Davis: We don’t fear Pitmen + QPR youngster joins Town on work experience loan

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Paul Davis and Steve Walker. Photo: Steve Wood

FOOTBALL

CARETAKER boss Paul Davis is confident Stratford Town have all the tools required to beat high-flying Hednesford Town in the FA Trophy this weekend.

The Blues welcome the Pitmen, who previously won the competition back in 2004, to the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday for a first qualifying round tie, with the winners pocketing £2,450 in prize money and the losers £800.

Town enjoyed a fruitful run in the competition for sides from Step One to Step Four on the non-league ladder last season, reaching the first round proper for the very first time in their history before losing 5-1 away at National League outfit AFC Fylde.

Davis would like to try and emulate that remarkable run, and while they face a Hednesford side which currently sits top of the Southern Premier Central table and gave Boston United a good game in their 1-0 FA Cup defeat on Saturday, the Town caretaker boss believes his side have nothing to fear.

“I went to watch Hednesford in their FA Cup game and although they played a lot of long balls, they caused Boston a lot of problems and we have to set up correctly to combat that,” he said.

“I firmly believe we can beat them, though, because I feel we have now got the players in this squad to be able to cope with that kind of threat.

“Boston only managed to score against Hednesford direct from a free-kick so I know they’re not going to be an easy team to break down.

“They’re well-organised, well-drilled and know what they are doing.

“However, I’d like to think we now look organised and a little bit better.”

Town go into their FA Trophy clash on the back of Tuesday night’s controversial 3-1 defeat to Tamworth at the Arden Garages Stadium.

In a game which featured three penalties, Town were reduced to nine men in the first half after full-back Kyle Ambris and goalkeeper Harvey White were sent off prior to half-time.

Despite the two-man disadvantage, Town conducted themselves well in the second half and Davis believed the defeat would do his side plenty of good in the long run.

“If I had the players Tamworth had against a side with nine men, I’d want us to score eight goals, but the fact is, they didn’t do that,” he said.

“They only scored three so when people look at the scoreline and see we were playing the whole of the second half with nine men, it’ll look good on us.

“We had a really hard night on Tuesday, but I feel the club came out of that game better than Tamworth did. Jed McCrory said to me after the match that we had a similar game like this last year and it made our season because we went on that long unbeaten run, so hopefully this will be another turning point for us.

“We conducted ourselves with the utmost professionalism on Tuesday night and I could not have been prouder of the lads.”

Meanwhile, Town’s hunt for a new manager continues.

It has been two weeks since the Blues sacked ex-Darlington and Corby Town boss Tommy Wright after just 13 games in charge.

Many fans had mixed feelings over the departure, with some believing the move was made too early, while others had wanted the axe to fall down much sooner than it did.

Regardless, Town are now on the hunt for their fourth manager in the space of less than 18 months and prior to this weekend’s FA Trophy clash, Davis and head coach Steve Walker said they had not submitted a CV for the job because taking over as caretakers ‘was their interview’.

“For me and Steve, we are in the best position,” said Davis.

“We don’t feel we need to be in a position to apply as the board know how we feel about this football club and that we’d want to take charge anyway.

“However, we have to prove we are good enough to do it and as a caretaker it’s always difficult because you don’t know if you can talk to players and sign them for the long term because they’re a little on edge.

“We recently brought in Matt Campbell-Mhlope from Kings Langley, who tore us to shreds earlier in the season, but he asked me on Sunday what would happen if a new manager comes in and I told him he’d have to prove he’s good enough.

“I think we needed a reshuffle of the squad and we’ve now done that, but in terms of the manager’s job, until someone tells me different, I will act as manager of the club. Until someone confirms me as manager of this club, nothing will change.

“I am acting as manager now and will do if I get the job. This is our interview and after three games so far, we were dreadful against Lowestoft, but gave a really good account of ourselves against Wolves and Tamworth.

The manager’s job is in the hands of the board so it’s down to them.

“As far as I am aware other people have been applying for the job and the board are entitled to interview whoever they want.”

Head of football operations, Paul Collicutt, confirmed to the Herald he had no interest in taking on the manager’s job.


STRATFORD Town have added Queens Park Rangers youngster Kai Woollard-Innocent to their squad ahead of this Saturday’s FA Trophy clash against Hednesford Town.

The 19-year-old defender, who has played for QPR’s academy since the age of eight, arrives at the Arden Garages Stadium on an initial one-month work experience loan deal.

Woollard-Innocent featured 18 times for QPR’s U18s during the 2017/18 season.