Stratford Town ‘lacking a spark’ ahead of league opener

Edwin Ahenkorah launches an attacking during last Saturday's pre-season friendly against Sutton Coldfield. Photo: Mark Williamson

CARL Adams admitted Stratford Town are “lacking a spark” as they prepare for their Evo-Stik South Premier opener at Royston Town on Saturday.

Stratford ended their pre-season campaign last Saturday with a 1-1 draw against Sutton Coldfield, in a game which also saw the official opening of the newly-named MoodChimp Stadium.

Town were far from their best against their North Premier visitors and Adams is convinced a similar performance against Royston would see Town off to a losing start.

“I wanted us to be further down the road than we are,” admitted the Town boss.

“There was a lack of a spark for us on Saturday. We were very dull in the first half, but after we made five or six changes in the second half it was a lot better. If we play like that against Royston or against Merthyr (next Tuesday) then we are going to get beat.”

New boys Royston comfortably won the Evo-Stik Division One South title last season, surpassing the 100-point barrier in the process.

As a result, they are ranked as sixth favourites with the majority of bookmakers to win the Southern Premier title this time around, while Stratford have again been named among the relegation candidates, despite finishing 14th last term.

“It’s there for everybody to see,” said Adams. “We are the club that we are, in a strong league with some big clubs.

“We are something like third favourites to be relegated and people aren’t expecting much from us. We have to be strong within the club, as there will be plenty of ups and downs this season.

“Royston is a tough game to start off. They’re a bit of an unknown quantity, but we know they’re spending a bit of money so they’re not going to be a struggling outfit.

“Then we go on to play Merthyr, who are one of the best teams in the league.”

Asked if he would be happy to take a point on Saturday, Adams said: “I’d take a draw. You just don’t want to lose it — you could quite easily lose the first two games, then suddenly you’re under pressure to beat St Neots in the next one.”

While Adams will still have a few selection posers ahead of this weekend, the Town manager says he already knows the bulk of his starting XI at Royston.

“I roughly know my team,” he said. “I wanted to know my definite XI for further down the road, but nobody has really shone in pre-season, other than Charlie Evans, who has been doing really well.

“My team for Saturday won’t be the same as for Tuesday (against Merthyr).

“I feel we have to really have a go at Merthyr and play some more attacking players, where as at Royston we’ll need to be more solid.”

Town travel to Hertfordshire without the services of injured duo George Washbourne (knee) and Emmitt Delfouneso (hip).