ROD’S REEL­ING THEM IN FOR NEW TI­TLE AS­SAULT

It’s red for dan­ger as Stringer’s Clarets chase down top two

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - By Hugo Var­ley

ROD STRINGER has got his Chelms­ford City side fir­ing on all cylin­ders again – now he has his sights set on catch­ing the Na­tional League South’s run­away lead­ers.

Four wins from five over the fes­tive pe­riod hoisted the Clarets to fourth place prior to yes­ter­day’s trip to Slough and while a sig­nif­i­cant gap con­tin­ues to ex­ist be­tween them­selves and the top two of Torquay United and Wok­ing, Stringer be­lieves it is in no way in­sur­mount­able.

“Torquay and Wok­ing have been ab­so­lutely su­perb this sea­son and de­serve to be sit­ting at the top, but no ti­tle is ever won in Jan­uary,” Stringer told The NLP.

“Although it is great to be in the play-off po­si­tions at the mo­ment, I am a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed be­cause I feel as though we should prob­a­bly be about ten points bet­ter off than where we cur­rently are.

“We have made a few poor mis­takes and just not had the rub of the green on oc­ca­sions.

“For ex­am­ple, we played East Thur­rock a cou­ple of weeks ago and ab­so­lutely dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion, but didn’t take our chances and were ul­ti­mately pun­ished.”

Chelms­ford are now one of the divi­sion’s form teams af­ter suf­fer­ing a dis­ap­point­ing start to the cam­paign, which saw them win just three of their open­ing nine league games.

“We strug­gled per­haps more than I ex­pected at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son,” the Clarets boss added.

“We picked up a lot of in­juries in pre-sea­son and prob­a­bly tried to change around the sys­tem a few too many times.

“It was frus­trat­ing be­cause we were re­ally strug­gling to pick up points at home and were fail­ing to make our ground into a fortress. Thank­fully we seem to have fi­nally rec­ti­fied what­ever was go­ing wrong a few months ago and we dealt with a tricky Christ­mas sched­ule re­ally well.

Adapt­ing

“Our league po­si­tion now gives us a great op­por­tu­nity to kick on in the sec­ond half of the sea­son, but you sim­ply can’t rest on your lau­rels. “You can look right down the league and the qual­ity is ab­so­lutely phe­nom­e­nal. We played Hamp­ton & Rich­mond re­cently who are strug­gling at the wrong end of the ta­ble, but they cer­tainly have the tools to chal­lenge higher up.” Since tak­ing over at the Mel­bourne Sta­dium in the sum­mer of 2016, for­mer Brain­tree boss Stringer has guided the Clarets to within touch­ing dis­tance of pro­mo­tion to the Na­tional League in both of his sea­sons in charge.

Two years ago, the Es­sex side were just 20 min­utes away from toast­ing a play-off fi­nal vic­tory against Ebb­s­fleet, only to be pegged back, while Stringer’s men were nar­rowly edged out by Hamp­ton & Rich­mond at the semi-fi­nal stage last sea­son.

Nev­er­the­less, the man­ager is re­fus­ing to be de­terred and is hop­ing he can make it third time lucky this year.

“On both oc­ca­sions, miss­ing out on pro­mo­tion has been pretty hard to take,” he added.

“In the game against Ebb­s­fleet we had one foot in the Na­tional League; we were a goal up and a man up, but just couldn’t quite hold on.

“Although we were all gut­ted by the re­sult, in truth, the club wasn’t re­ally ready for pro­mo­tion.

“We would have ob­vi­ously grabbed the op­por­tu­nity with both hands, but the club would have had to have done a lot of adapt­ing.

“We are now start­ing to re­gain some of the form that we showed in the past two sea­sons, which is re­ally great to see.

“It’s not easy, but we have got to keep try­ing to pull the rab­bit out of the hat and get re­sults.

“The boys are now buy­ing into what we are do­ing and we have tried to sim­plify the tac­tics some­what from the be­gin­ning of the sea­son.

“There is still a very long way to go and we are not go­ing to give up chas­ing the lead­ing pack un­til it is com­pletely math­e­mat­i­cally im­pos­si­ble.”

ON A ROLL: Ace Rhys Mur­phy has helped fire Chelms­ford City into pro­mo­tion con­tention

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