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Return of star striker Taylor a 'huge boost' for Stratford Town

Mike Taylor (right). Photo: Mark Williamson F59/11/18/9771
Mike Taylor (right). Photo: Mark Williamson F59/11/18/9771

STRATFORD Town’s head of football Thomas Baillie admitted the return of star striker Mike Taylor feels like a new signing.

Taylor departed for fellow Evo-Stik Southern Premier Central side Tamworth in December before moving to National League North outfit Leamington a month later.

Both moves did not work out for the striker, fondly known as ‘The Beast’ among the Town faithful, and Baillie did not turn his nose up at having Stratford’s current top goalscorer back at the Arden Garages Stadium.

“I spoke to Paul Holleran (Leamington manager) on Monday asking if we could talk to Mike and he waived the standard seven days which I am really thankful for,” said Baillie.

“It’s great to have a player of Mike’s quality back as it has given everyone a huge boost for the rest of the season.

“Mike gives off a great vibe and to be honest, we have really missed him over the last two months.”

Speaking of his return to Town, Taylor added: “I am delighted to be back at my club for what will be an exciting run-in to the end of the season. Hopefully we can finish as strong as possible and be in the [play-off] mix come end of the season.

“[It’s] time for players, management and fans to stand up and be counted.”

Taylor trained with the squad on Tuesday night and is expected to feature in this Saturday’s trip to Barwell.

Town go into the game looking to get back to winning ways after suffering back-to-back league defeats for the very first time under Baillie following the 2-0 reverse at a resurgent Hitchin Town on Saturday.

After the Hitchin game Baillie confirmed the players and management had an honest discussion in the changing room for around an hour and admitted plenty of good came from the chat come training on Tuesday.

“We had an open discussion about everything after the defeat and it allowed the players to raise any concerns with the management or other players,” he told the Herald.

“There was no shouting or raised voices which some people made it out to be. It was a calm and controlled environment where the players could be honest with each other.

“It was not a crisis meeting and I think having the chat was needed because the training session on Tuesday night was one of the happiest I have ever seen.

“It was a breath of fresh air to see the lads with smiles on their faces and hopefully they can push on again.

“Our mentality has had to change recently because we have gone from the chaser to being the chased.

“When we were third other teams were starting to realise we were no pushovers and that’s when we became a target.

“Barwell is a huge game for us to get back to winning ways after all the unrest in previous weeks and it’s a good chance to push up to third or fourth if results go our way.”

With Town having reached the first round of the FA Trophy, secured a place in the CSS League Cup semi-finals and on the verge of having their greatest ever season at this level of football, Baillie has urged the players to keep creating history.

“These lads have put us in a fantastic position that the club and the fans did not expect to be in,” said Baillie.

“It’s a huge chance for the players to keep making history as they had never been to a League Cup semi-final, never been to the first round of the FA Trophy and never been in the play-off places.

“The lads in that dressing room have made history and those players have the opportunity to keep rewriting the history books - and having Mike Taylor back will be a great lift for those players.

“It’s the first time we have lost back-to-back games since I came in, but this division is really tough and when you look at the fixtures in this league, there’s no respite for anyone.

“Anyone who thought it would be easy to finish in the play-offs needs to question what they are thinking. We are on the verge of having our greatest ever season and hopefully the players can push on.”

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