CARL ADAMS admitted Stratford Town’s naivety cost them against title favourites Hereford but vowed they will learn for imminent clashes against further Southern Premier promotion contenders.
Two goals inside 60 seconds from hotshot John Mills sealed a 2-1 win for the third placed Bulls in front of 700 fans at the MoodChimp Stadium on Tuesday, with Mike Taylor replying for Town two minutes from time.
Town manager Adams felt his team pushed Hereford all the way but the challenges will continue in the next week.
Stratford entertain fourth placed Weymouth on Saturday and then, after heading to Basingstoke Town on Tuesday, they welcome seventh placed Hitchin Town to the MoodChimp Stadium.
Adams admitted Saturday’s 2-2 draw at St Neots Town – after they had twice led through goals from Edwin Ahenkorah and Ben Stephens – took a lot out of his side but he could not complain at any lack of effort against Hereford.
“Another hard-working performance against a top side” was his verdict.
“After a hard game at St Neots we were virtually running on empty here which is the last thing we wanted against a side of Hereford’s quality,” said Adams.
“But especially in the first half I felt that we had the better chances which in this sort of game have to be taken and we certainly pushed them all the way.
“I was impressed with their game management in the closing stages. They knew how to take time out of the game to make sure they held on to their lead and that’s a lesson for us to learn at this level.”
Remarkably, Hereford are unbeaten in 52 away league games after Tuesday but Stratford posed one of their toughest tests.
It was cut and thrust in the first period but Mills broke the deadlock on 57 minutes, firing home from the penalty spot after Town keeper Louis Connor sent Lance Smith tumbling.
Within a minute, Mills had his second goal. Town lost possession from the restart and Mills scampered away down the inside left channel to fire home.
Any feeling of comfort for the visitors was quickly erased five minutes later when they were down to ten men when Dara O’Shea was red-carded for taking out Taylor on the edge of the area as the last man.
However, Stratford had to wait until the 88th minute to find a way through as Taylor headed home a left-wing cross from Lee Thomas.
“I thought that the penalty was a bit of a soft one,” said Adams. “But Louis was a bit naive in going down when he didn’t really need to and it gave the referee a decision to make which went against us. And it was naivety again which led to their second goal.”
Meawnhile, top scorer Stephens has become a target for Southern Premier rivals Banbury United.
Stephens, who has netted 17 goals this season, says he has no desire to leave Stratford. The front-runner scored against Banbury on New Year’s Day.
Info thanks to Stratford Town ISA.