The McDonald Stratford AFC Soccer Team took on TSB Realty FC Western on Saturday.
Stratford was looking to improve on their effort from last week and Western were going to be a formidable opponent with their combination of youthful energy and old experience.
The game was competed at pace from the whistle with both teams setting up attacks and pushing through the defensive lines. Position and structure was a big part in both teams' game and it was Western who played it better, catching Stratford out offside on numerous occasions. Stratford reciprocated as well but when it came to holding their shape they seemed to lose out against Western's more polished approach.
With two strong teams goals were not going to come easily. Stratford developed some good opportunities but nothing eventuated until five minutes before halftime when Chris Hamlin skipped past the defence and tucked the ball away with his left putting Stratford on the board. This was quickly followed by another from Daniel White, taking Stratford two up at the break.
Being ahead took some pressure off Stratford and they seemed to improve on keeping their structure which was a good thing as Western were now more determined than ever and it became a to and fro battle up and down the pitch.
There were more scoring chances from both sides but a third for Stratford late in the second half from Ben Crate sealed the match. Some outstanding work in the box from keeper Kule Cook saw Stratford win the game with a clean sheet, final score 3-0. The Stadium Restaurant and Bar Man of the Match was awarded to Crate for his outstanding performance in the midfield.
¦ The Tungsten Legal Stratford Women's Soccer Team had a tough game on Sunday facing off against NewPlymouth Rangers who have developed into one of Taranaki's top women's teams over the last few years.
It was a game that Stratford would struggle to win but could certainly test their growing confidence against — and that was what the spectators saw.
The back line worked tirelessly against some incredible fast and skilled forwards and keeper Grace Burroughs was kept on her toes the entire game stopping shot after shot.
In midfield Levina Gorton again combined with Beth Oliver and Jessie Currie to put some decent pressure on the Rangers goal box.
At the end of the game, the final analysis was that the women weren't doing things wrong, it was just that Rangers were doing it better. The final score was 9-0 to Rangers but again the score doesn't reflect the gains that this fledgling Stratford team are making.
The Tungsten Legal Player of the Day was shared by two women who gave 100 per cent defending against a continual flow of attacking play, Jenna Phillips and Sharon Oliver.
¦ The junior football season starts next week with the first round for the junior and youth teams along with the secondary school competitions. McDonald Stratford play Tyre Torque Woodleigh at Sutherland park on Saturday with a 12.45pm kick off. The Tungsten Legal Women's team play Moturoa at Onuku Domain, Sunday 10.30am.