CARL ADAMS says he couldn’t be happier with Stratford Town’s start to pre-season, but warned there will be tough challenges ahead.
After last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Kidderminster Harriers, Town drew 1-1 with another National League North side when Worcester City visited the DCS Stadium on Tuesday.
Richard Gregory netted on Saturday to cancel out Harriers’ opener from Andre Brown and newcomer Trey Brathwaite was on target against City.
The former Solihull Moors midfielder fired Town ahead on 24 minutes from Will Grocott’s through-ball but Jordan Wilson levelled with a 25-yarder for City after the break.
Manager Adams was satisfied with the way his side has played in the two games and with how the summer signings have settled in to bring the best out of last term’s squad.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Town will face another test of their progress when they head to Evesham United (2pm).
Adams said: “We’re looking good so far – the two performances have been brilliant.
“We’ve really competed and played some nice football in both games. The lads really look like they know their roles in the team and the formation.
“But I’m not getting carried away. This is still pre-season and things can suddenly go wrong.
“The Evesham game will probably be a truer test. Kidderminster and Worcester both let us play our football. Evesham will be more in our faces, closing us down and more like the test we’ll face when the league starts.”
Stratford’s new recruits Niall Cooper, Barry Fitzharris, Grocutt and Brathwaite all featured against City, while Adams is also running the rule over three trialists.
Jarrell Hylton, from Redditch United and the younger brother of Swindon’s Jermaine, and Yannick Gomez, from Mansfield Town, and Warren Brooks, a former West Bromwich Albion youngster, will feature in the squad again tomorrow at Evesham.
But Stratford have had to bid farewell to summer recruit Edi Appleton, without the defender pulling on a Town shirt.
The signing from Corby Town has decided the travelling to and from his Leicester home three times a week would be too much, and while Adams is disappointed he says the return of Guy Clark has quickly filled any void.
Clark, a key figure in Town’s 2015 promotion campaign, spent last season recovering from a foot injury and built up his recovery with a spell at Coleshill Town but he has returned in imperious form.
“I’m disappointed about Edi but I understand his reasons and you have to take it on the chin,” said Adams.
“But having Guy back playing is a huge plus. He has been quality in both games so far. It’s been like having a new signing.”
Adams also hopes striker Edwin Ahenkorah, who missed the last six months of the season with a hamstring injury, will be fit for the start of the season.
“There are plenty of positives at the moment,” said the manager.
“The players I brought in last season like Dior Angus, Kieren Westwood, Jamie Sheldon and Emmitt Delfouneso look stronger and they are growing as players.
“We’re going to be a young team. Simeon Tulloch is the oldest at 28 and the average age is 22. But they are not youngsters in football terms – they are becoming men.”
After the trip to the Jubilee Stadium tomorrow to face Southern League Division One South & West side Evesham, Town travel to Coleshill next Tuesday before facing Stourbridge next Saturday at the DCS.
In the FA Trophy, Stratford have been handed a first qualifying round tie at home to Grantham Town on October 29.