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Football: Stourbridge secure Taylor; MIDLAND ALLIANCE.

Byline: Colin Stoner Non-League Correspondent

Robert Taylor has signed a contract with Stourbridge after a string of impressive performances

Stourbridge believe they have secured a star-in-the-making after placing front-runner Robert Taylor on contract.

Glassboys managers Gary Hackett and Jon Ford have moved to pre-empt any unsettling approaches for the 21-year-old former Lye Town striker by signing him on a contract until the summer of 2005.

Although Taylor's season had been interrupted by a hamstring injury, he has stormed back in style to help Glassboys rattle up a three-match unbeaten run ahead of today's home game with championship-chasers Studley.

Joint-manager Ford likens Taylor to Andy McFarlane, a former Cradley Town and Swansea team-mate, who was plucked from non-League by Portsmouth.

'Rob is strong, powerful and very unorthodox - he is going to be a very good player,' said Ford. 'He is very similar to Andy McFarlane who was at team-mate at Cradley before he went to Portsmouth and became a seasoned pro. If anything, Rob has got more ability but it depends on his desire and hunger to see how far he can go.

'He has been awesome in the last three games and the scouts have been taking note so we have acted now to prevent anybody filing any seven-day approaches.'

The Glassboys' ranks should be further boosted in the next few weeks with Neil Cartwright close to making a comeback. The former Albion, Kidderminster and Telford midfielder, sidelined since the end of November, is back training after his ankle operation.

Bob Green has added Steve Taylor to the back-room staff at Oldbury United. Taylor has linked up as assistant manager at the Cricketts, working alongside Green for the second time after they had helped plot Blakenall's rise and rise from the West Midlands League to the Dr Martens League.

Taylor, who has also had a spell at Dudley Town, effectively takes over from Russell Dodd, who departed in the autumn to Solihull Borough and who is now part of Bedworth United's revival under Mark Hallam.

'Steve has been coming down to watch games so rather than standing on the terraces I've got him in the dug-out with me,' said Green. 'Steve knows the game and he has been around the non-League scene.'

Oldbury, who visit Pelsall Villa today, are close to being able to call on Phil Rowe (ankle) and Barry Young (knee) after their injuries.

Alvechurch are still searching for the most vital - yet elusive - ingredient in football: consistency.

Neil Bryan's side have proved they can beat the best, defeating table-toppers Rocester three weeks ago, but they have only secured back-to-back wins once all season.

'On our day we are as good as anything in the league,' said director Steve Denny. 'We have proved that by going to Rocester and beating them, we proved that by getting four points out of six from Willenhall Town, we proved that by drawing with Stratford.

'We have played all the top teams and given a good account of ourselves but then we let ourselves down terribly against the so-called lower teams.'

Liam O'Shea and Ben Usher will be vying for the vacant striker's berth in Alvechurch's ranks when, weather permitting, they entertain Rushall Olympic today. Church are without front-runner Brett Fitzpatrick, who is away in Australia for a fortnight, but Usher or O'Shea can slot in alongside Keith Rostill.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 31, 2004
Words:557
Previous Article:Football: Town boss stays mum over moves.
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