FRUSTRATED caretaker boss Paul Davis believes there is enough individual quality in the Stratford Town ranks to climb up the league table, but has demanded they must start playing as a team to do so.
Sixth-bottom Town are yet to win under Davis since he took over the reins from Tommy Wright and find themselves just five points above the Southern Premier Central drop zone.
Under the FA’s rules for promotion and relegation this year, the bottom two of all Step Three divisions will go down, while the two third-bottom teams with the worst points-per-game (PPG) ratio will also be relegated.
That means Town could finish 20th this season, but still go down depending on their PPG ratio.
And the games keep getting tougher for Town, who have lost their last four league games, conceding 16 goals in the process and scoring just twice.
The Blues make the trip to Nuneaton Borough on Saturday (3pm kick-off) before entertaining title hopefuls Hednesford Town on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off) and they go into those clashes on the back of last Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Coalville Town.
Some may say Town are already looking over their shoulders at this stage of the season, but Davis refused to entertain the idea that his side are going to be facing a relegation battle this term.
“It’s way too early to say that we’re going to be in a relegation battle,” he told the Herald.
“If you look at the games we have had since the start of the season, we haven’t played many teams who are in and around us or below us.
“We keep playing the big hitters and it doesn’t get any easier for us by playing Nuneaton and Hednesford.
“It’s a difficult situation to be in, but the people in place, including myself, the board and the rest of the staff, won’t stop working just because things are going against us.
“We have got to keep working hard and try to become a team.
“We’re yet to find our identity and what concerns me is how many times I keep saying we’ve got great individual players here at this club, but they’re not performing as a team – we have to put that right.”
Davis will be without the suspended Ross Oulton for the trip to Nuneaton and will no longer have the services of Nabil Shariff after the forward moved to fellow Southern Premier Central side AFC Rushden & Diamonds following a seven-day approach.
Town have been subjected to a number of seven-day approaches in recent weeks and Davis admitted that has started to have an affect on the dressing room.
“When you continue to get those seven-day approaches, there are players in the dressing room that don’t want to be in there and want to get out as quickly as they can,” he added.
“When something like that is happening, the players are neglecting responsibility and they are definitely neglecting accountability.
“All I can do is pick a team, set us up a certain way and ask us to play a certain way, but what I can’t do is run for them, pass for them and defend for them.
“We keep continuing to make individual errors against good teams.
“The disappointing thing is that nobody seems to be saying anything in the dressing room. I think that’s down to personalities and that there aren’t enough leaders in the group.
“The likes of Ross Oulton, Courtney Richards and Luke Rowe are all leaders in their own way, but I feel they’re slightly apprehensive about having a go and ripping people to shreds because they’re not sure how this young group of players are going to react to that kind of treatment.”