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‘We must capitalise on home advantage’ says Bards boss in race for play-offs

GAVIN Hurren insists Stratford Town cannot let the frustration in conceding a last-kick equaliser last weekend to distract them from their play-off goal.

The Bards boss was delighted with the performance, if not conceding a 96th-minute equaliser, at Coalville Town on Saturday but it meant they have picked up one point from back-to-back away games.

It has cost them a place in the Southern Premier Central top five – Leamington edging above them – but now Hurren says they need to capitalise on the fact that three of the next four games are on home soil, starting with the visit by lowly Long Eaton United on Saturday (3pm).

The manager says the players’ confidence remains high, especially when reflecting how the club, which was scrapping against relegation 12 months ago, is now eying the chance of Step Two football for the first time in its history.

“From where Stratford have come from in the past 12 months, there’s been huge progress and we are right up there,” said Hurren. “That’s a great achievement but we’ve got to keep it going.

Gavin Hurren.
Gavin Hurren.

“We’ve got seven massive games coming up.

“If you had said at the start of the season that we would have taken four points off Coalville – who have been in the play-offs in the last two seasons – then I would have been delighted.

“We’ve got to keep believing, to keep performing. We’ve got to play to our strengths because we have got good players, and hopefully they will be good enough to get into the play-offs.

“There will be ups and downs in the next few weeks but all we can do is stay focused.”

Hurren hopes to have top scorer Callum Ebanks and fellow goal threat Jack Storer back involved to face Long Eaton after they were ruled out through injury against Coalville. Charlie Williams and Tom Solanke, however, again look likely to miss out.

Ebanks, the league’s top scorer, had been named Stratford player of the month for February before being crocked at Kettering.

Hurren is also keen to see the impact of new signing Andre Landell, who has joined from Rushall Olympic. The striker has an impressive pedigree with spells at Stourbridge, Alvechurch and in America.

“He is going to give us a lot of experience,” said the Bards boss. “The way he holds the ball up and brings others into the game will be an asset. He is only going to strengthen the squad.”

Long Eaton sit second-bottom in the table, but Hurren expects a tough challenge after the Derbyshire side has rallied in recent weeks, with four successive draws, including against promotion-chasers Needham Market, and Leamington.

“Long Eaton are going to be fighting for everything, they will make it tough and they will be boosted by their results in the last few weeks,” added Hurren. “We know we are going to have be on it from the first minute to the last.”

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