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13 December 2016

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Goals from Banton and Craig book semi-final spot

Bond 77

Banton 51
Craig 68

Att: 202

Andy Awford’s Town Development Squad progressed to the semi-final of the Beds FA Senior Cup with a 2-1 win at Spartan South Midlands Premier Division side Stotfold tonight.

Second-half goals from Zane Banton and Geo Craig proved enough to see off the Step 5 club on their own Roker Park pitch, although Daniel Bond reduced the arrears with just under a quarter of an hour to play.

Stotfold were reduced to ten men soon after, however, with midfielder Shadrach Williams sent off for a second yellow card after a late challenge on Kavan Cotter in the 79th minute, but the young Hatters saw the game out comfortably.

Awford told “I’m delighted. We set them challenges for every game and tonight’s was about progressing to the next round. We did it, which is great. 

“Sometimes it’s about different things as you know with me. We are not always too worried about the result.

“But tonight we made the result the important factor and we got the outcome we wanted, so I’m delighted we’ve progressed against a strong side.”

Craig had the Town’s first attempt on goal in the eighth minute, but his shot on the turn was wide, then Stotfold showed they could be a threat on the break, Bond firing narrowly wide before getting the ball in the Hatters’ net, only for it to be ruled out for offside.

The Town’s best opportunity of the opening half-hour came when Craig was brought down on the edge of the box on 26 minutes, but Cotter’s curling free-kick didn’t bend enough to find the top corner.

At the other end, Liam Gooch showed a safe pair of hands to deal with Ashley Fitton’s 20-yard free-kick, then he raced out to meet Bond in a full-blooded challenge outside the box, just after Banton had dug out a 34th-minute snapshot that home keeper Nathan Godfrey saved well.

Gooch was alert again five minutes before the break when Bond caused the Town back four another problem, but the Town keeper got down low to save at his near post.

Craig had another chance after bursting down the left and cutting inside onto his right foot a minute before the break, but the breakthrough came six minutes after the interval.

The Hatters worked the ball well from left to right and when it came to Banton just inside the area, he had no hesitation in shifting it onto his left foot and firing low past Godfrey at his near post.

Just after the hour, Jack James became the first Hatters player to be shown a yellow card for a foul on Stotfold sub Paul Morris, and Gooch had to turn Ben L'Honore's free-kick around the post to preserve the one-goal lead.

The advantage was doubled in the 68th minute when Craig found the same bottom corner as Banton, this time at the end of a crisp passing move involving Frankie Musonda, Harry Bean and Tyreeq Bakinson, with keeper Godfrey rooted.

Stotfold sub Ross Maddox spurned a great opportunity to halve the deficit just before Bond did, lashing in from the edge of the box on 77 minutes, but the hosts were soon reduced to ten men with Shadrach Williams shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Cotter.

The Hatters saw the game out in a professional manner to progress to the semi-finals, and a tie with either AFC Kempston Rovers, Dunstable Town or the winners of tomorrow’s game between AFC Dunstable and Bedford Town.

TOWN: Gooch, Bean, Musonda, Jones, James, Bakinson, Cotter, Snelus, Read (Sorunke 80), Banton, Craig (Tomlinson 68). Subs: Mead, Parker, Shamalo

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