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Dave Defends Dignity as Stroud Struggle Riled by a Resurgent Ross

Stroud travelled to league leaders Ross on Wye on a sunny Saturday aware that a win could see them move back to the top of the table but aware that they were missing their strongest lineup. The Stroud starting side looked good with a mix of skilful younger players Rohan Sopp, Rich Cartmell, Zac Lees and Tom Freer in attacking positions. The experience of Steven Ship, Tom Sharpe, Ian Gill, Nick Hitchcroft strong in the midfield. Henry Bonham, Rob Gleed and Matt Watts completed the lineup with Dave Cruickshank in goal.

Ross started strongly with the majority of possession across the middle of the pitch but unable to break the Stroud defence, denied by several outstanding saves from Dave who looked solid between the posts. Ross were unable to find the back of the net even from several short corners. Stroud made a couple of changes before half time and bought on Dom Creech and Derek Pittaway to support the middle of the pitch. Cruickshank was further called into action denying the home side right up to half time.

At the half time talk Stroud reflected on the positives, they were level with the best side in the league and the opposition were visibly rattled losing their cool against unexpected strength and determination of the younger Stroud players. The second half saw both teams come out wanting the first goal with Strouds chances coming from breaks in the play when most of the pressure was at the other end of the pitch. Cruickshank was called into action again and again, but eventually the pressure on the Stroud goal was too great and the home team forced a goal.

Stroud fought on in the setting sunlight with Rohan Sopp and Steve Shipp looking dangerous in the middle, and all parts of the Stroud defence working hard to keep the game open. Zac and Tom upfront looked useful when they had the ball but were somewhat kept out the game by a strong Ross midfield and attacking players. Both sides were noticeably tiring after a long and competitive game in the February sun but knew the next goal would be decisive. A killing blow came when Ross were awarded and scored from a penalty flick when a goal ward ball in a goal mouth scramble found a foot on the line.

Stroud carried on tired but knowing they had put on a good fight. Stroud finished the game with 10 men after Rob Gleed stepped off late in the game with a yellow card. A MOTM performance from Cruickshank in goal keeping the score to a PG rating kept the team feeling they could take something away from the other side of the border.

As always a tight finish to HG1 sees 2nd place Stroud take on 3rd place Newent at home next week as the first stage of a double-header. They are away to Cirencester on Sunday.

It seems an eerily similar story to the last few years when a strong performance in the first half of the season starts to slip away meaning the pressure is really on the last few games of the season. With 5 matches to go, Stroud need to prove they are ready to take themselves to the next level.

This entry was posted on 29 February 2012 at 18:42 and is filed under Mens 2XI | Match Reports. You can leave a response here.

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