BOSS Tommy Wright admitted the reason behind Stratford Town’s inconsistent performances over the first five games of the campaign is the fact he has been unable to field a regular starting line-up.
Having called for defensive improvements following the 3-3 draw with Kings Langley a fortnight ago, Wright saw Town put on one of their best displays of the Southern Premier Central season so far on Saturday, as his side brushed aside AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3-1 at the Arden Garages Stadium.
However, disappointment followed on Bank Holiday Monday, as a profligate Town slumped to a 4-1 defeat at league leaders Rushall Olympic, with amateurish defending once again coming to the fore.
Although 11th-placed Town have enjoyed a better start to this season than they did last season under then-manager Darren Byfield – who is now in charge of league rivals Alvechurch – there have been grumbles among the terraces and on social media that Wright’s squad can do better.
The gaffer himself believes Town are capable of better, but stressed the inability to field a regular starting XI game after game is the reason behind why fans are seeing mixed performances at this early stage of the campaign.
“I’m not one for chopping and changing the team game after game, but I’ve been forced to do that since the start of the season for one reason or another,” he said.
“During pre-season we pretty much had a regular starting XI out on the pitch, but on the eve of the season Chris Cox and Kynan Isaac decided to leave which meant we had to change things up.
“We then had Liam Hughes and Morgan Brown off with tonsillitis, with the latter now potentially leaving the club permanently after receiving an offer to play in Cyprus.
“Luis Morrison’s suspension hasn’t helped either so I have really struggled to get the same team out for each game so I’d like to think the fans understand that.
“There’s no other reason behind our inconsistency because we can’t say the players haven’t been trying because we’ve got the tracking data to prove otherwise.
“We have had a really tough start to our season and to have taken seven points from our opening five games is not a bad return, given the fact we’ve had bad luck with player availability.
“I would like to think we would have had more points to our name if we could have put a regular team out, but it is what it is so it’s important the fans get behind the boys and stay positive.”
Town will be looking to bounce back to winning ways on Saturday when they welcome 19th-placed Biggleswade Town to the Arden Garages Stadium (3pm kick-off).
Wright should have defender Tom Fishwick and forward Callum Ball back for the clash against the Waders, but will be without defender Linden Dovey who has family commitments in Cyprus and won’t be back in the country until Sunday.
With Town yet to drop a point at home, the gaffer is keen to make the Arden Garages Stadium a fortress, but is wary the Waders fixture could be a banana skin.
“Biggleswade have not had the best of starts so I think they will come to us sensing a wounded animal,” he said.
“Given the fact that we lost on Monday, they will be looking to see if there is any tentativeness in our play and they will strike to kill.
“I believe we are favourites for the game therefore it’s important the squad sticks to the game plan to ensure we keep up our good home record.”
Wright also confirmed he was looking at adding a couple of new faces to give the Town squad some much-needed depth.
“We are certainly looking to strengthen as I think when players are missing, those on the bench are not giving me what I need for a direct replacement,” he added.
“That’s something we need to address and I’m hopeful of having two new faces in the squad for Saturday’s game.”
Meanwhile, Town have been handed a home draw in the FA Cup first qualifying round.
They will entertain Stourport Swifts or Boldmere St Michaels – both of the Midland League Premier Division – at the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday, 7th September (3pm kick-off).
Swifts and Boldmere drew 0-0 in their preliminary round tie on 24th August and the replay will be held on Monday night.