THOMAS Baillie reckons three wins from their remaining six matches will be good enough to guarantee Stratford Town’s place in the Southern Premier Central play-offs.
Despite suffering a first defeat in five games in losing 2-0 to third-placed King’s Lynn Town last weekend, Town lie fourth as they head to Bedworth United on Saturday.
Town, having already bettered their highest ever points tally at Step Three and assured of their highest league finish in their history, are five points clear of sixth-placed AFC Rushden & Diamonds, although Alvechurch and Coalville Town could close to within one and two points respectively if they win their games in hand.
Head of football Baillie stressed the focus is on what Stratford do and their top-five fate is very much in their hands.
Bedworth, promoted last season, are heading back to Step Four after winning just two league matches and their relegation was confirmed last week but Baillie warned, with the pressure off, they will be dangerous opponents at the Oval.
“It was obviously disappointing to lose to King’s Lynn and we now need to regroup,” Baillie told the Stratford Town Independent Supporters Association website.
“Bedworth on Saturday is a game we will be expected to win but now their relegation has been confirmed there will be no pressure on them and that will make it more difficult for us.
“But everyone’s fixtures will be difficult and if we can win three of our remaining six then I’m confident we will be in the play-offs.”
Baillie felt Stratford could have taken something from last weekend’s clash with King’s Lynn at the Arden Garages Stadium.
The Linnets struck within three minutes when Adam Marriott collected a flick-on by Michael Gash and netted past keeper Laurence Bilboe.
Will Grocott fired just wide and Nabil Shariff was denied by an excellent save by visiting keeper Alexander Street as Stratford strived for an equaliser before the break. Wilson Carvalho’s 25-yard effort hit the side-netting and Linnets’ Ryan Fryatt cleared Shariff’s effort off the line after the break but the visitors, who also had had their opportunities, added their second three minutes from time with Gash steering a superb finish into the bottom corner.
“It was a good game between two evenly matched sides,” said Baillie.
“We were poor for the first ten minutes, but from midway through the first half we started to play. From then on I felt that we matched them for long periods and at half-time I genuinely believed we could get something out of the game.
“But we then dropped off again towards the end and Michael Gash has come up with a quality finish to clinch the points.
“He is a top player who quite simply ran the game and King’s Lynn are where they are in the table for a reason, as are we.”
MEANWHILE, Town U18s have been celebrating after being crowned Midland Floodlit Youth League Premier Division South champions.
Darren Timms’ side clinched the title – with three games to play – after a thumping 4-1 win away to Worcester City.
Playing at the Dell Stadium in Brierley Hill, Town led 2-0 at half-time. Bradley West slotted home from Tommy Harrington’s 23rd-minute pass and the roles were reversed five minutes before the interval when Harrington steered home past keeper Sean Dayus.
Harrington’s smart finish made it 3-0 from Tyricke Richards-Burke’s cross on 65 minutes and, although City replied through Matt Patrick-Rivers, Harry Hartin curled home a stunning 30-yard free kick to put the icing on Town’s title cake soon afterwards.