CARL ADAMS saluted Ben Stephens for an ‘outstanding’ season after the Stratford Town hot-shot swept the board at the club’s player of the season awards.
The 20-year-old front-runner, whose scintillating form has earned him trial stints with Ipswich Town and Birmingham City, took four accolades in the presentation evening at the MoodChimp Stadium after last week’s final home of the season.
Stephens was named supporters’ player of the season, players’ player and manager’s player, as well as taking the prize for top scorer after netting 24 goals.
“Ben swept the board and deservedly so,” said boss Adams. “He has had an outstanding year.
“When Ben joined us he was a midfielder, but I pushed him up front this season to see how he would do.
“He has proved he is too good for this level and he has done it week in, week out.”
Consistency, however, has been in and out for Town, particularly in the last few weeks, but they head into the final match of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier season with the chance of recording their highest ever points tally in Step Three non-League football.
Although they can only equal last season’s highest ever finishing position of 14th, a win at Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday will push them to 57 points – one more than last term.
Adams admitted last weekend’s last-gasp 1-0 defeat to Basingstoke Town – a sixth home loss in a row – was a familiar tale.
Stephens threatened a couple of times and Liam Francis nodded over for Town while debutant keeper Scott Martin, replacing the suspended Louis Connor, produced a man of the match show for Stratford and Charlie Evans cleared an effort from Stoke’s Jack McKnight off the line.
However, it looked like ending goalless until substitute Kaine McAuley’s 90th-minute winner snatched the points after he capitalised on Evans’ mistake to fire home from 12 yards.
“It sums up our season,” said Adams. “We’ve probably lost seven or eight games to goals in the 90th minute or later.
“We haven’t shown the guile or the know-how to see out games and keep hold of the points. Our season could have been that much better.”
Stratford will be seeking a double against Bishop’s Stortford, having won 3-1 at the MoodChimp Stadium in November with goals from Will Grocott, Eli Bako and Stephens.
Connor is back available but defender Lee Thomas is again missing through suspension.
Town’s youth side will looking to end their season in style when they face Stourbridge in the final of the Midland Floodlit Youth League Cup at Evesham United on Monday, May 14 (7.30pm).
Nick Ballinger’s U18s extended their unbeaten run to seven games on Monday with a goalless draw at home to Worcester City.
Town will host their monthly sports quiz tonight (Friday, 8pm) at the clubhouse.