What a difference a week makes.
First game up in the second round saw McDonald Stratford face off against Pipeline Peringa who thrashed them last week 6-0.
So it was with a sense of trepidation and determination that Stratford took to the field. They knew they had been strong in defence last week and now knew what to expect when the attacks came, and with Brad Townsend back on the team, having not played last week, there was an unknown edge to their attacking play.
And attack they did. From kick off Stratford kept play in Peringa's half with wave after wave of ball movement pressuring the Peringa goal. Two early chances were missed when all that was needed was for the ball to be touched into goal but the inevitable came and when it did it was Townsend who delivered. A beautiful cross from Ron Washer on the right wing was deftly controlled on the penalty spot by Ros Sombath who laid it up for Townsend to finish, team play that Stratford is getting better at producing as the season has progressed.
On the back line Stu Hawkless maintained a vigilant eye on where they now knew the danger lay from the Peringa forwards and was able to rally his defence for optimum effect. Peringa tried but were denied access for most of the first half.
The score 1-0 up at halftime saw Stratford confident but knew they still had work to do. And as was the case last week, the second half saw Peringa fire up. The heat was being put on Stratford's defence but so far they were holding strong. They had a game plan and it was working. They knew where the danger lay and by shutting that player down they were able to limit his effect on the game.
It was Stratford who scored again after Townsend was brought down in the penalty box and he was able to precisely put away the resulting penalty.
Stratford was now 2-0 up and started to breathe a little easier, however the game is not over until the whistle blows and Peringa was not a team that was going to roll over so easily. And they proved that by responding with two quick goals, both developed from breakdowns in Stratford's midfield, that brought the game back level.
But that was the only opportunity they got. Stratford saw where they went wrong and shored up their defence. The last 20 minutes again saw Stratford take control of play but in the end were unfruitful and the game ended in the 2-all draw. But for Stratford it was confirmation that they had what it takes to bounce back as a team and turn around a team that gave them their biggest loss.
Next Saturday McDonald Stratford travel to Harewa to take on Taranaki Star Hawera at Turuturu Park.