THOMAS BAILLIE has no doubts Stratford Town will keep improving to prove their surprise promotion challenge is fully merited.
Tuesday night’s 2-0 win against visitors Hitchin Town pushed Town back into the play-off places in Southern Premier Central, level on points with third-placed King’s Lynn Town.
A scintillating 25-yard strike from Wilson Carvalho followed by a Lewis Wilson finish from Nabil Shariff’s pass made it 2-0 after 25 minutes.
Town will look to continue the momentum when they entertain fellow play-off candidates Needham Market on Saturday at the Arden Garages Stadium and then visit Alvechurch on Tuesday, but boss Baillie is convinced there is more to come.
“I keep saying we are not the finished article but we are progressing nicely. We’re up to joint third and I have faith this team can get better still.”
Stratford, who lie fifth, have a game in hand on both Biggleswade and King’s Lynn above them, but just six points separate third and 11th-placed Banbury United.
Baillie, though, suggests Town are still under the radar.
“I don’t believe that we are getting the credit we deserve for what we are doing,” he told the Stratford Town Independent Supporters Association website.
“We are not flashy or flamboyant but we are a very steady and hardworking side with an impressive work-rate and we have succeeded in recent games even with key players missing, while we have also had to deal with the departure of Mike Taylor.
“On Tuesday, it was imperative we prevented Hitchin scoring first as that would have given them a boost and the same applied at the start of the second half, after which we were able to see the game out.
“Now face two hard battles against Needham Market and Alvechurch. Losing away to Needham in particular still gives me nightmares as we were very poor that day and they are fighting for a play-off spot as well, but if we can win on Saturday we can open a sizeable gap over them with the games we have in hand.
“Similarly Alvechurch are up there as well and we know it will be tough over there.”
Baillie has been pleased with how Stratford have responded to losing to Alvechurch at home two weeks ago, but suggested they need to be more ruthless.
““We are not scoring enough goals and that will come back to haunt us at some point,” he added. “So we are still working to get our formation right and we are looking at other striking options.
“Defensively we are very solid which is why we are winning games 1-0 or 2-0 and that has moved us into play-off contention.”
Town completed a league double against Tamworth, one of the pre-season title favourites, on Saturday after Carvalho bagged the only goal four minutes into the second period.
Will Grocott provided the opening with an astute pass and Carvalho cut inside to tuck home a low drive.