(VELOCITY TROPHY 1ST ROUND)
Jake Cass and Ruel Sotiriou were on target for Blues as they won their first Isthmian League Cup tie for 15 years.
Two goals just before half-time set the Blues on the road to victory in what was the first match in charge for owner Steve Smith alongside Jamie Cureton following the departure of Adam Flint.
It was also Stortford’s first cup win in nine attempts since a Herts Charity Cup win against Cheshunt 13 months’ ago.
Town showed plenty of spirit and running, and pulled a goal back after the break causing a few anxious moments to the Stortford defence but couldn’t net another goal which would have taken the tie to penalties.
Eighteen-year-old Sotiriou made his debut after joining on a month’s loan from Conference side Leyton Orient while central defender Isaac Nkosi started for the first time. Johnville Renee, who had missed the Kingstonian match three days earlier was also lining up at the first whistle.
Cass had an early strong shot held by Hertford keeper Charlie Mann as Stortford had the early edge but the hosts looked threatening going forward and in the 26th minute Calum Kitscha saved bravely when spreading himself to block at close range from burly striker Tommy Wade after Jay Dowie had crossed from the left.
Just after the half-hour Ryan Charles cut the ball back from the left but Cass’s effort was blocked away and Renee’s follow-up shot was deflected over the bar for a corner.
Sotiriou’s drive was close past an upright in the 35th minute but then, three minutes later, the Blues took the lead following a fine attack originally started on the left. Sotiriou played the ball inside to Ryan Charles whose great pass found Cass and the Stortford number nine smashed a low right-footer past a diving full-length Mann from 22 yards for his fifth goal in seven games.
Stortford extended their lead just before the break when Jack Thomas sent the ball out to Jordan Wescott on the right touch-line and Wescott’s deep cross towards the back post was met by Sotiriou, and with a neat cushioned side-footed shot the ball squeezed inside the upright.
The Blues began the second half well and when an early Alfie Mason corner eventually arrived at Sam Robbins’ feet just inside the box, the skipper’s fierce drive was brilliantly saved by Mann. Cass was close again in the 48th minute and although Charlie Ruff wasn’t far off target at the other end Renee then went on long run before his final shot was saved by the Hertford keeper.
The hosts reduced the arrears in the 59th minute when Ruff’s corner on the right was headed home by Tommy Wade.
The rest of the game saw Town test the Blues defence and George Lutaaya had a shot blocked. Chances and near misses came and went at both ends. Five minutes from the end of normal time Cass had a shot parried away by Mann but the rebound was almost turned into his own net by defender Joe Clemo but fellow defender Macauley Joynes cleared the ball off the goal-line.
Two minutes later the hosts came their closest to equalising when substitute Elliott Bailey crossed from the right and Lutaaya’s close range effort was fortunately straight at Kitscha.
In the final minutes a Cass free-kick cleared the bar and then an angled shot from substitute Cureton was a foot wide of the far post.
STORTFORD: Calum Kitscha; Jordan Wescott; Chris Gregan; Jack Thomas; Sam Robbins; Isaac Nkosi; Ryan Charles (Toyosi Olusanya 71); Johnville Renee; Jake Cass; Ruel Sotiriou (Jamie Cureton 67); Alfie Mason.
Unused substitutes: Lance Akins, Lewis Byrne-Hewitt and Freddie Oakman.
HERTFORD TOWN: Charlie Mann; Joe Clemo; Macauley Joynes; Keiran McCaffrey; Mark Twumasi; Ollie Sharman; George Lutaaya; Jay Dowie (Tyler Hatherly 80); Tommy Wade; Charlie Ruff; Romaric Logan (Elliott Bailey 84).
Unused substitutes: David Keenleyside, Matthew Thomson and George Beattie.
Referee: Jonathan Burridge