CARL ADAMS believes there is still time for Stratford Town to push for the play-offs in their debut season in the Southern League Premier Division.
A frustrating 3-1 defeat at Dunstable Town – who are now fifth – on Tuesday halted Town’s progress but Adams saw the positives in a display which was undone by individual errors at key times.
With new signing Mark Magee set for his debut in Saturday’s league match at Histon, Adams says he has faith in his squad to push for the top ten and beyond.
“We have got a lot of games to play and we can still push for the play-offs,” said Adams.
“We are certainly looking up at the teams above us, rather than looking down.
“We’ve got four or five games in hand in the teams above us so we’ve got an opportunity to climb higher and higher. It’s about the players performing as I know they can.
“It annoyed me on Tuesday that we didn’t come away with anything. It looked like a heavy defeat when I thought for the first 40 minutes we were the better team, and then one mistake cost us for their first goal.
“I still fancied us to go on and win but then Jack Roberts got sent off and they punished us.”
Adam Watkins put Dunstable ahead before midfielder Roberts was dismissed for kicking out in an off the ball incident on 68 minutes.
A penalty conceded by Liam Francis then allowed Danny Talbot to double the hosts’ lead two minutes later and Gary Wharton added a third on 87 minutes before Tyrone Fagan tucked home an injury time consolation.
To add to Stratford’s pain, hamstring injuries to striker Edwin Ahenkorah and defender Gary Moran mean they now face a spell on the sidelines while Roberts will have to serve a three-match ban.
An ankle injury will also keep out Alex Price this weekend while two games in three days – Stratford head to Hungerford on Monday – will mean some tinkering to keep players fresh.
The capture of front-runner Magee, however, will give Adams’ squad another option.
Moreton-in-Marsh based Magee, who began his career with Bristol City, has been playing in the Icelandic Premier League with Fjolnir Reykjavik but was recommended by pal Roberts.
Adams said: “Jack brought him along to training and Mark has looked lively. He played for half an hour in a friendly against Studley and I’m looking forward to seeing how he slots in.
“With all the games we’ve got coming up, he’s certainly going to be playing.”
Town had marked their first home game of 2016 on Saturday with a 2-1 success against St Neots Town, thanks to two goals from Richard Gregory.
The striker nodded Stratford ahead on 16 minutes after getting on the end of free kick by Andy Kemp, only for St Neots’ top scorer Tom Meecham to level a minute before half time.
It looked like ending in a draw until Fagan was upended by St Neots keeper Andy Wilton five minutes from time and Gregory blasted home the penalty winner.