CARL Adams has challenged Stratford Town to win their own mini-league in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier – and finish as the ‘best of the rest’.
Stratford have made huge strides under Adams in the past six years in charge and they are course to finish in their highest league position for a remarkable sixth season in a row.
But, within Step Three, they are still very much a small club, with smaller resources and backing, than most of their Premier Division rivals. Top four Hereford, King’s Lynn Town, Weymouth and Kettering Town are massive non-League clubs in comparison but Adams believes Stratford have the talent to finish top of the mid-table teams.
Although Tuesday’s defeat at Basingstoke pushed them down to 15th, only five points separate Town from the top ten.
The target has always been to improve year-on-year and that means bettering last term’s 14th place.
“Without sounding negative, there are so many teams in front of us that are bigger clubs, with better resources and over 46 league games that’s what counts,” said Adams.
“But we are competing with teams that are bigger than us and we are putting them to shame.
“We’ve got 13 games left and we will win games and we will lose games but we can finish top of our mini league.”
Town had chalked up back-to-back wins, defeating Dunstable 3-2 away and then Dorchester Town 2-0 at home last Saturday before the setback at chilly Basingstoke on Tuesday.
However, they have the chance to bounce back on Saturday when they aim to complete the double over basement side Gosport Borough before Hitchin Town visit the MoodChimp Stadium on Tuesday.
“We finished on 56 points last season and we’ve got 45 points already with 13 games to go,” said Adams. “I feel confident we can better that total. No matter where we are position-wise, we have improved.
“I do believe the league is better than last year so we’re doing alright.”
Two quickfire goals from Edwin Ahenkorah and Will Grocott had secured victory against Basingstoke on Saturday.
Stratford broke the deadlock on 44 minutes when Ahenkorah raced on to Liam Francis’ long pass down the inside right channel and slotted past keeper Chris Weale.
Then two minutes into stoppage time Grocott slotted home after Weale has pushed Ahenkorah’s effort against the bar.
The only disappointment for Town was a red card just before the final whistle for striker Mike Taylor who was shown a second yellow card. He will now miss three games starting with the trip to Gosport.
Taylor scored his 12th goal of the season when Stratford headed to Dorchester on Tuesday but a late goal sent them to a 2-1 defeat.
Sam Smart smashed home a thumping volley to give the hosts the lead three minutes before half-time, but Taylor controlled Will Grocott’s clever lob and turned past his marker to drill home the equaliser seven minutes into the second period.
The points were settled 11 minutes from time when Basingstoke substitute Ben Wright slotted home a perfectly-hit 25-yard free kick.