DEFENDER Emmitt Delfouneso has challenged his Stratford Town team-mates to take their pre-season positivity into the new campaign.
Delfouneso netted the second goal in Tuesday’s convincing 2-0 home win against Solihull Moors as Town extended their unbeaten run through the warm-up games to six matches.
Manager Carl Adams says he could not be happier with his team’s performances so far, with the start of the Southern Premier season just eight days away.
Delfouneso echoed those sentiments but stressed it was crucial Stratford keep raising the standards into their second campaign at non-league’s Step Three.
“It’s been a dream pre-season for us,” said the 22-year-old. “We probably didn’t expect to be unbeaten but we have put in good performances and we look a cohesive unit.
“Attacking and defending, we are starting to do a lot more things better than we did last season. Also, there’s a really positive attitude, coming from the team, the gaffer and the coaching staff. That’s been fantastic.
“We start the season against St Ives on August 6 and we are not looking past that. You can only play one game at a time.
“We are going to have ups and downs along the way but let’s keep the positives around the team.”
Delfouneso, who joined Stratford last summer, admits Town’s debut season in the Southern Premier was very much one of two halves. Until the new year they were well placed for the top ten but then they claimed just two league wins in the final four months to finish a couple of spots above the drop zone.
“Overall I feel that last season was a good one,” said Delfouneso. “But the gaffer said the fixture pile-up would play a big part and that’s what happened. We just didn’t react to losing and one loss became two and then three.
“When you play so many games, Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, you can get into a habit, whether it’s winning or losing.”
Delfouneso, who was on the books of Aston Villa and Blues as a youngster and whose older brother Nathan plays for Blackburn Rovers, featured in midfield and defence for Town last season but his future this term is very much at the heart of the back line.
With Liam Francis and the returning Guy Clark, there is strong competition for places at the centre of defence, and Delfouneso will relish the battle.
“There’s competition for every position and that’s great – it will keep all of us on our toes,” he said.
Delfouneso’s goal capped off another solid defensive display by Town, securing a second clean sheet in a row, against Moors.
Trey Brathwaite opened the scoring on 19 minutes, producing neat footwork to nip the ball away from keeper Darren Acton after Mike Taylor’s shot had been partially cleared.
Delfouneso then added the second, bravely heading home from a Jamie Sheldon corner four minutes before the break.
On Saturday new signing Taylor, recruited from Worcester City, marked his first start with a hat-trick in the 4-0 home win against Stourbridge. He was also fouled for the penalty, converted by Richard Gregory.
After last night’s (Thursday) friendly against Coventry Sphinx, Town head to Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday for their final friendly.