Southam 8 Studley 0: Freescoring Saints bring in the prolific Bellingham

Mark Bellingham puts pen to paper at Banbury Road watched by Bobby Hancocks and Saints boss Quentin Townsend. Picture: David Hucker
Mark Bellingham puts pen to paper at Banbury Road watched by Bobby Hancocks and Saints boss Quentin Townsend. Picture: David Hucker

On the day when Southam unveiled prolific striker Mark Bellingham as their latest signing, Quentin Townsend’s men surpassed the six goals they scored against Littleton in the Les James Challenge Cup a year ago, writes David Hucker.

Bellingham, who has scored 639 career goals in a career which saw him top the goalscoring charts at Leamington and Stourbridge, has made the switch from Midland League rivals AFC Hinckley.

“I’m getting near the end of my career now, but would love to get to 650 with Southam,” said Bellingham.

Although ineligible to play in the Les James Challenge Cup second round tie, Bellingham was at Banbury Road to see Tunde Ajibade grab a hat-trick as Saints bounced back from their midweek loss to Cadbury.

Studley almost went ahead in the 12th minute, with Tom Cross producing a great save to keep out a thunderous Sean Williams shot, but Saints dominated the rest of the opening half and were good value for their three-goal interval lead.

Early efforts from Lee Thomas and Brad Rees failed to test visiting keeper Shaun Edwards but he was at his best to keep out a Louis Bridges effort in the 15th.

The Saints hitman was not to be denied, however, when, just a minute later, he was on hand to poke the ball home after the Studley defence failed to clear a Lee Thomas effort.

Ajibade doubled the lead in the 22nd minute, heading home a Chris Bright cross and Bridges made it 3-0 60 seconds later, scoring from close range with Bright again the provider.

The half ended with Studley down to ten men after Rico Nelson-Taylor was sent off, but the writing was already on the wall and Saints were not going to let their opponents off the hook.

Within two minutes of the restart, Ajibade proved too quick for the Studley defence, creating space to blast the ball past Edwards for number four and they went close again with a Bridges free-kick that hit the side netting.

Edwards made a good stop from Bright in the 74th, but then the roof fell in on Studley as Saints hit four goals in as many minutes. Ajibade set up substitute Callum Yeates to make it five, before Chris Bright weighed in with another.

Jamie Hatfield created the opening for Ajibade to get his hat-trick and Andy Yeates got on the scoresheet with the eighth.

Sporadic Studley attacks usually involved Williams and Darius Darkin down the right, but they had little to offer after the opening flurry and Cross had one of his easiest afternoons of the season.

Saints, who are without a game this weekend, return to action a week tomorrow when they entertain Cleethorpes in the FA Vase.

 Robbie Stephens scored a sublime solo effort as Southam Reserves beat Henley Forest 4-1.

Ed Kostiuk, Dan Lewis and Josh Marshall completed the scoring.