STRATFORD Town have been challenged to put their below-par FA Cup exit firmly behind them by stepping up their top ten charge in Southern Premier Central.
An out of sorts Town bowed out of the cup with a 4-1 defeat to lower league Halesowen Town last weekend, with a miserable day compounded by a red card for key striker Nabil Shariff.
Boss Tommy Wright will hope to get a positive response when they head to second-bottom Hitchin Town on Saturday.
Shariff is likely to be suspended but Luke Rowe, cup-tied last weekend, can return.
Coach Paul Davis admitted too many players were off colour as Halesowen completed a cup double, having already beaten Stratford in the League Cup.
This time Montel Gibson was the Yeltz hero with a hat-trick, with Andy Parsons also scoring, while Luis Morrison replied.
“I don’t know how to put that into words,” Davis told the Stratford Town Independent Supporters Association website.
“Even when you’re talking to the players afterwards you find yourself saying the same things and you begin to think what’s the point of saying those same things over and over again?
“But the truth is that if you are going to win a game of football you need players to put in seven or eight out of ten performances. Their players did that but ours were only four or five out of ten and we got what we deserved.”
Despite Gibson finishing with three goals, the Yeltz key man was Luke Yates, with the former Alvechurch and Redditch player proving an elusive, industrious and inventive creator.
He left Charley O’Keefe for dead to set up Gibson for the opener in the 25th minute.
Morrison levelled five minutes later, converting from Kurtis Revan’s cross for his first goal for Town, but Parsons headed home a corner a minute before half-time.
Defender Parsons was an unlikely architect of the third Yeltz goal on 67 minutes with a long pass for Gibson to slide home.
After Shariff was sent off on 70 minutes after tangling with Jordan Piggott, Gibson made it 4-1 three minutes later after keeper Elliott Taylor had saved his first shot.
Meanwhile, Town have confirmed their Birmingham Senior Cup tie at home to Wolves will be played on Tuesday, October 15.
LUIS SONE produced a man of the match show to help FC Stratford progress in the Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup.
Goals from Dan Atkins, Tom Daccus and Ash Wilkes sealed a 3-1 win for Dave Poulson’s side at Earlswood Town last weekend to set up a trip to Malvern Town.
Former Studley and Alcester keeper Sone was in top form to keep out the Earls at key moments.
Poulson’s side will be seeking more cup success on Saturday when they face Continental Star at the Arden Garages Stadium in the Les James Challenge Cup.
The opening goal at Malthouse Lane last weekend came when Wilkes delivered a left-footed cross after James Robbins had been fouled and Atkins nodded home.
Sone’s excellence denied Earls before the break but the hosts made it 1-1 when Harry Street nipped in.
However, FC Stratford responded with Daccus converting from Reece Staley’s left-wing cross and four minutes later Wilkes tucked home a penalty after Atkins had been fouled.
FC Stratford’s scheduled League Cup clash at home to GNP Sports was postponed on Tuesday due to a waterlogged pitch and has now been rescheduled for Tuesday, October 8.