clark around twenty-five yards out in a central position and Benbow came up with one of his trademark free-kick goals, well struck over the wall and beating Donkin away to his left.
Four minutes later the hosts might have made more of a break as Benbow sent Mills away and he might have taken on the shot himself, however he chose to off-load the ball across to Powell who saw his shot blocked by a defender.
In the 80th minute Biggleswade threatened again down the left flank leading to Nwaboukei dinking a ball across for White to direct the ball on goal with a powerful upper chest thrust which Wren saved acrobatically on his line.
Bilal Yafei replaced Mills with eight minutes remaining as the last change for the home side.
With 84 minutes gone some good play by the Waders saw Perry find sub Sean Lucien wide on the left. He cut inside and then slipped a pass into the run of White who managed to lay the ball back for another sub Dylan Williams to hit a shot that was well blocked by Hayden.
Aris Christophorou picked up a booking for a foul near the end.
With the game in stoppage time Benbow tried his luck from another free-kick which was further over this time and Donkin safely held his driven effort.
Three minutes into time added on Kieron Forbes worked a one-two with White as he advanced into the left-hand side of the box. His shot from a tight angle was blocked by Wren at his near post and then to sum up their frustrating afternoon, White drilled the loose ball past the far post to deny the visitors even a consolation goal.
Stourbridge – Wren, Hayden, Brown, McCone, Christophorou, Forde, Anderson, Broadhurst, Benbow, Thompson-Brown, Mills
Subs – Birch (for Thompson-Brown 62 mins), Powell (for Anderson 65 mins), Yafai (for Mills 82 mins), Westlake, Pierpoint (not used)
Booked – Christophorou