PAUL DAVIS has urged fans to understand that Stratford Town can’t afford to play open and expansive football because they’re right in the midst of a relegation battle.
The Blues boss revealed the players had asked him at half-time in the 5-0 defeat to local rivals Banbury United on Boxing Day if they could play a more attacking style of football.
Davis gave his players that opportunity, but told the Herald it was a ‘mistake’ to do so, as Town shipped in four second-half goals and extended their winless run on the road in the Southern Premier Central to ten games.
“I take full responsibility for what happened on Boxing Day,” said Davis.
“In recent weeks we have been playing defensively and not wanting to concede goals, but the players asked me at half-time when we were 1-0 down if they could press more and be more expansive.
“What happened in the second half proved playing in an expansive way was a mistake and it proved we are not good enough to play that way.
“Without doing that, though, the players would not have realised playing defensively and trying to nick a goal on the counter or from a set-piece is how we have to play.
“The fans need to understand this too. I was part of the management team which helped this club finished fifth last season.
“We didn’t concede many, we didn’t score many and won half of our games that season by the odd goal.
“I totally understand the frustration from the fans as it is a results-based business, but they also need to understand we cannot play in a way which sees us letting goals in.”
The defeat at Banbury left 18th-placed Town just five points above the bottom two and just two points ahead of third-bottom Leiston.
Under the FA’s rules for promotion and relegation this year, two of the third-bottom teams with the worst points-per-game ratio across Step Three will be relegated, so Town cannot afford to focus on trying to finish above the bottom two.
“Right now we are in a relegation battle,” said Davis.
“In a month’s time we might not be, but when you look at the results of teams in and around us in recent weeks, a relegation battle is where we are.
“Despite having one of the smaller budgets in the division, where we are right now is where this club shouldn’t be as we are better than that.”
Things don’t get any easier for the Blues, as they welcome Rushall Olympic to the Arden Garages Stadium tomorrow, New Year’s Day, before making the arduous journey to Needham Market on Saturday.
Town will have plenty of training sessions to prepare them for their upcoming fixtures and Davis says nothing will change in terms of how they approach both games.
“We just have to make sure we stop the goals going in,” he added.
“Rushall are chasing the play-offs and it’s the fourth game in a row where we have faced a team in the top half of the table, so the fixtures have not been kind to us.
“It’s a long coach journey to Needham so we need to prepare well for that and hopefully we can come back with something.”