There is a saying in theatre that a poor dress rehearsal precedes a fine first night.

If the same applies to football then Stratford’s below par performance against Evesham in this, the last pre-season friendly before things kick off in earnest, means we can expect an ‘Olivier’ performance when we entertain Needham Market on Saturday.

In brief Town started brightly. In the first minute keeper, Reece Francis, had to punch over the bar a dangerous in swinging corner from Hancocks.

On 6 minutes Cody Fisher burst down the left and his inviting cross was declined by the Town forwards. But on 15 minutes the momentum of the game changed following two Evesham corners in quick succession. The first from the left caused panic in the Town defence with Evesham claiming a handball penalty. The referee awarded a further corner on the right. Town seemed befuddled and keeper, Elliot Taylor, flat-footed as the excellent Matty Dodd headed imperiously home from close range.

Town’s display became increasingly ragged with midfield over run and Parker and Shariff failing to thrive on meagre rations. Kurtis Revan was completely contained by Smikle and the Town forward’s reward was a failure to return for the second act. It was with some relief and surprise that Dylan Parker leveled things on 44 minutes. The busy Lee Chilton was found wanting as a defender, and his back pass was intercepted by the alert Dylan Parker who finished expertly from a tight angle.

The second half saw multiple cast changes. Ivor Lawton added some drive and desire in midfield but Town were still to disappoint as second best. On 48 Vann was easily dispossessed on the right bye line by Matty Dodd whose swift low cross was turned in with aplomb by Adam Page. The game turned to high farce on 57 minutes with a goal for all seasons. A pass from Mitchell Glover was intercepted by ex-Town employee Brad Maslen-Jones. Jones lofted a huge drive from some 10 yards inside his own half over the head of the despairing and back-pedalling Taylor. Cue Sam Lomax!

The bright but frustrated Glover earned part redemption with a fine strike on 64 minutes. An equaliser always seemed unlikely but it was good to see three Town Academy players get a decent run out as the game meandered, on the back of multiple substitutions, to an evening that was truly, Much Ado About Nothing.

Match Report courtesy of KEVIN HAND

STRATFORD TOWN: Elliot Taylor (Sam Lomax 60), Will Davidson, Cody Fisher (Lewis Wilson 46), Dan Vann (Mike O’Regan 71), Yan Ofosu (Kieran Dawes 36), James Hancocks (Roman Faulkner 71), Kurtis Revan (Joel Gyasi 46), Mitchell Glover (Max Thomas 71), Nabil Shariff, Dylan Parker, Tai-Reece Chisholm (Ivor Lawton 60).

EVESHAM UNITED: Reece Francis, Junior Smikle, Tyler Weir (Danny Bragoli 21), Aaron Roberts, Brad Maslen-Jones, Nick Hancock (Joe Heywood 88), Matty Dodd (Lucas Price 88), Jack Cresswell (Joe O’Neil 67), Dave Reynolds (Jordan Sangha 50), Lee Chilton (Mark Magee 76), Adam Page (Kai Tonge 50).
Unused sub: Jean Kalenda.

Callum’s Video Available Here