PAUL DAVIS admitted that Stratford Town facing their biggest game of the season in January was ‘wrong on all parts’, adding: “The pressure being put on the game is not needed.”
The game in question is Town’s visit to bottom-of-the-table Redditch United on Tuesday night and the fate of both sides could depend on the outcome of the clash at the Trico Stadium (7.45pm kick-off).
The Reds have lost their last 17 league games in a row, while Town have the worst away record in the league, having failed to register a single win from their 11 games on the road.
With that in mind, something has to give when the two sides meet next week and just the thought of that crunch clash is making Davis feel ‘physically sick’.
“I said to the staff that the Redditch game is going to be built up to be our biggest game of the season. It’s only January and the pressure that is going to be put on that game is not needed,” he told the Herald.
“However, given the position of both teams at this stage of the season, the game is massive.
“If we win, I believe they go down, but if they beat us, then I don’t know where we go after that.
“You usually have your biggest games of the season at the end of the campaign, but to have one in January is just wrong on all parts and there’s going to be no escaping that from the players.”
Before then, though, Town welcome Stourbridge to the Arden Garages Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off) and Davis is hopeful of bringing in two new players who he believes will make a ‘massive difference’ to the club.
“When you have one or two characters in the club it gives everyone a lift and it helps attract other players to the club,” he added.
“At the moment, though, we are finding it very difficult to get those kind of characters to the club because of where we are in the table.
“You also have to remember that Stratford Town is a small club that operates on finances it can afford and I completely respect that because you hear so many stories of clubs going bust because they overpay their players.
“The market in our league is something we can’t compete with, but I’m hopeful of getting at least one of my two targets in for Saturday as they will give us a massive boost for the rest of the season.”
Town have already used 54 players after 24 league games – the same amount former Blues boss Thomas Baillie used in the whole of last season – and with that figure set to rise, the Herald asked Davis if the constant turnover of players had played a part in Town finding themselves in the midst of a relegation battle.
“You can’t just say the turnover of players is the reason because quite simply we have not been good enough,” he said.
“To be honest, I think there will be more turnovers and it would not surprise me to see that figure of 54 go past 70 because the club won’t rest until the squad is right.
“If you keep turning over players, you are bound to find one that’s good enough.”
Looking ahead to the Stourbridge fixture, Davis, who will be without the suspended Ross Oulton, said although the Glassboys have lost their last two league games and find themselves in 13th place, Town are not facing a ‘mid-table team’.
“There’s never a good time to play Stourbridge and people can say they’re not playing well, but the team they will put out on Saturday is one that can finish in the top five,” he said.
“Around this time last season we had a blip and did not win for four or five games and then it clicked and we went on to finish in the play-offs.
“Stourbridge are going through a similar phase now and I hope they don’t click on Saturday.
“We are not going to be facing a mid-table team on Saturday and we will need to apply ourselves properly to get something from the game.”
Town haven’t won a league game since the 4-1 demolition of Hednesford Town on 19th November, but Davis feels his side could be further up the table had it not been for decisions going against them over the last couple of games.
“I just feel like the world is against me and the players right now because those decisions are costing us,” he said.
“Against Bromsgrove Sporting we had a stonewall penalty for a foul on Chris Wreh turned down and then there was a foul on our goalkeeper for their second goal which proved to be the winner.
“The penalty which won the game for Hednesford wasn’t a penalty and then at Banbury United on Boxing Day we should have had a penalty at 0-0, it’s not given and we lose 5-0.
“We dominate the game against Rushall on New Year’s Day and then our keeper makes a mistake while Ross Oulton gets sent off.
“Then we go to Needham Market, a game where we deserved nothing, and get to the last minute where a harsh penalty is given against us.
“The referees don’t make those decisions on purpose, but it just feels like everything is going against us.”
The day after the Herald went to press, Town announced that their top goal scorer for this season, Chris Wreh, had departed to an unnamed fellow Southern Premier Central club following a seven-day approach.
The hard-working Wreh made 27 appearances for the Blues, including 11 from the bench, and scored eight goals – seven in the league and one in the Birmingham Senior Cup.
A club statement read: “After not playing at this level for some time, we believe that during his time at Stratford, Chris has significantly developed as a player and we would like to thank him for his valuable contribution to our club and wish him well for the future.
“The club are actively pursuing new signings which we hope to conclude for the weekend.”
There’s no doubting the departure of Wreh is a huge blow for the Town, who will need to act real fast to bring in someone to fire in the goals to move the club away from the danger zone.