Blues kept their Wembley dreams alive as they won 2-1 at Hythe Town in the FA Trophy, on Saturday.
Goals from Jamie Cureton in the tenth minute and Alfie Mason in the 32nd put the Blue Brazil in charge at Reachfields Stadium.
Although the hosts pulled a goal back through Nigel Neita in the 36th minute, Blues were good value for their win with Cureton seeing a goal disallowed in the second as well as hitting the woodwork.
Stortford were without Nick Brown who was cup-tied having played in an earlier round for Heybridge Swifts and they just had two players on the bench – Olly Miles and Marcus Crowther.
The Blues started well and Jordan Wescott was just wide from 20 yards in the 6th minute. But three minutes later Stortford were ahead. A deep free-kick from the centre-circle by Isaac Nkosi found Johnville Renee on the far right of the box and from the midfielder’s cross Cureton neatly swept the ball into the net for his 20th goal since joining Stortford in January.
In the 16th minute Wescott and Renee were both involved an attack that ended with Mason going close and a minute later after combining with Cureton, Mason stumbled as he was about to shoot.
The Cannons’ Chris Kinneer was just wide with a 25 yard effort in the 27th minute but at the other end more good work by Renee two minutes later led to Cureton, on the spin, have a low shot saved by the diving Hythe keeper George Kamurasi.
The hosts’ Junior Aikhionbare was close with a header over the bar but shortly afterwards, in the 31st minute, Stortford’s lead was doubled, Again Wescott and Renee were involved in a move on the right before Dan Humphreys crossed into the middle where Mason’s great header finished in the corner of the net.
Cureton had an effort saved by Kamurasi but then, in the 36th minute the hosts pulled a goal back. In an attack across the front of the box, from left to right, Kieron Campbell played the ball inside to Zak Ansah who fed it out towards the right where the oncoming Neita gained control and shot across Calum Kitscha into the far side of the goal.
The Blues had to withstand some early pressure on the restart and Aikhionbare went down under a tackle from Chris Gregan but referee Wells waived play on and video evidence showed that the Stortford defender had won the ball before the home striker went down.
Skipper Sam Robbins made an excellent block to stop Campbell in the 54th minute and then Nkosi made a fine tackle when Ansah was closing in. Otherwise the Blues looked secure and Kamurasi was forced to tip away a Charles effort following an Mason corner. This was quickly followed, in the 62nd minute, by the Hythe keeper coming out to block from Cureton after the Stortford number nine had been put through on goal by Jack Thomas.
Gregan wasn’t far off target and the Blues came their closest yet to extending their lead in the 68th minute as Cureton headed against the bar from Wescott’s short cross from the right. Kamurasi also had to make saves in quick succession from Charles and Mason.
In the last ten minutes the Cannons had three shots from just inside the area blocked out by Blues defenders whilst when Cureton netted again in the 83rd minute an offside decision was given.
Ansah was just wide with a shot close to Kitscha’s goal but in five minutes of added time at the end of the tie Salvyn Kisitu’s header was the only danger from the Kent coast side but this was safely pouched by Kitscha.
STORTFORD: Calum Kitscha; Dan Humphreys; Chris Gregan; Jack Thomas; Sam Robbins; Isaac Nkosi; Johnville Renee; Jordan Wescott; Jamie Cureton; Alfie Mason (Olly Miles 76) Ryan Charles.
Unused substitute: Marcus Crowther.
HYTHE TOWN: George Kamurasi; Salvyn Kisitu; Charlie Webster (Aziz Lyoubi 50); Chris Kinnear (Jack Negus 67); Nathan Daly; Mitchell Dickenson; Nigel Neita (Josh Stirman 88); Junior Aikhionbare; Zak Ansah; Jack Sammoutis; Kieron Campbell.
Unused substitute: Billy Lewins.
Referee: Jamie Wells