TOMMY WRIGHT has no doubts Saturday’s visit of Brackley Town will provide rebuilt Stratford Town with their biggest test of pre-season.
The Town manager has been delighted with how the squad has quickly gelled and Tuesday night 2-0 win at Leicester Road made it five victories from seven warm-up games. The only defeat came in the first match at Yeovil Town and they have not conceded a goal since.
The sequence included defeating Aston Villa’s youth side 1-0 in front of nearly 900 fans at the Arden Garages Stadium, courtesy of Liam Hughes’ eighth-minute goal, and then two strikes from Chris Wreh wrapped up a 2-0 success at Hinckley side Leicester Road.
A clash with former FA Trophy winners Brackley, who start their National League North season next Saturday, will be a tougher challenge.
“The quality of the players at Brackley Town and the quality of the manager says it all – they have been one of the best sides in the league for the last few seasons,” said Wright.
“I’ve got huge respect for Kevin and his group of players – they’ve been in the play-offs for the last few seasons and they will be our biggest test in pre-season.”
Wright, though, says his players have stepped up to the challenge so far.
“More or less the same Aston Villa squad had beaten Tamworth 4-1 last Tuesday so we knew the game against them would be a good indication of where we are, especially after they had played a team from our league in Tamworth,” he said.
“I was delighted with how we approached the game and getting the win will only breed confidence.
“Tuesday was just as pleasing. The last time we played a team from a league lower, against Worcester City, we made it hard work but against Leicester Road we had the right focus and we could have, probably should have, scored more goals.”
The squad continues to take shape after midfielder Hughes and defender Luis Morrison signed for the new season, which begins at home to Needham Market on August 10.
Hughes has scored a Wembley play-off winner with Cambridge United and also featured in the Scottish Premiership with Inverness and Barrow and Guiseley in the National League. He was with Wright at Darlington.
Morrison started as a youngster with Arsenal and Stevenage and was with Nuneaton Borough last season.
“Hughesy adds experience, physicality and quality to the team. He scored two goals for us against Racing Club Warwick and grabbed the winner against Villa to take his tally to three goals in just two games,” said Wright. “The understanding between him and the strikers has been great to see and there is a lot more to come.
“Luis is a player that I trust, he is another highly experienced player and has fitted into the group effortlessly. He’s a great lad and wants to achieve something here and we are delighted to have him.”
Meanwhile, winger Wilson Carvalho has become the latest player to switch from Town to pro football.
Carvalho has been training with Accrington Stanley in pre-season and has now signed a one-year deal with the League One side.
The 26-year-old was one of the stars in Town’s best-ever season, playing 53 times and scoring 14 goals to finish as second highest scorer.
Carvalho becomes the third player in a year to go into full-time football via Stratford. Ben Stephens joined Macclesfield Town last summer and Albi Skendi switched to Yeovil Town at the start of this month.