BOSS Paul Davis summed up his feelings after Stratford Town’s much-needed midweek victory at basement side Redditch United in one word: Relief.
Two goals from on-loan Dan Sweeney sealed a 2-0 win at the Trico Stadium, ending a run of seven defeats in a row.
It was only Town’s second victory in 18 league and cup matches, sending the Reds to a 19th successive league defeat, and it lifted the Blues five points clear of the drop zone in Southern Premier Central before they head to eighth-placed AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday.
Davis admitted he understood the importance of the game against the side he formerly managed but he revealed he tried to ease any pressure off the players.
“I think relief is the word that sums it up,” Davis told the Stratford Town Independent Supporters Association.
“Before the game I made a really conscious effort not to put the nerves and the magnitude of the game on to the players, so it was a balance between not playing the game up and not playing it down.
“I thought the players carried out our game plan brilliantly. It probably looked as if we played better than we have done recently, but you have to take the standard of the opposition into account.
“I doubt if we’ve had more of the ball in any other game this season than we’ve had against Redditch but we missed so many chances.
“When it’s 1-0 anything can happen and when chances are missed you begin to wonder if it’s not your day and they might nick one so although we dominated the game and were in total control it was difficult to relax.”
Davis will hope the result – a first away win of the season – will be a confidence boost to help Town climb the table.
Town continue to tweak their squad, with Sweeney among six new additions in the past week.
The striker, who made his debut in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Stourbridge, has joined on a month’s loan from Solihull Moors, while Australian defender Dan Alessi has signed on dual registration from Hereford and David Neligwa has done likewise from Kidderminster.
Kynan Isaac has returned to the Arden Garages Stadium from Banbury United, while Wolves teenage keeper James Pardington has come in from the Premier League club on loan and ex-Walsall midfielder Reece Flanagan – Town’s scorer at Stourbridge – has signed from Rushall Olympic.
However, striker Chris Wreh has moved in the other direction to join the Pics.
Davis added: “On an individual note I though that Kyle Rowley and Dan Alessi were absolutely different class against Redditch’s big centre forward [Brandon Diau] and I don’t think they missed a header all night, while a special mention must also go to Dan Sweeney for his two goals.”
Sweeney, who had a spell at Redditch earlier this season, opened the scoring just after half an hour against Redditch with a penalty.
Dan Vann and Alessi had both wasted good opportunities for Town before Sweeney was flattened by Ronnie Hendricks. The striker stepped up to send Reds keeper Kieran Boucher the wrong way to make it 1-0 after 33 minutes.
Sweeney had an effort cleared off the line, Ross Oulton headed over and Flanagan was denied by Boucher before Sweeney sealed the points ten minutes from time after United failed to clear Flanagan’s corner.