FC STRATFORD boss Dave Poulson says the pressure is now on his players to deliver as they play catch-up in their bid for promotion.
Stratford’s last hope of cup success vanished last weekend with a 2-0 home defeat to Midland League Division Two table-toppers NKG Burbage in the Les James Challenge Cup.
Tom Smith opened the scoring early in the second half and the Leicestershire side added a second in the final seconds through a Jess Adcock break after Stratford pushed everyone bar keeper Archie Donaldson into the visitors’ penalty area for a corner.
Defeat meant they missed out on a final date at Walsall FC but now they must concentrate on putting together a league run to charge up the Division Three table.
After a combination of cup runs and postponements, Stratford have to cram two-thirds of the season into the final two months of the season and Poulson knows they now need to build momentum.
After three defeats in a row – two cup exits and a heaviest defeat of the season at Boldmere Falcons – they need to take three points at Coventrians on Saturday to kick-start their challenge.
Poulson stressed the priority has been winning promotion and, although they lie in ninth place, they have nine games in hand on second-placed Bartestree, who have a 12-point advantage.
“The players have got to step up now,” said Poulson. “It’s up to me and to the players to push and push. It’s imperative we put a run of wins together.”
Suspensions, however, will rule out Dean Poulson and James Gifford following their red cards against GNP Sports.
Midfielder Poulson must serve a three-game ban and striker Gifford misses one match. Both bans start against Coventrians, with Poulson’s suspension meaning he also sit outs Tuesday’s home derby with Shipston Excelsior and the visit of Enville Athletic a week on Saturday.