DARREN BYFIELD insists Stratford Town fear nobody as they prepare to welcome Southern Premier Central title favourites and table-toppers Kettering Town to the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday.
The manager suggests Town are very much a work in progress as they prepare to face Marcus Law’s Poppies, who have won five out of five so far.
However, he promised they are learning in every match and there will be plenty of positives to taken into the game.
Two goals in the final ten minutes cost them in a 3-1 home defeat to Lowestoft on Saturday in a game in which they created the lion’s share of chances before they earned a hard-fought point in a 1-1 draw at Banbury United on Monday.
“We’ve tried different personnel and different formations and we’ve been looking for what’s the best combination,” said Byfield. “We’ve been together as a group for two months so we’re progressing.
“But I look at the squad and I know we’ve got the players. It’s a question of getting square pegs in square holes, rather than square pegs in round holes.”
He added: “The big thing for me is the lads are giving me everything. This team won’t give up and roll over.
“Kettering will be expected to come and beat us on Saturday but it doesn’t mean we are just going to roll over and get our tummies tickled.
“We will give it our all to put in a good performance and do our fans proud. We will walk off the pitch with our heads held high.
“Kettering are going to be the team to beat this season. They got to the play-offs last season and have improved their squad. It won’t be easy on Saturday but we don’t fear anybody in this league.”
There were positives from both bank holiday performances. Recent signing Albi Skandi was the star man in both fixtures while Claudio Dias and Nabil Shariff both opened their goals account.
After Dias cancelled out Shaun Bammant’s fourth-minute opener against Lowestoft, Town paid for their profligacy in front of goal when the Trawler Boys netted twice through Ben Fowkes (83) and Jacek Zielonka (89) to land the points.
On Monday, Banbury struck first through Greg Kaziboni’s 25-yard strike on 16 minutes but Shariff slotted home a 75th-minute penalty equaliser to reward a much-improved second half display.
Stratford have lost winger Callum Powell, who has left to join league rivals Stourbridge, but Byfield is not immediately looking to find a replacement, feeling he has options in the squad.
The boss hopes to have key man Kevin Monteiro available for the first time after injury within the next few weeks.
The former Redditch United and Southport midfielder could be in contention next Saturday (September 8) when Town kick off their FA Cup campaign against Alvechurch in the first qualifying round.
Last season they reached the third qualifying round for only the third time in their history, only to bow out in extra-time in a replay at home to Scarborough.