Stroud's Sharpe shooters ensure another big win
STROUD seconds chalked up another high-scoring win, with two goals apiece for Tim Norman and Tom Sharpe.
Fielding yet another combination of players, they began the match intent on control rather than out-and-out gung-ho attack.
The returning Nick Hitchcroft provided the back diamond pivot for Ian Gill, Matt Watts and Ben Drury to feed from defence, and patient build-up and sensible passing left the home side flailing.
Hitchcroft's ball into the D was deflected subtly by Norman and watched into the corner by the entire defence.
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Craig Wathen and Chris Bargh worked hard to prise more out of the Cleevillians defence, while Sharpe posed a threat at the head of midfield.
Rob Gleed's strike from a short corner could only be parried right by the keeper and Norman capitalised to flick home his second.
Stroud was in control of the game but against the run of play Cleevillians clawed a goal back.
Craig Breddy made a sharp stop from an initial shot, only for the rebound to be struck against the far post and then rolled in as defender Gill watched.
This minor setback could have proved far more costly as Stroud were knocked back on their heels and they could not find the net again, despite grabbing back the advantage.
The second half produced a better display in parts and Andy Murray's welcome return in front of defence was the key to controlling the play from the back.
Some superb possession hockey was played, with Stroud not afraid to retain possession at the expense of the ball staying in their half.
It was only when a rash speculative ball was intercepted that Cleevillians took the chance to equalise successfully.
A frustrated Stroud struck back almost immediately with Sharpe crashing the ball home.
The home side were gifted the ball again, another instance of patience running out, and they scored a fourth.
A fifth goal then came when an impressive move involving several of the Stroud players from was crossed to 14-year-old Hamish Norman and he scored his first league goal.
Stroud were now confident of victory and added to their score again, courtesy of a fast-moving Sharpe who met a deflected pass who drove it into the net.
The marauding visitors piled on the pressure but left space at the back, which resulted in Drury audaciously chipping the ball over a falling keeper.
Minutes later Bargh's hard work was rewarded when he met a deflection at shoulder height to complete the scoring and confirm Stroud's second position in the table.
â Stroud Ladies seconds dug deep to beat Painswick 4-3 in a hard-fought encounter.
Stroud conceded an early goal but fought back hard, attacking the Painswick goal relentlessly and dominating possession but failing to score.
Once a short corner opportunity presented itself Stroud capitalised on previous misfortune and a goal was powered in by Kathy Williams.
Back in the game, Stroud quickly made it 2-1 with a strong, clean strike by Hannah Scott from open play.
In the second half Painswick dominated the early minutes and found the net twice in quick succession.
Scott once again found the backboard to make it 3-3 and Judith Cave scored the winning goal.