STOURBRIDGE kept their play-off hopes well and truly alive with a vital win at Chippenham Town.
Jamie Oliver hit the bar in a lively first half and then put Stour in front after the break, after home keeper Kevin Sawyer had saved Sean Geddes free-kick.
Geddes then doubled the advantage with an incredible goal as he scored direct from a corner.
Chippenham always posed a threat and Alan Griffin grabbed a consolation with a stoppage time penalty.
This was just Stourbridge’s sixth away win in the Southern League Premier this season and the most important, as it keeps them very much in the play-off hunt.
The home crowd was boosted by a travelling party of around 30 Norwegian supporters but today it was Stourbridge who played up to the Viking tag, invading foreign soil and pillaging the points.
Chippenham hadn’t won in 11 games so in a sense were ideal opponents but they did not make life easy for the visitors. Both sides had chances in an entertaining first half which rather surprisingly ended goalless.
But Stour made the perfect start to the second half as Oliver gave them the lead within three minutes. They were two ahead nine minutes later and could have scored more before Griffin’s late strike ensured a nervy few seconds.
With the league having been the focus since the turn of the year, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how far Stour have been and what they achieved this season.
Today’s win ensured the drama will continue into the final two weeks.
Stourbridge made a bright start, Leon Broadhurst forcing home keeper Sawyer into an early save from a well struck free-kick.
But it didn’t take the hosts long to get into their stride either. Imposing striker Griffin latched on to a smart through pass from Iain Harvey and tried a lob which Solly was relieved to see clear the crossbar.
Oliver came even closer to opening the scoring at the other end. His header from Geddes’ free-kick was pushed onto the bar by Sawyer and no visiting player could force the ball home in the ensuing scramble.
It was entertaining and stuff with Griffin just failing to make clean contact on a cross from Scott Lye six yards out. The Stour defence were forced to repel some dangerous crosses from James Guthrie and Ross Stearn. The latter also drove over from distance before delivering another superb centre from which Griffin again had Solly at full stretch to keep out his header.
Stour were causing plenty of problems too. A neat pass from Broadhurst allowed Drew Canavan to nip in behind the last defender but he couldn’t keep his shot down. Linden Dovey also directed a header which cleared the bar following a neat cross from Canavan.
Yet despite all the action, the half was destined to end goalless, with Luke Gullick strike off target the final effort on goal before the break.
As is so often the way with these things, the first chance of the second half resulted in a goal.
Aaron Griffiths was adjudged to have been fouled by Ashley Williams 25 yards from goal. Geddes shot on goal seemed to take most by surprise but not Sawyer who brilliantly tipped the ball onto the bar. But there was nothing the keeper could do about Oliver’s headed follow up.
It was hard not to feel a bit sorry for Sawyer but the keeper covered himself in less glory nine minutes later as Stour went two up amid much confusion.
Geddes’ inswinging free-kick was not dealt with well by the keeper at the far post and the ball appeared to cannon off the woodwork, before being forced home by Oliver after referee David Ricketts had blown for a foul. However, the linesman adjudged Geddes’ initial effort had crossed the line and the goal was given.
Dovey missed the chance to seal the win 60 seconds later when he screwed a shot wide after a neat Canavan through ball.
Chippenham to their credit refused to give up and Harvey twice shot narrowly off target as thr Stour goal came under increasing pressure.
That allowed Stour space on the counter and Dovey should have done better than shoot straight at Sawyer from six yards out after being fed by Griffiths.
The hosts were starting to lose heart but Solly still had to be alert to stop a Griffin flick which looked for a moment like it might beat the Stour keeper.
By the time Chippenham did score, the goal was too late to cause any major panic, coming as it did three minutes into stoppage time. Referee Ricketts adjudged Sam Smith had pulled Griffin’s shirt in the box and the striker stepped up to beat Solly from the spot.
Well, it was something for the Norwegians to celebrate at least.
CHIPPENHAM: Sawyer, Harvey, Kite, Williams (c), Casey, Rudge (Randhawa 81), Lye, Stearn, Gullick (Gilroy 61), Griffin, Guthrie subs not used: Matthews.
Goal: Griffin 90.
GLASSBOYS: Solly, Canavan, Oliver, Lloyd, Geddes (Dyson 78), Bennett, Smith (c), Broadhurst, Dovey (Palmer 77), Billingham, Griffiths (Griffiths 88) subs not used: Drake, Ward.
Goals: Oliver 48, Geddes 57.