CARL ADAMS says Stratford Town will be ready for their toughest test of the season as they bid to finish runners-up in Southern League Division One South & West.
Stratford, already guaranteed their highest ever league position, head to champions Merthyr Town on Saturday, needing to win to guarantee second place.
Adams’ men chalked up a ninth win in a row on Saturday with a 6-2 victory at Clevedon Town, inspired by a Kevin Charley hat-trick.
Stratford are already assured of a play-off semi-final on Tuesday at the DCS Stadium, but are battling with Evesham United for second place. The highest placed team from the semi-final winners then has home advantage in next Saturday’s final.
Adams, who will have Alex Price and Joe Halsall back after suspension, said his players will relish the challenge of tackling a Merthyr side who have lost just twice at home all season.
“We now have to prepare for Merthyr knowing what we have to do to clinch second spot in the final table.” he said.
“In front of what is bound to be a massive crowd, it will be a real test for us and one we will be looking forward to.”
The manager praised a professional performance against Clevedon as Town smashed six goals against the Somerset side for the second time in three weeks.
Stratford raced into a 2-0 lead after 12 minutes, thanks to Charley’s speculative 25-yarder and Loyiso Recci’s header, but Tim Parker replied for Clevedon on the stroke of half time.
The visitors regained the initiative on 68 minutes with a stunning goal from Charley, who controlled Rob Thompson-Brown’s pass on his chest and volleyed home from 35 yards – a goal which Adams described as a “moment of pure magic”.
Three minutes later Charley completed his treble and victory was sealed with Chris Sterling’s penalty and Luke Barlone’s close range header, before Ben Bament notched Clevedon’s second from the penalty spot.