BOSS Tommy Wright says Stratford Town will have to ‘stamp their authority’ on Needham Market from the off to come away with maximum points on the opening weekend of the 2019/20 BetVictor Southern Premier Central campaign.
The new competitive season begins in earnest on Saturday at the Arden Garages Stadium (3pm kick-off) and Town will be looking to maintain their record of never losing on the opening day since their promotion to the Southern League in 2013 (played six, won five, drawn one).
Wright and assistant manager Paul Davis made the trip to Needham last Friday night to watch the Marketmen’s 3-1 victory over AFC Sudbury and were impressed by what they saw.
The duo were then back on the road on Saturday afternoon to take in Stourbridge’s 1-1 draw at Nantwich Town ahead of this Monday’s clash against the Glassboys (7.45pm kick-off) at the War Memorial Athletic Ground.
With two tough games to open the new season, Wright stressed the importance of getting off to a good start.
“Needham play really nice football and I think they will want to come to us and dictate the game so we have to get a stronghold on that from the start and stamp our authority on the game in front of the home fans,” he said.
“I don’t think we saw the best of Stourbridge on Saturday and like us, they’re going through a period of transition as they’ve got a new manager, new players, new training methods, new formations and a new philosophy.
“I’m really looking forward to the new season and it’s important we get off to a good start.”
Town brought the curtain down on pre-season with a 3-2 defeat to Evesham United at the Arden Garages Stadium on Monday night.
Matty Dodd put the Robins ahead in the 16th minute, nodding home from Adam Page’s corner before Dylan Parker restored parity on the stroke of half-time after capitalising on a poor back pass from Lee Chilton and lifting the ball home.
Three minutes into the second period Evesham regained the lead when Page fired in from 12 yards out before former Town man Brad Maslen-Jones made it 3-1 just before the hour mark when his huge clearance from all of 60 yards flew over goalkeeper Elliot Taylor and into the back of the net.
Mitchell Glover pulled one back for Town six minutes later, thundering home from 25 yards out, but the Robins held out to claim the win.
Despite being disappointed with the result, Wright was not too critical of his team.
“I picked a squad that should have performed better and some individuals have played themselves out of the team for this weekend.
However, I wasn’t too hard on the players on Monday as I don’t think the performance was a true reflection of this football club.”
For Wright’s thoughts on the departures of Chris Cox and Kynan Isaac, get today’s Herald!