TOMMY WRIGHT has told Stratford Town the only way to forget their meek midweek surrender of their Southern League Challenge Cup is to get back to winning ways ahead of next week’s FA Cup rematch.
League Cup holders Town exited at the first hurdle on Tuesday, losing 1-0 at home to Halesowen Town on a night which manager Wright labelled a ‘disaster’.
But he will expect a positive response on Saturday when Town head to Coalville Town in Southern Premier Central and then entertain Alvechurch on Tuesday before they travel to Halesowen for an FA Cup second qualifying round tie on Saturday, September 21, with the winners getting £6,750.
Stratford had collected £4,500 for progressing, having smashed Boldmere St Michaels 6-1 on Saturday with Nabil Shariff bagging a hat-trick.
And, although Wright made a number of changes for Tuesday’s fixture, including introducing new signings Richard Platt and Charlie O’Keefe from Bedworth United and Hitchin Town, the night was eminently forgettable as Halesowen impressed from the start.
“We didn’t deserve anything from the game. Other than Nabil hitting the post we never really threatened but big moments change games,” Wright told the Stratford Town Independent Supporters Association website.
“That was a big moment and had it gone in it might all have been different.
“But the whole evening has been a disaster. We’ve picked up a couple of knocks and Liam Hughes has been sent off and will now miss the FA Cup tie over there.
“Their number 10 (Luke Yates) ran the show all evening and, while he will be pleased with his performance, several of ours shouldn’t be.
“Two or three have probably played themselves out of the team for Saturday and depending how I react they may have played themselves out of the club as well.
However, the two new lads did well and that is one positive from the evening.
“Now we’ve got two tough games to come against Coalville and Alvechurch. We’ve got to concentrate on those games and not be distracted by the following weekend’s cup tie.
“Winning football games is a habit and it’s our priority to get back into it quickly.”
Yates proved to be the match-winner for Halesowen, capping a man of the match show with the only goal.
Altough Shariff hit the Yeltz post on the half hour, it was a rare threat from Stratford and Halesowen struck on 42 minutes, with Yates sweeping home Jamie Lucas’ cross with a smart left-footed finish.
To round off a miserable evening for the hosts, midfielder Hughes was red-carded five minutes from time after raising his hands in a fracas with Halesowen’s Josh Hawker.
The mood has been very different on Saturday as Hughes had been among the scorers in demolishing Midland League Premier Division basement side Boldmere.
A Joseph Lyng own goal, diverting Ross Oulton’s corner into his net, gave Stratford a 23rd-minute lead and Hughes slotted home a penalty for 2-0 on 36 minutes.
Jack Skinner pulled a goal back two minutes into the second period but Shariff struck twice around the hour mark, firing home from Hughes through-ball and then heading home Oulton’s cross.
Shariff nodded in Mitchell Glover’s cross to seal his hat-trick on 89 minutes before second half substitute Callum Ball made it 6-1 in stoppage time.