FC STRATFORD boss Dave Poulson has warned his players they must be switched on from the very first whistle, writes Colin Stoner.
Poulson was furious with how Stratford started their last match against Northfield Town as they conceded four goals in the first half. They recovered to net two goals but ended up losing 4-2.
They return to action on Saturday with a home game against Boldmere Sports and Social Falcons, and Poulson stressed they cannot afford “games of two halves”.
“We were camped in the Northfield half in the second half, but all the damage was done in the first 45 minutes,” said Poulson.
“We ended up getting a bit of pride back after that first-half performance but then you ended up asking: Why can’t we show that from the start? We need to be on our game straight from the kick-off. We need to start with intensity and cut out the silly mistakes.”
While FC Stratford lie in mid-table, the focus for a successful finale to 2016-17 lies in the Les James Challenge Cup and a semi-final with Redditch Borough the following Saturday, 11th March.
Poulson says the incentive of a showpiece final at the Banks’s Stadium, home of Walsall, will be huge and this weekend’s test against Boldmere will be a final audition for players to stake their claim to face the Reds at their Trico Stadium home.
Stratford have dumped out higher league Knowle and Coton Green in their run so far and Redditch, Redditch United’s reserve team who lie in the top four of Division Two, will also be favourites next weekend. But Poulson will not be fazed by the underdogs’ tag.
“We have got a good side and when we’ve got a full side available we can be a match for anybody,” said Poulson.
“We need to be positive against Boldmere and a good performance will set us up for the semi-final.”