MIDLAND FOOTBALL LEAGUE CUP, ROUND ONE: FC Stratford 1 (MacMillan 6) Worcester City 3 (Reid 14, Bates 65, 90+2)

JOE Bates notched twice to secure much-changed Worcester City’s progress past 10-man FC Stratford in the Midland Football League Cup.

City trailed to James MacMillan’s opportunist strike but debutant Bradley Reid levelled within eight minutes.

The match was a scrappy affair but Worcester’s superior fitness and man advantage told towards the end as substitutes Chris Withington and Kyonn Evans added impetus while Bates sealed the deal.

A crisp pass was punched down the right for MacMillan to ghost inside and lash across keeper Sam Gilder an opener that stunned the visitors.

But City responded well with James Baldwin and new signing Josh Hesson causing problems down the side and the former lifted a cross into the near post for experienced frontrunner Reid to guide home the leveller.

Worcester pressure began to grow but they still looked vulnerable to the counter attack and were left scrambling when Harry Hartin’s daisy cutter bounced wide of Gilder’s right post.

The rest of the half petered out with the next chance falling to Reid nine minutes after the interval but his low drive from an acute angle was blocked by keeper Archie Donaldson.

Bates entered the action with Hesson clutching his hamstring and bagged his first within five minutes from close range.

Liam Lockett had jinked his way through a couple of challenges to find Withington who provided the cushioned centre for Bates to tuck in.

Stratford then had two injuries to contend with but only had one substitution left just as City had started to stamp their authority.

Reid was denied a tap in by James Pomeroy’s last-ditch sliding challenge, Lockett slammed against the legs of Donaldson who then produced the save of the game by scrambling across his line and adjusting to thwart Bates on the line.

Evans and Bates missed sitters but the ex-Bishop’s Cleeve frontrunner had the last laugh, finding his feet after stumbling under a challenge in the box to squeeze inside Donaldson’s near post and confirm it would be City travelling to Highgate United in round two.

City: Gilder, Hesson (Bates, 60), Osbourne (Withington, h-t), Yeomans, Ricketts, Lewis, Lockett, Caines, Reid (Evans, 73), Baldwin, Willis. Unused subs: Harrison, English.