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Stourbridge 3 AFC Totton 0
10:59pm Tuesday 12th February 2013 in Football
BEN Billingham scored a hat-trick to see Stourbridge past ten man AFC Totton.
The midfielder headed the Glassboys ahead in the final minute of a dismal first half.
Visting keeper Gareth Barfoot saw red early in the second period for bringing down Luke Benbow, before Billingham doubled the advantage with an exquisite volley.
He then completed his hat-trick by beating stand-in stopper Ross Casey after robbing defender Baily Cargill.
That goal came 11 minutes from time and Stour could and probably should have added more as they over-ran their defeated visitors.
But aside from boosting their already healthy goal difference, it was very much a case of job done for the Glassboys.
Stubborn Totton had succeeded in frustrating the hosts during a drab first half.
But Billingham’s opening goal, followed so closely by the sending-off of Barfoot after the resumption, made it a case of how many Stour would win by.
The victory moves them to within three points of Hemel Hempstead Town, who just happen to be the visitors to the War Memorial Ground this Saturday.
Sean Evans turned a Billingam free-kick just wide of the far post in the opening minute and the 260 strong crowd would have done well to pay attention, as this was the closest either side came to scoring for the next 44 minutes.
Jordan Fitzpatrick and Jamie Oliver both saw shots comfortably saved by Barfoot but too often Stour found themselves crowded out by the mass of visiting players defending within 25 yards of goal.
For Totton, Richard Gillespie had their best openings, first driving over from distance and then shooting into the ground at the far post and presenting Stour keeper Dean Coleman with a comfortable save after Stefan Brown’s cross found him at the far post.
It looked for all the world like the stalemate would extend till the half-time whistle, before the Glassboys produced the move of the game to break the deadlock. A long ball was chested into the path of Benbow by James Spray and he flicked the ball over the top for Sean Evans, whose first time cross was headed home by the diving Billingham.
With Totton now forced out of their defensive shell a more open second period was on the cards but the visitors hopes were dealt a further blow inside six minutes as Barfoot saw red.
Much of the blame can be placed on the defenders, who dawdled and failed to deal with a Nathan Bennett long ball, allowing Benbow to nip in and win the ball ahead of the onrushing Barfoot who clattered into the striker. The keeper had no choice but to deal with the danger but once Benbow was fouled, referee Dan Leech had no choice but to produce the red card.
Reserve keeper Ross Casey entered the fray and was quickly on hand to keep out a low Evans effort though initially Stour struggled to make the new man work, as shots from Spray and Benbow both failed to find the target.
That was until Billingham produced an effort which gave the keeper no chance to double his side’s lead. Taking a pass from Sean Geddes on the corner of the box, Billingham first flicked the ball up before hitting a pinpoint volley over Casey and into the far bottom corner.
Stour now looked like scoring with every attack but another defensive error helped them to their third. Cargill dallied too long on the ball and Billingham charged down his clearance, before racing through and beating Casey at the second attempt after the unlucky keeper’s initial save fell back straight at the feet of the Stour man.
Casey pulled off good saves from Evans, who also hit the post, and substitute Tom Turton to limit the damage.
And the visitors could have had a consolation in stoppage time but for Coleman, who denied Luke Roberts at close range.
GLASSBOYS: Coleman, Fitzpatrick, Lloyd, McCone (c), Spray (Geddes 64), Bennett (Osborne 53), Oliver, Broadhurst (Turton 72), Benbow, Billingham, Evans Subs not used: McPike, Dyson.
Goals: Billingham 45, 70, 79.
TOTTON: Barfoot, Oldring (Casey 51), Whitley, Cargill, Whisken, Brown, Pettefer (c), Davies, Rudd (Thorne 71), Gillespie, Gosney (Roberts 46) Sub not used: Ferrett.