CARL ADAMS says he will reflect on a season of success before preparing to ensure Stratford Town keep improving.
Despite a roller-coaster campaign – an impressive first half and a plummeting second – Town ended their first season in the Southern League Premier Division having secured their status and reaching 50 points after Tuesday’s 5-2 win at home to Cambridge City.
Manager Adams accepts the past few months have been demanding, with the Cambridge win only their second since February, as they finished two places above the drop zone, but he was delighted to end the season on a positive.
Now he and his players will enjoy a well earned break before regrouping for what Adams expects will be an even tougher challenge.
“The table doesn’t lie,” said Adams. “However, everyone should remember that we were favourites to be relegated and our success story is staying up this year.
“Next season will be even harder but to counter that we’ll be more knowledgeable about the teams and the grounds we’re going to visit next time.
“Reaching 50 league points is a very respectable return for our debut season in the Premier Division but in all honesty it’s been a tough three months and the lads will want a break from me and I’ll benefit for a break from them.
“We all need a well deserved rest before we come back for pre-season which will be massive for us, but I can assure all Town supporters that we will be up for the challenge.”
Richard Gregory’s four goals in the final two games meant he ended the season as Town’s top scorer with 14 goals. His treble in Tuesday’s win was the first hat-trick by a Town player in the Premier Division.
Adams felt the difference was that Town started brightly and maintained the momentum, with some smart finishing.
“We played very nicely and after we went in front we fed off that positive feeling, the appetite was there and every goal was a good goal,” said the Town boss.
“Richard Gregory will always score goals and I’m his biggest fan, but he knows what I want from him for the team. That said I was disappointed with their two goals.”
Gregory’s hat-trick helped Town sign off the campaign by ending a run of four successive Premier Division defeats.
Gregory was the creator for the third-minute opener, setting up Jamie Sheldon to smash home into the top corner, before Gregory finished off Gary Moran’s cross to make it 2-0 ten minutes later.
James Hall hit back for City before half time, only for Gregory to convert another Moran cross just before the hour mark.
Cambridge again replied with Neil Midgley pouncing ten minutes from time, but Town staged a roaring finale with the Moran-Gregory combination again providing a goal for the striker before Mark Magee slotted home following Tyrone Fagan’s good work for the hosts’ fifth.
Gregory’s goal had rewarded a battling second half display on Saturday, but King’s Lynn Town took the points with a 2-1 win.
Two goals from John Sands on 19 and 63 minutes put the Linnetts ahead but Town looked more dangerous in the second period. A great pass by Sheldon and then a pinpoint cross from Simeon Tulloch presented Gregory with the chance to volley home on 69 minutes but Town could not find an equaliser.