CARL ADAMS says his biggest challenge as manager is to get inconsistent Stratford Town players to enjoy far more good days than bad.
The Town boss admitted the weekend’s FA Trophy exit away to Lancaster City was a performance to forget.
However, while he stressed the next spell of games will be potentially season-defining, he will step up his search for more on-the-pitch leadership to help bring out the best in his players every week.
The 3-0 defeat at the Giant Axe ended Town’s last hope of silverware and they will now focus on a run of league games, starting with a trip to Tiverton Town on Saturday to climb the Southern Premier table.
“I feel the next five or six games are huge for our season,” said Adams. “We’ve got a tough game at Tiverton on the back of a bad performance, with a long away trip, but then we’ve got a couple of home games against Kings Langley next Tuesday and then St Neots next Saturday and we need to push on.
“I pride myself on improving this team every year. I’ve been able to do that five years running and if we finish below 14th where we finished last year I will be hugely disappointed.”
A miserable first half display left Town 3-0 down on Saturday after a Liam Francis own goal, a Ryan Winder free kick and a Winder counter-attack goal.
Adams described it as “one of our worst performances” but the key, he says, is to try to find some consistency. He felt his players need a rallying force on the pitch and, although Andy Gallinagh provides experience at the back, Town remain a largely youthful outfit.
“When one or two are having a bad time, you want somebody out on the pitch to lift them,” said Adams. “If you don’t, suddenly it has a knock-on effect and four or five are struggling.
“It’s a question of leadership. Last year when Wayne Thomas came in at the end of the season, you could see the difference he made. When we went through the leagues, we had Scotty Hadland, but it’s a question of finding the right person and then getting them to sign.
“I’m frustrated because I still believe in these players. On a good day, they are a match for anybody. But the next game, they are rubbish. I never know what they are going to do.
“I need to try to get them to have more good days than bad.”
Town, though, will have hot-shot Edwin Ahenkorah back to face Tiverton after his knee problems, while Adams is optimistic midfielder Simeon Tulloch could be ready for his first appearance of the season in the next couple of weeks.
Summer signing George Washbourne, who was hurt in pre-season and has yet to feature in a competitive match, has suffered a setback as he recovers from a knee operation.