THOMAS BAILLIE believes all the pressure will be firmly on opponents AFC Fylde as Stratford Town chase an FA Trophy upset on Saturday.
Town head to the National League high-flyers in ebullient mood, having followed a last-minute winner against Barwell with a stunning performance with ten men to defeat Tamworth in midweek and move into the top five of Southern Premier Central.
Fylde, who occupy sixth place in the National League, will be another step up in standard in the first round tie – Stratford’s first appearance at this stage – but boss Baillie says his players will be undaunted.
He praised the spirit and camaraderie which has been the keystone in a run of just one defeat over 90 minutes in 20 league and cup matches and said recent results have only brought the squad even closer together.
“We are the underdogs on Saturday, we’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain,” he said.
“All the pressure is on them. They are expected to win and they are expected to win well.
“I think it will be the first game in the last four or five weeks when there has been no pressure on us, but we are not going up there just to make up the numbers. The lads are going all out to get a result.
“We’ve seen plenty of David and Goliath scenarios over the years. We want to go out and put in a good performance, for the team, the fans and the club.”
Stratford certainly produced that on Tuesday night, having shrugged off a red card for Kynan Isaac to play for an hour with ten men and overwhelm visitors Tamworth. A 2-1 scoreline to Town was hardly a reflection of their dominance.
After Shawn Richards had fired Town ahead on 25 minutes from Chris Cox’s assist, Tamworth seemed to be in the ascendancy when left-back Isaac was sent off for sliding through the back of Tyrell Waite on 34 minutes and Zak Lilly hammered home an equaliser two minutes later.
But, with Mike Taylor coming on as a planned half-time substitute and running the Lambs ragged, Town were an unstoppable force in the second period and the winner came on 65 minutes when Cox timed his run perfectly to nod home a free kick from Will Grocott.
“I thought we were the better side for the whole of the game, with 11 men and ten men,” said Baillie.
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen the togetherness growing and growing and this result is only going to bring us even closer as a group.”
On Saturday, Town’s indefatigable belief had earned a 2-1 home win after a dramatic finale against Barwell.
Alex Tomkinson slotted home a well-crafted opener for the visitors on 18 minutes and they deservedly led a below-par Town at half-time.
However, a much-improved second half show reaped its reward when Taylor headed home a Grocott corner for his 14th goal of the season on 67 minutes.
It still looked like they would have to settle for a point until another Grocott set-piece, this time from a left-wing corner, was flighted into the six-yard box and Jamie McAteer headed home the winner in the second minute of stoppage time.