CARL ADAMS will reflect on his sixth season as Stratford Town manager as a “what if” campaign.
Town’s bid for another record-breaking season was derailed in the fourth minute of stoppage time in Saturday’s final match when an own goal handed hosts Bishop’s Stortford the equaliser and left Stratford one point shy of last term’s best-ever points tally in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier.
Ben Stephens’ 25th goal of the season, converting at the far post from Will Grocott’s cross, had fired Stratford ahead midway through the first half in what was Adams’ 300th game in charge, but Town keeper Louis Connor’s punch to clear the ball deep in stoppage time rebounded off the unwitting Andy Gallinagh into the net.
Conceding late goals has left Adams hugely frustrated throughout the season and the 1-1 draw meant Stratford finished on 55 points – one less than last term and in 15th – one place below 2017 and behind Redditch United on goal difference.
“Conceding so late again probably sums up our season,” said Adams. “There have been so many games when we have let in goals in the final minutes and that’s down to game management. That’s been our downfall.
“It cost us in the FA Cup away to Scarborough, it has cost us away to Weymouth in the league against Royston and again on Saturday. I had my head in my hands when the ball went in off Gally.
“We could have been a top ten club, in what has been a lot stronger league. It’s such a fine line and those extra points would have made all the difference.”
Stratford made their first appearance in the final qualifying round draw of the FA Cup, only to bow out in extra time in a third qualifying round replay to Scarborough Athletic after again being in front.
They also went into new year as one of the Premier’s in-form teams on the back of a run of one defeat in nine matches, but their form tailed off into spring.
“Our season could have been so much better but, when you look at all the circumstances, we’ve had another fantastic season in what is a really tough league,” added Adams.
“The FA Cup run and the games against Scarborough were pretty memorable, but again it was a ‘what if’.
“We should have held on up there and then we would have been at home in the final round against Hyde.
“Then we would have fancied ourselves to get into the first round and the chance to be on live television. It would have made a huge impact on the club.”