CARL Adams has challenged his Stratford Town players to erase their FA Cup misery by proving they can turn the tables on two early-season Southern League Premier Division promotion contenders.
For the fourth season in a row, Town’s FA Cup dreams were shattered at the first hurdle last weekend when they slipped to a 2-0 first qualifying round defeat to Coalville Town at the DCS Stadium.
Adams admits it was hugely galling to be the victims of another giant-killing, especially after losing the possibility of a financial windfall a lengthy run would create when the club needs to build a new stand.
The Town boss had no complaints about the result, describing the performance as “really awful” and they cannot afford a repeat when they head to seventh placed Dorchester on Saturday and then entertain third placed Cirencester Town on Tuesday.
He is not about to rant and rave but admits, after all the thrills of two promotions in three seasons, this campaign could be more of a roller-coaster. Competing at Step Three for the first time, consistency is even more important but has so far been elusive.
“Football is all about highs and lows. Seven days before the cup tie, we were heroes after beating Kettering,” said Adams. “Then seven days later, we were the villains.”
“It’s hard to explain. We are consistently average at the moment, with three wins, three draws and three defeats in our nine games.
“I’ve got a feeling that, having stepped up another league, we are going to more hit and miss. However, if we’re more hit than miss, we will have a good season.
“I certainly believe we’ve got the players who can compete. We’ve proved that against St Neots, Merthyr and Kettering and we will need to do so against Dorchester and Cirencester.
“I went to watch them play on Tuesday and they are two very good teams.”
Town simply failed to perform against Coalville, who play a league below them in Northern Premier Division One South.
The visitors led through Luke Smithson’s goal after 11 minutes and Rob Thompson-Brown hit the woodwork twice before half time as Town looked to hit back.
Red card woe
It got worse for Stratford when Dior Angus, one of three substitutes in a bold move to spark a performance, was sent off after 30 seconds on the pitch with 25 minutes to play.
Coalville added a second on 73 minutes through Eric Graves to end any Stratford hopes.
Adams said: “We were really awful on the day, none of the players played like they can, although Andy Kemp didn’t have much to do in goal. But I was also impressed by Coalville and sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say we lost to a better team.
“I can’t get carried away when we win and I don’t get carried away when we lose, but the big bugbear for me is that since I’ve been manager at Stratford we’ve not won an FA Cup tie.
“I’ve had four games, all against lower opposition and I’ve lost all four. If I had been judged on the FA Cup alone, I would have been sacked by now. Next season, maybe I won’t bother turning up and Gary Moran (assistant manager) can take charge.”
Adams will make a number of changes for the trip to Dorchester, who lie three points behind leaders Chippenham, with Kieren Westwood being handed his debut.
The athletic left back has joined from Leamington, having made his name at Boldmere St Michaels and then spending pre-season with Kidderminster Harriers.
Joe Halsall (one match) and Tyrone Fagan (three matches) start their suspensions following their red cards at Redditch United, while defender Marcel Simpson is unavailable.
Keeper Kemp picked up a knock against Coalville so youngster Jamie Cutts is on standby.